Five Items Not To Pack For Your Next Flight

Efficient travel packing isn’t just about what you include: it’s also about what you leave behind. Here are five items you should consider carefully before they land in your next travel bag.

Picture by Richard Giles

We’ve run lists in the past on what you should pack for a business travel trip, and this shorter list has a similar work travel emphasis. This time around, though, we’re examining the stuff you can sensibly leave behind. That’s particularly useful if you’re only trying to travel with hand luggage, thereby dodging often excessive baggage charges.

I don’t think many people would go to the extremes of travelling with one mobile phone and no change of clothes, as I’ve done in the past, but there are plenty of ways to travel light. That’s not to say everyone’s list will be identical: we all have different needs and tastes. But taking time to work out what you can leave behind is a worthwhile exercise.

If you’re going on holiday, some of the elements on this list might differ, but much of the logic is the same. Travel is about the experience, not the stuff you take with you.

5. Aerosols

You’re allowed to take aerosols as part of your carry-on luggage for Australian domestic flights, but they’re a massive nuisance since you have to take them out for airport screening. Save the hassle and use alternative versions instead (roll-on deodorant, for instance). If you must pack them, make sure that they’re in an outer pocket or at the very top of your bag so you can quickly remove them at the security checkpoint.

4. Excessive toiletries

Extending on that theme, if you know your hotel will provide soap and shampoo, why take it with you? Your washbag doesn’t need to be the size of a cereal box. Some people take this to extremes, relying on the hotel to supply everything short of deodorant. I’m not quite that minimal, but I don’t see the point of packing soap when there’ll be plenty of it in the hotel.

3. Electric hair gadgets

Why pack a hairdryer? Any hotel will offer you a hairdryer. I also figure a straightener is probably a waste of space, but to be fair I’ve never had hair that long.

2. Too much tech

We’ve discussed the issue of whether you can just travel with a tablet or a phone instead of a notebook PC in some detail before, so I’ll just restate the essential point: think about what needs to happen on your trip and plan accordingly. If you can get away with just a tablet, or even just a phone, your bag will be much lighter.

1. Shoes

Shoes take up a lot of space, but I regularly encounter people who pack three pairs for a three-day trip. That seems excessive to me. Yes, if you’re a fitness fanatic, suitable gym shoes might be sensible (though barefoot running can avoid that problem). But if you can choose one pair of versatile shoes that function for both work and casual needs and wear them on the plane, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of space. I find a black pair of boots often works well for this; your needs will vary depending on your job, fashion choices and other factors. But if you’ve got a different pair of shoes for every day and you’re not actually in the footwear business, you’re wasting a lot of space.

What items would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman tried not to laugh at the guy carrying too many aerosols at the airport last week. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.

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