In-depth Vacation Packing List

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Stop forgetting what to pack. Make life easier on yourself with the ultimate vacation packing list.

More than likely, you’ve all had those times. You pack, head to the bus or train station or the airport, and take off.

Learn what to pack for your vacation in categories like:

  • Clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Electronics
  • Miscellaneous items
  • Carry-on

Once you reach your destination, you burrow through your luggage and realize you have forgotten something important. Yet, there’s no way to go back. So instead, you’ll likely have to pay for someone to mail that special something to you.

I’m here to prevent that from happening.

I’ll go through a thorough domestic and international vacation packing list for your next vacation in this guide.

What your carry-on should have and how to pack your luggage to get the most out of your journey. That way, when you’re abroad, you’ll only worry about the little things.

The Ultimate Domestic and International Travel Packing List

I’ve prepared you for almost any situation that could happen during a journey. However, even if you decide to move to another country, keep in mind to only pack travel essentials if possible.

Where you’re staying will likely have what you need.

Travel Outfits Packing List

Since clothes will fill the bulk of your luggage, I recommend packing only a couple pairs/pieces of each for varying weather and situations. Doing so reduces the risk of losing anything during transit.

With packing fewer clothes, you’ll need to do more laundry. In that scenario, I recommend packing at least a couple of laundry detergent packets. While doing more laundry while traveling seems expensive, you’ll save more money if you weigh the risks.

Business or Formal Clothing Vacation Checklist

If you’re traveling somewhere and need travel outfits for business or other formal occasions, the following is a general list of what you’ll want to pack:

  • Button-down shirts
  • Dress, skirt, or slacks
  • Formal footwear—heels, oxfords, or loafers
  • Suit
  • Ties
  • Undershirt

Casual Wear To Pack

You’ll likely find the clothes you need at markets/stores where you’re going to your destination. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack anything.

When packing, ensure you pack the shoes you know you’ll need. If you have larger feet, you might have a more challenging time finding what you need. So, make sure you pack a durable pair of footwear.

Pay attention to the weather of where you’re going. If you encounter colder temperatures or a wet climate, consider packing the following:

  • Sweater or sweatshirt
  • Thermals
  • Waterproof jacket or parka
  • Buff: head- and neckwear that you can use as a scarf, eye mask, bandana, and more
  • Snow boots
  • High top boots

If you’re visiting a warmer climate, you’ll want to dress for the weather. The following are some of the best articles of clothing to pack for hot places:

  • Sandals or flip-flops
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuit—one- or two-piece. Make sure your choice is appropriate for where you’re going
  • Skirt/s
  • Dress/s

However, while common, you’ll find these items as the most helpful to include in your luggage:

  • Belt/s: I suggest a money belt stash your cash.
  • Undergarments: bra/s and/or underwear
  • Hat/s
  • Pants
  • Purse or handbag
  • Running shoes
  • Socks
  • Washable face masks: they’re more effective than single-use ones, and they’ll save you money

Important tip: if you want to save room in your bags with clothing, consider purchasing space saver bags. They save space and protect your clothing from moisture, which will otherwise lead to mold.

How Do I Pack Clothing?

First off, before packing, ensure all your clothing is dry. Because if you have any moisture, it will likely lead to your clothing accumulating mildew, which may cause irreversible damage. Also, you’ll want to find a way to protect your clothing from liquids.

The best way to pack clothes starts with the way you store your clothing. First, you’ll need to get the most use out of your existing space. For instance, roll your socks and keep them in your shoes. Or, you can use a compression sack to shrink your clothing.

Otherwise, you can use clear packing cubes—they don’t reduce any weight or give you more room, but packing cubes give you the ability to have a modular backpack.

Moreover, when packing your clothing, consider using your clothing to wrap these breakable items to provide additional protection if you have any fragile items.

There’s an age-old debate on whether folding or rolling your clothes is better. However, what’s the verdict? Neither’s better or worse.

Fold your formal wear and clothing with delicate materials. Roll the rest.

How To Fold Clothes for Packing

There are a million ways that you can fold your clothing. However, the easiest and quickest way to fold your shirt is to use a shirt folding board.

Don’t want to spend more money? Here’s a great video from the famous professional organizer, Marie Kondo. I honestly can’t explain folding clothing better than her.

How To Roll Clothes for Compact Packing

To prevent your clothing from wrinkling, you must use the correct rolling method for your apparel. Here’s the process you’ll want to take to roll clothing:

  1. Lay your clothing flat on a surface
  2. Fold the bottom couple inches of your clothing inside-out
  3. Starting at the opposite end of your article of clothing, engage in a tight roll until you reach the inside-out pocket you created in step two
  4. Tuck the rolled clothing piece into the pocket

Travel Toiletries List

You have a couple of options. One, buy what you need when you arrive. Two, if you have certain brands that you need, include them in your luggage. Either way, keep this packing list of travel necessities around for reference if you run low on any items.

First off, you’ll want to consider more ways to shrink your luggage. Think of shampoo bottles, large bars of soap, and other items. Rather than packing full-sized variations of these travel toiletries, consider using travel bottles or travel cosmetic containers.

You can condense the following items into a travel squeeze bottle:

  • Sunscreen: here’s a great CeraVe sunscreen that’s primarily a moisturizer—multipurpose
  • Shampoo
  • Cologne/perfume
  • Body wash
  • Moisturizer: if you like CeraVe, I found a lot of travel-sized CeraVe moisturizer

Also, if you search the store, you can find travel shampoo bottles, a travel-size hand sanitizer, or a travel-size Lysol spray. However, you can also buy a travel kit that will include most of the items you need for traveling.

However, if you want to save money, purchase travel bottles and pour your large bottles of body cleaner into the containers.

Next, you’ll want to ensure you have your oral hygiene in order with the following items:

Other products that you’ll want to consider for your lifestyle include:

  • Birth control
  • Contact lenses + solution
  • Feminine-hygiene products
  • Makeup + remover
  • Condoms

Miscellaneous items that you may want to consider adding to your toiletries packing list include:

  • Deodorant or natural alternatives
  • Travel first aid kit (essential)
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair products
  • Nail clippers
  • Travel blow dryer
  • Sewing kit: in case you need to make adjustments or fix any damage to your clothing.
  • Throat lozenges

Before packing a portable hairdryer, check your accommodation’s amenities. They may include a hairdryer in their room; therefore, saving you space in your bags.

How Do I Pack Toiletries?

If you’re packing for carry-on, ensure you follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid rule, which permits you to bring aerosols, creams, pastes, and liquids in 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) travel bottles. Afterward, you must store these bottles in a quart-sized bag.

These restrictions also call for only one quart-sized bag for passengers.

Consider switching to solid alternatives to increase the number of cosmetics and toiletries you can fit in your carry-on. For example, powdered shampoos and toothpaste. Moreover, these alternatives prevent you from having to worry about spillage.

Another way to minimize your luggage is first to assemble what you plan on packing. Next, dig through that pile to find out what you need. Then, finally, unpack what you don’t need.

If you’re packing for a weekend trip, you won’t have to worry as much. However, if you’re readying yourself for a long journey, you’ll need to maximize your space.

When packing checked luggage, if you pack liquids, you’ll need to store them in zipper poly bags. Also, you can use these zipper poly bags to protect your belongings if you have a used toothbrush or bar of soap.

Miscellaneous Vacation Packing List

Out of everything on this vacation packing list, you’ll find many of these items as the most important. They’ll cover areas such as electronics, health, and other things to make your trip a little more enjoyable.

Treat most of this stuff with care. For instance, invest in protection from humidity.

If you’re buying any of these travel items for your trip, invest in quality. If you buy cheap, you’ll spend more in the long run by replacing it.

Electronics Packing List:

Essential items:

  • A laminated copy of passport and other travel documents
  • Filtered or reusable water bottle
  • Plastic bag (for storing soiled clothing)
  • Insect repellant—natural or not, you’ll need this for mosquitos and other crawlies.

Other items depending on your lifestyle:

  • Vitamins
  • List of medications
  • Carabiners: These are small and multipurpose.
  • Jewelry
  • Laundry bag
  • Padlock
  • Small microfiber towel
  • Thermometer
  • Umbrella

Carry-on Packing Checklist

Whether you opt for one-bag travel, you’re going to have to deal with a carry-on. This next part is significant for those who want to travel light or include the next part in your trip checklist. Either way, it’s best to come prepared.

Essential items that you’ll need to pack in your carry-on include:

  • 3.4 oz travel-sized containers, each filled with shampoo and body wash. Make sure these are in a single quart-size plastic bag,
  • Cards: ATM cards and insurance card/s
  • Backup house and car keys
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plastic bag (for storing soiled clothing)
  • Documents: printed or written accommodation information and an itinerary
  • Empty water bottle
  • Cash
  • Change of clothing

If you want to remain comfortable during a flight or bus trip, include these items in your carry-on:

  • Earplugs
  • Eye mask
  • Pen: that way, you won’t have to ask a neighbor for a pen later
  • Travel pillow
  • Washable face mask
  • Lip balm
  • Eye drops

Other multipurpose items that you can pack that you may not need to include:

  • Buff
  • Carabiners
  • Guidebook for your destination
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Laptop (a backup laptop is ideal) + charger + a backup external hard drive
  • Padlock
  • Passport wallet
  • Small microfiber towel

Carry-on vs. Checked Bag

In simple terms, carry-on luggage is baggage that you can carry with you into a plane. In comparison, checked baggage is what the airlines will transport in the cargo hold of an aircraft.

What Is Allowed and Not Allowed in Carry-on Luggage?

There are plenty of items that you’re allowed to bring. However, you may find yourself confused about particular things that airlines may allow you to bring in your carry-on bag.

Allowed

  • Baby food and equipment. While they don’t need to meet the 3-1-1 rule, you must remove and declare them before boarding.
  • Standard lighters—not plasma lighters—and one book of safety matches
  • Disposable and electric razors
  • Dry batteries (AA, AAA, C, and D). Lithium batteries that aren’t loose and under 100 watts are fine
  • Non Flammable aerosols, gels, and liquids
  • Medication

Not Allowed

  • Guns
  • Liquids over 3.4 ounces
  • Gel-type candles
  • Sporting goods
  • Self-defense items.
  • 140+ proof alcohol
  • Chemicals: bleach, chlorine, fertilizers, fire extinguishers, and more
  • Explosives—this guide defines what the TSA considers weapons and explosives
  • Flammables

What Is Not Allowed in Carry-on or Checked Luggage?

Don’t pack these items in carry-on or checked luggage. There’s no way you’re getting the following onto a plane:

  • 140+ proof alcohol
  • Chemicals: bleach, chlorine, fertilizers, fire extinguishers, and more
  • Explosives—this guide defines what the TSA considers weapons and explosives
  • Flammables

How To Pack a Backpack for Travel

Since you’ll need to meet a specific weight requirement, get creative by using these backpack packing tips.

If you can, invest in compression bags for your clothing after you roll or fold them to get the most out of your space.

While on the subject, occupy all the space you can. Some ways of utilizing space include stuffing socks filled with plastic-wrapped jewelry into your shoes. Then, just cover your shoes with a plastic bag of its own to keep the rest of your stuff clean.

Unless you have to fold, roll your multipurpose clothing tight. The second part of the latter sentence is essential. Make sure your clothes serve purposes for many situations. For example, if you want to remain fashionable, have a color scheme.

As for the packing itself, pack your shoes first in the center of your bag, then pack everything else around it. Packing your backpack like this balances the weight of your bag. Keep this tip in mind when packing other heavy items. It should sit between your shoulder blades and as close to your back as possible.

Make sure your lightest items rest at the bottom of your backpack.

Don’t pack your hats; otherwise, you might squish them.

Also read: How to find affordable accommodation

FAQ: Vacation Packing List

There’s a lot to consider when packing. Don’t let yourself forget packing anything important; otherwise, you may find yourself in trouble. Explore this list of frequently asked questions, and you may find information that’ll help you understand what you need to pack.

How Do You Travel With One Bag?

To travel with one bag, you’ll have to pack only the essentials; moreover, you can only pack what’s practical—no souvenirs. So first, figure out what you’ll need at your destination; afterward, you can start minimizing your luggage.

What Should I Not Forget To Pack?

Don’t forget important the following items when visiting a different country or somewhere else in your country:
– Copy of your important documents: passport, driver’s license, etc.
– ATM cards and cash
– Smartphone
– Copy of your home or car keys
– Written accommodation information
– Medication and required vitamins 

What Most People Forget To Pack?

Most people tend to forget to pack easy-to-forget, essential items like a first aid kit, every required travel document, a laundry bag, and sunscreen.

What Should I Pack for Last-Minute Trips?

For last-minute trips, you’ll want to pack a change of clothing, a cell phone charger, required travel documents, ATM cards, and whatever else you need for work—if you’re a remote worker. Otherwise, if you have disposable income, you can purchase what you need at your destination.

How Do I Pack a Suit?

Here are the steps to pack a suit if it’s a part of your travel packing list:
Store your suit in a dry-cleaning bag.
Fold it in half.
Lay it in your luggage.
If you’re packing your suit in something smaller than luggage, here’s a video on some origami to make it fit.

Is It Better To Roll or Fold Clothes?

While rolling is the most versatile option, it has some cons that could cost you. For instance, it can stretch some clothing with delicate materials such as merino. It’s most effective when you pull the fabric tight.

Folding—it takes up more space, and you’ll likely see creases in clothing with soft fabric. However, as mentioned, folding is best when you use it for formal wear, button-ups, and delicate material.

Final Thoughts on This Vacation Packing List

The vacation guide that I provided is meant to give you a general idea of what you’ll need to pack. However, if your situation calls for particular items, don’t forget to pack them.

If you’re packing light, you’ll have to make sacrifices and consider what you can purchase while you’re away from home.

Keep a checklist for your ultimate vacation packing list and check with the TSA and your airline if you’re questioning whether you can bring a specific item. 

Related: 13 Travel Scams: How to Avoid Them, Keep Your Money, and Stay Safe

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About Tee

Tee began first experienced the wonders of traveling when visiting Vietnam. Afterward, he went crazy and ventured to at least… More about Tee