What do you feel is the worst thing about traveling? For me, it’s the packing. The stress of making sure I bring everything without going overweight on my luggage is too much. A few years ago, fed-up with taking ages to pack, I put together this ultimate packing list to get us organized.
Jeremy would argue packing fatigue was only my problem, as it takes him minutes to pack. BUT, I was also tired of him forgetting the basics. The occasional forgotten item can be bought at the destination, but seriously, how much men’s deodorant do we need.
Our ultimate packing list ensures we don’t forget anything. At the bottom of this post is a downloadable version to use on your next trip. Plus, we’ve included tips we’ve learned through the years to making packing easier.
For weekend trips, we’ve already cut-down the list for you in our couple’s weekend packing list post.
Table of Contents
Using The Ultimate Packing List
Our ultimate packing list includes everything you may want to take on a trip. However, you would never take all of these things on a single trip.
Items on the packing list are broken down by why you might take them. For example, we separated items only needed for international travel, like visas. If you are traveling domestically you can skip this whole section.
Start With the Right Travel Bag
Before packing, think about what luggage you need for this trip. We have several bags we choose from depending on the type of trip we’re taking. Our post on choosing the right travel bag will help you narrow down what will work best for your trip.
Bare Minimum - What We Always Bring
With the exception of our travel tripod, all of these items we carry on us or keep in our carry-on. You may not have all these items, but if you do, you’ll want to bring them on every trip.
- Wallet and/or Purse
- Debit and Credit Cards
- Driver’s License or Official ID
- Student ID Card
- Emergency Contact Info
- Health Insurance Card
- Phone (Loaded with Music), Charger, Aux Cord
- Travel and Event Tickets
- Camera, Charger, Batteries, Memory Cards, Lenses
- Camera Accessories (Tripod, Flash, Filters, Remote Shutter Release, Cleaning Cloths)
- Prescription Medicines & Vitamin Supplements
- Contact Case & Cleaning Solution
- Extra Pair of Contacts
- Eye Glasses and Case
- Sunglasses and Case
- Maps and Guidebooks
- Facemask – As long as Covid is still relevant
Packing for International Travel
For international travel it’s important to understand entry requirements and any additional documentation you’ll need, like an International Driver’s License. Our Pre-travel Checklist will help you with planning for your trip.
- Visas or Travel Authorizations
- International Driver’s License
- Travel Insurance Information
- Copies of Important Documents (e.g., Passport, Driver’s License, Credit Card Info)
- Global Entry Card
- Travel Credit Card (with No International ATM and Transaction Fees)
- Extra Passport Size Photos
- Vaccination Certifications – if needed
- Adapter Plugs – if needed
- Destination Specific Medicines (e.g., Malaria Pills)
- Phrasebook – if needed
Airplanes are not that comfortable, even in first class. The air is dry and a long flight can be downright boring. However, there are a few items that can help. The longer the flight the more essential these items become.
- Eye Mask
- Reading Material / E-reader with Charger
- Travel Pillow
- Empty Reusable Water Bottle
- Face and Hand Moisturizer
- Compression Socks
- Bringing a reusable water bottle cuts down on plastic waste, and it’s more economical. Most airports have free water bottle refilling stations near the gates.
- Many airlines provide a blanket, but I also keep a scarf handy to keep me warm.
- A good moisturizer can be a lifesaver on a long dry flight.
Toiletries & Personal Items
Most hotels supply basic toiletries, like shampoo and body wash, but there are still comforts you may wish to bring with you.
- Shampoo, Conditioner
- Face Wash
- Body Wash
- Body Lotion
- Massage Oil
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss, Mouthwash
- Razor, Spare Blades, Shaving Cream
- Comb or Hairbrush
- Hair Product
- Perfume or Cologne
- Cotton Swabs
- Nail Clippers
- Lip Balm
- Shower Cap
- Makeup, Applicators, Travel Brushes
- Sunscreen, After-sun
- Insect Repellent
- Hair ties, Bandanna
- Hand Sanitizer or Hand Wipes
- Pocket Toilet Paper or Tissues
- Body Wipes
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Birth Control / Contraceptives
- Travel Hair Appliances (Dryer, Curler, Straightener)
- Travel Iron or Steamer
- Travel size toiletries are overpriced. Use refillable GoToob+ travel bottles instead.
- Soft-sided toiletry bags with a hook keep everything in one place and make for easy packing and unpacking.
- On long trips buy basic supplies at your destination instead of packing them.
- Your appliances may not work in other countries. Sometimes you will only need a plug adapter; however, it’s important to check that the voltage is compatible with your destination.
On weekend trips, our rule of thumb is an outfit for each day, and one extra outfit. Plus, one evening outfit if we plan to go out. This includes what we travel in.
However, on longer trips that would be an insane amount of clothing. Instead, try to limit yourself to 4 – 5 tops and 2 – 3 bottoms for a week.
Double that for two weeks, but never more than 10 tops and 5 bottoms. Plus, something dressy if you plan on going out, pjs, and a workout outfit if needed.
- Dressy Jacket or Dark Cardigan
- Shirts (T-shirts, Blouses, Sweaters)
- Tank Tops, Camisoles, Undershirts
- Jeans, Pants (Trousers)
- Waterproof Pants (Trousers)
- Socks, Pantyhose
- Underwear (Briefs, Boxers, Panties, Bras)
- Light Waterproof Jacket with Hood
- Black Yoga or Comfy Lounge Pants
- Workout Gear (Sports Bra, Gym Shorts, Tank Top)
- Hat (Appropriate for Destination)
- Belt (Reversible)
- Jewelry and/or Watch
- Comfortable Walking Shoes (e.g. City Shoes, Athletic Shoes, Hiking Boots)
- Dressy Shoes
- Flip Flops or Shower Shoes
- If you plan to shop on your trip, err on the side of under-packing, knowing you will buy things along the way.
- Figure out when you will be able to wash clothes. When staying in one place this is usually easy. However, when constantly moving locations it’s challenging to find time for laundry.
- Wear neutral colors you can mix-and-match and layer for additional warmth.
- Shoes add a lot of bulk and weight. Look for shoes that are versatile and comfortable. Ideally something that can dress up or down.
In addition to camera gear and an E-reader, these are the typical electronics we bring with us. However, think carefully about what you will actually use on your trip. Are drone’s allowed at your destination? Can you use your phone as a GPS? What will you charge if you bring an inverter?
For longer trips, we bring an external hard drive to back-up our photos. Made to withstand the typical shocks and bumps of travel, we’ve been using Transcend StoreJets for over a decade.
- Laptop or Tablet and Charger
- Drone, Charger, Batteries, Memory Cards
- Action Camera (Go Pro, Waterproof, etc.) and Accessories
- Power Bank and Connector Cord
- Sat Nav and Charging Cord
- Car Charger Adapter
- Power Inverter
- External Hard Drive
Basic Medical & First Aid
Often we carry a small first aid kit with us to avoid trying to find a pharmacy at 2am when we have an upset stomach. You can make your own kit, or pre-made kits come in convenient sizes.
- First Aid Basic Instructions Sheet
- Assorted Bandages (Adhesive and Non-Adhesive Gauze)
- Antiseptic Wipes
- Blister Pads – bring several if you’re doing a lot of walking
- Fine Tip Tweezers
- Medical Tape
- Saline Solution Eye Wash or Drops
- Disposable Gloves
- Emergency Blanket
- CPR Mouth Guard
- Pain Killers
- Imodium Diarrhea Medicine
- Antacid Pills
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Anti-itch Cream
- Cold and Flu Pills (Non-Drowsy and Night time)
- Motion Sickness
- Bite Extractor (Outdoor Trips)
Being mindful of our security, these are a few items we usually bring with us.
- Underclothing or Hidden Security Pouch or Belt
- Luggage Locks or Locking Cable
- Personal Safety Device (Pepper Spray or Taser) – where allowed
- Door Stop
Other Useful Items
Though these don’t naturally fit into any of the sections above, they can often be just as essential.
- Pen and Small Notebook
- Address Book
- Baggage Scale
- Dry Bag
- Hiking Sticks
- Flashlight or Headlamp, Batteries
- Water Carrier (Hiking Bladder)
- Bear Spray
- Lightweight Laundry Bag
- Travel Clothesline and Pegs
- Multipurpose Tool
- Deck of Playing Cards
- Plastic Bags (Quart-Sized Zip Top)
- Dashboard Mount for Cell Phone or Sat Nav – check laws in destination
- Water Purifier
- Wine Opener, Bottle Stopper
- Duct Tape
- Universal (Flat) Sink Stopper
- Travel Laundry Detergent and Spot Remover
- Sewing Kit or Fasteners (Safety Pins)
- Jump Rope or Exercise Bands
- Hostel Sheet or Sleeping Bag
- Gifts for Hosts, Family, or Friends
Beach Destination & Warm Weather
Headed to the beach? Here are a few items we often add to our packing list. Everything else can usually be rented or borrowed from the hotel.
- Extra Swimsuits
- Beach Towel
- Sarong or Cover-up
- Snorkeling Gear (Mask, Fins, Snorkel)
- Water Shoes
Ski Destination & Cold Weather
Packing for cold weather can be a nightmare as bigger clothes take up more space in the suitcase. Instead of bringing a lot of bulky sweaters, we find layering our clothes the best solution. Getting some thin but warm underclothes can make a big difference.
- Coat or Parka – appropriate for destination
- Gloves or Mittens
- Merino Wool Underclothes (Shirt and Long Pants)
- Balaclava or Scarf
- Ski or Snowboarding Gear (Goggles, Boots, Pants)
- Ice Cleats / Crampons
Camping or Campervanning
We did say this was our ultimate packing list and we often enjoy camping and campervanning. So we’ll finish our list on what we have with us on this kind of trip.
- Sleeping Bag
- Travel Body Towels
- Cutting Board and Knife
- Camping Chairs
- Microfiber Cloth
- Small Packets of Food Seasonings
- Garbage Bags
- Picnic Blanket
- Mosquito Net
- Travel Hammock
- Tent Repair Kit
- Food Stuffs
- Travel Pot and Pan
- Plate, Bowl
- Utensils or Spork
- Bag Clips (Versatile Metal Clips)
Download The Ultimate Packing List
Before your next trip, download our ultimate packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything. We have even left an example of what we took to England on our 2019 trip.
Before you start packing, go through the “Base List” and eliminate items you won’t need for your trip.
- Open the Ultimate Packing List in Excel
- Create a duplicate tab from the Base List (Right click, Create a Copy)
- Rename the new tab as your destination (e.g. Greece)
- Delete unneeded rows from the destination packing list
- Use the Notes column to identify anything you may need to buy before your trip
- Check off the items as you pack them