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I’ll admit – I am quite an obsessive packer. I’m the type of person who’ll still be stressing all the way to the airport about what I might have missed out. Packing can be quite a stressful ordeal, so having a packing list is essential for me. After countless trips, I’ve perfected and refined my travel packing list to ensure I never miss out on any essentials.
Whether you’re a last-minute packer, an over-packer, or an under-packer, this guide has everything you’ll need to prepare for your trip – from packing tips and tricks, a printable travel packing list, and reminders for to-do’s around the house before you leave.
The Ultimate Travel Packing List
Clothes to Pack
- Dress/casual shirts
- Formal wear
- Laundry kit
- Laundry bag
- Sandals/flip flops
- Tote/recyclable bag
- Under-clothing document holder
- Face masks
Toiletries to Pack
- Dental floss
- Hairstyling appliances
- Face cleanser
- Contact lenses/solution
- Shaving supplies
- Makeup remover
- Feminine hygiene products
- Birth control
- Nail file/clippers
- Hand sanitizer
- COVID-19 test kits
- Insect repellent
- International adapter
- Emergency contacts
- Credit card/bank contacts
- Copies of passport
- Travel Insurance
What to pack in your carry-on
- Travel pillow
- Ear plugs/eye mask
- Lip balm
- Empty water bottle
- Credit/ATM cards
- House/car keys
Travel Packing List – Tips & Tricks
Before you take your suitcase out to start packing, consider these few points which will help you plan what to pack:
What’s the weather like at your destination?
Will it be rainy or will it be hot and humid? Packing a good raincoat and umbrella could be the difference between having a blast on your trip or staying couped up in your hotel room. Don’t forget to check the weather for multiple cities if you’ll be making multiple stops. Also, if you have a long transit and have the chance to get out of the airport, check the weather in that city.
How many days/nights will you be away?
The easiest way is to calculate the number of days you’ll be away and multiply that by the number of outfits you prefer to wear in a day.
What kind of trip is it?
Will you be spending most of your time in the city? Then you might want to pack something dressy for that night on the town. Or will you be camping out in nature? You’d want to have comfortable clothes to beat the weather and insect repellent handy!
Are there any special activities/events on your trip?
If you’re heading to the beach, don’t forget your swimming gear, sunscreen, and flip flops! Going for a hike? Pack proper shoes and your hiking gear. Scuba diving with dolphins? Maybe get your BCD and diving gear ready!
What is your air ticket’s baggage allowance?
Depending on the air ticket you purchased, you may be allowed free check-in bags. Check the restrictions with your airline and plan accordingly.
Duffel bags are great for weekend road trips as you can easily throw them into the back of a car. Roller bags are great if you’re planning longer trips, but may be a hassle if you plan to move from city to city, in which case backpacks may be a better option to move around in.
When you’ve more or less decided on the important points and you’re almost ready to pack:
Gather your essentials first.
Passport, ID/driver’s license, boarding passes, hotel reservations, etc. – these will be the most important documents you need so get them ready early. Make sure your passport is valid for travel!
Plan your outfits and lay everything out.
I like to plan my clothes by laying them out by outfit each day. This way, you can see how much you’re bringing and spot missing items. It also helps me decide what shoes or bags to bring that will match my wardrobe during the trip.
Then, pick out your plane outfit and set it aside. Don’t forget to dress comfortably!
Time to pack!
Pull out the packing list and a pen.
Now’s the time to double-check and triple-check your essentials. Get a pen out and the packing list you printed and put a checkmark next to each item you’ve packed after you’ve placed them into your luggage. And don’t take them out anymore!
Check your liquids.
If you’ve only got carry-on bags, make sure that all your toiletries are below 100ml. Getting reusable travel-sized bottles are perfect for refilling your shower gels and shampoos. Make sure to pack any liquids in a zippered bag to avoid spilling.
I’ve had the unfortunate event of witnessing a bottle of hand sanitizer leaking out onto my friend’s passport. Not a pleasant experience! I’ve also had perfumes leaking out and staining clothes before. So, consider this a warning!
Before leaving the house
Now the bags are zipped up and you’re ready to leave! These are some steps to remember to have your house taken care of before you leave:
- Download your travel resources (guidebooks, language apps, etc.)
- Notify credit card companies of upcoming travel (international trips)
- Set an email auto-responder if necessary
- Take out the garbage
- Check the washing machine for wet clothes
- Check the dishwasher for dirty dishes
- Turn off all lights and electronics
- Set lighting timers
- Water the plants
- Drip taps (in cold climates where pipes could freeze)
- Close/lock all doors and windows; pull all curtains
- Set alarm system
For longer trips, don’t forget to:
- Empty the refrigerator/pantry of perishable food
- Unplug electronics
- Put a hold on your mail
- Consider having a friend check on your house from time to time
What to pack for COVID-19 Safety
Clearly, the pandemic has altered the way we travel. As a result, the items we prioritize in our luggage have slightly changed. Most airlines still require the use of face masks, so make sure you always have a face mask on you. Certain countries still require face masks when entering certain buildings or attractions. It’s also a good idea to pack a few extra in your carry-on or personal item.
While sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer are always a good idea to have on hand at the airport, they have now become absolute carry-on necessities. For peace of mind, wipe down frequently touched surfaces near your plane seat or in your hotel room; just make sure that any liquid sanitizing products you bring on board meet TSA requirements.
Finally, double-check that you have your vaccine passport or certificate.
So now you’re ready for your vacation! If you liked this guide, you might like my other travel guides:
- How To Plan A Trip Like A Pro: The Ultimate 8-Step Guide
- 9 Secrets to Outsmart the Airlines and Find the Cheapest Flights Every Time
- 35 Amazing Gifts for Travelers (That We’ll Love You So Much For): 2023 Edition
MY TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
Here are my top travel tips and resources to help you save money and plan your trips effectively! If you're looking for more tips, head over to my travel tips resource page or my comprehensive guide on trip planning.
- Booking Flights: When it comes to finding great flight deals, I always start my search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. To save some cash, consider flying mid-week or on the weekends, opt for carry-on only with budget airlines, and be open to red-eye or early morning flights. Check out my in-depth guide on how I find the cheapest flights.
- Accommodations: I'm a stickler for finding the absolute best deals on my stays, so I will obsessively oscillate between a few booking sites: Booking.com (in general) and Agoda (for Asian destinations). When it comes to vacation rentals, there's Airbnb or VRBO.
- Travel Insurance: It's always a wise decision to purchase travel insurance for international trips. I can't stress this enough - it's highly recommended! For international travel insurance, I suggest considering World Nomads or SafetyWing. SafetyWing, in particular, stands out as one of the few policies that cover Covid-19. They also offer excellent monthly policies that are perfect for digital nomads and long-term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: My go-to travel credit card for booking trips is the Wise travel card. I love that there are no foreign transaction fees, so I can pay like a local and never get any surprises at the end of my trip. You can also withdraw cash from the ATMs wherever you are. With Wise, you are always guaranteed the best exchange rate, and I have saved sooo much money just by using this card. Most of the time, I get charged the exchange rate I see on Google, plus or minus a few cents.
- Tours: Most times, I prefer traveling independently but sometimes, getting a guide and a local's perspective makes the experience all the more enriching. When it comes to tour bookings, I trust Viator and GetYourGuide to provide me with excellent options. In Asia, I choose Klook as they are the biggest provider in the region. Plus, you can often get entrance tickets and discounted prices!
- Transportation: To navigate through public transit options and plan my journeys from one place to another, I rely on Rome2Rio. When it comes to rental cars, I compare rental companies and find the best deals through DiscoverCars.
- Connection: It's essential to me to have seamless connectivity wherever I go. I need it to navigate to new places, Google what's around me, and keep in touch with my loved ones. But fumbling around with multiple SIMs has always been a nightmare, which is why I choose Airalo when I travel. No more switching SIMs, just purchase a plan on your phone, on the go, anywhere, and stay connected.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever I need to check out early or take advantage of a long layover, I securely store my luggage with LuggageHero. It's a reliable service that allows me to roam around freely. As a bonus, you can use this link to enjoy your first hour of FREE luggage storage on me!
- What to Pack: I always have packing anxiety once I've left home—you know the phantom feeling that you've forgotten something even though you've checked 372836 times. So I made my own packing list and use it religiously before every trip, and by religious I mean I tick off that list at least 7 times before I zip up my bag. Check out my in-depth packing list here.