11 things to never again take on vacation

11 things to never again take on vacation

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, rejuvenating. But far too often we unwittingly strip away much of that relaxation and actually add to our stress by taking things we won't need or even use. My family and I just returned from a 2,500 mile road trip. While there were things I was so grateful we brought with us, we ended up lugging around a bit too much!

If you'd like to simplify your vacation packing and travels, here are 11 things to never again take…

(1) Too many outfits. Over-packing leads to all kinds of additional stress.

You have to worry about not losing anything and how to find the item you're looking for without tearing apart the whole case. You can't easily carry the thing because it's so heavy. And you can't comfortably or quickly move things (or people) around in the vehicle. The solution? Only pack for half the days you'll be gone. Then plan to use available laundry facilities to wash and dry. As for what you pack, choose simple outfits you can mix and match so you can wear items more than once before needing to wash.

(2) Several electronics.

Electronics seem like a good way to keep everyone entertained and, hopefully, reduce bickering, but they can also be a significant source of stress. First of all, you have to be careful nothing gets lost or broken. More importantly, however, is what is missed when there are too many electronic distractions. Staying buried in electronics takes away from the experience and adventure. People interact less, don't take in the views and don't engage in what is going on. Fix this by severely limiting both the number of electronics and the time spent on them. After all, you're on vacation. You can play on your iPhone any normal day.

(3) Your entire purse or wallet. 

The more you have with you, the more you stand to lose. Before leaving on your trip, clean out anything not absolutely essential. Leave behind items like the checkbook (you won't be writing checks), loyalty cards to places you won't be stopping, other forms of ID, especially photo ones, like club cards, and any other extra bits of paper or paraphernalia. Use cash and your debit card and have just one person carry the credit card in case an emergency arises.

(4)  Work and social media.

This seems obvious, but in our easy-to-reach society, it can be very hard to truly get away from work, not to mention the desire to post everything you're doing on social media. Don't tell yourself that you'll just be “a few minutes” because, inevitably, things always take longer than you expect and you'll get sucked in. Instead, be as off-grid and unavailable as possible so you can refresh – which is the whole point. Plus, announcing that you're gone day after day on social media can be dangerous.

(5) Multiple movies and games.

Just like electronics, playing movie after movie on a long drive or playing games, instead of going out and exploring, destroys the experience of being on vacation. Learn to have quiet time just enjoying the scenery and spending time with family. You'll have less to pack and keep track of – freeing up both physical and mental space. If you do have a long car ride, I would recommend downloading TV shows & movies on Netflix – but avoid watching any of them while you are at your destinations.

(6) Stuff you never use at home.

Vacation is not the time to use up all those little samples you have squirreled away. Not only will they actually take up more space than filling small bottles of what you normally use, if you don't regularly use it at home, you likely won't use it on vacation either.

(7) Full-sized bottles of toiletries.

People overestimate how much of a product they use in a week. For vacation packing full-sized bottles “just in case” only takes up more space and adds to the weight of your bags. Instead, invest in small, refillable bottles that hold just enough for the family for the time period. If you can, pack selections the whole family can use – rather than individual bottles and tubes for each person.

(8) An entire pantry of snacks.

Packing a small selection of snacks is a great money-saver. But bringing too many results in just bringing most of it back home again. While you're packing, you're guessing at what you'll be in the mood for and how hungry you'll be. But stick to only taking one snack per person per day, and choose items each person normally wants so they will actually get eaten. If stores are available where you travel, plan on refilling new snacks before your journey home. You'll appreciate the variety.

(9) Weather gear.

Avoid the temptation to pack extra weather wear on the off-chance it might be cold or it might rain. Use the weather forecast and an area's typical seasonal weather to pack smart. And remember, if it does unexpectedly rain, you can always buy a $1 rain poncho at the local shop.

(10) Lots of shoes.

Shoe-lovers cringe at this one but the reality is, extra shoes take up a lot of space and add to bag weight. And you likely only need one pair, the ones you're wearing. Exceptions would be if you'll be dressing up or doing a lot of walking. If dressing up, choose a pair that matches every outfit; and if walking a lot, a change of shoes can help your feet not hurt. Just be selective.

(11) Dozens of toys.

Kids believe they need all their favorites but they won't end up playing with them. They'll be too busy exploring and being outdoors to play with a whole box of toys, which will then just take up space and be more to haul. Limit toys to 2-3 the kids honestly can't leave home without but that's it. They'll likely find a new favorite to buy as a souvenir anyway.

More tips for you on travel:

Top 10 Ways to Save for a Disney World Vacation

11 helpful tips you need to know to save on airfare