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Looking for the ultimate packing list? You’ve found it. We’ve rounded up all the things you may (or may not) need to bring on your trip carefully organized by category. To help you plan more efficiently, we’ve also included an editable, printable travel checklist you can customize for every trip! Download the “Printable Travel Checklist” below!
The Ultimate Packing List
This packing list shows the exact things to bring on vacation or other types of travel. It’s broken down into three sections:
- Printable Travel Checklist: editable spreadsheet with summary of all items
- Packing List by Categories: see table of contents below
- General Packing Tips: how to pack efficiently
This is the Table of Contents:
- Printable Travel Checklist
- Packing List For Luggage
- Packing List For Clothes
- Packing List For Toiletries
- Packing List For First Aid Kit
- Packing List For Makeup
- Packing List For Hair and Grooming
- Packing List For Electronics
- Packing List For Backpacking Gear
- Travel Documents and Money
- Travel Safety
- Pre-trip Checklist
- General Packing Tips
Printable Travel Checklist
You can click the image below to open the editable file.
The travel checklist features unique categories to help you pack for your trip efficiently including a list of things to bring on vacation and other helpful reminders. It includes all the items listed in various categories above and has spaces where you can fill in your own information:
- you can write in an item’s weight (lighter items means less overall baggage weight)
- you can note if you need to purchase something or if you already own it
- and most importantly, you can organize where you’ll pack each item
Our readers looove our checklist! Below you’ll find all the corresponding details for the complete travel packing list of things to bring on vacation!
Packing List by Categories
Below you’ll find a list of all the items you should consider adding to your packing list based on category. Print the checklist above to follow along.
I usually suggest you first decide everything you need to bring before choosing your luggage and other travel gear. Every trip is different and the suitcase that works for one type of adventure may not work for the next.
Read this guide on How to Choose the Best Suitcase for details on the best sizes, wheels, materials, and more.
If you’re planning a long-term trip or are traveling to a destination where wheels won’t work well, a backpack is the ideal option. Read this guide on How to Choose the Best Backpack for Travel.
You’ll want to bring a personal item for the plane in addition to (or instead of) an in-flight purse. Read this to determine what exactly is a personal item and if you should bring one on your particular trip.
In addition to your luggage, travel accessories such as packing organizers are highly recommended. They not only help you stay organized and less stressed while traveling, they enable you to travel carry-on only on just about any trip. We recommend these packing cubes – they’re ours!
- Packing Cubes for Clothes
- Packing Organizer for Accessories
- Packing Organizer for Electronics
- Makeup Bag
- Toiletry Bag
- Shoe Bag
- First Aid (if applicable)
- Document Holder
- Other Organizers (as needed)
- Daypack/Personal item
Read this to find out more about why packing cubes are essential – our readers swear by them and so do we!
No matter where you travel and how long you plan to go for, start by choosing ten clothing items for your trip to act as the core of what you bring. If you could only bring ten items and no more for this particular trip, what would they be?
These ten clothing items will act as the essentials in your travel wardrobe, also known as a capsule wardrobe. These ten items should be interchangeable so you can mix and match them to create different looks.
In order to choose these ten core items most effectively, follow these guidelines on How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Travel. It includes eight examples for you to follow including options for both summer and winter.
Now that you’ve chosen these ten must-have clothing items, consider what other pieces you need based on other considerations such as the weather and activities such as working out or swimming.
You’ll also want to choose your underwear and bras after you’ve chosen your clothing so you know exactly which fabrics, colors, and styles to choose.
Nude colors (or the color closest to your skin tone) are best for bras as this color can be worn underneath all other colors. Here are more tips on how to choose the best bras for travel.
For underwear, we recommend an average of ten (or one for every day of your trip up to ten days). If you’re traveling longer than one week you can hand wash them along the way. Read this post for recommended travel underwear.
- Outerwear 1
- Outerwear 2
- Sleepwear 1
- Sleepwear 2
- Workout 1
- Workout 2
- Underwear 1-10
- Bra 1
- Bra 2
- Bra 3
- Socks 1-3
- Swimsuit 1
- Swimsuit 2
Add thermal underwear for cold weather trips!
Your accessories should first and foremost offer functionality such as warmth in the winter or protection from the sun in the summer. You can incorporate style into your wardrobe through the colors, prints, and designs you choose for these items.
For shoes, we recommend you pack three pairs (no less than two, no more than four). Bring one for sightseeing (walking), one for any special activities you might be participating in, and an additional pair as needed. The third pair can either serve for function to account for changes in the weather or it can be a dressy option.
- Shoes 1
- Shoes 2
- Shoes 3
- Purse – Day
- Purse – Night
- Sunglasses Case
- Watch (or Travel Clock)
- Gloves (if applicable)
Read this guide for a full explanation on how to choose the best travel shoes for your specific trip.
Toiletries are one of the most challenging things to bring on vacation especially if you want to travel light. While they vary for each individual there are some general guidelines you can follow.
“Travel size” 3oz or 100ml products and containers are sometimes more or less than what you actually need, so use travel containers like these instead. They’ll enable you to bring only the the amount you’ll use for your trip.
Just like luggage, the functionality of toiletry bags differs and one may not meet the needs of every trip. Read this list of the best toiletry bags for travel so you can determine which options make the most sense for your needs. Generally speaking, hanging toiletry bags like these offer the most versatility.
- Shower Cap
- Leave-In Conditioner
- Soap/Body Wash
- Body Moisturizer
- Face Moisturizer
- Eye Cream
- Baby Powder (hot climates)
- Pumice Stone
- Hair Styling Product
- Female Urinal Device
- Menstrual Cup
- Toilet Paper
Read this guide on how to choose toiletries for your trip.
First Aid Kit (optional)
Not all travelers pack a full-size first aid kit and you can usually buy most things on the road. However, it’s a good idea to take one or two doses/packets of each of these items and create your own “mini first aid kit”.
- Prescription Medication
- Contact Solution (if needed)
- Pain Relievers
- Travel-size Tissue Packet
- Digestion Tablets
- Upset Stomach Medication
- Allergy Pills
- Motion Sickness Tablets
- Antibacterial wipes/gel
- Bug Repellant (Deet-Free)
- Travel Size Sewing Kit
Just as with clothing, create a capsule makeup collection when you travel that includes only the essentials. Use small travel containers like these to avoid taking large products such as foundation and concealer.
- Eyebrow Pencil
- Eye shadow palette
- Lipstick/lip gloss
- Eye Liner
Read this guide on how to downsize your makeup when traveling.
Hair / Grooming
Instead of bringing all your hair tools when traveling, contact your accommodation to determine if they provide items such as an iron or hair dryer.
Instead of full size products, invest in travel size dryers or straighteners if needed. A nicely groomed mane adds the perfect finishing touch to a perfectly planned travel outfit.
Optional Hair / Grooming:
Read more tips on styling your hair while traveling.
The amount of electronics you bring will depend on whether or not you’re traveling for business or leisure.
If you’re traveling internationally, make sure to read this guide which explains how to protect your electronics from the different voltage abroad. Use a travel adapter like this one when visiting different countries on the same trip.
- International Travel Adapter
- Phone Charger
- Phone Cover
- Camera Charger
- Camera Battery 1
- Camera Battery 2
- Camera Memory Card 1
- Camera Memory Card 2
- Camera Cover
- Memory Stick (with important info)
- e-Reader Charger
- e-Reader Cover
- Tablet Charger
- Tablet Cover
- Laptop Charger
- Laptop Cover
- Laptop Case
- Screen Protector
- Keyboard Protector
- Selfie Stick
- External Hard Drive
- External Hard Drive Cord
- Portable Power Bank
- Portable Power Bank Cord
- Music Device
- Music Device Charger
Read this post for tips on preparing your electronics before a flight.
Backpacking/Budget Travel Gear
If you’re backpacking around the world, traveling long-term, or traveling on a budget, there are a few additional items you’ll need to bring on your trip.
Other travelers may also find some of the below items useful. Click on the item below to learn about each one and why they might be important for you to bring.
- Sleeping Bag Liner
- 2 Travel Locks
- Travel Towel
- Ear Plugs
- Swiss Army Knife
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Packable Tote
- Mosquito Net
- Pillow Case
- Duct Tape
- Laundry Bag
- Laundry Line
- Sink Plug
- Eye Mask
- Travel Pillow
- Dry Bag
- Disposable Poncho
- Travel Size Umbrella
- Passport Size Photos (for visas on the go)
Travel Documents and Money
With the exception your passport, cash, and cards, many of the below items are available in digital form. Use this as a reference checklist.
- Passport Copy
- Passport Holder
- Boarding Pass
- Itinerary (some airlines require this printed when you have to check in in-person)
- Visas in passport (if needed)
- Immunization Records (if there are health requirements such as yellow fever)
- Emergency Cash in USD (enough for one full day)
- Credit Cards
- Drivers License / Alternate Form of ID
- Language Guide
- Notebook (to note addresses in paper, not phone)
- Pen (to fill out immigration forms)
- Emergency Contact Info
- Travel Insurance
- Copies of all travel documents (in memory card, USB stick, or stored in email)
Traveling is generally very safe, but the most common issue is theft. There are a few precautions you can take to protect your belongings such as using one of these anti-theft devices.
Anti-theft products that are worn under your clothing are particularly useful to conceal valuables in places like Spain or Nicaragua. We recommend this RFID secret bra stash to conceal your cash and cards safely and discreetly!
While not necessary, some female travelers make feel more comfortable with an anti-theft purse in places such as Paris or Thailand where purse snatchings are common.
Never carry your passport while sightseeing – this is a common mistake that leads to theft. Read these tips to learn how to keep your passport (and other belongings) safe while traveling.
These are a few essential things to do as soon as you book your trip.
- Call banks to inform of travel plans
- Check weather at destination
- Check baggage restrictions
- Check visa regulations
- Check immunization requirements (i.e. yellow fever)
Read this post to see my personal pre-trip checklist featuring my complete packing routine.
General Packing Tips
In order to avoid overpacking, take the time to plan and research before your trip. Find out the weather forecast, cultural considerations, and finalize your activities so you can accurately determine exactly what you will and will not need for your trip.
The biggest game changer for me was using packing cubes – they completely transformed the way I traveled and I was able to travel full-time carry-on only for several years!
The video below shows you the technique I use to travel carry-on for every trip:
Watch the packing tutorial on Youtube!
The clothing used in the video is an example of what someone would pack for a long trip consisting of various climates, activities, and the need to be ready for anything.
Read this post where I explain everything you need to know about packing cubes including what they are, how to use them, their benefits, and the best brands. Trust me, they’re the ultimate game changer!
Destination Packing Lists
We have specific packing lists for destinations all over the world. Visit this page to find your destination!
And for every single trick in my packing book, read my full course “Stop Overpacking“. I created the STOP OVERPACKING program to teach you my exact packing process. Every secret, every detail, nothing is spared.
Learn more about Stop Overpacking here!
What else would you add to our travel packing list of things to bring on vacation? Share and comment below!
For destinations, please read:
- Europe Packing Lists
- Asia Packing Lists
- Africa Packing Lists
- North America Packing Lists
- South America Packing Lists
- South Pacific Packing Lists
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