The Most Common Packing Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

It’s everyone’s least favorite part of traveling, but it’s the thing everyone has to do: Packing! It’s not so bad, though, when you know how to stop making the most common mistakes. Here’s how to pack well, avoid checked bag fees, and still look cute when you travel!

Mistake #1:
Assuming You Have to Check a Bag

I’m always surprised when I hear people talking about travel and checking luggage like it’s the only way, even for a quick overnight or weekend trip. I realize that going carry-on only isn’t for everyone, but for most people, it’s an option that not only saves quite a lot of money, it’s more convenient and less stressful!

I’ve waited 10 minutes for checked luggage to come on the luggage carousel, and I’ve waited an hour for my checked luggage to come through. That’s quite a chunk of time that could be spent getting to my destination! Steve has had his luggage lost, and the airline never told him they found it. He just had to go to the airport and check for it once in a while. Save your time, money, and your stuff: Consider going carry-on only whenever possible!

Avoid this: Save the checked bag fee and go carry-on only!

One night, two nights, one week, two weeks… Carry-on only is the way to go!
Keep reading: How to Pack the Perfect Carry-on

Mistake #2:
Overpacking

I have to call out my mom. She likes to have options. She likes to wear something different every day. She packs two weeks’ worth of clothing for a five-day trip! And she’s happy.

I’m never happy when I overpack that much. Maybe because I travel carry-on only and have to actually carry all that! Generally, for most people in most destinations, one outfit per day is enough. And it’s okay if every other outfit calls for the same pair of jeans. And it’s okay if you wear the same shoes every day. Think about packing fewer items. You won’t miss them!

Avoid this: Lay out all the clothes you think you’ll need. Then take out half. Bonus points if everything you do pack can mix and match with everything else!

No, you don’t need three pairs of pants and flowers for an overnight trip!
More here: Check out how to wear your clothes multiple ways, and get all my “travel style” posts on my Packing Page!

Mistake #3:
Not Considering Solid Toiletries

For me, solid toiletries have changed the game. Not just changed the game; revolutionized my travels! Because I go carry-on only as often as possible, that means I’m super limited in how much liquid I can bring with me. (As a reminder, that’s exactly one quart-sized bag per person!) When I realized how many liquids could actually be solids, my whole packing strategy improved. You know there’s solid soap, but did you know there’s also solid shampoo? Solid conditioner? Solid sunscreen? Solid toothpaste? There are tons of options out there that free up all kinds of room in that precious liquids bag!

Avoid this: Leave the full bottle of shower gel at home and opt for a solid bar of soap that can double as shampoo instead! Small changes add up to make a big difference.

Whether it’s soap, sunscreen, shampoo, bug repellent, or toothpaste, there is a solid option out there!
Keep reading: Your Ultimate Guide to Solid Toiletries

Mistake #4:
Thinking Packing Cubes are Not a Miracle

I was late to the packing cubes game, but I will never travel without them again! Not only do they keep things organized (my husband refers to them as “shelves”), they also really do compress everything down as compactly as possible. I’m a total convert, and I think you should be, too! Get your packing cubes here, and you’ll be supporting my small business at no additional cost to you!

Avoid this: Try packing cubes just once. I don’t think you’ll go back! Don’t want to buy packing cubes? Try zip bags to see how you like them first.

Packing cubes helped us pack for two weeks in Morocco!
Read on: My Top 10 Packing Hacks (after 15 years of blogging!)

Mistake #5:
Not Using all Usable Space

Along with packing cubes, it’s also possible to use the space within the items you pack, especially in things like shoes. It’s amazing how many pairs of socks and underwear one can fit inside a pair of shoes! Make sure you’re using all available space.

Avoid this: Think outside the box… and inside your shoes! If you can fit anything inside of anything else, do it!

We fit everything we needed into our carry-ons for Australia AND came in under the weight limit!
More here: Packing Strategy: Tetris Packing

Mistake #6:
Thinking You Don’t Need a List

Okay, I’m totally guilty of this one, and my husband calls me out on it! Without a list, I’m lucky if I remember such essentials as my glasses, retainer, and contact solution. Even for old pros like Steve and me, a list is the only way to really pack correctly, you know?

Avoid this: Make a list! Use it every time you pack. Update it as needed.

Stress less. Make your list!
Read on: What Minimalist Packers Leave Behind

Want more packing tips, hacks, and ideas? Check out my Packing Page for all that and more!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Hey there! I am an avid traveller and adventurer, and you're always welcome to join me! The things I love most are God, my husband Steve, and seeing new places! My favorite places include Sydney, Australia; Ise City, Japan; and Bergen, Norway--but there's always room for more favorite places!

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