Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email with all the best travel news

Today’s post comes from Carolyn, Mrs. PWaC, who is our chief packer.  In fact, when I suggested to her a post with the title of “Packing Mistakes I made on our trip”, she responded with

Personally, I’m an awesome packer.  maybe the title of this should be Packing Mistakes People Make.

So there you have it… 🙂  I will say, it is true – she is a very good packer and doesn’t do most of these packing mistakes

Packing Mistakes #1 – Not making a packing listpacking-mistakes-clipboard

I think the number one mistake people make when packing is not making a packing list. I get it, you’ve packed for vacations many times, you know what you need, right? Making an actual packing list, that I can print off and check off might seem like a pain, but trust me, it will save you a ton of headache later. Having a real packing list can not only help you remember to pack all the things you need, it can also get your brain remembering things you need to add that you may have forgotten. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been packing away, using my list, only to have my memory jogged about something else that I totally forgot to put on the list. (So I quickly jot it on the list and then pack it!)

Packing Mistakes #2 – Only thinking of clothes and toiletries

While it’s great to have a packing list, people tend to think only of clothes and toiletries they will need and forget all the random odds and ends. Consider cords for charging cell phones or laptops, accessories for your camera, glasses/contact supplies, voltage converters/adapters for international travel, sunglasses, prescription medicine, small first aid kit. snacks, cash, swim suits, and underwear!!

I recommend starting the packing list a few days before you want to actually start packing.  Then, as you go through your days leading up to your trip, you’ll remember things as you use them that need to go on your list and avoid a costly packing mistake

Packing Mistake #3 – Not packing for the weather where you’re GOING


Grand Canyon at sunset

Speaking of things that you end up forgetting, make sure to consider umbrellas, raincoats or sweaters (by checking the weather for your travel destination).

When my son and Dan went on a trip to the Grand Canyon it ended up being a lot colder than they expected.  Dan figured he was going to Arizona so even though it was November, he wouldn’t need any cold weather gear.  After a few hours in snow and a cold biting wind in shorts and a T-shirt, he realized his packing mistake and was wishing he’d have listened to my advice….

Similarly for our road trip out west for Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore. It was the middle of summer so we packed no long sleeve shirts and no jackets, yet it was freezing in the train and quite cold at some of our stops out west in the mornings)

Packing Mistake #4 – Forgetting some of the baby and kid stuff

If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler there’s a whole huge list of things that they will need that you might forget about.  Pretty much, don’t forget diapers, wipes, Desitin, food/bottles, extra clothes and a stroller!

When we went to Disney, we forgot to pack a stroller!  While our youngest is 4, walking all day in Disney would be just too much for her.  We ended up buying a cheap umbrella stroller at Walmart, which turned out to be a life saver.

(SEE ALSO: My top 5 Disney World tips for a budget traveler)

If you don’t have little ones that need strollers, you might find that a collapsible wagon is very useful to have for hauling stuff around on vacation.

Packing Mistakes #5 – Packing TOO MUCH baby and kid stuff

So you’re SO worried you’re going to forget some baby or kid paraphernalia that you end up packing the entire world.  If you’re traveling by car, sometimes you can get away with this, but traveling by plane means you’re often paying extra baggage fees for things you might be able to get where you’re going

(SEE ALSO: Keeping track of 17 pieces of luggage at the airport)

Packing Mistake #6 – Forgetting the cash

I know we live in a credit card world (I mean credit card miles and points have pretty much fueled my family’s journeys over the past few years), but sometimes cash is king.  Here’s a listing of some places we’ve been where cash came in handy

  1. Quarters for laundry (SEE ALSO: 4 laundry hacks when you’re doing long-term travel) – that is, unless you LIKE paying $6 for the hotel to wash your underwear
  2. Tolls (if you don’t have a transponder)
  3. Smaller food eateries (unless you like to eat McDonalds on vacation)
  4. Some attractions – Four Corners monument charges $5 a person, cash-only
  5. And of course, if you’re in Europe, you better bring cash to go to the bathroom! 😀

If your family is traveling, you'll want to avoid these 6 huge packing mistakes

There are our top 6 packing mistakes and how to avoid them – what are your biggest packing mistakes?


Sign up for our once-daily email with the latest tips and tricks on how to travel for free / cheap. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!