21 Packing Mistakes to Avoid Before You Head to The Airport

As travellers it would seem we all have one thing in common, we all have or had to learn the hard way when it comes to packing before our holiday or vacation! I’ve had many disasters when traveling, which is why I’ve compiled the 21 most common packing mistakes and how you can avoid them before you head off to the airport! Some of the these will seem like no brainers but it’s amazing how many people make these mistakes.  Keep reading to discover 21 packing mistakes to avoid!  While your packing away also consider reading these 17 travel tips for sickness prevention and trip planning!

# 1. Important Items that Don’t get packed

  • We often make the mistake of packing last minute or in a hurry. Or we think we have everything at the top of our heads instead of making a packing list. No packing list often results in important items being forgotten at home. Most common forgotten items are electronic chargers and socks.

How to Avoid:

  • Don’t forget to create a packing list and mark off everything as you pack your items.
  • Don’t throw away your packing list, instead bring it with you to make sure you don’t forget anything in your hotel

# 2. Over Packing – (biggest offender of packing mistakes to avoid)

  • By far, over packing tops the list of packing mistakes. the main reasons over packing causes problems. Your luggage becomes heavy and bulky and hard to drag around the airport. Every airline has weight limits on checked bags and the fees are very expensive for overweight luggage. you end up with way more clothes than you’ll ever wear and a mountain of laundry to do when you get home! I’m absolutely guilty of all three mistakes. I’ve been caught many, many times shuffling my stuff around so my bags weren’t too heavy. Even now when I’m packing light I find that I only wear about half of what I packed.

How to Avoid:

  • Count out how many days you will be gone and only pack that number of undergarments. If you for some reason run out they can always be washed I the sink and hung up overnight. It also helps to roll your undergarments and tuck them around the sides in your luggage to make more room.
  • Pre-plan your outfits instead of randomly packing a bunch of clothing items that you’ll never wear together. It helps to colour coordinate or stay with neutrals so you can mix and match your outfits.
  • You most likely won’t be out hitting the town as much as you think you will so packing the extra fancy clothes is most likely unnecessary. Try to stick to just a couple of outfits or nice dresses. There is no harm in wearing something twice if need be. After all you’re on holiday and nobody knows you or will even notice!
  • Cardinal rule, if you can live without it don’t bring it!

# 3. Packing too Many Shoes

  • It goes without saying that if your packing your whole wardrobe than your most likely packing every pair of shoes to match. Big mistake and here is why. Too many shoes make your bag heavy and can cause your luggage to be overweight. Shoes take up a lot of space in your luggage and chances are you most likely won’t even wear them. Guilty as charged again. In fact, I should take my own advice even though I’ve cut down, I still managed to pack to many shoes on my last trip away.

How to Avoid:

  • Pick just a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes in neutral colours that will match all your outfits. Flat shoes and sandals fit nicely around the edges of your luggage for space saving.
  • Tip – I save the dust bags when I purchase a new handbag and use them to put my shoes in when packing. It helps keep my clothes clean away from the dirty bottoms of my shoes.

# 4. Packing Too Much Jewellery and Accessories

  • It’s only natural that you pack all your belt’s scarves and jewellery since you took so much care in emptying out your closet into your luggage. Packing your whole jewellery case takes up a lot of space and weight, which you most likely won’t even wear! Your jewellery often gets tangled, twisted and broken by the time you get to your destination. Tourist often stick out like a sore thumb wearing to much jewellery especially fine jewellery makes you a target for theft and mugging. Your never really going to wear or use all those accessories they take up space and weight. And Yes! it really does happen, I’ve been mugged, ripped off and have spent countless hours untangling necklaces that bounced around in my luggage.

How to Avoid:

  • I personally only bring the jewellery that I am wearing on my person and nothing more.
  • Keep your jewellery to a minimum and ask your hotel ahead of time if they have a safe in the room.
  • Chances are you only need one belt, one scarf and one handbag all the rest is well, just extra baggage!

# 5. Trying to Pack the Whole Bathroom and Medicine Cabinet!

  • For most women leaving behind all our treasured beauty products is unthinkable. And God forbid we even think of going away without dumping every possible over the counter drug we think we might need. Filling our bags with full size shampoos, face cream, tablets and so on takes up a lot of space and a lot of weight!

How to Avoid:

  • Back to the cardinal rule, don’t pack what you can live without.
  • Most of your favourite premium face creams and hair products come in travel sizes. I’m a huge fan of Clinique, Este Lauder and Aveda. They often have specials when you spend so much you get a free gift which includes all your sample sizes that I save just for travel.
  • Never bring full size, everything these days can be purchased in travel size and unless you need something special take advantage of what the hotels have to offer.
  • Don’t bring the whole package of over the counter medications with you. Tip – you can purchase those 7-day pill holders and place you tablets in them to minimize space.

# 6. Toiletry disaster and the Missing Plastic Bag

  • A lot of people including myself think if something is closed or has not been opened yet will be safe to just toss in your luggage. Or sometimes we stuff the plastic bag so full it does not close completely and by the time you arrive at your destination everything in your entire luggage is full of leaky toiletries!

How to Avoid:

  • Make sure you put all toiletries including makeup in plastic zip lock bags and make sure they are completely sealed and not over stuffed. It helps to double bag them for more security!
  • Place electrical tape over the tops of any open spouts or sides of products that have been previously opened to avoid any leakage.

# 7. Over Packing your Carry on – (my biggest packing mistakes to avoid)

  • Right along with over packing your luggage we often try to carry to much with us onto the plane. And just like our checked luggage, carryon’s have weight limits and limits as to how many you can have.

Read More Great Tips:  No, I do not travel with a carry-on.  And I am Proud of it!

How to Avoid:

  • Pack the essentials of what you will need while flying and what you might need as soon as you land and try to organize in one small to medium bag.
  • Don’t overdo it on the clothes in fear of losing luggage, you only get bogged down carrying it around and rarely does luggage get lost and when it does the airline delivers it to your door. I would recommend bringing one extra outfit just in case and check the rest.
  • Make sure any liquids especially chap stick is put into plastic bags. Pretty much anything loose in your bag should go in a plastic bag and played out when going through security screens as this make the experience go a little smoother and faster.

# 8. Packing Valuables and Electronics in Luggage

  • I’ve seen so many people pack away their valuables and electronics in their luggage only to arrive at their destination with lost, stolen or damaged items.

How to Avoid:

  • Always pack your valuables and electronics in your carry-on bag.
  • You can always pack your charges and cords in your luggage to decrease extra bulk in your carry-on.

# 9. Packing the wrong clothes –  (very common packing mistakes to avoid)

  • Not checking the weather or the culture for international travel can make things hinder some for you. Don’t assume what the weather is going to be like. I once was on a trip and packed all my spring clothes only to arrive in a freak snow and ice storm and had to buy a whole new wardrobe.

How to Avoid:

  • Do some research on the culture for international travel so that you can dress accordingly! You might find that your underdressed or even overdressed depending on where you’re going.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave.

# 10. Buying a whole new wardrobe – (We all do this packing mistakes to avoid)

  • I know it can be exciting to get away or you’re going somewhere special. I have spoken to loads of women who go out and buy new wardrobes for their holiday or vacation. The problem is, your new clothes don’t always fit the same as they did in the store and their not comfortable. Most likely you won’t wear most of them and they’ll only end up hanging in your closet collecting dust! Save the money to spend on your trip.

How to Avoid:

  • Stick with what you’re comfortable with, your old trusty clothes will actually be more comfortable than the new ones.
  • Set aside clothes specifically for going away that you don’t wear regularly.  They will seem like new clothes to you!

# 11. Packing your dirty clothes with clean clothes to come home

  • Some hotels have laundry bags in the rooms but not all of them do so you end up coming home with a suitcase full of stinky clothes. Much of which you most likely have not even worn.

How to Avoid:

  • Make sure to bring a laundry bag or some sort of bag for your dirty items so they don’t get mixed in with your clean stuff. I often use an old dust bag from a handbag purchase. It does the job nicely and I just throw it in the wash with my clothes to use the next time I travel.

# 12. Your luggage is so over packed and no space for souvenirs.

  • Often we are so busy packing the kitchen sink that we forget to leave room for our souvenirs and we end up having to ship things home or stuff extra’s into our carry-on.

How to Avoid:

  • Leave a little space in your luggage for any goodies you may find on your trip
  • Leave some extra space in your carry-on for any breakable items you may need to carry.

# 13. Uh Oh, You’ve packed to many bags!

  • I see people all the time having to shell out some cash, which is not cheap because they have too much luggage or to many carry- ons. I have been guilty of this myself. One extra piece of luggage could cost you a couple hundred!

How to Avoid:

  • Make sure you check with your airline carrier to see what the allowance is on the number of bags that can be checked and how many carry-on items you can have. While you’re at it check to see what the weight limits are as well. Each airline has different rules and their not all the same including international travel.

# 14. Absolutely starving by the time you arrive

(another packing mistakes to avoid I see all the time)

  • While some airline have the best intentions in all honesty the food is sometimes not that good and or you just can’t bring yourself to eat it. For shorter flights you may not even get offered a snack. What’s worse is being delayed or missing a flight especially when it’s late and all the food courts are closed.

How to Avoid:

  • Always keep a small bag of snack in your carry on for those just in case moments. If it turns out you don’t need them, you always have snacks in your room so they won’t go to waste!

# 15. You’re travelling internationally but your taxi doesn’t except credit cards! – (very common packing mistakes to avoid traveling abroad)

  • In many countries the taxi’s only except cash. Don’t assume the currency kiosk will be available or open when you land. Also depending on where you are travelling to cash machines might not always be available and they come with additional charges that can be avoided.

How to Avoid:

  • Always make sure you carry some cash in the nomination of the country you are visiting!

# 16. Your asked to step aside for search at airport security

  • We often put out our clothes the night before we head to the airport, but we sometimes don’t think when we’re getting dressed what will get through the scan. After waiting in long lines and in a hurry to get to our gate, we get pulled aside and searched and rescanned until we are completely metal free and cleared. Sound familiar?

How to Avoid:

  • If you can live without a belt, leave it!
  • Make sure you are completely metal free, (unless of course you have metal implants) Rings and necklaces are often no problem.

# 17. You’ve lost your passport or wallet

  • An expat with no identification. It happens, whether you’ve been the recent victim of a pick pocket or just plain lost your wallet. Being out of the country with no identification can be a scary and stressful experience.

How to Avoid:

  • Never pack all your things together or carry them together for that matter. Keep your cash separate and not altogether. Leave your passport in the room safe or and try not to walk around with a wallet in your back pocket.
  • b. Backup protection – you send yourself and email or use drop box for your important documents that can be easily accessed by phone or computer should you find yourself in a situation where your cash and identification have gone missing. This will help the process of getting home a bit smoother.

# 18. Can’t find your bag in luggage claim?

(very common packing mistakes to avoid)

  • A lot of luggage looks alike and often there are trends in colours such as greens and especially black. The luggage circles around and round but you can’t seem to find yours.

How to Avoid:

  • Put colourful ribbon, stickers or any identifiable thing you can find on your luggage so you can spot it easier.
  • When you purchase luggage try to stay away from traditional colours and pick something unusual that will stand out.

# 19. You’ve fallen down and you can’t get up!

  • All joking aside, emergencies do happen and when you least expect them. What do you do when you’re travelling internally?

How to Avoid:

  • Before you leave for your trip look up all the emergency numbers and keep them handy when you’re out and about.

# 20. Broken – (my second biggest packing mistakes to avoid)

  • Any number of things can go wrong while your away. Missing buttons, torn clothes, broken zippers etc.

How to Avoid:

  • Always pack a small travel sewing kit for buttons or tears.
  • A roll of black electrical tape does wonders! I broke a brush once and taped her up and it was as good as new till I arrived back home. It also works well for broken zippers on luggage.
  • Always pack a small first aid kit for minor skin breaks

# 21. The unfortunate crying babies

  • It just can’t be avoided and c’mon you’d cry too if the pressure was building up in your ears and you couldn’t pressurize yourself.

How to Avoid:

  • Pack a set of earplugs. These are provided on most international flights but you will need to bring your own on shorter flights.

Now that I’ve exhausted you with this long list of packing mistakes to avoid, I leave you with one last piece of advice. Always fuel up your car the night before your travel! You’ll thank me for this when you arrive back home from you holiday or vacation and your more exhausted than you are now reading this post! You’ll be ready to get back in your car and go straight home to put your feet up!