Table of Contents

What To Pack for 2024 – 27 Travel Essentials For Any Vacation

fergusson family at beach in cancun mexico
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Everyone deserves a vacation! Whether you plan to take a wild adventure or simply relax, you will surely have a memorable time. But it can be difficult to remember everything that you’ll need to pack for your trip.

We’ve created this travel essentials list to help you figure out exactly what to bring for your next adventure, whether it’s local or international!

Save this as your go-to vacation packing list and we’ll also touch on what to wear on vacation, what NOT to bring, and some useful answers to frequently asked questions.

asher and lyric in mexico
Us on vacation in Costa Maya!
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What to Pack for a Trip – 27 Essentials

  • 1. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Having your own travel towel in an unfamiliar hotel or B&B can be a lifesaver. These microfiber towels weigh less than half a pound and are ultra-packable. You will find yourself using them to dry off after showering or swimming, as a picnic blanket, a beach towel, or to face whatever moisture you come up against! They dry 10x faster than cotton and are perfect for day trips and general travel alike.

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  • 2. Waterproof Phone Pouch

    A waterproof phone case is an obvious addition to your travel artillery. It will keep your smartphone safe and protected from the elements while you’re out and about. You may assume moisture is the only foe, but my wife’s camera lens was actually scratched by sand, so any number of elements can damage your lifeline. This pouch is ideal because it fits most any smartphone and even allows you to take photos and videos underwater!

    Waterproof Phone Pouch

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    An overlooked but incredibly important item to have on a trip is a reliable VPN. Turn it on whenever you connect to Wi-Fi in a public place, such as in an airport, cafe, or hotel, to avoid leaving your sensitive information available to hackers. I learned this personally when my credit card number was stolen by a hacker at our Airbnb. They are constantly monitoring for vulnerable connections to prey on exposed passwords, credit card numbers, and identity-related data.

    A VPN is valuable for travel and domestic use. Not only will it give you an anonymous virtual experience that hackers can’t track, but it will also mitigate any regional censorship (and geo-targeted pricing) to give you a freer internet experience. We’ve received flight deals and gained access to blocked content, so it ends up paying for itself pretty fast. Nord is our favorite since they offer access to 60K+ servers in 100+ countries with unlimited bandwidth!

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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  • 4. 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 smartphones, wallets, keys, tickets, passports, 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. It even has RFID-blocking material to stop modern thieves in their tracks.


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  • 5. Filtered Water Bottle

    No matter what you’ll be doing, you can’t go wrong with a reusable water bottle. It’s an essential for nearly any activity and staying hydrated is easier when you’re not relying on expensive, single-use plastic water bottles (that are also bad for the environment). This Brita option bottle comes with a built-in filter to ensure the water you’re drinking is clean and tastes noticeably better. If you’re going to a destination where the tap system is contaminated, opt for the higher-quality Grayl.

    Filtered Water Bottle

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  • 6. Travel Insurance

    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. Your domestic provider does not cover you outside of the country in most cases (including Medicare and Medicaid), so you’ll need a plan that covers common travel issues like flight cancellations, delays, lost or stolen items, evacuations, rental concerns, adventure & extreme sport, and most of all – emergency medical. Travel insurance is mandated in many countries for this reason, to spare tourists from paying out-of-pocket for massive international hospital bills and costly medivac transfers.

    We use Faye because they are the first 100% digital provider. We use their mobile app to track our flight routes, ask questions, and submit claims (all while reimbursements are wired directly to our account). They are a modern solution to an outdated system and we can’t recommend them enough for peace of mind! Do your research because it may even be legally required where you’re going.

    Travel Insurance

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  • 7. Universal Power Adapter

    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 100+ countries and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee, so you’ll be prepared wherever you’re headed!

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  • 8. Activated Charcoal

    On vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is an upset stomach or food poisoning. Anything from contaminated water to street food to gourmet dining can make you sick – so bring along these activated charcoal pills to take at the first sign of discomfort. They’ll quickly absorb and expel toxins in your system to keep you on your feet.

    Activated Charcoal

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  • 9. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    This hanging toiletry bag will serve you well in any adventure, creating a built-in shelf system that can hang just about anywhere (a door, hook, shower pole, towel rack, branch if camping, etc.) European bathrooms are known for their lack of storage space. African, Asian, and South American bathrooms can boast an array of unique situations for Westerners. And camping outdoors may literally mean working without a bathroom at all!

    This brilliant bag by Eco Sun keeps everything organized at eye-level, regardless of what setting you’re in. We love that it’s high-quality and donates a percentage of profits towards women’s education and environmental sustainability. With 4 internal pockets and 3 external, it will seriously maintain your routine (and sanity!) while on the road.

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  • 10. Jet Lag Relief

    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 tip-top and ready to explore during the first day of your vacation. Formulated with chamomile and gentle botanicals, it makes a subtle but noticeable difference.

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  • 11. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    A valuable 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. The last thing you want is to be unable to call for a ride in an emergency or look up the hotel address if you’ve forgotten it.


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  • 12. Luggage Straps

    If you’ve dealt with lost or damaged luggage (like the 25 million other travelers last year), you know how indelicate handlers can be with travelers’ belongings. These TSA-friendly luggage straps take the pressure off your zippers and centralize the weight – so that one rough toss doesn’t throw open your suitcase and pour your dirty laundry all over the conveyor belt!

    We also use them for carry-ons since they adjust to fit nearly any-sized bag and will cinch-in cases to fit better in the overhead compartment. Get a brightly-colored one to immediately recognize it at the baggage claim terminal, which has been a real stress-saver for us on busy travel days (when everyone’s generic black bag starts to look the same!)

    Luggage Straps

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  • 13. Gorgeous Outfit

    No matter where your destination lies, it’s a good idea to pack at least one gorgeous outfit! This jumpsuit is cute, affordable, versatile, and looks great on a variety of body types. It’s slimming and elongates the form, which favors both shorter and taller women. Wear it to dinner or for a night out on the town; my wife gets a ton of compliments!

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  • 14. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Especially if your travel destination is particularly wet or rainy, you’ll be glad you packed a sturdy, windproof 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 weighs only 1 lb and comes with a carry-case which is perfect for travel.

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  • 15. Daypack

    No one’s ever regretted bringing a reliable daypack for their trip. Whether you want to use it as your carry-on bag or just folded up in a suitcase for later excursions or hiking – this one is ideal. The design 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.


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  • 16. Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes are an absolute game-changer for any trip! They’ll keep you organized and help you avoid overpacking, which is important on any type of adventure. Organize things with the reusable labels (socks, underwear, shirts, essentials, etc.) so you don’t have to dig for what you’re looking for ever again!

    This particular set is awesome because it comes in a variety of fun colors and includes 2 bonus laundry bags that can be used for dirty clothes or shoes. If you want to start small, the 3-pack set is a wise investment for shorter trips too.

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  • 17. Discounted Excursions & Tours

    Your vacation is the sum of your experiences. We use Get Your Guide for our global excursions and popular tours, like climbing the Eiffel Tower, seeing the Mona Lisa, swimming in a Mexican cenote, or marveling at the Sistine Chapel or Colosseum in Rome.

    Get Your Guide offers discounted options for booking in advance and great features like ‘skip-the-line’ for places notorious for super long queues and wait times.

    Discounted Excursions & Tours

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  • 18. Pashmina Shawl

    A pashmina shawl or scarf is an infinitely useful and versatile item to bring on any trip. At many places like the Taj Mahal and the Vatican Church, it is recommended to show your respect and modesty by covering your shoulders and knees. You can also use it to keep warm on a chilly evening or as a swimsuit cover-up, picnic blanket, curtain, and so much more.


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  • 19. Motion Sickness Patches

    Many vacations include windy roads, riding backward in trains, boats, and bumpy transport. Whether it’s planes, trains, ferries, boats, kayaks, buses, spaceships, and beyond – you may need these motion sickness patches if you’re prone to motion sickness or seasickness. It’s a holistic remedy that we’ve found to be gentle but still effective. My wife field-tested a bunch of similar brands and this one came out on top!

    Motion Sickness Patches

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  • 20. Affordable Waterproof Camera

    An affordable waterproof camera will capture the best parts of your trip from unique angles, including underwater! This one is stellar because it’s durable, compact, and can easily be thrown in your purse or daypack to use whenever you need it. It also can withstand a bit of roughing-up, so you can leave your nicer camera at home.

    Affordable Waterproof Camera

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  • 21. Cooling Towels

    Does anyone else get a bit crabby when they get hot? (Hands please!) This cooling towel is great for the entire family because parents know about terrifying meltdowns in 90-degree weather. No more disastrous hours in hot lines with no shade, or running to trains in a humidity-induced daze! All those potentially disastrous moments simply faded away because I discovered this remarkable little towel!

    Like magic, you wet the material and wring it out for an ice-cold effect that lasts for 30-60 minutes. Want it to get cool again? Just repeat. It’s non-toxic, chemical-free, and comes in a compact carry case to keep other items dry. We use it for hikes, beach days, concerts, amusement parks, the gym, and anywhere tropical. It’s life-changing. You’re welcome!

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  • 22. Swimsuit Cover-Up

    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 stepping into a beach bar or cafe. You may not be allowed access to certain shops, hotels, or coastal restaurants without a cover-up on over your swimwear, and you don’t want to be rejected service. We love this one because it’s cute, comfortable, and affordable.

    Swimsuit Cover-Up

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  • 23. Travel Clothesline

    If you’ve never traveled with a clothesline, you’re in for a treat! Not all Airbnbs and hotel rooms come equipped with a built-in laundry system, and sometimes you can’t wait til you get home to wash things. We brought this with us for the first time on our Caribbean cruise. We used it daily for wet towels and damp swimsuits – stretching it across the shower on a windy night or the balcony to dry in fresh air. You can get creative since it expands anywhere, takes up virtually no space in your suitcase, and comes with its own colorful clothes pins.

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  • 24. Waterproof Pocket Blanket

    Of course, any beach or park will demand a stellar beach blanket. This waterproof option is our favorite for travel since it folds down to a compact case, about the size of a baseball. We love that it’s easy to transport between coastlines, festivals, picnics, concerts, and more. Nothing blows away since the stakes come with it, and the waterproof material is a nice touch for preventing any mud or water from seeping through onto your clothes.

    Waterproof Pocket Blanket

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  • 25. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Unfortunately, we’ve had items stolen out of our checked luggage on an international flight. While the luggage belts are great for zipper reinforcement and identification, they won’t necessarily stop theft.. That’s where these TSA-approved locks come in – they are easily removable if you’re selected for a random search, but other than TSA, no sticky fingers will be able to rummage through your belongings. We use these locks for all checked bags, backpacks in busy places, city lockers, hotel lockers, and more.

    TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

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  • 26. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    Between the luxury boutiques and incredible artisan markets around the world, you’ll likely do some shopping. Gone are the days of sitting on your suitcase to make everything fit – put the extra things in this “just in case” bag that fits neatly overhead or under your plane seat. You can skip the carry-on fees since it counts as your personal item, elegantly solving the common issue that plagues travelers – not bringing enough bags!

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

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  • 27. Compression Flight Socks

    If a long flight has ever left you feeling swollen, sore, and stiff – then these compression flight socks are the best! There’s a reason that the flight crew often wears stockings or tight socks: to increase circulation and blood flow on long flights where they won’t be moving around a lot. Blood clots are rare on planes but are more likely for journeys exceeding 4 hours. These socks will help you feel a lot better getting off the plane, plus they’re comfy for everyday-wear!

    Compression Flight Socks

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What to Wear on Vacation

What to wear on your trip will really depend on the destination. No matter where you’re going, do your best not to overpack as you won’t want to lug around a heavy suitcase and you’ll want to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs! What to pack for a trip is based entirely on how you want to prepare for any future shopping as well.

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.

What Should WOMEN Wear on Any Trip? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

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.

What Should MEN Wear on Any Trip? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

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.

How to dress for different activities on vacation – (Click to expand)

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, 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 with 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

  • 1.DON’T PACK unnecessary valuables

    Bringing too many electronics and flashy jewelry puts you at risk of breaking, losing, or having your precious valuables stolen. Bring only the essentials and leave the rest at home!

  • 2.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.

  • 3.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 BRING liquids in larger quantities than TSA-approved amounts

    If you’re flying to your destination, don’t end up in a situation where TSA makes you toss out the liquids you brought! Use these handy TSA-approved travel-sized bottles instead.

  • 5.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.

What clothing should I NOT wear on vacation – (Click to expand)
Don’t wear clothing that identifies you as an obvious tourist, like fanny packs and Hawaiian shirts, if you’re heading to a crowded, cosmopolitan city. Exceptions to that will be in beachy or naturally touristy destinations or if you’re going camping or to a festival and want to dress the part.

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 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 the fastest and cheapest to take quick, cheap flights or to utilize the region’s expansive train system. Do some research before you go to figure out if you’ll mostly be walking, biking, or taking cabs or public transit within your travel destination.

    Get Your Guide is smart to check for your destination as well since they offer transports to the airport and common excursions, as well as Hop-on-Hop-Off bus tours in popular cities (where you can hit all the hotspots for a low price! Way cheaper than taking taxis the whole time or getting a rental car).

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  • 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 at 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 Wi-Fi 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. 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 or because they 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 at 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.