What NOT to Pack for Greece

Greece, Ithaca, Kion, Town by sea
Robert Birkby / Getty Images

Sometimes knowing what you don't need is even more important than knowing what you do need. It's easy to buy something extra, but it's hard to leave something behind in the interest of saving weight and space at the end of a trip. Here are some handy un-packing tips, including what you should definitely consider leaving behind:

Un-Packing Tips for Every Budget

  • Short yourself on underwear and socks. Realistically assess your willingness to wash clothes while on your indulgent Greek vacation. If washing out underwear or a T-shirt at night is an option, you can save some weight and room. Warning: Greek islands can be humid depending on the time of year. What dries overnight at home may still be damp in the morning in Greece. And not all the latest high-performance "travel" fabrics are equal winners at drying quickly. Quick test - throw the item in the washer and check it as soon as the spin cycle ends. Does it already feel pretty dry? It's a winner. Still noticeably damp? It will be that way after an overnight hanging in your hotel bathroom.
  • Unless you're going mountaineering, leave your heavy boots at home. Even if you're planning lots of walking and some hiking, most of the Greek terrain likely to be encountered by the average traveler will be best taken in a good pair of hiking shoes or walking shoes ... or even the fashion faux pas of heavy socks and hiking sandals.
  • For spring, summer, and fall, leave the big jackets at home besides those boots. You'll be better off layering. Bring a thin vinyl rain jacket with a hood if you're worried about being cold; these are so airtight, you'll usually find yourself sweating.
  • Packed so light you're missing something crucial? Try borrowing. If your adventures take you to the more remote Greek islands or if you're short on something, ask if there's anything you can borrow. You may be surprised what Stavros or Elena has in the back of the closet, and they'll usually be happy to share.
  • Remember, Greece has stores. Find yourself short on equipment or with a "wardrobe malfunction"? Athens, Heraklion, Thessaloniki, and other Greek cities have street markets with lots of stalls stocked with cheap but useful merchandise. Athens even has a shopping mall, and you may luck out with a 1-Euro Bargain Store.

Going Deluxe?

Leave your hairdryer and shampoo behind if you will be safely ensconced in a luxury hotel. But small, cheap hotels will often skip washcloths; you might want to bring one along.

Going on a Budget?

  • Small inns and hotels will virtually never have shampoos, lotions, or fancy soaps.
    If they do have shampoo, it usually will be a straight non-conditioning type. Ironically, room rentals and short-term apartments will usually provide more of the basics than your standard hotel or inn does. But, if there isn't one in the room, a request to the desk will usually turn up a hairdryer.
  • Budget travelers really need to pack light. As regional airlines in Europe have much tighter carry-on restrictions, a slightly-oversized-but-​under-packed bag may still squish into the baggage tester, and you don't want to end up paying $50 or more for an overweight bag because you couldn't decide between those two pairs of shoes or t-shirts.

Tips and Tricks

  • Learn the art of using a sarong.
  • Leave all but one t-shirt at home. Pick up blatantly Greek-themed equivalents. Plus, if you wear them lightly, they can be washed and double as gifts for folks back home.
  • Consider how many outfit choices you go through on a long weekend at home. When you're traveling, you'll have your favorite items that you wear more frequently because they work best for you. You won't need as many clothes as you think. Sometimes, we over-pack because of anxiety about the trip, and we somehow feel more secure if we're over-equipped with underwear. Leave the anxiety at home too.
  • Finally, if there's any reason to skip packing something—a tiny tear, the color is almost right but not quite, that shirt has an itchy tag—leave it at home. You won't miss it, and you will gladly miss those extra ounces in your suitcase.​