What To Pack : The Best Travel Packing Checklist
Updated: Apr 9
Step 1: Choose Your Main Luggage
Wherever you're planning to go, pick luggage that is versatile, lightweight and big enough to hold all your essentials. The most important decision you'll make is (as far as luggage is concerned) is buying a bag that has an awesome warranty. Traveling with a piece of luggage with broken wheel, handle or zipper is the absolute worst! Brands that back their gear with stand-up warranties build that promised durability into their gear. It’s also important to finding a travel bag that's as versatile as you need it to be, while also fitting all your stuff and being easy to carry.
Rolling Luggage – Let’s face it. Wheels are nice. There’s no need to carry all your gear on your back or via a duffle bag if you know you’re going to be traveling in a city where there are paved roads and sidewalks.
4-Wheels – As you fill up your wheeled luggage, weight can become a bit restrictive – especially if you have to walk long distances. Consider 4-wheels to keep the weight off your wrist and effortlessly roll your bag by your side.
Wheeled Backpack – If you’ll be going through different types of terrain, or switching from airports to cobblestones, having a bag with the option to roll it or carry it like a backpack or duffel is really handy.
Travel Backpack – If you know you don’t want the extra weight of wheels, traveling with a travel pack is going to mean hands-free mobility and ultimate versatility.
Carry-On – Whenever possible, travel with a carry on luggage. It’ll just mean you can save time at the airport, save on check-in fees, guarantee the airlines won’t lose your bag… the list goes on and on.
Step 2: Organize Your Stuff
If you have lots of different types of activities you plan to do, that means you have a fair amount of gear you need to pack into your suitcase. Keeping everything organized can be a challenge. One of the best things you can do when you're packing for any trip, especially one that requires you to pack lots of layers, is to make sure you use packing organizers.
Keeping your suitcase organized with packing organizers means not only will you know exactly where everything is, but your clothing can be arranged and compressed so you can fit more in your bag. Why spend your time packing and unpacking when you can quickly unpack by sliding your organizers directly into hotel drawers, and pack up quick, getting seamlessly from one place to the next without having to rearrange your entire bag every time?
Keep your clothing organized in compartments based on outfit type or activity type by using packing cubes. These zippered organizers make it easy to keep your bag neat and provide quick access to all the different things you'll need during your trip. You can use compression sacs or cubes to reduce the volume of your clothes by up to 80%. This is especially convenient for bulky items such as sweaters and jackets. And folders are great for keeping dress clothing nice, neat and folded.
Start with this clothing packing list:
Lightweight clothing that can be layered
Sweaters or fleece jacket
T-shirts and tank tops (be respectful of the culture you are visiting)
Pants and/or shorts
Socks – wool socks are best for hiking
Comfortable walking shoes
Rain jacket, windbreaker or umbrella
Sunglasses and glasses case
Dresses and/or skirts
Jewelry – organize in a mini cube or circlet
Hat or sun visor
Scarf or bandana
Swimsuit or swim trunks – consider a wet/dry organizer
Cell phone and charger
Travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs
Electric converters and adapters
Travel apps that will help with language, directions, and money conversion
You’ll want to pack smart (not lots of) clothing options if your trip will take you to a variety of places, or transversely if you will be navigating off the beaten path. Having options doesn’t mean you’ll need to over-pack. (And in fact, you shouldn’t.) Just pack smart. Include clothing that can be worn on your daily adventures and then dressed up slightly with a different pair of shoes and a scarf. Maybe a dress that becomes a skirt or comfortable travel pants that can be dressed up for a day at the market. Also consider clothing with SPF or mosquito repellent if you’ll be in environments where that would be beneficial.
Step 3: Pack Your Toiletry Bag
If you’re carrying on, keep your toiletry bag light and TSA-compliant. The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule makes it easy to remember: liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container and they must be in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag. To make this as easy as possible for you, we have a set that includes four 3-ounce silicone bottles in a quart-sized clear pouch that’s wipeable and has a water resistant zipper. Click here for more info about TSA rules regarding what you can pack.
Don’t forget the following travel essentials for your toiletry case:
The Toiletry Bag Basics
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
Hair brush or comb, hair ties, barrettes/bobby pins
Shampoo and conditioner - Dr. Bronners is a good option all-in-one option for hair care, face wash, laundry and more
Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF
Make up packed in a wipeable wristlet
Face wash and/or makeup remover wipes and q-tips
Night time Moisturizer/Lotion
Lip balm with SPF and lipstick or lip gloss
Personal hygiene items
Feminine hygiene products
Extra contacts, solution, and contact case
Glasses and prescription sunglasses
Prescription medication with the label/script so that you can refill if needed and not be questioned by TSA.
Toiletry Bag Extras
Personal mini mirror
Hair products like hairspray, hair gel and beard oil
Clothesline and detergent
Shaving kit and extra razors
Sewing kit/clothing care kit, stain remover
Facial tissues and/or toilet paper
Scissors, nail clippers, and tweezers (must be in checked luggage)
As soon as you decide to travel internationally, check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for comprehensive travel vaccines, medicines, and travel advice information. Whether you decide to get vaccinated or not is your decision, but many vaccinations require administration 2 months before travel begins. So get informed!
First aid kit (bandages, gauze, adhesives, etc.)
Personal prescriptions (copies of scripts)
Pain and fever relievers (also children’s strength if you are traveling with kids)
Cold medicines and throat lozenges
Hydrocortisone cream/antibacterial ointment
Insect repellent/mosquito net/sting reliever
Motion sickness pills or bands
Altitude sickness pills (if you are planning to hike in higher altitudes)
Medicines and vaccinations specific to the region/activity
Additional Health Items
Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
Prescriptions in original packaging (you’ll want to make sure you have these in your carry-on bag just in case something were to happen to your checked luggage)
Glasses and glasses case
Step 4: Prepare Your Personal Item Carry-On Bag
The next thing you’ll want to do is prepare your personal item carry-on bag with anything you’ll want with you on the flight. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an outfit (or two) and a few essential toiletries in your personal item just in case your luggage is lost. If you’ll be traveling around to multiple destinations, make sure this bag has items to keep you cozy on any train, boat or bus rides. It's always nice to have a bag that's easy to access so you don't have to get into your luggage each time you need your eye mask. But remember, you’ll be carrying all of this, so keep it light.
We recommend you consider using a small daypack or backpack as your personal carry-on item. Here are some good things to include in your carry-on bag packing list:
Mobile device and charger
Laptop, iPad, or E-reader and charger(s)
Headphones (consider noise-reducing headphones if you're sensitive to sound)
Camera and Go Pro/video camera, memory card, and chargers
Electrical converters and adapters
Travel Comfort, Entertainment, and Information
Travel pillow, blanket, eye mask, and ear plugs
Travel journal and pen (it’s awful when you forget your pen!)
Books and magazines
Deck of cards and travel games
Chapstick and lotion – it could be dry there
Water bottle – you’ll need to fill it up once you get through TSA
Guide books, travel guides, maps, language guides, etc. (if you will need any of these upon arrival at your destination, put it in your carry-on)
Step 5: Collect Important Travel Documents, Cash, and Credit Cards
Start by collecting all of your important documents in a travel document organizer. (This travel organizer holds a passport, ID, credit cards, coins, documents, a boarding pass, and a pen!) By bringing all your important information together, this will help ensure you have everything you need to get from one place to the next. Not sure what you need? Here’s your international travel checklist, document-wise:
Passport/visa(s) – Not sure if you need a travel visa? Check here.
Personal ID/Student ID card – If you’re a student, some companies, like Sta Travel, offer discount cards to ensure you get good deals while on the road
Frequent flyer card(s) and other loyalty program card numbers (ex: hotel chains and AAA)
Cash and credit card(s) – Call your credit card companies before you travel to inform them of your travel (otherwise they might turn them off to prevent perceived fraud)
Health insurance cards/document(s)
Travel insurance information
Reservations and itineraries – print them and save them electronically for easy access
Hotel and/or tour contact information
Transportation tickets (plane, train, bus, car, etc.)
Emergency contacts and important addresses
Copies of all these things in case you lose your wallet
Guide books and maps
As soon as you book a trip, it’s a good idea to double-check that your passports and IDs aren’t expired, and that they will not expire while you are traveling internationally. If you need to get a Passport for your kids, learn more here. You’ll also want to inform your bank if you’re traveling abroad so they don’t assume fraudulent activity and freeze your credit card. Also consider emailing yourself a copy of your passport, driver’s license, medical cards and itinerary, so if anything happens to them you’ll be able to access them online.
Step 6: Consider Travel Security
In most large cities, travelers should always be on the lookout for pickpockets. The easiest way to keep your belongings safe is to keep them hidden and close to you. One way to do this is to stash your valuables underneath your clothing. Another way is by locking your bags closed and using reflective accents to help folks see you at nighttime.
Consider these safety travel essentials:
Money belt or hidden pocket
Undercover Bra Stash for credit cards and cash only
Incognito All Terrain Money Belt which looks like a real belt!
Luggage Travel Lock
Reflective clothing and luggage accessories
Bring a headlamp or mini flashlight, better to be safe than unprepared
Step 7: Prepare Your Home
If you’re going an extended trip, it’s essential to get your home in order before you go. Here are some simply tasks to think through before you head to the airport. (And yes, this travel checklist also includes thinking through home care.)
Have the post office hold your mail
Stop newspaper delivery
Set up an email autoresponder (unless you plan to be connected)
Arrange for care of pets, lawn, and plants
Pre-pay your bills
Prearrange school absences for children and get any home study assignments required
Empty refrigerator of this that will expire
Turn off heater/air conditioner
Turn down water heater
Turn off washing machine taps
Lock all doors and windows
Set up timed light system
Store valuables in a safe place
Leave house key and trip itinerary with a trusted friend
Leave flight and hotel itineraries with a relative
Reconfirm/check-in online with airline before you Uber, train, or shuttle to the airport
Whether this is your first trip or you’re a seasoned globetrotter, it’s always helpful to have a rundown of what items you may want to pack – you know, a comprehensive international travel checklist.
by Le Petit Karoo
Le Petit Karoo is an invitation to discover the wonders of humanity and our planet. From city life to authentic South African destinations, let Eagle Creek equip you with the durable and versatile gear to take you beyond your fears and outside your comfort zone. We believe the experience of the unknown inspires a deeper understanding of each other, a curiosity for the unfamiliar, and fresh perspectives on life. We know the further we travel, the closer we become to each other and to the planet we share.