The Ultimate and Most Comprehensive Travel Packing List
Packing your bags for your next trip can be quite stressful. Forgetting something at home can range from being inconvenient (heading to Mexico without sunscreen) to simply disastrous (forgetting your sleeping bag on a hiking trip). Reason enough for most people to check some travel packing list online and check off those items. Here is the ultimate and most comprehensive travel packing list, whether you go to Caribbean or to the North Pole.
The Ultimate and Most Comprehensive Travel Packing List
This list of travel essentials contains items that you simply can not forget. Leaving one of these at home and you could as well stay at the airport (and in most cases, you will).
Your passport is your most valuable item you should pack in your luggage. Without this, you won’t even be allowed to board the plane. Make sure to check if you need your international passport or not.
Some countries require a visa before entering. Check the visa requirements for your country when traveling to your destination. Some visa applications may be time-consuming so be sure not to postpone this part.
Luggage loss, theft, damage to your rented car or getting a hospital bill after having suffered accident,… there are tons of reasons why you need travel insurance. There are many different types of travel insurances, so please check in advance what situations are covered and what’s not.
Flight tickets and booking confirmations
Nowadays, most airlines don’t require a printed flight ticket anymore and in some case all you need is your passport to be checked in. But just in case, it might be useful to have all your booking confirmations by hand in your smartphone.
International driving licence
When you rent a car in a foreign destination, most car rentals require an international driving licence. Especially in the US. This is a multilingual translation of your national driving licence, is recognized worldwide and valid for 12 months. It should be accompanied by your national driving licence and can be obtained at your local authorities.
What type of luggage to carry?
Should you be packing everything in a soft luggage, a hardcase suitcase or a backpack?
The touristy way to go. Especially when it has wheels underneath. Only suitable if you have to transport it by road. The wheels may be quite a nuisance if you need to carry it all the way.
Soft luggage or duffel bags are extremely handy for expeditions and types of travel where you need to take your luggage to several places and need to be able to carry it to places where there aren’t any decent roads (otherwise hardcase suitcase with wheels may offer better options). Most of them come with a shoulder strap making it easier to carry them for some distances.
If you’re planning on traveling alot in a certain country, try to keep your luggage to a minimum. If everything fits in a backpack, great! Since you can carry this comfortably on your back, this is my favorite way of taking luggage.
It’s important to take care of your health and personal hygiene during your travels. Whatever your destination is, here are a few items you can not skip in your packing list.
Contains your tooth brush, comb, soap. Safe to say, the items here are indispensable.
Unless you want to look like a hobo when returning to your home, shaving equipment is a must-include item in your luggage.
Shower equipment? Check. But don’t forget to bring a towel. Most hotels and resorts offer these for free, but if you’re spending your holiday in a vacation rental or the outdoors, a towel is something you should check in your packing list.
Easy to forget, but if you’re in the outdoors, mirrors will be rare (except for the mirror-like lakes). They come in pocket sizes as well.
First aid kit
Whether you’re having an adventure in the outdoors or going on a beach holiday, it’s easy to get a cut or bruise. A first aid kit should be a basic item in your luggage.
Beach holiday or skiing holiday. Chances are slim you don’t need sun screen.
Same as above. A hat is a necessary item when you travel to places with hot climate to prevent you getting a sunstroke.
If you ever forgot you’re sunglasses somewhere, you will know how annoying it is not to be having them with you
Moquitoes can ruin your holiday. Even when you don’t spend time in the outdoors. Carrying insect repellent in your luggage will save your trip on many occassions.
Especially useful when you spend time in the outdoors and don’t have access to showers or soap.
Travel vaccination certificates
Some countries require vaccinations before traveling. When you get your vaccin, you will receive a certificate to show upon entry in the country. Check well in advance which vaccinations are recommended.
Traveling to Africa or some regions in Asia means you will be traveling in malaria areas. To avoid you getting this illness, you can take anti-malaria pills with you.
Hope you don’t need them, but they have saved traveler’s life on many occasions.
Depending on your travel destination, you may need a whole set of different clothes to wear during your trip. The best way to avoid taking excessive clothing with you is the rule of three. One set to wear, one change set and one set that you’re washing and drying. This way you always have a new set ready. This works for short holidays, as well as one-year world trips.
You don’t want to forget this at home.
On a destination with high temperatures, you want to be wearing a short, dress or skirt. Just make sure if you’re traveling to muslim countries, for women, skirts should cover their knees. Trousers might prove useful in areas when there are lots of mosquitoes. Also, if you’re planning on doing a jungle trek, long trousers are the best way to go.
T-shirts / cotton shirts / Long-sleeved top
Same as with the trousers. T-shirts are useful in hot destinations, but if you’re going to places with lots of insects, a long-sleeved top or shirt is recommended.
Bio-degradable washing detergent
If you’re traveling for a longer period, doing your laundry is an option to avoid taking too much clothes. Make sure to use bio-degradable washing detergent to minimalize environmental impact.
Waterproof & windproof jacket
Some destinations tend to have a lot of rain. However there in Norway they claim there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Having a high quality waterproof & windproof jacket will protect you from being soaked.
While a jacket can protect you from rain and wind, a waterproof pair of trousers will keep you dry.
Waterproof bags for rain protection
Very useful when hiking or traveling with a backpack. Backpacks aren’t rainproof and a rain cover can only do so much. Put your belongings in waterproof bags and make sure they are protected from the rain.
WINTER OR EXTREME WEATHER
When traveling north, during winter months or to polar regions, taking the right clothes with you is a must. Here are a few items that will keep you warm.
Thermal underwear or base layers
It’s only common sense that your layer system will be extended to more layers when travelling to cold regions. Thermal underwear is the perfect base layer to keep you warm.
Balaclava / hat
A balaclava or face mask will keep your face warm when skiing, travelling in polar regions or during your winter holiday.
On top of your base layers, you can wear a fleece or sweater that will add extra warmth.
Your hands are most prone to get cold, so take gloves with you. In extremely cold destinations, you can wear both inner as outer layers.
Depending on how cold it is, you can take a soft shell, an insulated jacket or a down jacket.
Walking or hiking
Whether you’re on a sightseeing trip or are going hiking, some suitable accessories to walk or hike will make it a lot easier on you.
While sandals or flip-flops may be enough when you’re on a sightseeing trip in a warm destination, these won’t do if you’re planning some hikes along the way. Hiking boots are strongly recommended when you have your mind set on doing a serious hike.
When there is some altitude to be gained or lost during your hike, trekking poles are recommended. Personally, I couldn’t miss them. They reduce the impact on knee joints and leg muscles.
GPS/map and compass
If you’re going on an unguided hike, a map and compass is useful to take with you. The alternative is to use a Garmin GPS.
Camping in the outdoors is a great experience but adds quite some gear on your packing list. Here is a list of the basic items for a camping trip.
A 3- or 4-season tent is the way to go if you’re on a serious outdoor adventure. If you’re travelling to a rainy destination, make sure the waterproofing of your tent is high enough. If your tent needs to be packed in your backpack, opt for a lightweight tent.
Sleeping in a tent means sleeping in a sleeping bag. Be sure to check the temperatures in your destination and that the comfort temperatures of your sleeping bag match the fit.
A sleeping pad or thermarest isolates you from the cold ground. A thermarest tends to be more compact than other options.
To prepare your dinner in the outdoors, you need to include a cooking stove in your packing list. Don’t get yourself a heavy one. There are many lightweight stoves available.
Cooking Pot / plates / cutlery
All of them are basic stuff if you want to cook in the outdoors. You may list them in your packing list specifically if you want.
In the outdoors, electricity is rare (except if you’re taking solar panels with you), so a head torch and batteries are a necessity if you’re arriving late at your campsite.
Most travellers want to capture their experiences. Here are a few items in your packing list that make sightseeing easier and keep your memories alive.
Useful when you go bird watching or want to spot wildlife during your safari in Africa.
Camera equipment is a must if you want to capture your travel experiences. This can range from a cheap camera to a waterproof or a more expensive camera. Go Pro is also often used as it is a solid camera you can use for your underwater or active adventures. Make sure you have enough memory cards with you.
Solar panel and powerbank
In the past, you needed a whole set of spare batteries during travelling. Nowadays you can choose a power bank and solar panel to charge your electronics such as camera, smartphone, GoPro, etc.
In your luggage, there is a whole range of travel accessories that don’t fit into any particular category, but prove to be useful.
A Swiss pocket knife is indispensable when you’re in the outdoors. Just make sure you don’t carry it in your hand luggage when travelling by plane.
A Lonely Planet’s or Frommer's guidebook gives you the best insight in your destination. It also provides great reading material. You can also access vacation soup from your phone.
Travelling is relaxing. Whether it’s at the pool, beach or near a campfire. Having a great book to read is a must for most travellers.
Maybe you prefer writing instead of reading. A travel journal in your packing list allows you to write down your feelings and experiences during your travel. It also is a great souvenir to cherish afterwards. Don’t forget to bring your pen!
Easy to forget, but having your own water bottle in your daypack is useful when there is no supermarket or café nearby.
There you go! One of the best ways to have a fruitful, hassle-free, and relaxing vacation is to make sure that you have brought with you all that you need in that trip. Going over the list before your departure could be tedious to some, but it would definitely save you from some very compromising situations.
Hungry for more?
Check out these articles