There are many reasons that we travel: adventure, work, visiting, or a chance to unplug for a while. It’s usually an exciting time.
Packing beforehand, though, can be the most stressful part of traveling. It might even make you question whether you want to go anywhere at all! Most of us forget something every time, from as innocent as a swimsuit to something as serious as a passport. It can feel like a lot of pressure to remember everything.
Packing doesn’t have to induce anxiety, though. With the right plan, you can get everything ready ahead of time and know exactly what you need. That way you can look forward to your trip instead of overwhelmed getting ready.
We’ve compiled the ultimate travel packing list to make sure you have everything you need for a great trip. Our checklist includes all the basics that you need to make sure that your journey starts on the right foot.
Get peace of mind as you get ready for your big adventure! Read on to see what you need for your trip.
Start with the Right Suitcase
Before you start filling up your suitcase with everything that you need, make sure that you have the right one, to begin with. Depending on your trip and how experienced you are as a traveler, you might want to weigh your different options.
Travelers typically fill up the space of their bag. With this in mind, you may want to keep your bag as small as possible for your trip. Get the right-sized travel bag depending on what you need and where you’re going to make sure you’re not overpacking.
Your options for a travel bag include:
Suitcase.The basic, no-brainer for most travelers. A wheeled bag is ideal for most western countries where you can easily lug your suitcase up elevators and over paved roads. However, avoid the temptation to get a suitcase that is too large. You'll be tempted to over-pack and weigh yourself down as you go from place to place.
A four-wheeled suitcase might be ideal for you, depending on your traveling situation. If you do need to pack a lot for an excursion, you can quickly become overloaded. A four-wheel suitcase makes it easy to get from point A to B without dragging your bag. Away offers a great four-wheeled suitcases in all sizes with a built-in charger and other travel-friendly features!
Duffle bag. A light and portable duffle bag is ideal for getting where you need to go and makes navigating with a bag much more manageable. It's simple to carry around, and duffle bags often have extra smaller bags to pack up any of the souvenirs or extra things you pick up along the way. Brands such as Shacke Duffel XL even has a memory foam shoulder strap to keep you comfortable.
Carry-on. For the serious traveler or weekend trip, packing a carry-on makes traveling much less of a headache. You won’t run the risk of overpacking, won’t need to check-in a bag, and don’t have to worry about losing your suitcase. However, it does take a level of know-how and discipline to make sure you only have what you absolutely need.
Pack a Capsule Wardrobe
There’s no one right way to pack for travel. Depending on where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, what time of the year and what you plan on doing what's right for you will change.
However, you can still get a good idea of how much to pack and what you need based on a capsule wardrobe. Steer towards lightweight clothing—you can always add a jacket or sweater later.
Some things your capsule wardrobe should include:
- Long sleeve shirt
- T-shirt and tank tops (4)
- Traveling pants or shorts (2)
- Pair of jeans
- Dress or skirt
- Workout outfit
- Swimsuit (2): ladies, you may want to include a one-piece as one suit for some water activities, such as scuba diving
- Shoes (3): One for walking, one pair of flip-flops, and one for dress-up
- Sweater or jacket
If you decide to keep your toiletries in your carry-on, keep it light and travel-sized. Airport rules don’t allow liquid containers larger than 3.4 ounces, or 100 ml.
The basics you should pack include:
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
- Hairstyling products: For those with long-hair, this should include hair ties and bobby pins
- Facial cleanser: You can keep things easy by packing facial wipes
- Glasses/ prescription sunglasses
- Contact lenses and solution
- Shaving supplies: Razors should be checked in your luggage
- Nail clippers/tweezers: Also keep these checked in your luggage
- Feminine-hygiene products
- Lip balm
Some extras that you may want to pack for travel:
- Travel towel
Health Care Items
Taking care of yourself doesn’t stop while you’re traveling. Make sure that you have the basics to look out for your health or in case of an emergency. Whether you have a sore throat, nausea, or a simple cut, the right first aid kit will keep you healthy and enjoying your trip.
Some health care items you should have include:
- Prescription medication: This should include region-specific medication. You can check to see if you’ll need malaria medication here.
- Pain relievers
- Bug spray
- Small scissors: Be sure to check into your luggage
- Antiseptic wipes
- Medical tape
- Throat lozenges
- Allergy medication
- Hana Tonic: An all-natural tonic that's the traveler's best friend. Whether it's motion sickness or indigestion, Hana Tonic will keep your tummy calm. Plus it's packaged in a travel friendly TSA approved bottle size!
Don’t wait until the last minute to get all of your travel documentation. Ideally, you should be getting everything in order months before departure. Some documents, such as a passport, can take up to 8 weeks to get.
Even if you have a passport, be sure to make sure everything is in order far in advance. Some countries require that your passport won't expire in the next six months. You may also need a visa, depending on the country. You can check whether you need a visa here.
You’ll also want to call your credit cards ahead of time to let them know where you’re planning on going. This step will keep you from dealing with the headache of a declined credit card in a new place.
Keep all of your travel documents in one place and organized to make traveling less stressful. There’s no need to be digging around your bag at the airport frantically searching for your passport. Also, consider emailing all of your documents to yourself in case you lose something, or your bag is stolen.
Documents you should have include:
- Personal/Student ID: If you have one, a student ID could be helpful for getting discounts
- Airline/Bus tickets
- Cash and credit cards
- Health insurance card
- Travel insurance information
- Reservations and itineraries: Make these easy to access. You can print them out or keep them on your phone.
- Emergency contacts
- Hotel information
- Guidebooks and maps
Even if you’re not planning on traveling far or experiencing multiple stops, luggage can sometimes be lost and flights delayed. It’s smart to keep essentials in a carry-on should the worst happen. A couple of outfits and basic TSA-friendly toiletries (such as this kit here) will help keep you afloat if you’re separated from your suitcase.
Some other things to keep in your carry-on bag for smooth travels:
- Phone and charger
- Laptop, iPad, or other electronic devices with charger
- Camera with memory card and charger
- Electronic converter and adapter
- Travel pillow
- Small blanket
- Eye mask and earplugs
- House keys
- Hana Tonic: One shot is within TSA guidelines and can be a lifesaver on an airplane!
Get Your House Ready
Now that you've packed your bags make sure that your home is ready for you to travel. Don't stress about your home on your trip or leave a mess for yourself when you come back. Take care of the basics now so that the rest of your travel time is stress-free.
What exactly needs to be done depends on how long you’ll be gone. If you’re leaving for more than 30 days, for example, you need to check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to make sure there’s nothing more for you to do. You may also want to consider hiring a house sitter if your house requires some more maintenance.
Also, care for the security of your house while you’re gone. Make sure that you get rid of any evidence that you’re gone for an extended amount of time. Newspapers or mail piled up makes you an easy target for a home robbery.
Some basics to care for your home:
- Arrange care for pets, lawn, and plants
- Stop newspaper delivery
- Arrange for post office to hold mail
- Pre-pay bills
- Empty fridge and pantry of food that will expire
- Turn down water heater
- Turn off air conditioning and heater
- Turn off washing machine taps
- Set up timed lights
- Leave key and itinerary with a trusted family member or friend
- Check-in online with airline before leaving for the airport
Make Travel Easier with a Packing List
Packing doesn't have to be stressful. Start early, keep a list, and keep the essential things easy to access. With the right list, you'll be ready for your trip without the anxiety.