What Not to Pack for a Vacation and Buy in Your Destination Instead

See recent posts by Kaitlyn Wylde

When we travel, we want to feel confident that we have everything we need. We've also all experienced that anxious feeling of having forgotten something at home. However, it's sometimes better to leave things behind. Hear us out: Even if you pride yourself on being an efficient packer, you’ll travel lighter with fewer items in your bag and may even have room to bring some souvenirs back. Plus, avoiding baggage fees is a great way to reduce last-minute travel expenses. 

And while it might feel risky to travel without your preferred toiletries, you're likely to find everything you need at your destination. Do some preliminary research, map out the distance from your lodging to the local pharmacy or grocery store, and leave what you can at home. To help, we rounded up some things to avoid packing and buy in your destination instead. After all, sometimes behind prepared means showing up empty handed. 

Sun Protection

Marjan Lazarevski/Flickr

Marjan Lazarevski/Flickr

Packing sunscreen might make you feel more prepared for your trip, but it’s not worth risking a leak that could ruin your other belongings. If you’re going somewhere sunny, there’s bound to be a plethora of UV protection available for purchase. Tip: You might want to skip the expensive hotel gift shop, and head into town for a cheaper option.

Beach Towels

Many hotels offer complimentary towels to guests for pool and beach usage, so there’s no reason to waste suitcase space with a beach towel from home. Plus, any towel that you take to the beach is likely going to collect sand. To avoid turning your luggage into an unwanted souvenir, use a hotel towel or purchase one at your destination and leave it there. Take the memories with you, not the sand.  




Yes, even if you’re going to rainy destination like Washington or London, leave the umbrella at home. The bulky accessory will take up precious suitcase space. Plus, the rainier the city, the more likely it is you’ll easily find a temporary replacement. However, you should always check with your hotel before purchasing an umbrella, as many of them offer complimentary umbrella rentals. 

Hair Care

Takashi Ota/Flickr

Takashi Ota/Flickr

Unless you have very particular hair care needs, leave the shampoo and conditioner at home. Even if you’re lucky enough to survive a flight with no leaking bottles, there’s no reason to sacrifice packing space for items that are available at hotels and local stores for a small fee. The cost of dry cleaning clothes in the event of a leak far outweighs the cost of a new bottle. And of course, leave the blow dryer at home, too — your hotel will likely have one for you to borrow.


While it’s great to do your research and collect guidebooks before a trip to a foreign destination, bringing them with you is unnecessary. When you’re low on packing space, there’s simply no room for thick books. And you don’t want to be stuck carrying around the guides in your day bag either. Instead, take photographs of the most important pages with your phone. If you need more assistance when you arrive, purchase a guidebook there. A locally sourced guidebook will likely be more informative anyway. 


Ryan Dickey/Flickr

Ryan Dickey/Flickr

It’s always good to pack a snack in your carry-on — a small energy bar or some fresh fruit, for example. However, trying to save money by packing groceries might end up costing you more than it’s worth. Certain destination regulations might require you to get rid of the food before you leave the airport, while a variety of other unforeseen circumstances, like delayed flights and extreme weather, might leave you with spoiled food. Pack what you can eat during your flight and do some grocery shopping once you arrive at your destination. 

Excess Medication

Prescription medication aside, unless you’re going to a very remote location, leave the emergency bottles of over-the-counter medicine at home. A few travel packets of pain pills and digestive aids are all you need to bring with you. You can likely get your hands on everything else upon arrival at your destinaton. 

Car Seats



If you have kids, you know what a nightmare it can be to travel with car seats. They’re bulky, heavy, and need to be checked. So do some research and look for a local car seat rental at your destination. Leave your bulky seats at home, saving both space and stress. 

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