9 Items to Leave Home on Your Next Beach Vacation

by  Alex Schechter | Mar 12, 2014
Family at the beach
Family at the beach / petrenkod/iStock

We've all had a fellow passenger's overstuffed carry-on tumble clumsily out of the overhead bin onto our heads. And we've all struggled to zip up a heaving weekend bag. Sometimes, you have to wonder: Do we really need all this stuff? Here are nine items you probably don't need to bring on your next warm-weather getaway:

1. Guidebooks
We're not ones to support the "print is dead" credo. We love our paper guidebooks – while we're still on the ground, planning for a vacation. Sure, you could spend half your flight dog-earing pages. Or, better yet, you could download guides to your mobile device, or log onto websites like this one from your hotel room.

2. Towels
A full-size beach towel, no matter how well-folded, is guaranteed to take up a lot of space. Trust us, your friendly hotel concierge will be more than happy to supply you with one. For those renting a local apartment or villa, consider simply buying towels at the local drug store. Not only will you suitcase be lighter, you'll be able to contribute something useful to future guests when you leave.

3. Tons of layers
Plenty of warm-weather locales tend to experience colder temperatures at night, so you'd be wise to pack a thick extra layer for those leisurely outdoor dinners. But leave it at that. Overeager packers tend to get carried away, resulting in a closet full of sweatshirts and sweaters that you'll likely only use for a fraction of your trip.

4. A year's supply of t-shirts
Here's an easy two-step trick to ensure a lighter, more manageable bag: count the number of days you'll be traveling. Make sure your t-shirt count never goes above that number. Realistically, you'll spend most of the time traipsing around in your bathing suit, anyway.

5. Food and tableware
Those who spend a large portion of their time at home cooking, planning future meals, and rearranging cupboards know the appeal of always being prepared when it comes to food. But on vacation, part of the excitement is letting go of your routine. That means no favorite condiments, utensils, picnic baskets, or other eating apparatus. Your hotel dining room will have all the cups and bowls you could ever desire – more than likely, your time will be better spent discovering the local cuisine anyway.

6. Your laptop
Like nothing more than to sit back and binge-watch an entire TV series on Netflix? Great. But there's no need to bring that addiction along on your vacation. Unless you're traveling for business, we say leave the laptop behind. These days, hotel TVs are equipped with all the channels you watch at home, and some even offer iPads, Chromebooks, and other tablets on loan.

7. Any shoe larger than your head
Rugged types tend to want to be prepared for anything. We get that. A trip spent exploring Machu Picchu, for example, will require more than just a pair of flip flops; but when your seven-day plan involves nothing more than eat, beach, sleep, repeat, minimizing bulky footwear is a great way to free up some space in the carry-on.

8. Formal wear
The allure of a fancy restaurant can certainly prove irresistible, especially after a few days at the same buffet, so here's a basic rule: restrict your formal wear options to one outfit you really love.  And if packing dinner attire is causing you more headaches than it's worth, why not skip the fancy dresses and blazers altogether? You might be happier (and more comfortable) venturing out to a local, low-key restaurant where shorts and a t-shirt won't be frowned upon.

9. A million toiletries
If you're prone to being buried under an avalanche of facial cleansers, moisturizers, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body scrub, foot lotion, nail polish remover, and other half-filled bottles the minute you unzip your bag, chances are you could benefit from a little toiletry downsizing. At best, you'll be able to find almost all of the necessary items right in your hotel bathroom. Plus, packing fewer liquids will also save you hassle at airport security, too.

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