Travel Packing Tips

Travel Packing Tips


Our travel checklist includes everything you need such as packing suggestions, emergency information to have on hand, a list of items for a travel first aid kit, a checklist for planning your next vacation!

No matter when or where you go, utilize this travel checklist to ensure that you have what you need so that you’re able to make the most of your time abroad safely, comfortably while reducing the stress of being far from home and it’s conveniences.

Things To Do Before You Leave:

Many credit card companies will see travel purchases on your card and will figure out that you’re traveling. However, we recommend that you contact your credit card company and advise them of your travel dates and plans. By doing so, they won’t block any transactions abroad for fear of fraud.

If you’re planning to go somewhere less well-traveled, consider checking the State Department’s site on Travel Advisories, which details the safety level of your destination. Often, local conflicts can make it more dangerous to travel to certain parts of the world. Knowing the status beforehand can help you with planning and making informed decisions.

In addition, double-check whether or not you need a visa for your destination. If you are a US passport holder, you will be allowed to travel to most countries without a visa. However, there are some that require them. Depending on the country, you’ll have to get it beforehand and pay a fee (you usually can do this online; sometimes you’ll have to send your passport into the embassy). Others, you can obtain and pay for at the airport when you arrive. More information on that can be found here. Most important, most countries require that you have a minimum of six months remaining on your passport at time of arrival.


Choose the Right Travel Bag for Your Trip:

Before you even begin deciding what to pack, it’s important to find a travel bag that’s as versatile as you need it to be, while also fitting all your stuff and being easy to carry. Consider the length of your trip, as well as if it’s an international vacation, if you’ll be using budget airlines, and your primary activities—all of these considerations impact which bag is best for your trip.

Wherever you’re planning to go, pick luggage that is versatile, lightweight, and big enough to hold all your travel essentials. The most important decision you’ll make is (as far as luggage is concerned) is buying a bag that has an awesome warranty. Traveling with a piece of luggage with a broken wheel, handle, or zipper is the absolute worst! Brands that back their gear with stand-up warranties build that promised durability into their gear.


Rolling Luggage: Let’s face it. Wheels are nice. There’s no need to carry all your gear on your back or via a duffle bag if you know you’re going to be traveling in a city where there are paved roads and sidewalks. You may also want to consider a bag with off-road wheels, making them extra durable for trips even when there isn’t a smooth path.

4-Wheels: As you fill up your wheeled luggage, weight can become a bit restrictive—especially if you have to walk long distances. Consider 4-wheels to keep the weight off your wrist and effortlessly roll your bag by your side.

Duffel Bag: These are simple, lightweight, and durable. Sling it over your shoulder, or put some wheels on it and get on your way. These are the most versatile travel solutions you can get, with everything from classic duffels to convertible backpacks, wheels, and more.

Wheeled Backpack: If you’ll be going through different types of terrain, or switching from airports to cobblestones, having a bag with the option to roll it or carry it like a backpack or duffel is really handy.

Travel Backpack: If you know you don’t want the extra weight of wheels, traveling with a travel pack is going to mean hands-free mobility and ultimate versatility.

Carry-On: Whenever possible, travel with carry on luggage. It means you can save time at the airport, save on check-in fees, guarantee the airlines won’t lose your bag, have everything you need with you at all times, ensure you don’t have to wait at baggage claim…the list goes on and on.

Your Packing Checklist

Your packing should line up with what you are doing/have planned, but also be flexible to allow for last minute changes in weather, or accidents.

I’d recommend that wherever you go, and for however long, you create a travel capsule wardrobe. Doing so will allow you to mix and match almost everything you take with you so that you have even more outfits to choose from and are not limited.
So to pack, first get some clothing basics (to get you started thinking about what you may need):

  • 3-5 pairs of bottoms
  • 7-10 tops
  • 2 cardigans (or light outerwear) in neutral colors
  • 3 shoes: One pair of sneakers, one sandal, one closed-toe shoe (this will differ if you’re doing something like Patagonia or cold weather, so adjust accordingly)
  • Enough undergarments for one week
  • Include anything else you need for vacation activities e.g., swimsuits and coverups, hiking shoes, snow gear, etc.
  • Dresses and/or skirts
  • Jewelry (organize in a small cube or sac)

Travel Essentials for Men: 

  • Lightweight clothing that can be layered
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Sweaters or fleece jacket
  • T-shirts and tank tops (be respectful of the culture you are visiting)
  • Pants and/or shorts
  • Belt (check out this one for a ingenuitive money protection option)
  • Socks (wool socks are best for hiking and camping)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Rain jacket, windbreaker or umbrella
  • Pajamas/sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Sunglasses and glasses case
  • Hat or sun visor
  • Scarf or bandana
  • Swimsuit or swim trunks (consider a clean/dirty organizer)

If you’re going for longer than 7-10 days, then you should plan to do laundry while abroad. Many hotels have that option for you, or you can find a laundromat. You’ll remove the need to pack so many clothes and save a ton of space this way.

Pack clothes that can provide more than one function

Something to keep in mind, especially if you have a lot of activities planned, is to make sure everything you pack can be multifunctional.

For instance, if you’re going somewhere requiring swim suits, pack coverups that also double as a dress you can wear during the day or out to dinner.


  • Get travel sizes of all your favorite daily use products
  • Razors
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
  • Hair brush or comb, hair ties, barrettes/bobby pins
  • Hair products like hairspray, hair gel, and beard oil
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF
  • Make up packed in a washable sac
  • Face wash and/or makeup remover wipes and Q-tips
  • Night time moisturizer/lotion
  • Lip balm with SPF and lipstick or lip gloss
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Extra contacts, solution, and contact case
  • Glasses and prescription sunglasses
  • Prescription medication with the label/script so that you can refill if needed and not be questioned by TSA.
  • Clothesline and detergent
  • Personal mini mirror
  • Shaving kit and extra razors
  • Sewing kit/clothing care kit, stain remover
  • Facial tissues and/or toilet paper
  • Travel Towel
  • Nail clippers and tweezers (optionally, scissors, which must be in checked luggage)

Extra Items

  • Small umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Phone charger
  • Headphones
  • Reusable water bottle

Must Have Items

  • Up-to-date passport
  • Travel credit card
  • Cash
  • RFID blocking travel wallet
  • Print out, or keep in one place, tickets you have purchased for events/activities
  • Personal ID/Student ID (with student ID you can sometimes get access to discounted tickets, so take it with you!)
  • Any prescriptions medications that you take

Don’t Forget Items for That Long Flight:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Travel speakers
  • Travel pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs
  • Electric converters and adapters
  • Travel apps that will help with language, directions, money conversion, and digital journaling
  • Camera and GoPro/video camera, memory card, and chargers

Other Items to Consider:

  • Travel blanket, eye mask, and ear plugs
  • Travel journal and pen (it’s awful when you forget your pen!)
  • Books and magazines
  • Deck of cards and travel games
  • Chapstick and lotion (t’s dry up there)
  • Water bottle (you’ll need to fill it up once you get through TSA)
  • Guide books, travel guides, maps, language guides, etc. (if you will need any of these upon arrival at your destination, put it in your carry-on)

You’ll want to pack smart (not lots of) clothing options if your trip will take you to a variety of places, or conversely if you will be navigating off the beaten path. Having a packing list with several options doesn’t mean you’ll need to over-pack. (And in fact, you shouldn’t.) Just pack smart. Include clothing that can be worn on your daily adventures and then dressed up slightly with a different pair of shoes and a scarf. Maybe a dress that becomes a skirt, or comfortable travel pants that can be dressed up for a day at the market. Also consider clothing with SPF or mosquito repellency if you’ll be in environments where that would be beneficial.

Your Emergency First Aid Kit:

You should always make a mini first-aid kit just in case of injury, or if you need medications of some kind. Trust me when I say you can’t trust pharmacies in other countries, and some places the prices are exorbitantly higher.

Items to Consider:

  • Medications
  • Anti-inflammatories like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc
  • Sleep aids – melatonin, CBD (can help you with jet lag too!)
  • Anti-histamines – Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin, etc
  • Anti-diarrhea – Imodium
  • Antacids – Pepcid or Maalox chewable tablets
  • Cold medication – Dayquil, Nyquil tablets, Sudafed, cough drops
  • Motion sickness tablets – Dramamine
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Bandaids
  • Neosporin or bacitracin ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Small ace bandage

Emergency Travel Checklist:

Everyone’s worst nightmare is that you’re stuck abroad, surrounded by a language you don’t speak and you need help. A big part of getting out of a bind is to know where to go and who to ask. Nowadays, an emergency situation can arise at any time. We all have to be careful and practice travel safety. In addition, we should arm ourselves with information and go prepared.

Things you should know in event of an emergency:

  • The phone number and address of the US Embassy at your destination
  • The phone numbers of your contacts here at home (because who even memorizes phone numbers anymore?)
  • The number and address of the hotel or whatever lodging you’re staying in
  • Look up and note safest means of transportation at your destination (for instance, in Vietnam, some taxis companies were known to cheat tourists and not be safe)

Prepare Your Home:

If you’re going on an extended trip, it’s essential to get your home in order before you go. Here are some simple tasks to think through before you head to the airport. (And yes, this travel checklist also includes thinking through home care.)

Things to Consider:

  • Have the post office hold your mail
  • Stop newspaper delivery
  • Set up an email autoresponder (unless you plan to be connected)
  • Arrange for the care of pets, lawn, and plants
  • Pre-pay your bills
  • Prearrange school absences for children and get any home study assignments required
  • Empty refrigerator of this that will expire
  • Unplug appliances
  • Turn off heater/air conditioner
  • Turn down water heater
  • Turn off washing machine taps
  • Lock all doors and windows
  • Set up timed light system
  • Store valuables in a safe place
  • Leave house key and trip itinerary with a trusted friend
  • Leave flight and hotel itineraries with a relative
  • Reconfirm/check-in online with airline

Wherever you are headed, you’re going to have a great time! Just make sure you think through your list of activities beforehand so that you’re able to bring everything you need and pick the right luggage.  And remember, you’re a traveler: Respect the people and places you go to visit. Respect their customs, tip accordingly, try and learn their language, and truly immerse yourself in the culture. Travel changes us to be better than we were by opening our eyes and giving us newfound respect.