The Ultimate Travel Packing List

Suck at packing? Packing last minute? Looking for a quick way to get organized?

Here is a simple checklist to keep track and stay organized!

Download The Ultimate Travel Packing List

If you prefer not to download anything, you can see the complete list below.

CLOTHES TO PACK

TOILETRIES TO PACK

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

  • Electronic Chargers
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Copy of Passport
  • Plug Adapter

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON

  • Change of Clothes
  • Snacks
  • Empty Water Bottle
  • In-Flight Medications
  • Valuables
  • Camera
  • Passport/Visa/ID
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Gum

Packing Tips for Clothes and Other Items

When packing for a vacation the most important things to keep in mind are the length of your trip, the weather, and any non-standard clothing or gear you might need.

Your first step when packing is to decide if you’ll be checking a bag or only taking a carry-on and then curate the amount of clothing you’ll need based on that decision. Typically, you should avoid checking a bag in situations where you have a layover since the likelihood of your bag going missing goes up with every connection. You might also want to avoid checking a bag if you absolutely need items in your bag on arrival—for example, if you’re going on a cruise.

If you’re packing more minimally, focus on packing layering clothes in more neutral colors. That’s not because we don’t like fun colors and patterns; it just means that neutral-colored clothing is more versatile, so you can wear these items more than once when you’re tight on space.

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Also invest in clothing that does double duty, like multi-use wraps, crushable hats, self-cooling and heating fabrics like merino wool layers, bug-repellent clothing, wrinkle-resistant shirts, quick-drying activewear and undergarments, casual sneakers, UPF-proof clothing, and compressible jackets … just to name a few. Look toward popular athleisure brands like Lululemon, prAna, and Athleta for comfortable yet stylish travel clothing.

When curating your packing list, you should keep in mind the length of your trip and decide on quantities from there. For a shorter trip (three to five days), you can probably manage with the following: one pair of underwear and socks per day, one pair of pajamas, one to two dressier outfits, one to two activewear or athleisure outfits, one to two casual outfits, and one to two pairs of shoes. For a longer trip (over a week), you can manage with one pair of underwear and socks per day, two pairs of pajamas, three dressier outfits, three to four casual outfits, two pairs of shoes, and two activewear or athleisure outfits.

And if you’re able to do laundry on your vacation, you can probably manage with even fewer items. Just don’t forget to pack a travel laundry kit.

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Also make sure to bring along accessories like a money belt, scarf or sarong (can be used for things like an airplane blanket, coverup at the beach, or to throw over your dress on a cool evening), and a collapsible tote or day bag for any extra items you might acquire on your travels. If traveling to a city or destination that is prone to pickpocketing, make sure to pack some pickpocket-proof clothing and gear.

Depending on the type of trip you’re going on, you may need to invest in some special travel gear. We’ve tested out everything from a headlamp to interchangeable heels, so you can trust our recommendations. If you’re headed out on an organized group tour, you’ll most likely get a packing list from the tour provider, which should make your trip planning easier. If not, do your research online (one tip is to look at locations on Instagram and see what people are wearing) and consult this story for other handy lists of tips.

For more active trips, make sure you have a sturdy pair of hiking boots, quick-drying clothing, a day pack, snacks, and any necessary equipment. Check out our specific packing lists for hiking trips and camping trips.

RELATED: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning A Trip

Another type of trip that you may need to pack slightly specific items for is a cruise. Make sure you pack non-standard items like seasickness remedies, formal wear, dress shoes, and your bathing suit. Beach vacations also require different items like water shoes, towels, sunscreen, and maybe even snorkel gear. Luckily for you, we also have a specific cruise packing list and a beach vacation packing list.

Lastly, you need to consider the weather. For warm-weather destinations like jungles and Caribbean islands, you can obviously skip the coats and gloves, but if you’re headed out on a ski vacation then you’ll need a whole slew of things like goggles, a neck gaiter, snow boots, and more.

To help keep things organized, we love using packing cubes. They’re especially useful for when you’re traveling to multiple destinations in one trip.

Wondering how to pack all of your items?

RELATED: Packing Cubes vs. Rolling: What is the Best?!

How to Pack Toiletries and Medications

Whether it’s important medication or your favorite lipstick, forgetting any type of toiletry can range from being mildly inconvenient to becoming a serious problem. For toiletries, make sure to pack your essentials, like medication, contacts, and any other items that you might not be able to purchase or replace during your travels. (Put them in your carry-on bag, not your checked suitcase.) However, if you forget items like a toothbrush or razor, you can typically call the front desk at the hotel for a spare.

We also recommend traveling with some type of a travel first-aid kit, which includes items like tweezers, first-aid ointment, bandages, travel-sized hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and insect repellent.

Packing Tips for Everything Else …

Traveling without tech items like your phone, laptop, tablet, or camera can be a major bummer. For those traveling abroad, you’ll also want to remember to pack electronic adapters and converters. Other tech-related items for photographers to pack are a sturdy camera bag, backup batteries, and memory cards, as well as lens cleaner.

A travel packing tip we’ve learned the hard way? Travel with a copy of your passport, credit card, and bank contacts, as well as a list of medications and your emergency contacts.

If you are traveling abroad, we have an entire checklist for you, but the most important thing to note here is your passport and visas. Make sure that your passport is up to date, has as least six months of validity, and has enough blank pages for any stamps.

What to Always Pack in Your Carry-on Bag

In case you’re separated from your checked bag or other items, you should always make sure that you have your ID, wallet, house keys, medications, valuables, camera, phone, laptop, tablet, pen, cash and cards, glasses, and copy of your itinerary with you on the plane.

Other items that you might want to have handy with you include entertainment for your flight, comfort-promoting items like a blanket or pillow, as well as an empty water bottle to fill up post-security (here is a list of our favorites), a change of clothes (just in case your luggage is lost or delayed), snacks, and gum.

What to Pack for COVID-19 Safety

We all know that the pandemic has significantly changed the way we travel. By extension, the items we prioritize in our luggage have changed as well. Make sure, no matter how you’re getting to your destination, to always have a face mask on you. It’s a good idea to keep a few extra in your carry-on or personal item as well.

Sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer, while always a good idea to have on hand at the airport, have become absolute carry-on musts. Wipe down frequently touched surfaces by your plane seat or in your hotel room for peace of mind, just make sure whatever liquid sanitizing products you bring on board meet the TSA requirements. 

Finally, triple-check that you have your vaccine passport or negative Covid-19 test results handy. Many destinations and airlines require one of these forms of proof to proceed. Bring along a laminated copy of your vaccine card for extra insurance. 


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