Travel – Do I Really Need That?


As much as I forget some things that are necessary for travel, there are also others that are on the list, they’re always on the list, and nine times out of ten, they are never used. And then I carry them back home, put them away until I add them to the packing list again.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Let’s start with clothes.

How much is too much? Are you going for a special event and need a nice pair of shoes or something dressy to wear? I always wear my Keds. Every day. When I went to England in college, I forgot nice shoes. I ended up wearing my hiking boots everywhere. This is an unusual circumstance. Obviously if you’re traveling for a wedding or some other event, you will need a pair of nice shoes or boots, but that weekend getaway to the beach? Or the city? Probably not. Leave them home. They only take up space.

How many pairs of jeans do you need? Can you do laundry at your destination? Can you re-wear your jeans more than once or even more than twice? Well, maybe not twice, but if you’re trip consists of strolling through the museum or mall, you probably won’t get them too dirty if at all.

Look at your outfits. Can you plan outfits that coordinate with each other? The jeans can go with two different shirts. The second shirt you can re-wear with a sweater or a blazer. You can put a button down shirt over a tee and leave it open or button it up and wear it over leggings if that’s your style. Think in layers.

On to tech.

How many chargers do you really need? Most of them are interchangeable at this point, so bringing them all only increases the chances of losing one. Is there ever a time when you’re charging all of your electronics at once? Almost never. Even overnight, I don’t always charge my phone. The one thing that I do need every time is a surge protector. I use a Belkin mini version that packs easily in my carry-on or personal bag.

Often I won’t empty my tech pouch and end up bringing a flash drive. I can only use this with my computer (or someone else’s) and I almost never bring my computer anymore.

Do I really need to bring my camera and mp3 player when I use my Kindle for both of those? On retreat, I don’t use my phone except as an alarm clock, communicating with my family through Facebook, so I should probably leave that at home as well.

I’ll often bring my sketchbook and colored pencils, but I don’t use them unless I’m at a specific workshop/retreat. More thinking about my destination, less random packing of things.

Now for those toiletries.

Are you staying in a hotel? They have shampoo bottles. Are you staying at your cousin’s or your in-laws? They probably have shampoo too. I almost always bring a brush, but because my hair is so short and I usually finger style it, I never use the brush. Same for hairspray. What about that bar of soap? Unless your skin is sensitive, you really don’t need to bring your soap from home.

Will you really wear those slippers? Or will your socks do?

Reusable water bottle? I end up forgetting it. Sometimes, it’s better to buy a recyclable/disposable one on your way.

Pocketbook. How big do you think you need it to be? Can it be smaller? Can you travel with a personal bag that will be good for the trip itself and then pack a smaller bag for daily use at your destination? Can you put the smaller bag inside your carry bag for doubling its usefulness.

What do you pack that you never use?