You have good intentions...pack everything you can into that suitcase or weekender bag, and take no chance of not having something you'll want or need while away on vacation. After all, if you have the space, why not fill it? But ask yourself, "how many times have I returned from a trip, only to find myself unpacking items I thought I'd need/want, but that instead went untouched and/or unworn?"
Don't get us wrong, we love packing for trips. It's confirmation that we're actually getting out there and doing it-- seeing the world! In fact, we design our bags with a simple idea in mind: "that the fun of a getaway begins not when you arrive at your destination, but rather the moment you start to pack." But efficient packing makes for an efficient traveler, and what's not fun about that?
Here are some common packing mistakes and how to avoid them:
1) You're over-packing
When you're at home, you have all the time and resources needed to change your attire no matter what the scenario. Like sleeping, working out, work, lounging, etc. But when you're on vacation, you're faced with satisfying multiple needs with limited resources. The luxury of having whatever you need, whenever you need it, just isn't there. To combat this, consider doubling up. For example, that tee you wore on the plane? Probably good enough to sleep in. Those comfy shorts you brought for hiking around town? Probably good enough to workout in. To get around over-packing, plan your days with "doubling up" in mind. What you wear on day one, can easily become something you wear on day 3, and with a different purpose in mind.
2) You're not packing the right things
A good rule of thumb: if you don't wear it at home, you'll never wear it on vacation. Instead, only pack your favorite things. The things you know you'll wear, and that you enjoy wearing. Additionally, if you love wearing it, you'll find yourself wearing it multiple times, and hence the need for less.
Pack neutral colors. Every shirt should have the option to be worn with every bottom. Pack a funky color or pattern and you may need to find an accompanying unnecessary bottom to match. Both of which you'll probably only wear once. Or not at all.
Whenever possible, pack clothing with technical properties like sweat wicking or quick-dry, whether it's in a tee, polo, commuter pants, etc. Not only will they keep you dry while in the moment, they're also great if you plan to wear something more than once.
3) You're forgetting that you can always go shopping once at your destination (in most cases, that is)
You're probably going to want to grab a souvenir tee or sweatshirt anyway. So make this a part of your planned attire and pack one less. And if you find that you need something you don't have, you can always go out and purchase it. So don't sweat the possibility of forgetting some of those less common items and focus on the essentials. And oh yeah, most hotels carry a wide arrange of supplies. Might be a bit pricey, but hey, you're on vacation.
4) You're not using a shoe bag
Your shoes see the worst of it. The floor in the airport, the city streets, gum, and many other unknown, hidden displeasures. You're going to want to quarantine them in a shoe bag before packing them with your clean clothes. Don't want to buy a shoe bag? Then use a bread bag, plastic grocery bag, etc. Whatever it takes. Just don't let your clothes be the barrier to all that grime your shoes have collected.
5) You think one type/style of bag is all you'll ever need
This common misconception will easily lead you down the path of over or under packing. Assess what you'll need for your trip. Then assess the type of bags you'll need. You'll either need a suitcase or weekender. Maybe you have a big enough need to check a suitcase as well as carry on a weekender. Or maybe your carry-on is better suited for a briefcase. But no matter what, you should always have a dopp kit. Traveling for business or a wedding? You should have a garment bag. Think it through. Lay everything out, then choose the most appropriate bag assortment to accomplish your needs.
6) You're not checking airline restrictions in advance
They change! And so do bag allowances. Check with your airline (and the TSA) and determine what you can and can't bring, free bags, bags for a fee, approved liquids, size and weight limits, etc. Have a clear understanding of what you can and can't do before you arrive at the airport. And if you're at risk of checking a bag that exceeds the weight limit, weigh it before you leave for the airport. It's a lot easier to deal with trimming down your luggage while at home vs. in line at the airport.
7) You don't bring enough cash
Imagine you lose your wallet, and have no cash on hand. It happens, and is a position you don't want to be in. Divide up a couple hundred bucks and randomly place it within your things. Maybe a couple $20s with some smaller bills in your wallet (for tipping, etc), a couple bills in your carry-on (dopp kit), one in your suitcase, etc. Cash is king and you will never regret having access to it.
8) You're not printing your important documents
Phones are great. But only when you have battery life and service. If either of those decide to go, you'll be grateful to have a hard copy of where you need to be and when you need to be there. We're talking airline tickets, hotel itinerary, ground transportation reservations, etc. You never know what might happen.
Remember, vacations are meant to be enjoyed. To relax, hang with friends and family, and experience new things. What you pack plays a significant role in your ability to enjoy it. A little bit of careful planning, along with some simple knowledge, and you'll be well on your way to a worry free vacation.