7 Items NOT to Bring When Traveling Internationally

Versie Dortch

When packing for international travel, it’s important to be mindful of the items you choose to bring. Packing too much can lead to a cumbersome travel experience, not to mention added back pain from carrying heavy luggage! However, some items should never make their way into your suitcase, as they can lead to legal trouble, make you a target for theft or pickpocketing, or simply be unnecessary for your trip.

Let’s explore seven items you should never pack when traveling internationally, as well as a few additional things to consider. By avoiding these items and packing smart, you’ll be able to enjoy a stress-free and comfortable international travel experience.

1. Illegal items – It may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that illegal items, such as drugs or weapons, cannot be brought across international borders. These items can lead to serious legal trouble and should never be packed.

2. Valuable jewelry – While bringing your favorite jewelry with you when traveling internationally is tempting, leaving your valuable items at home is best. Not only can they be lost or stolen, but flashing expensive jewelry can also make you a target for theft or worse.

3. Too many electronics – Electronics can be bulky and heavy, and taking too many with you can weigh you down and create headaches at airport security checkpoints. Only pack the electronics you absolutely need, and consider leaving your laptop or tablet at home, if possible.

4. Formal wear – Unless you’re attending a formal event, leave the high heels, suits, and tuxedos at home. They take up valuable space in your luggage and are often unnecessary for most types of international travel. Depending on your plans, pack a lightweight, wrinkle-free outfit for “fancier” evenings and skip the taffeta, lace, and bulky sports coats.

5. Food- We’re not saying it’s a bad idea to pack snacks, but depending on your mode of travel and your destination, it can be a bad idea to pack snacks. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy products may be subject to strict regulations in some countries due to concerns about pests and disease. You should check the specific rules for each country you’re visiting to see if there are any restrictions on the types of food you can bring.

6. Too many clothes – Overpacking is a common mistake when traveling internationally. It’s important to pack only the clothes you’ll need for the duration of your trip and consider doing laundry midway through if necessary. Choose versatile items that you can mix and match to create multiple outfits.

7. Numerous toiletries – While it’s important to have the essentials, such as toothpaste, shampoo, and sunscreen, bringing too many toiletries can take up precious space in your luggage. Instead, choose travel-sized items when possible, and consider buying toiletries once you arrive at your destination.

Bonus Considerations

Let’s round this list out to a full 10 with some other items you shouldn’t carry internationally: 

8. Too many shoes – Shoes can be heavy and take up a lot of space in your luggage. Instead of packing multiple pairs of shoes, choose versatile shoes that can be worn with different outfits, and wear your bulkiest pair on the plane.

9. Excessive cash – Carrying large amounts of cash can make you a target for theft or pickpocketing. Instead, use credit cards or traveler’s checks when possible, and only carry the money you’ll need for the day.

10. Unnecessary documents – It’s important to have your passport and any necessary travel documents with you when traveling internationally. Avoid bringing unnecessary documents, such as credit card statements or extra copies of your itinerary. Keep important documents in a secure, waterproof container.

When it comes to packing for international travel, it’s essential to consider the necessary items to make your trip comfortable and convenient. However, it is equally vital to be mindful of what not to pack. By avoiding things such as illegal items, formal wear, and excessive cash, you can ensure that your suitcase is streamlined and travel-friendly. When in doubt, remember the old adage: less is more. Pack only what you need, and leave any unnecessary items at home. With this in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a successful, stress-free international travel experience.

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