The ultimate packing list: Things to carry while travelling
Everyone knows that feeling. You’re an hour away from catching that cab that’ll take you to the airport and you’re sure you’ve forgotten to pack something. There’s that niggling feeling that you’ll arrive at your destination and forget something absolutely vital and you’ll kick yourself afterwards.
Sound familiar? Well it happens to the best of us, that’s why I always use a travel checklist before I set off on any journey.
Is there a perfect, all in one packing checklist?
- Well not really. Your travel packing list will vary depending on these factors:
- Where you’re going
- How long you’re going for
- Where you’re staying/how you’re travelling around when you get there
Without knowing the above, it’s hard to create a catch-all travel checklist. With that said, there are some basic, obvious and incredibly useful items that everyone should take with them when they travel.
I’m going to list the essentials of what you might need whether you’re on a 1 week vacation or you’re travelling the world for 12 months. Read my suggestions and apply them to your situation. It’s important to pack light wherever possible so ask yourself the question, does this apply to me and my trip?
Toiletry Bag Essentials
Don’t leave home without one! I’m a guy and I try to take only the essentials with me. Even still, I’ve been caught out plenty of times wishing that I had remembered something as basic as insect repellent whilst cruising down the Mekong delta. I favor a bag like this one:
It’s compact, has just enough room for everything and can be hung from just about anything.
I also buy good quality zip-lock bags to keep my items separate. If you’ve ever had a bottle explode inside your toiletry bag, you know it’s a bad time! Zip-lock bags keep the mess down to a minimum. Also, always pack extra and keep them in your toiletry bag.
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste – there’s no use assuming your accommodation will provide these for you. Don’t forget your toothbrush! I like to use a toothbrush holder to separate my toothbrush from the other items in my toiletry bag. Smaller tubes of toothpaste can be found at just about any pharmacy or supermarket.
- Shower Gel/Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair products, Moisturizer, Face Wash – I always transfer my liquids into small bottles like these to comply with international flight regulations. This is regardless of whether I take my toiletries with me as carry-on or not.
- Nail Clippers – certainly more for longer trips
- Tweasers – you’d be surprised how often these come in handy
- Baby Wipes or Tissues
- Roll-on or Stick deodorant
- Pain killers, Band-aids and other medication – Do you have asthma? Bring your puffer and a backup stored somewhere else in your bag or on your person. Diabetic? Diet problems? Don’t forget your meds!
- Probiotics – When travelling overseas, keeping your gut healthy is a top priority. Probiotics help to keep good bacteria in your belly and help prevent diarrhea and other food related issues. Especially useful when travelling through Asia, Africa and South America.
- Shower Scrunchy
- Chapstick or Lip Balm
- Bug Spray or Insect Repellent – Especially in tropical climates
- Condoms – You too ladies!
- Sun Cream
- Shaving Razor
- Cotton Buds or Q-tips
- Hand Sanitizer
A lot of this is going to vary from person to person. I personally live in a digital world and usually take quite a few devices with me.
- Mobile Phone and Charger
- Laptop and Accessories – I always keep my Laptop in a slimline bag like this one. Don’t forget your charger and any mice or accessories.
- Portable Power Bank – on my last trip I went through three chargers. One of these babies saved my life countless times. You never know when you’ll need to charge your phone or other devices when out and about. This is an essential for me on any trip now. Power Bank Expert is a member of the Travel Wallet Expert family and can save you time in choosing the best portable charger for you.
- Handheld GPS – For the more adventurous traveler. These days most of us have all we need on our smartphones but a GPS is always a good idea for wilderness hikes and nature trails. Not necessary for a lot of trips and vacations. Garmin make a fantastic handheld GPS.
- Headphones – I prefer the inner-ear noise cancelling style like these. That way I can escape to another world when on uncomfortable train rides or flights.
- Power Adapters – If you’re visiting another country, it’s a good idea to at least bring a couple of power adapters. Check this site out to make sure your electronic devices have the right voltage and you don’t need a transformer. Also note that some countries in completely different continents use the same power plugs.
- MP3/Video player – These days our phones are responsible for a lot of entertainment and MP3 players are less prominent. I’ve found that it’s still handy to bring a dedicated device purely for listening to music/podcasts and watching movies or TV shows.
- Electric Razor or Trimmer
- Camera or GoPro– Don’t forget your chargers!
- Flash Drive or USB Stick – this often overlooked. Don’t discount the usefulness of a flash drive. It’s an easy way to share photos and videos with travel companions!
- Kindle or eReading device
- Head Torch or Head Lamp – My friend got me using one of these. They can be incredibly useful for many situations. Bring back up batteries too.
- Underwear & Socks – bring more than you think you need! I’ve never brought too many pairs of socks with me and there’s nothing worse than not having enough. These Fox River Socks are my favorite for colder climates.
- Poncho – For wetter areas, a good foldaway poncho like this one is great. You can store it in your daypack or tie it to your belt if rain looks imminent.
- Shoes – I like to pack light with shoes. Two pairs is often enough for me. I pack one comfortable pair that I can wear every day that will stand up to heavy use. Then I have a slim, nicer looking pair for going out. If you can find a pair of shoes that does both then even better! Flip flops are also easy to pack and can get a lot of use over a holiday or vacation.
- Day Bag or Carry Pack
- Gloves or Mittens
- Cold Weather Jacket
- Thermals – Good quality thermals are excellent for cold days and nights. They are also light-weight and don’t take up a lot of room in your bag.
- Shirts, Shorts, Jackets, Pants, Dresses etc – Look, there’s no right or wrong here. Some people like to pack extra on shorter trips while others will wear the same shirt for three days straight. I can tell you, if you’re travelling for an extended period, your clothes will get worn out. Be prepared to replace them while on the move and don’t pack your favorite item if you’re not afraid of losing it.
- Swimsuit – Whether it’s swimming trunks, bathers or the classic speedo, you’ll need something if your going to get wet!
- Quick Dry Towel – and if you’re getting wet, you also need to get dry! Many places will provide a towel for you. Personally, I take a towel about half the time depending on the trip. A Microfiber towel like this one packs away and dries out quickly.
- Sewing Kit & Safety Pins
- Scarf – for cold weather
- Small First Aid Kit – This one is optional. A good idea if you are travelling with children.
- Bank/ATM/Credit cards – I always bring at least one back up credit card and I store it separate from my other financials
- Pen and Paper – This is a must! If you bring a pen and a pad that’s easily accessible you will use it. Trust me! Some travel wallets come with their own pen like my old pal the Bellroy Travel Wallet.
- Passport, Extra Passport Photos & Travel Documents, Visas – ALWAYS research the country you are visiting before setting off. In some cases it may take months to organize a Visa prior to entering a country. Make sure you have everything you need well in advance.
- Currency – Always a good idea to exchange some money before you leave. You may get a cheaper exchange rate on the other end but this is not always the case. Avoid airport currency exchange centers, they will often be more expensive.
- Photo ID/Drivers License/Membership Cards
- Photocopies – Keep a few photocopies of your most important documents on hand and stored in different places on your person and in your bag.
- Boarding Passes/Confirmations/Bookings/Receipts/Tickets – It never hurts to print everything out and keep them in a file of some sort. Wifi isn’t always going to be there for you and if you’re not prepared it could mean the difference between you missing your next bus/train/plane.
- Maps/Guidebooks – These days I prefer to wing it a bit more than I used to and find myself using guidebooks less and less. If it’s your first place somewhere however, a bit of research and a city map can be extremely useful.
- Luggage locks – Specially designed locks keep your bag secure and are easily opened by airport staff if they need to search your bag. Locks like like these will do the trick.
- Ear Plugs – Good quality ear plugs have saved my life. Make sure you get a couple of pairs and find some that are attached to each other so they don’t get lost.
- Sleeping Bag – Sleeping bags can take up a lot of room but can also save you from a cold, sleepless night. I use sleeping bags by OuterEQ.
- Travel Pillow – There are loads of different designs for these and it’s hard to know which one will suit you best. I settled on this deflatable one which looks a bit strange but gave me the most comfortable sleep on flights.
Clothing and Gear
Have a think about where you’re heading and apply the below to your situation. What is the weather like this time of year? I’ve been surprised by a torrential downpour more than once when the sun was shining moments before. Be prepared for the worst and adapt to your situation!
Financial and Personal Items
Some of this stuff you really don’t want to forget!
And last, but certainly not least…..
And there you have it, now you have an easy way to know what to pack for a trip. Everyone’s travel checklist is going to differ depending on a number of factors but I hope at least I’ve given you some packing tips to think about.
It’s a huge list and by all means, not every component should go in your luggage. Regardless, I hope this packing list has helped alleviate the stress in some way so your next trip is a safe one!