Updated on June 10, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
We’ve created this comprehensive vacation packing checklist to help you figure out exactly what to pack for your next adventure whether it’s local or international!
We’ll also touch on what to wear on vacation, what NOT to bring, and some useful answers to frequently asked questions.
What to Pack for a Trip – 17 Essentials
1. Neck Wallet
A neck wallet is a must-have item for your trip, no matter where your vacation takes you. Keep your valuable items, like smartphone, wallet, keys, tickets, passport, and more organized and safely tucked away out of reach for pickpockets. This handy neck wallet can be worn around your neck and under your clothes for maximum protection.
If your trip is taking you overseas, you’ll want to protect yourself against the nasty effects of jet lag. These homeopathic jet lag relief pills act as both a prevention and a cure, so you’ll be feeling great and ready to explore during the first day of your vacation.
No matter what you’ll be doing, you can’t go wrong bringing a reusable water bottle with you on your trip. You’ll need to stay hydrated, and using single-use plastic water bottles is expensive and bad for the environment. This LifeStraw water bottle comes with a built-in filter to ensure the water you’re drinking is clean.
If you’re leaving the country, it’s more than likely that you’ll need a good universal power adapter to plug in your electronics abroad. This one is perfect because it works in over 100 countries and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee, so you’ll be prepared wherever you’re going!
On vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is an upset stomach or food poisoning. Bring along these activated charcoal pills to take at the first sign of discomfort, and they’ll quickly absorb and expel toxins in your system to keep you on your feet!
Packing cubes are an absolute game changer for any trip, big or small! They’ll keep you organized and help you to avoid overpacking, which is important on any type of trip. This particular set is awesome because it comes in a variety of fun colors and includes separate laundry and shoe cases.
An overlooked but incredibly important item to have on a trip is a reliable VPN. Turn it on whenever you connect to WiFi in a public place, such as in an airport, cafe, or hotel to avoid having leaving your sensitive information available to hackers.
A handy thing to have on any type of trip is a compact lipstick-sized portable charger. You’ll never have to worry about your phone running out of battery at an inconvenient time, especially if you’re relying on it for photos, navigation, music, communication, and more.
Regardless of the type of trip you’re going on, it’s a good idea to pack at least one gorgeous outfit because you just never know! This jumpsuit is cute, affordable, versatile, and looks great on a variety of body types. Wear it to dinner or for a night out on the town.
Especially if your travel destination is particularly wet or rainy, you’ll be glad you packed a sturdy windproof travel umbrella. Useful in day to day life when you return from your trip, this umbrella packs down small and can fit two people beneath it when expanded.
It’s a great idea to bring along a reliable daypack for your trip. Perfect for day trips and excursions, this one is lightweight, durable, and large enough to hold a change of clothes, water bottle, snacks, valuables, and anything else you might need during a day of exploring.
If your trip is bringing you more than 100 miles away from home, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got good travel insurance to protect your trip. World Nomads is always our number one choice because they cover a wide range of activities and pay for the costs of flight cancellations, lost or stolen items, and emergency medical.
13. Pashmina Shawl
A pashmina shawl or scarf is an infinitely useful and versatile item to bring on any trip. Use it to keep warm on a chilly evening, to cover your shoulders or head at religious sites, as a swimsuit cover up, picnic blanket, curtain, and so much more.
An affordable waterproof camera will capture the best parts of your trip from unique angles, including underwater! This one is awesome because it’s durable, compact, and can easily be thrown in your purse or daypack to use whenever you need it.
This anti-blister balm will truly be a godsend if you plan to do a lot of walking or hiking during your trip. Simply apply some of this to your feet before putting on your shoes to prevent uncomfortable blisters that could ruin your vacation!
If you’re heading somewhere with a beach or a pool, you’ll be glad you brought a trendy swimsuit cover up like this one. Throw it on over your swimsuit before stopping into a beach bar or cafe. We love this one because it’s cute, comfortable, and affordable.
A waterproof phone case is a super useful item to pack for your trip. Keep your smartphone safe and protected from the elements while you’re out and about. This one’s great because it even allows you to take photos and videos underwater!
Other Trip Packing List Items Not to Forget
TSA Approved Travel-Size Bottles
Over the counter medications
Solid Shampoo Bar
ATM or Credit Card with no international fees
Quick Dry Towel
Extra passport photos
Steripod toothbrush cover
Makeup remover wipes
Hard copies of vital documents
Hanging toiletry case
Noise cancelling headphones
Travel hair dryer
What to Wear on Vacation
It’s important to consider the season, weather, and what types of activities you’ll be doing during your trip to determine what type of clothing you’ll be wearing. Note that in the northern hemisphere, summers are warm to hot and winters are mild to cold wherever you go. However, in the southern hemisphere, seasons are switched, so September through March will be warm and April through August will be colder.
If you’re headed somewhere where the culture tends to be more conservative or if you’re planning to visit religious sites, make sure you bring breezy clothing that isn’t too tight or revealing and will cover your shoulders, chest, and knees. Don’t forget a swimsuit for warmer destinations, and a fleece jacket for cooler locations.
Depending on the destination, women should do a bit of research and try to dress accordingly. Respect the cultural norms and make sure you’re dressed appropriately in more conservative cultures. In European destinations, women tend to dress in smart, dark colored clothing. In Africa, women opt for brightly colored, more conservative attire. In Asia, Australia, and North and South America, it’s best to look relatively put together and to dress for the season.
Men should dress appropriately for the destination they’re traveling to. Depending on the weather, season, and activity, men should seek to fit in and try not to wear overtly “touristy” clothing. You can never go wrong opting for neutral colored clothing regardless of your destination. Bring at least one nice outfit, including long pants, a button down shirt, and attractive non-sneaker shoes.
Beaches – If you’re heading to the beach, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit! It’s wise to bring a trendy cover up to throw on over your suit so you can easily head into a beach bar or cafe. Bring flip flops, a beach bag, some sunscreen, and you’re good to go!
Nightlife – Depending on where you are and what you’re doing, nightlife attire can vary widely. If you’re planning to hit the clubs in Barcelona, opt for a chic outfit with high heels, a button down and nice, dark colored shoes (no sneakers) for men. If you’re just going out to dinner or are planning to hit some chill bars, a stylish but more casual outfit and nice sandals or flats will do just fine.
Hiking and Camping – Depending on how hardcore your hiking and camping experience will be, and depending on the weather, you’ll want to dress accordingly. In cooler destinations like Patagonia, don’t forget a warm hat and gloves and be prepared to layer. In warmer climates, zip-off hiking pants, a light jacket, and sturdy hiking boots will be what you need.
Exploring Cities – Regardless of the city you’ll be exploring, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking. If your destination is notoriously rainy, bring a windproof umbrella and a rain jacket. Try to look put together and opt for neutral clothing to best fit in in most of the world’s cities.
Religious Sites – If you plan to enter mosques, churches, synagogues or any other holy or religious sites during your trip, be sure to dress appropriately and cover up. Women will want to have their shoulders, chest, knees, and potentially head covered, while men will usually need to have their shoulders and knees covered as well.
What NOT to bring on a trip
3) DON’T TAKE too much stuff: Regardless of your destination or the duration of your trip, you won’t want to be bogged down by overpacking. Bring just what you need and try to pack versatile items that can be worn more than once.
5) DON’T BRING too much cash: It’s better to only keep what you need on you at any given time to protect against pickpockets. Bring an international ATM card with no fees so you’ll be able to take out more cash whenever you need it.
4) DON’T PACK stereotypically “touristy” clothes: Avoid Hawaiian shirts, fanny packs, neon-colored clothing, socks with sandals, and the list goes on. Looking like a tourist puts you at a much higher risk for pickpocketing and petty theft.
6) DON’T TAKE a bath towel: Traditional bath towels are bulky and take forever to dry. Instead, opt for a quick drying microfiber travel towel like this one. It’s lightweight and compact so it’ll take up minimal space in your luggage.
As a general rule, try to leave expensive items and flashy jewelry at home, as those things tend to make tourists a target for pickpocketing and petty theft. In traditionally religious regions, such as South America or the Middle East, avoid wearing overly revealing clothing and opt for loose fitting attire with more coverage instead.
FAQs about going on vacation
1. What’s the best way to get around in my destination?
Depending on where you’re traveling to, you’ll want to look into the fastest, cheapest, or most convenient ways of getting around in your destination. In Europe, for example, it’s often fastest and cheapest to take quick, cheap flights or to utilize the region’s expansive train system. Do some research before you to figure out if you’ll mostly be walking, biking, or taking cabs or public transit within your travel destination.
2. Can I use my smartphone in a foreign country?
Some smartphone data providers offer plans where you can pay a certain amount, say $10 per day, to use your smartphone abroad. You can also get your smartphone “unlocked” and simply replace the SIM card with a cheap, local SIM card once you arrive in your destination. Local carriers often provide cheap data options to use while you’re abroad. If all else fails, you can use your phone’s internet with no charge any time you are connected to WiFi in a foreign country.
3. What are some good apps for travel?
There are tons of apps out there that can be super helpful while you’re traveling. Google Maps and Google Translate are both really useful for navigation and communication while abroad. Maps.me is great for offline maps, and Uber is good to have if it’s available in your destination. WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger are all useful communication apps that many people use while abroad. Duolingo and Pimsleur both offer fun ways to learn a new language which can help you practice before you go!
4. Is it safe to stay in hostels?
Usually, yes, it is safe to stay in hostels. I love using Hostelworld.com or Booking.com because they’ll offer reliable ratings and reviews so you can get a good feel for where you’re staying before you go. Hostels are a cheap, clean, and social alternative option to staying in hotels or Airbnbs, often well-located and catering to young people. Most hostels have someone working at the front desk 24 hours a day and utilize some amount of security precautions.
5. How can I make friends if I’m traveling alone?
Traveling solo is an amazing experience, and if you ever have the opportunity to give it a try, you definitely should! When you put yourself out there, making friends while traveling is easy. Sign up for a free walking tour, take a class, or attend a conversational meetup.
6. Do I need to get a visa for my trip?
It’s important to find out whether or not you’ll need a visa before embarking on your trip. CIBT Visas is a reliable online resource to figure out if you need a visa for your destination and if yes, how to go about getting one.
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