Explore this travel packing checklist for domestic and international travel. I’ll cover packing lists for various item categories and travel scenarios.
Over the years of flying to many countries, I’ve had to fine-tune my packing. I compiled my knowledge, along with other travel items I found, to help you create the best travel packing checklist.
I’ll cover the following vacation packing lists throughout this guide:
Let’s dive in.
Clothing to Pack
Here’s an overall packing list of clothing:
|Sweater or sweatshirt||Waterproof jacket or parka||Buff multifunctional headwear|
|High-top boots||Sandals or flip-flops||Hiking socks|
|Dress||Skirt||Swimsuit: one- or two-piece|
|Snow boots||Running shoes||Belt/s|
|Shorts||N95 or KF94 masks||Regular socks|
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. 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.
I want to explain some of my choices on this list.
Since more people worldwide wear masks to mitigate diseases, I recommend getting yourself enough masks to last your entire trip. For instance, if you’re in a country for seven days, bring 7 masks.
Studies suggest that KF94 and N95 masks do better with blocking certain virus particles . Hence why I recommend them.
A buff is a tubular multi-purpose fabric. You could use it as a scarf, bandana, cap, hair tie, or other purposes. I brought one of these and found it extremely useful.
Helps with sweat when I’m hiking during summer. And keeps my neck warm in winter.
Buff has visuals on what you can do with them:
High-top boots. If you intend on hiking, bring them. They can help protect your ankles from snake bites, thorns, and sharp rocks.
And always carry a light-weight waterproof and UV-blocking parka. I use a Uniqlo one that’s pocketable. It’s handy in case it suddenly rains.
I HIGHLY recommend ASICS GT-2000 10 shoes for casual occasions. They’re running shoes and a bit pricey. But they’re a godsend for my flat feet.
Most comfortable shoes I’ve worn. And it eliminated my overpronation.
But once you wear these shoes, you won’t feel comfortable wearing anything else. I tried putting on my previous shoes and I hated every second of wearing them.
I put a link to these shoes in the table above. You can find these shoes for other genders or gender identities.
Business Clothing to Pack
- Button-down shirts
- Dress, skirt, or slacks
- Formal footwear: heels, oxfords, or loafers
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 could otherwise lead to mold.
Toiletries Packing List
Here’s a toiletries packing list:
|Sunscreen||Travel toothbrush||Birth control|
|Oral rehydration salts||Skin moisturizer||Body wash|
|Travel blow dryer||Cologne, perfume, or toilette||Shampoo|
|Feminine-hygiene products||Contact lenses||Travel first aid kit|
|Contact cleaning solution||Makeup remover||Nasal saline spray|
|Hand sanitizer||Paper soap||Eye drops|
|Sewing kit||Throat lozenges||Deodorant|
I frequently use or have used almost all the products recommended. Except for the skin moisturizer. However, once I run out of my current moisturizer, I will buy the one I recommended. As it has the best reviews among the many skin-care forums that praised it.
No matter whether you’re single, bring condoms. The place you’re visiting may not have the most reliable condom availability.
Deodorant’s another item that you may not find much availability for in the location you’re visiting. Or you may find it’s more expensive outside your home country.
Oral rehydration salts can keep you hydrated when losing a lot of fluids. For instance, if you have diarrhea, you can prevent dehydration. Or you can reduce your likelihood of a hangover when bar hopping.
A sewing kit will make it so you can quickly fix rips and tears. It beats having to buy new clothing.
The nasal saline spray will help you keep your nostrils moisturized, clean out allergens, and reduce blockage. If you get the spray I recommended (Xlean) keep it away from dogs at all costs.
It contains xylitol, a substance that’s toxic to dogs and can kill them in small doses. If you have dogs, consider using sprays without this ingredient.
For humans, xylitol can better help manage rhinosinusitis symptoms than regular saline sprays .
Eye drops can help you relieve dryness.
And paper soap makes for an excellent means to clean yourself when in a situation without running water. For instance, while hiking.
Miscellaneous Vacation Packing List
Here’s a packing list of everything else you may need for your trip:
|Portable battery charger||Copy of travel documents||List of medications|
|Insect repellant||Small microfiber towel||Jewelry|
|Small flashlight||Laptop||Travel adapter|
|Camera||Reusable water bottle||Plastic bag|
|Laundry bag||Carabiners||SD card|
Unless you have a portable umbrella, just buy a cheap one at your destination. They take up a lot of room.
The small microfiber towel can help you wipe spills in your hotel room and clean screens.
I’ll explain the purpose of carrying a plastic bag in the next section.
Carry-On Only Packing List
Here’s a carry-on-only packing list I’ve found useful:
|3.4 oz (0.13 kg) containers||Eye mask||Travel pillow|
|Change of clothing||Cash||Empty water bottle|
|Documents||Plastic bag||Hand sanitizer|
|Bank cards||Lip balm||Pen|
|Passport wallet||Microfiber towel||Notebook|
|Padlock||Backup keys||Buff (multifunctional neckwear)|
I’ve never found a water bottle I can wholeheartedly recommend. So you’re on your own in this area.
Use any grocery or plastic bag to store soiled clothing.
I’ve explained what a buff is under the ‘clothing’ section.
Almost all padlocks won’t protect a skilled lock picker or anyone with a TSA master key. But padlocks will prevent your luggage from accidentally opening during transit.
Again, DON’T rely on padlocks for luggage protection. Here’s a video that’ll scare you:
I recommend a Rite in the Rain notebook. They’re water- and sweat-proof. A perfect notebook for resisting accidental spillage.
How To Pack a Lot of Clothes
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.
The best way to pack clothes starts with the way you store your clothing. 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 gives you the ability to have a modular backpack.
Consider using your clothing to wrap these breakable items to provide additional protection if you have any fragile items.
Is rolling or folding your clothes better?
Fold your formal wear and clothing with delicate materials. Roll the rest.
How To Fold Clothes for Packing
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 on folding shirts from the professional organizer, Marie Kondo.
I can’t explain folding clothing better than her.
How To Roll Clothes for Suitcase
Here’s the process you’ll want to take to roll clothing:
- Lay your clothing flat on a surface
- Fold the bottom couple inches of your clothing inside-out
- 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
- Tuck the rolled clothing piece into the pocket
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.
What Am I Not Allowed To Bring on a Carry-on?
Here’s what you can and can’t bring on carry-on luggage:
Allowed on carry-on luggage:
- 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
- 1 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
- Non-Flammable aerosols, gels, and liquids
Not Allowed in carry-on luggage:
- Liquids over 3.4 ounces (0.13 kg)
- 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
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 Most People Forget To Pack?
Most people tend to forget to pack essential items like a first aid kit, every required travel document, a laundry bag, and sunscreen.
What’s the Difference Between Carry-on and Checked Bags?
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 Should I Pack 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. If you have disposable income, you can purchase what you require at your destination.
Is It Better To Roll or Fold Clothes?
Folding clothes is better for packing sensitive fabrics (like merino). Rolling clothing can save you the most room in your luggage. And works better for other fabric types.
The vacation guide that I provided is meant to give you a general idea of what you’ll need to pack. 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.
Whether you’re a digital nomad, traveler, or expat, explore my guides to optimize your trip.