Packing Mistakes: Including the One Others Miss!

Packing for a trip can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to overpack… or underpack. Even the most seasoned travelers can fall prey to common packing mistakes, as we definitely have at one point or another.

In this mega-guide, we’ll take a look at the 17 packing mistakes that everyone makes and how to avoid them. We’ll include numerous tips along with some of the most useful videos we were able to find. Avoid the most common mistake – forgetting essential items, not organizing, or not making copies of important documents – that can turn your dream trip into a nightmare. 

One more thing!

Feel free to jump around to the section you’re most curious about here, bookmark the guide for your next trip, and share it with your travel partner so that you’re all prepared when your next trip comes up.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the world of packing mistakes!


1. Packing too much: The number one packing mistake every traveler makes (at one point or another)

Packing too much is a common mistake that every traveler makes at some point. It’s tempting to bring along every single outfit, accessory, and souvenir we can fit in our luggage, but this can lead to unnecessary weight, stress, and extra fees. Instead, it’s important to be strategic and only bring what is truly necessary. Here are some tips for avoiding the overpacking trap:

First, make a list of everything you need to bring, and stick to it. This can help prevent you from impulsively tossing items into your suitcase. Second, consider the activities you’ll be doing at your destination, and pack accordingly. If you’re going on a beach vacation, you won’t need heavy coats or boots. Third, pack versatile items that can be mixed and matched, so you have more options with less clothing. Fourth, consider bringing travel-sized toiletries and purchasing any necessary items at your destination, rather than lugging them with you.

Overpacking not only adds extra weight and bulk to your luggage, but it can also lead to lost or damaged items. By being mindful of what you’re packing, you can save space, money, and stress on your trip. So next time you’re packing for a trip, remember to keep it light and simple, and only bring what you truly need.

TBE Youtube recommendation for overpacking


2. Forgetting essential items like a small first aid kit and relevant adapters

Forgetting essential items like a first aid kit and adapters is a common mistake that many travelers make. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a trip and overlook important items that can make a big difference in your journey. That’s why it’s crucial to have a checklist and double-check it before you leave.

First and foremost, a first aid kit is a must-have for any trip. It should include basic items like painkillers, band-aids, and insect repellent. It’s also a good idea to bring along any prescription medication you may need, as well as any over-the-counter medication for common ailments like motion sickness or diarrhea.

Another essential item to pack is a travel adapter, so you can charge your electronic devices in any country. It’s also a good idea to bring a power strip, so you can charge multiple devices at once. A portable phone charger can also come in handy, especially if you’re traveling to a remote location with limited access to outlets.

In addition to these items, it’s important to bring any necessary documents, such as your passport and visas, as well as copies of these documents in case of emergency. It’s also a good idea to research the destination’s customs and laws, and pack accordingly. For example, some countries have strict dress codes or require certain vaccinations.

By packing essential items like a first aid kit and adapters, you can ensure a smooth and comfortable trip. Don’t let the excitement of a vacation blind you to the importance of these items – make sure to add them to your packing list and double-check before you leave.

TBE Youtube recommendation for essentials to pack


3. Not organizing clothes and accessories efficiently

When it comes to packing for a trip, one of the most important things to consider is how to organize your clothes and accessories efficiently. Unfortunately, many people fail to do this and end up with a cluttered, disorganized suitcase that is difficult to navigate and search through.

One of the biggest problems with not organizing your clothes and accessories is that it can lead to wasted space. Without a clear plan, you may end up with a suitcase that is half empty or stuffed so full that you can’t even close it. This can be frustrating and can even cause you to leave essential items behind.

Another issue with not organizing your clothes and accessories is that it can lead to wrinkled or damaged items. When clothes are haphazardly thrown into a suitcase, they are more likely to get crumpled and creased. This can be a major inconvenience, especially if you need to look presentable for a meeting or event.

Additionally, not organizing your clothes and accessories can make it difficult to find what you need when you need it. When you’re in a rush to get dressed or find a specific accessory, the last thing you want to do is spend precious time digging through a pile of clothes and trying to remember where you packed everything.

To avoid these problems, it’s essential to take the time to organize your clothes and accessories before you pack. This can be as simple as laying out your clothes and accessories on your bed and grouping them into categories. For example, you might have a pile of tops, a pile of bottoms, a pile of shoes, and a pile of accessories.

Once you have everything grouped, you can then start packing your suitcase. Start with the heaviest items, such as shoes, and work your way up to the lighter items, such as tops and accessories. This will help ensure that your suitcase is balanced and easy to carry.

Another helpful tip is to use packing cubes or packing organizers to keep your clothes and accessories organized and easy to access. These simple tools are great for separating your clothes by category, such as tops, bottoms, and underwear, and for keeping everything neat and tidy.

So, if you want to avoid the frustration and inconvenience of a cluttered, disorganized suitcase, take the time to organize your clothes and accessories before you pack. This will save you time, space, and stress, and will make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free.

TBE Youtube recommendation for packing tips


4. Not utilizing all available space in luggage

Not utilizing all available space in luggage can be a huge mistake for any traveler. Whether you’re heading on a long vacation or a short weekend trip, maximizing your luggage space is crucial for ensuring that you have everything you need without overpacking. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to make use of every inch of space in your luggage.

The first and the most important step when packing is to plan out what exactly you will need to bring. Make a list of items that are essential and ensure you have all of the items that are necessary, such as an extra pair of clothes. Secondly, only bring items that you actually need. This means taking only the items that you have a genuine reason to bring, and avoiding anything extra that could take up essential space.

After deciding what items are essential, you need to think out of the box and become a bit creative in where and how you can store items in your luggage. Clothes and other bulky items should be stored in the corners and sides of your suitcase to maximize space. Additionally, you can use rolled-up clothes or shoes to separate items from each other and create more storage. You should also stuff smaller items, like socks and underwear, into the bottom of your shoes for extra storage.

It’s also important to consider the size and shape of your suitcase. Opt for suitcases with multiple compartments for items, as these can easily increase space for other items. Similarly, consider utilizing packing cubes or bags to separate different items and fit as much as possible into your suitcase. And when all else fails, you can always resort to using Ziploc bags and vacuum bags to compress items and fit much more into a smaller space.

Finally, remember to weigh your bag before leaving for the airport in order to make sure everything is still within the limits of the airline’s policy. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can easily utilize all of the space in your suitcase and make sure to bring everything you need for an enjoyable and hassle-free trip.

TBE Youtube recommendation for maximizing space


5. Not checking weight and size restrictions for flights

Beware the wrath of over-packed luggage! It’s far too easy to offer advice on travel planning about what type of clothing, toiletries, and other items to take with you on your trip. But one tidbit of advice is often left out – you must check the weight and size restrictions for your flight. Here’s why.

Not only can overpacking result in extra fees and inconvenience at the airport, but it can also cause safety issues on the plane. Airlines have strict weight and size limits for luggage and carry-on items for a reason – to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft.

If you don’t check the weight and size restrictions before packing, you could end up with a heavy, oversized bag that won’t fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. This can cause delays and inconvenience for you and other passengers, as well as the flight crew.

In addition to the inconvenience and potential safety hazards, not checking the weight and size restrictions can also result in costly fees. Many airlines charge extra for oversized or overweight luggage, and these fees can add up quickly. It’s much cheaper and easier to simply check the restrictions before packing and make sure your luggage complies.

So, before you pack your bags for your next flight, make sure to check the weight and size restrictions. It will save you time, money, and potential headaches at the airport. Avoid the stress and potential safety risks by being prepared and packing accordingly.

TBE Youtube recommendation for avoiding weight-related luggage fees


6. Not researching the destination’s climate and packing accordingly

Packing for a trip can be a daunting task, but one thing that is often overlooked is researching the destination’s climate and packing accordingly. This can be a huge mistake that can ruin your entire trip.

Imagine arriving at a tropical beach destination only to find that you packed all heavy jackets and sweaters. Or, arriving at a mountain resort and realizing that you only packed sandals and shorts. Not only will you be uncomfortable, but you may also have to spend extra money on purchasing the appropriate clothing.

In addition to packing the wrong clothing, failing to research the climate can also affect your activities and plans. If you’re not prepared for rain, you may have to cancel outdoor excursions or hikes. If you’re not prepared for extreme heat, you may have to limit your time outside and miss out on experiencing the destination.

To avoid these pitfalls, make sure to research the climate before packing. Check the average temperatures and rainfall for the time of year you’ll be visiting. Consider the activities you have planned and pack accordingly. And don’t forget to pack layers and bring a raincoat or umbrella, just in case.

With a little bit of research and careful packing, you can ensure that your trip isn’t ruined by the weather. And who knows, you may even discover a new favorite jacket or pair of shoes that you never would have thought to bring otherwise. Don’t let the weather dampen your travel plans – research and pack wisely.

TBE Youtube recommendation for cold weather packing


7. Not packing enough layers for unpredictable weather

Another common mistake that many travelers make is not packing enough layers for unpredictable weather. While it’s important to research the climate of your destination and pack accordingly, it’s also important to be prepared for unexpected weather changes.

For example, if you’re traveling to a mountainous region, you may experience sudden temperature drops and heavy precipitation. If you only packed a few lightweight tops, you may end up shivering and soaking wet.

To avoid these situations, it’s important to pack a few extra layers, even if you’re traveling to a warm destination. A lightweight jacket, a scarf, and a pair of gloves can go a long way in keeping you warm and dry. And if you’re like us and you hate the cold, check out our guide on exactly what to pack for a ski trip. Don’t freeze unnecessarily! 

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to pack a few waterproof items, such as a raincoat or umbrella. These items can come in handy if you get caught in a sudden rainstorm.

So, before you start packing for your next trip, be sure to pack enough layers and waterproof items to stay comfortable and dry, no matter what the weather may bring. It’ll save you time, money, and discomfort in the long run.

TBE Youtube recommendation for packing layers


8. Not bringing enough medication and toiletries

One of the biggest mistakes that travelers make is not bringing enough medication and toiletries on their trip. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress and inconvenience, especially if you’re traveling to a destination where it may be difficult to find the items you need.

Before you leave on your trip, make sure to carefully consider the medication and toiletries that you will need. This includes everything from prescription medication to over-the-counter painkillers and allergy medication. Don’t forget to pack enough for the entire duration of your trip, as well as a few extra days in case of delays or unforeseen circumstances.

Additionally, don’t forget to pack essential toiletries such as toothpaste, deodorant, and sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to bring along travel-sized versions of these items, as they are much easier to pack and won’t take up too much space in your suitcase.

TBE Youtube recommendation for medicine packing


9. Not leaving room for souvenirs and new items

Another common mistake that travelers make is not leaving enough room in their suitcase for souvenirs and other items that they may want to bring back from their trip. This can be a huge inconvenience, as you may end up having to leave behind items that you really wanted to bring back with you.

To avoid this mistake, make sure to leave some extra space in your suitcase when packing for your trip. This will give you the flexibility to bring back souvenirs and other items that you may want to take home with you.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and consider what kinds of souvenirs and items you may want to bring back with you. This will help you determine how much space you need to leave in your suitcase. For example, if you know you want to bring back a few bottles of wine or other bulky items, make sure to leave enough space in your suitcase to accommodate them.

Overall, leaving enough room in your suitcase for souvenirs and new items is essential for a successful and stress-free trip. By planning ahead and being mindful of the space you have available, you can avoid the inconvenience of having to leave behind items that you want to bring back with you.

TBE Youtube recommendation for packing souvenirs on your way back


10. Not packing fragile items with proper protection

Packing fragile items can be a challenging task, especially when you’re trying to fit everything into a suitcase or a backpack for a long trip. Without proper protection, your fragile items are at risk of getting damaged during the trip. Here are some tips for packing fragile items:

  1. Use bubble wrap or foam sheets to cushion and protect your fragile items. Wrap each item individually, using plenty of bubble wrap or foam to ensure that it doesn’t move around in your bag.
  2. Put your fragile items in the middle of your bag, surrounded by other items to keep them from shifting during travel.
  3. If you’re using a suitcase, pack your fragile items on top of your clothes, so they’re less likely to get crushed.
  4. Consider using a dedicated travel case or box for your fragile items, especially if you have a lot of them. This will help keep them safe and organized during your trip.
  5. Avoid packing fragile items in the pockets of your bag, as these can easily be opened or crushed during travel.
  6. If you’re worried about your fragile items getting damaged during the trip, consider purchasing travel insurance to cover any potential losses.
  7. Finally, be sure to label your bag as “fragile” so that airline or train personnel will handle it with care. This will increase the chances that your fragile items will arrive at your destination safely.

If you’re curious, check out our guide on how to correctly pack a bottle of wine for a plane!

With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can pack your fragile items without worrying about them getting damaged during your trip. Use these tips to ensure that your fragile items arrive at your destination in one piece.

TBE Youtube recommendation for packing fragile items safely (for wine bottles – still applies!)


11. Not making copies of important documents

Losing important documents while traveling can be a major inconvenience and even a disaster. That’s why it’s so important to make copies of all your essential documents before you leave on your trip.

First of all, make copies of your passport, visa, and any other identification documents you may need. Keep one copy with you at all times, and leave another with a trusted friend or family member back home. This way, if your documents are lost or stolen, you’ll have a backup to help you get home safely.

Next, make copies of your travel itinerary, hotel reservations, and any other important information you’ll need during your trip. This can include confirmation numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. It’s also a good idea to make a digital copy of these documents and store them in a secure location, such as a cloud-based storage system or email account.

Finally, don’t forget to make copies of your insurance policies, including medical and travel insurance. Keep these copies with you at all times, and make sure to contact your insurance provider if you need to make a claim while you’re away.

Making copies of your important documents might seem like a small task, but it can save you a lot of hassle and stress if something goes wrong during your trip. Don’t leave home without them!

TBE Youtube recommendation for making copies of important documents (cruise – still applies!)


12. Not securing valuables in a safe place

When traveling, it’s important to think about the safety of your valuables. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of not securing them in a safe place. This can lead to lost or stolen items, which can ruin your trip and put a damper on your vacation.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t secure their valuables is because they don’t think it’s necessary. After all, they’re on vacation and want to enjoy themselves, so they leave their valuables out in the open or in their hotel room without locking them up. However, this is a huge mistake. Even in a seemingly safe location, there are always risks of theft or accidental loss.

Another reason people don’t secure their valuables is because they don’t know how to do it. Many hotels have safes, but they may not be the most secure option. Instead, consider purchasing an ant-itheft bag or even a portable safe that you can take with you wherever you go. This will allow you to keep your valuables close at hand, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’re securely locked away.

It’s also important to consider the type of valuables you’re bringing with you on your trip. While cash and credit cards are obvious items to secure, don’t forget about other valuables like jewelry, electronics, and important documents. These items can be just as valuable, if not more so, and should be treated with the same level of care.

In the end, securing your valuables in a safe place may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s worth it to protect your belongings and ensure a smooth and stress-free trip. Don’t let the fear of theft or loss ruin your vacation – take the time to secure your valuables and enjoy your trip without worry.

TBE Youtube recommendation for keeping valuables safe


13. Not packing heavy items into checked bag

One mistake that is often made is forgetting to pack heavy items into the checked bag. This is compounded by the fact that practically every airline will pounce on the chance to charge you more money, i.e., they have “strict regulations” on the weight of a carry-on. To avoid this, be sure to pack bulky and heavy items such as books and boxes into your checked bag.

Another issue with not packing heavy items into a checked bag is the risk of them being damaged. Should the items be stored in the overhead compartment, they may get knocked around by other passengers and risk becoming damaged. Even worse, if the items were to become caught between two other luggage pieces as they are being loaded onto the aircraft, they could be at risk of being damaged beyond repair.

However, not packing heavy items into a checked bag can lead to more than just a potential fee or damage. It can also make carrying your luggage from the terminal to your destination extremely difficult. With the extra weight in your carry-on bag, you may end up needing a team of people to help you.

As a way to alleviate this extra stress, be sure to pack items such as books, boxes, sweaters/layers/jeans and other heavy clothing items in your checked bag. With these heavy items removed from your carry-on, you will have an easier time carrying and maneuvering when you arrive. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of knowing that your items are safe from the potential of being mishandled by other passengers.

All in all, it is important to remember that packing heavy items in your checked bag can save you from potential fees and damages while also allowing you to carry and move your luggage more easily. 

TBE Youtube recommendation for what not to pack in your carry-on


14. Not packing a spare outfit in case of lost luggage

It’s happened to the best of us – you’re all packed and ready for your big trip, but in the excitement, you forget to pack a spare outfit in case your luggage gets lost. And then, of course, it does. Suddenly you’re stuck in a foreign country, running around trying to find a new outfit that doesn’t break the bank.

But don’t worry… because I’ve got a solution. Next time you’re packing, just throw in an old, ratty t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. That way, if your luggage does get lost, you won’t be stranded in a fancy outfit that’s totally out of place. And if your luggage doesn’t get lost, you can just toss the old clothes in the trash when you get to your destination.

So save yourself the stress and pack that extra outfit – even if it’s a holey t-shirt and a pair of stained sweatpants. Trust me, it’ll be worth it in the end. 

TBE Youtube recommendation for what to do when the airline loses your bag


15. Not considering the mode of transportation for packing

Packing for a trip can be a daunting task, and it’s easy to overlook important details. One mistake that many travelers make is not considering the mode of transportation when packing.

For example, if you’re flying, it’s essential to be mindful of the weight and size restrictions of your luggage. Overpacking can result in additional fees and inconvenience at the airport. On the other hand, if you’re traveling by car, you have more flexibility with how much you can bring. But, keep in mind that space can still be limited, especially if you have multiple people and luggage in the car.

Additionally, the type of transportation can impact the items you need to pack. For example, if you’re taking a train, you may want to bring a book or other entertainment for the journey. If you’re going on a hiking trip, you’ll need to pack appropriate clothing and gear.

It’s also important to consider the destination when packing. Research the weather and any potential activities so that you can pack appropriately. If you’re traveling to a beach destination, swimsuits and sunscreen are must-haves. If you’re going somewhere cold, don’t forget warm clothing and a jacket.

Overall, it’s crucial to take into account the mode of transportation and destination when packing. By doing so, you can avoid overpacking, save money, and be prepared for your trip.

TBE Youtube recommendation for train travel


16. Not considering cultural customs and dress codes

When traveling to a new destination, it’s important to be mindful of the local customs and dress codes. However, many travelers overlook this important aspect of their trip and end up making a major packing mistake.

Not considering cultural customs and dress codes can lead to uncomfortable situations and even offend local people. For example, in some Middle Eastern countries, women are expected to cover their heads and shoulders in public, but many tourists are unaware of this and end up exposing too much skin. In other countries, like Japan, it’s considered rude to show your upper arms or legs, so wearing short sleeves or shorts can be seen as disrespectful.

In addition to offending locals, not following dress codes can also put you at risk. For instance, wearing revealing clothing in conservative countries can attract unwanted attention and even put you in danger.

To avoid making this packing mistake, it’s important to do your research before your trip. Read up on the local customs and dress codes, and pack accordingly. If you’re unsure of what to wear, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and opt for more modest clothing.

Remember, being a respectful and considerate traveler is not only the right thing to do, but it can also help you have a safer and more enjoyable trip. So before you pack your bags, make sure you’re aware of the local customs and dress codes, and pack accordingly.

TBE Youtube recommendation for Thailand recommendations (swap out country based on destination!)


17. Not properly labeling luggage for easy identification

Not properly labeling luggage for easy identification is a common mistake that many travelers make. While it may not seem like a big deal at first, it can cause serious problems and delays on your trip.

First, not labeling your luggage makes it much more difficult for you to find it on the baggage carousel. Imagine standing there for minutes on end, searching for a black suitcase that looks just like everyone else’s. Not only is it frustrating for you, but it also causes delays for everyone else who is waiting for their luggage.

Secondly, not labeling your luggage can lead to it being mistaken for someone else’s. This can happen if you have a similar looking bag or if the person who picks up your luggage happens to have the same name as you. In this case, your luggage could end up on the wrong plane or even in the wrong country.

Lastly, not labeling your luggage can make it more vulnerable to being lost or stolen. If your luggage doesn’t have your name and contact information on it, it can be difficult for airport staff to track it down and return it to you. It’s important to always include your name, address, and phone number on the outside of your luggage, as well as inside in case the tag gets lost or removed.

In order to avoid these potential issues, it’s crucial to properly label your luggage before your trip. Use a bright and distinctive tag or ribbon so that your luggage stands out on the baggage carousel. Write your name and contact information clearly and legibly, and consider using a permanent marker or luggage tag that can’t be easily removed. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your luggage is easily identifiable and less likely to be lost or mistaken for someone else’s.

TBE Youtube recommendation for tagging your luggage properly


Conclusion: Don’t let packing mistakes ruin your trip

So there you have it, the 17 packing mistakes that everyone makes and how to avoid them. From forgetting essential items to packing too much, these mistakes can turn your dream trip into a nightmare. By following our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to pack like a pro and avoid any unwanted stress during your travels. Remember to always leave room for souvenirs and check the weather forecast before packing. 

Oh, and bonus tip! Don’t forget to pack some snacks to keep you fueled during your trip, or at least during the plane/road trip. After all, hangry travelers are the worst!

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to avoid common packing mistakes and have a stress-free trip. Safe travels and happy packing!

About the author

Robert Lora is a digital nomad and travel enthusiast. When he's not busy planning his next trip, he enjoys exercising, photography, and reading.