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9 of the Worst Packing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

9 of the Worst Packing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

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Are you stressed out about packing for your next vacation? Keep scrolling to find out the worst packing mistakes people make and how you can avoid them!
This list of the worst packing mistakes was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

The last thing you want to think on a much-needed trip is “Why did I bring this?” or “Where is my toothbrush?”

It’s never pleasant when you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night because you forgot something hundreds of miles away from home with no store in sight.

If you are worried about your upcoming trip or need a few tips to help pack your bags for an upcoming trip, don’t fret!

Here are the worst packing mistakes you should avoid and what to do instead! You’ll love these travel packing hacks and tips! 

What are the Biggest Packing Mistakes Families Make?

1. Overpacking

One of the most common mistakes nearly everyone makes while packing is overpacking. I am included and still learning how to bring less on a trip.

You must think long and hard before you pack something because your bag of real estate is limited.

Image of a suitcase overfilled with shoes.
Most people pack at least one extra pair of shoes they don’t need.

Are you really going to use ALL of those shirts you packed? If you only wear one pair of jeans at home, do you need another ten pairs of pants you haven’t worn in years? 

An easy way to figure out if you’re packing more than you need is to think about how you use these items at home. If you’re not using it at home, you probably won’t start magically using it because you’re traveling. That’s just one tip about how to pack light.

2. You don’t leave room for future purchases

If you are traveling, you may need space for gifts, souvenirs from your travels, and the other random future purchases you will make on a trip.

Colorful skulls souvenirs in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
You’ll probably buy a few souvenirs on your trip.

Whether a bag from a small market or a snow globe, you will need to leave extra room in your suitcase for those last-minute must-haves. 

If you tend to go pretty crazy with extras on your travels and want to make sure you have room, bring a fold-up bag so you have the extra room. Or leave a huge gap in your bag for those extras. This is one of the best packing hacks to save space! 

3. You’re using the wrong kind of bag

You know that duffle bag you used to bring back and forth to soccer practice when you were a kid? It’s not exactly going to cut it as a perfect carry-on bag anymore.

Upgrade instead to a carry-on spinner bag that can do the heavy lifting for you but won’t get heavy as fast. We like this Samsonite one.

Another option is a backpack with shoulder straps that help you move your items quickly without the hassle. 

The right kind of bag should be comfortable to carry or roll. It should also be able to hold everything without having to force the zipper shut. Trust me; you don’t want to have to replace your luggage because the zipper broke.

4. You wait until the last minute to pack

When you leave the packing until just a few hours before you leave, you will not only be more stressed, but you will be more likely to forget something you really need.

Young man preparing for vacation travel
Don’t wait until the last minute to pack!

You don’t have as much time to plan when you pack last minute. So instead, try to plan out your packing and at least get your clothes laid out in advance.

This will help you figure out if you need to go out and buy anything and can make the day you leave less hectic.

Planning ahead is the best travel organization hack that gives you peace of mind! 

5. You don’t bag your shoes

Unless you are packing brand-new shoes, your shoes are going to be kind of gross.

After just a few wears in your favorite shoes, it will start to smell. This will leave your whole bag smelling like whatever your feet smelled in those shoes.

Your suitcase is like a closet, and you won’t keep your shoes rubbing up on all your clothes in your closet. So why do it in your suitcase? 

Bring some shoe bags to help keep everything away from your clean clothes and the smells at bay. You can also use plastic grocery bags or even a trash bag if you need a way to store your shoes. 

6. You forget your essentials

Not packing last minute can help ensure you don’t forget your essentials, but when you go to pack, suddenly, you can’t remember what you use daily.

Writing Out A Packing List Ready For A Vacation
It always helps to make a vacation packing list.

To help make things easier, start by making a list. Or you can use an online packing list to help you get started.

As you use your face wash or toothpaste, put it in your travel bag. That way, you can just grab it and be on your way.

7. You forget to check the weather

Have you ever gone somewhere thinking you would be comfortable in shorts just to realize that the temperature has now dropped around 20 degrees? It happens!

Make sure to check your weather while you’re planning for your trip and even up to the night before you leave.

This will make sure you are prepared for unexpected weather changes. You should also bring a few different clothing mixes, such as layers, if things change after you leave home.

8. You don’t plan ahead

Planning ahead doesn’t just mean packing or preparing for the weather.

Have you ever started packing only to realize your bathing suit doesn’t fit or your dress clothes aren’t the right size? This is why it’s so important to prepare long before your trip whenever you can.

Beautiful girl thinking what to dress in walk-in closet
Yes, try on EVERYTHING to make sure it fits before you pack it.

If you rarely wear or use something, check and ensure it’s still usable as soon as you book your trip. If you need to replace that item, you can easily get a replacement without too much hassle.

This can also mean planning for excursions on vacation or snacks for a road trip. The more planning ahead you can do, the better you can prepare for an upcoming trip and not leave important things behind.

9. You don’t plan for unexpected circumstances

Unfortunately, we can’t control everything. Flights get delayed, trains make unexpected stops, and cars get stuck in traffic. No matter how you travel, you may get stuck in unlucky circumstances.

This is why you need to pack for some unexpected just-in-case moments.

Having medicine on hand in case you get sick or a quick snack in your purse when you have to skip dinner can make a miserable travel experience bearable.

Low section of young couple with straw hats standing in room with suitcase ready for summer vacation
There are plenty of ways to cut the stress of vacation packing.

How to Pack a Suitcase FAQs

How do I stop packing anxiety?

When it comes to packing for a trip, it’s safe to say that many people become overwhelmed. This can be known as packing anxiety, and there are a few things that you can do to help.

First, give yourself plenty of time to pack. You’ll have to give yourself extra time to go through everything you need, one by one. 

Secondly, make sure to check the weather conditions right before leaving. That way you know if you need to change your packing plans. This can give you more space in your luggage or have you change up what you packed altogether. 

How do you simplify packing?

The biggest thing to remember when packing for a trip is that you need to keep it simple. Some people tend to stress out because they think that they have to pack everything, and then it all gets out of sorts. 

Also, keep in mind that what works for you to simplify may not work for everyone else. Take your time and get rid of the stress in a way that works best for you. 

If you try to pack for a trip while you’re stressed, it’s really just going to make the packing situation worse! When you’re stress-packing, you’ll more than likely overpack or forget to pack a lot of the things that you need. 

How do you stop from overpacking? 

It’s actually normal to overpack for a trip because you feel like you don’t want to miss out on having something that could come in handy. For this purpose, it’s important to know that you can stop overpacking by just tweaking the way that you think.

Keep in mind that packing the basics for clothing will be acceptable for most travel needs. If you find yourself in a situation where you need something else, you might be able to just purchase it extra wherever you are. 

What should you not forget when packing for a trip?

There are a few things that are a MUST when packing, and forgetting them would be utter chaos. You need to be sure that you have all the documents that you need for travel. You’ll also want emergency money or ways to get ahold of other people.

In addition, have all your needed medications as well because you may not be able to get them anywhere else while you’re on the road or trip.

Lastly, don’t forget to pack all your electronics that you need to stay in contact and touch with others. Having extra batteries, a battery charger pack, and chargers mean that you’ll never run out of charge, which will keep you in tune with your family and friends. 

Biggest Vacation Packing Mistakes Wrap Up

No matter where you are traveling, these packing tips will help you change how you pack for your next trip.

Regardless of how long you’re staying or where you will be going, these tips will seriously change how you pack up for an upcoming trip. Relax, pack well, and enjoy your trip!

Looking for more packing tips? Check out my fall camping packing list, how to pack for winter travel, what to pack for a holiday road trip, and family road trip packing hacks!

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