14 Packing Mistakes to Avoid

While everyone looks forward to a vacation, most of us dread those few days before when we have to pack. I used to hate packing for trips and would find the process of getting everything ready for a vacation incredibly stressful.

Over the years, I’ve learned from my mistakes and have realized that preparing is key. I can now pack for almost any trip in a few hours and usually fit everything into a carry on bag.

Below are some common packing mistakes I used to make. Are you guilty of these as well?

Waiting Until the Last Minute

I used to always wait until the last minute to pack my suitcase, throwing whatever into my bag with no plan. This resulted in me having to find a store to buy things unnecessarily because I forgot an important item at home. This is part of the reason why I have so many sets of earbuds. 🙂

Now, I get things ready a few days in advance. Since there are so many things to think about the day before a trip, it’s a lot easier for me to start packing a few days in advance. This way, I can check to make sure that I have everything I’m going to need.

Not Having a List

I used to think I could just wing it, but having a list really does make things easier. I use a packing checklist to make sure I don’t forget anything.

Download my packing checklist here!

Packing checklist

Buying a Brand New Wardrobe for My Trip

I used to be so guilty of this one. Beach trip? Gotta buy a new bathing suit, even though I already have several to choose from. Rainy location? Better buy some rain boots that I’ll never wear again! I would end up with an entire closet full of clothes that were only worn once.

I ask myself these 3 questions before I buy anything for a trip now:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is this something I will wear when I’m home?
  • Do I already have something that will work?

These 3 questions have saved me so much money and so many trips to The Goodwill.

Not Packing for the Weather

I can’t tell you how many sweaters I’ve had to buy because I didn’t check the weather before I packed for a trip. Again, preparation is key. Now, I always look at the forecast a few days in advance and make sure I pack accordingly.

Not Color Coordinating

I used to always overpack my suitcase and come home with several things that I didn’t end up wearing. The big reason for this was not color coordinating my outfits. The stuff I didn’t wear would always be the bright colored pieces that didn’t match with anything. Now, I try to pack mostly neutrals or outfits with similar colors, so I wear everything that I take with me.

Packing the Wrong Shoes

A few years ago, I made a mistake of only packing plastic flip flops for a beach trip, thinking I would save space since I’d just be laying in the sand all day. When we decided to skip the beach and spend an afternoon walking around St. Augustine, my feet were killing me! There is nothing worse than having sore feet or blisters to start your trip. Now, no matter where I am going, I always pack a comfortable walking shoe.

Rolling Clothes

A lot of people say that rolling your clothes is the best way to save space in a suitcase. While this is true, it also wrinkles them to the point of having to iron everything. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Instead of rolling, I fold my clothes using Marie Kondo’s method. It actually saves more space and allows you to see everything you have in your suitcase, so there’s no need to unpack everything.

Not Packing a Carry On Outfit

Although I generally can do carry on only, there are occasions where I’ll check a bag (usually when Mark and I decide to share) and just take a smaller tote or backpack on the plane. I’ve made the mistake of not packing an outfit with me and, surprise! The airline lost my luggage. Now, if I check a bag, I always make sure to bring one outfit with me, just in case that happens again.

Checking All My Expensive Stuff

Similar to the above point, I’ve been guilty of checking my expensive stuff with the airline, forgetting that airlines sometimes lose luggage. Things like laptops, iPads and cameras always come with me now.

Not Considering the Local Culture

I generally dress pretty modestly for American standards, so I never really thought much about my clothing choices. It wasn’t until I started doing more international traveling that I really began to pay attention. A lot of places around the world aren’t into 2 piece bathing suits, bare shoulders or short shorts. Now, I like to do research about the places I’m going so I don’t come off as disrespectful.

Not Preparing My Travel Sized Items

I used to pack my full sized toiletries because I thought I didn’t want to waste time filling those stupid travel bottles.


I wasted so much time waiting for checked bags just so I could have my entire shampoo bottle.

I now keep a toiletries bag filled with everything I need at all times. If I use up something on a trip, I replace it when I get home. The bag is always ready to go, so I can just throw it in my suitcase without thinking.

Packing All of my Hair and Makeup Products

Like most women, I have a variety of hair and makeup products that I don’t use every day, but for some reason, used to take them all with me on every trip.

5 different lipsticks? Bring them! Curling iron, blow dryer, hair serum that I hardly ever use? In the bag!

To save space, I stick to just the basics. For makeup, I try to stick to neutral colors. For hair, I just take my hairbrush, a few elastics and some bobby pins. There’s almost always a hair dryer in the hotel or Air BnB, so I never bother bringing one.

Leaving No Room For Souvenirs

I generally buy a few things when on vacation and it used to always be a struggle to figure out where to put them. I try to leave a little space for souvenirs now, so I don’t have to sit on my suitcase to make everything fit.

Not Packing Snacks

I love snacks, especially for longer flights. A lot of budget airlines don’t give you anything, or if they do, will charge an arm and a leg. I usually pack some granola bars or crackers in my carry on so can avoid the airline prices.

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14 Packing Mistakes to Avoid

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