Even the most experienced travellers tend to leave something they need behind every trip. On the other hand, people often carry too much. A packing list can help make sure you have everything you will need while you are travelling and at your destination. It can also be a reassuring checklist just prior to departing, and if you are missing anything you will need, you can figure that out while you still have time to buy it.

Understand edit

A single list can apply to many trips; when you make one, keep a copy of it for your next trip. Add the stuff you forgot when you get home, and delete the stuff that you took and never used. You can end up with a useful personalized document that will save you time and stress when you need it most.

If you need to make an insurance claim for lost luggage, then the packing list can remind you of what you took, and what you need to claim for.

This article will walk through the process of building your own packing lists for your own travel plans, hopefully with useful suggestions for things you might not have thought of.

Getting started edit

Understand your destination, and focus on what you will need and what not to take. Do you really need an umbrella? Would a broad-brimmed hat do as well? What does the umbrella weigh, how much space does it take up, will it be a problem at airport security, and could you just buy one at your destination if it rains?

Will you be shopping? If it's likely, consider packing a duffel or folding bag. Use it as carry-on on your return flight for purchases or for holding what's displaced in your checked baggage by purchases. You might also want a compact, re-usable shopping bag, as shopping bags are not free in many places, and may not be available at all in some settings.

It can also help to specify which bag each item will go in, to better judge whether you'll be able to pack everything in the bags you plan to use. If you're traveling by air, this will also help you think about what you want to carry on board and what you want to check.

It's easy to overpack and lug around items you don't need, while underestimating how much money it takes to live, shop, and eat away from home. One common bit of advice, perhaps a bit over-stated but with at least a grain of truth:

When packing, figure out what clothes and money you expect to need.
Then take half the clothes and twice the money.

If you're planning a major trip, especially one a bit off the beaten path, it's worth taking an hour or two to browse at an expedition store or website, just seeing what's available. Even though their main goal is to sell you things whether you need them or not, it will at least give you some idea of what (some) others are buying for their travels.

Understand the weight and size restrictions on the various forms of transport you are using. Trains, buses and ships are usually more generous than aircraft (see flight baggage), but they may still charge fees based on weight or size. Plane excess baggage fees can be very steep, or they can even refuse to carry your baggage on that flight. If you have to pack wet towels or jeans and you are on the weight threshold, these can easily push you over the limit. Allow just a little headroom.

Check restrictions for all legs of your journey. They vary between companies, and small aircraft may have different rules than the same company's long-haul ones.

If you have your own car or boat, their luggage capacity may seem nearly limitless, but depending on the size of your party and the length of your trip, you might in fact need every cubic inch of space you can get and you might wish to consider whether space to stretch out or more luggage is more of a priority for you. Limiting yourself also forces you to think about every item, which often means you know what you have and where to find it; packing anything you might need may result in your not using half of them and your using more time to search for things packed away somewhere.

Many consumables are sold at sizes much larger than you'd need on a one-week voyage. Reserve a toothpaste tube, a toilet paper roll, etc., that have a suitable amount left, instead of buying and packing a full one. You may have travel-sized bottles and boxes for shampoo, soap and detergent, which may come handy if you aren't staying in proper hotels and using laundry services.

In addition to restrictions on how much you can carry, there are things you may not carry at all, or with severe specific restrictions. Liquids and batteries are treated very seriously when flying, products that may carry invasive species or diseases are often restricted at borders and pets, products from endangered species, antiques, drugs and weapons are other examples. See Border crossing#Customs, Shopping#Restrictions and the country articles for some discussion.

Baggage edit

Main article: Baggage

Choosing a suitcase, backpack or some other bag is a decision in itself, see Baggage for a discussion.

Adding labels inside and outside of luggage can help you identify your luggage at baggage claim and can help if the luggage is lost in transit. Adding something unique to the outside of the bag (e.g. an accessory) can help distinguish common looking luggage when retrieving it from baggage claim.

Organizing items in baggage edit

Use packing cubes or bags to make packing easier, especially if you are backpacking or going to multiple destinations, and have to re-pack constantly. They can be labeled, and they are often color-coded, so different items can go in and out of different sacks (sleepwear, hiking boots, swimwear, or clothes for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday). Packing in cubes or bags is easier and more organized than stuffing everything into your main bag. Also on a long trip, these sacks will keep odor, dust, and damp from spreading to all your stuff. 3–5 plastic bags that hold about 4 L (1 US gallon) each typify what's usable. Another version of these is the compressible air-tight sacks, from which one can squeeze all the air from clothing items. These use less space (not less weight).

Pack expecting complications edit

Recognize that if you take transport and have to check baggage in, it may be delayed or may not reach your destination at all. Identify what you can least afford to lose or not have when you arrive, and carry that with you on rather than checking it in. Things that are high priority to keep with you include:

  • Identification
  • Means of purchasing (cash, credit card)
  • Medicines and medical devices (including corrective eyewear)
  • Electronics
  • Clothing you need before you can reach a shop (especially if going to a climate where what you are wearing isn't adequate)

Get in edit

Tickets and itinerary edit

If you're traveling by plane, train, bus or ferry, then don't forget to bring your tickets, or organize e-tickets.

A printed copy of your itinerary is useful both for your personal reference and to confirm to officials that your stated travel plans are legit.

Identity documents edit

See also: Border crossing

If you're leaving your home country, there's a good chance you'll need to bring your passport or at least some government-issued proof of your identity and citizenship. For some countries, you will need to obtain a visa in advance. Extra passport-style photos may come in handy for documents or passes you may purchase along the way.

If you are younger and planning to go into clubs or bars or to buy tobacco, then ID may be required in some countries. Bringing your driver's license minimizes the need to carry your passport, and therefore reduces the potential for theft or loss. Beware that in some countries, such as New Zealand, only specified forms of ID can be used as proof of age, and your international driver's license may not cut it.

If you are travelling internationally, immigration officials will sometimes want to check the legitimacy of your plans. If you're paying for accommodation, make sure you have made a reservation for at least your first night and carry contact details for your place of accommodation. If staying in a private home, have the name, address and phone number of your hosts, and make sure that they are aware of your name and your exact date of arrival, because immigration officials may call them if they doubt your plans. If you can't provide details of where you're staying or your host isn't aware that you're coming, you may be refused entry to some countries. Some travellers may also need a letter of invitation to present to officials; check with the issuer of your visa, if any.

If you are entering another country as a visitor on a visa that forbids you to seek employment, then leave out anything that might make it look like you want to find a new job. For example, leave your appointment diary at home if you would be embarrassed for the immigration authorities to read it. If you are traveling for business purposes, then take what you need for work, but be prepared to explain that you are traveling for your existing job (e.g., for a sales meeting) rather than seeking work.

If you are traveling with a child, you may need additional documentation to prove that you're their legal guardian, such as their birth certificate. If the other parent isn't traveling with you (and especially if you and the child have different last names), authorities might suspect that you're trying to take the child out of the country without authorization; proof of custody and written permission from any other legal guardians may help you avoid a hassle. See also Travelling with children for children's documentation requirements.

Membership cards can be useful: e.g. International Student Identification Card, Hosteling International, your automobile club; frequent-flyer, hotel, car rental or other "loyalty" cards.

It's a good idea to have copies of all important documents in case of loss. You can carry photocopies (separately of course) and/or keep electronic copies in your webmail account inbox, in an online storage folder, or in a pocket memory stick, to print if needed. It is also advisable to leave copies with someone responsible at home, just in case you lose everything.

Get around edit

Driver license edit

If you're planning to drive at your destination, a driver's license will be needed and you may need an international driving permit as well. If you are bringing your own vehicle, you may need a Carnet de Passage to get it through customs. Both the IDP and the carnet are obtained from the automobile association in your own country.

Guidebooks edit

The most adventurous free spirits may eschew them, but odds are if you're reading this, you're the sort who values a guidebook. To bring down the weight, instead of carrying dead tree, you might want to download digital versions. Wikivoyage articles can be downloaded as such, as PDF, combined to a PDF book or downloaded through a tailored app. Options for the latter include the Kiwix's free Wikivoyage offline app or the paid OsmAnd app.

A less storage intensive option is to use the web browser on your smartphone, but this means you have downloaded the pages in advance, have access to Wi-Fi or can afford using mobile data. Some web browsers (including Firefox) can be used in off-line mode, still giving access to pages in the cache when tell them not to fetch anything.

If you're already bringing a laptop, saving pages and maps to your hard drive (in case you lose power) won't add any weight, but can be a convenient way to find pre-screened attractions and services on the fly. Alternatively, just read it as needed in Internet cafés, and perhaps add your new discoveries to Wikivoyage while you're there.

Navigation edit

Smartphone apps edit

Being able to determine where you are and where you are going are critical when traveling somewhere that you are not very familiar with. It can also help to verify that a hired ride is taking you in the most efficient way to your destination.

Most smartphones include some form of GPS and enough space to download some form of map (options include an OpenStreetMap-based app, such as the free Maps.me app or the paid OsmAnd app, or an app such as Google Maps). Saving an offline copy of maps on the device before departure saves on mobile data use while traveling and avoids losing map access in areas without mobile coverage. Be sure to review your data plan before you leave (in case you need to change it to avoid ridiculous pricing), and be aware of the limitations of the web browsers in non-smartphones: some feature phones are pretty much limited to "mobile" versions of web sites, and might not display graphics.

If you're using a commercially printed book, cutting out the pages for the places you'll be going cuts down on the size and weight. You may be able to buy maps more easily when you get to your destination, but if you don't read the local script, it's probably best to buy one at home.

Other navigation tools edit

Consider bringing a compass, or even a GPS receiver, especially if you're going someplace without a grid of city streets. Find a compass suitable to your destination's latitude. Most manufacturers balance their compass needles for one of five zones (ranging from Zone 1, covering most of the Northern Hemisphere, to Zone 5, covering Australia and the southern oceans). The needle may drag or stick on other zones. There are also more expensive multi-zone or global compasses that function correctly everywhere.

Ride hailing edit

If you plan on using ride hailing services, identify which apps service your destination, and download those before traveling to that destination. Check for updates shortly before departure.

Flashlight edit

A keychain-size flashlight (torch) can be handy, or an app that turns your smartphone into a surrogate. Flashlights can also be useful when camping – or just to find your bed: blackouts may be more common than you're used to. In some regions, they are virtually guaranteed.

However, your smartphone battery isn't made to provide flashlight power and may be drained rapidly. If you need the light more than sporadically, a real flashlight may be better.

Battery backup edit

If you expect to be heavily using your smartphone during your trip without being able to regularly plug it in to an electrical outlet, consider bringing a power bank that will allow you to charge your smartphone and other devices. For extended voyages, you may want to also consider solar power or a dynamo. Check the capacity of whatever you plan on carrying: most easily carried solar panels (despite the nominal figures perhaps telling otherwise) will suffice only for very modest device use, and small power banks have less capacity than your device's own battery. If you are planning to fly with one or more of these, make sure that none of them exceed battery capacity limits (usually around 100 Watt-hours) and only pack them into carry-ons. An overheating battery that catches fire may be terrifying in the cabin, but even more so when it is out of sight in the baggage hold. Remember where you put them, in case you're asked to gate-check that bag.

Talk edit

See also: Talk

Being able to communicate is critical when you are in foreign language where the locals do not speak your language, whether it is to ask for directions, to ask for something, or to make a booking.

Studying the language can be a great use of your time during transportation and may attract the sympathy of local passengers. Popular flashcards apps have decks for all major languages, including pronunciation. You may also want to bring physical flashcards, a travel dictionary or whatever helps you. If you know the basics, comics or an easily-read (light) book may be useful. The Adventures of Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, the most widely translated comic book, is available in more than 100 languages. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, and many fairy tales are also widely available and don't use too many specialized words (unlike, say, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which is also available in dozens of languages).

Learning in advance edit

If you know that the trip is coming up months before your departure, try to learn a little of the local language. Even as little as being able to say "thank you" and to read simple signs saying "enter" or "exit" will help. You may be able to find a class at your local college or community program. Your local public library should either have books and other resources, especially if you are interested in a popular language like Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, or German, or they should be able to tell you where to look next.

Apps such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone are popular, and some are free. They may be easier for people who are brushing up on a rusty language than for someone starting on their first-ever foreign language.

Translation apps edit

If you have a smartphone, downloading a translation app will likely be the easiest way to overcome communication challenges, unless you start to learn the local language. As you may be roaming with your smartphone, before traveling to your destination, it is best to download an offline copy of the local language(s), if available for your app. Google Translate and Apple's Translate (iOS only) for some languages, allow downloading options to allow offline translation of some language (Google Translate for many more languages than Apple's Translate). With a translate app, you can enter in what you want to say, and as necessary, you can arrange for whom you are speaking to provide more complex replies by typing in their response in your smartphone.

The above apps also work with your phone's camera: if you take a photo of the text to translate, the app will instantly translate any text it can detect.

The quality of the translation varies between languages, and even for well-supported languages, the translation is sometimes messed up. At times it will just be funny or unintelligible, but sometimes it may be seriously misleading. You can reduce this problem by using short, simple sentences. Make sure that the other person understands the context and try to confirm critical answers by using different synonymous wordings.

Phrasebook edit

If you do not speak the language, a phrasebook may range from essential to a nice courtesy. Even if you're sure that someone there will understand you, they'll appreciate you if you take the trouble to use some of their language. The pronunciation of some languages can also be learned pretty fast, and will help you understand whether you are in the right bus, or whether that dish is the one you ordered. If the language is in an unfamiliar script or if pronunciation follows some logic notably different from the one you are used to (highly likely if you are an English speaker), try to at least learn the basic rules for the most critical elements. In many languages that would be vowels and most common consonants, but e.g. for Arabic, the consonants matter more, and for Chinese you should learn the tones. Having a clearer relation between what is on paper and what can be heard not only eases understanding and communication, it is also inherently satisfying. Unfortunately, for many languages, phrasebooks aren't readily available.

Buy edit

In many countries, full-service laundromats are good value (this bill is for US$3)

Payment methods edit

Main article: Money

The three main options for carrying money are cash, credit cards and ATM cards. Travelers cheques used to be one main option, but nowadays it may be hard to find places where they are accepted. The best way to access cash is usually through an ATM, but make sure to take some spare cash, also in small denominations. Coins may be necessary for e.g. laundry machines. How much cash to carry depends on the country; in some countries nearly all payments can be done by card.

Consider having two or more debit or credit cards, so that if one is lost or stolen, or stops working, you still have access to payment. Don't carry them in the same wallet. You may also want to have a separate purse or wallet for ordinary shopping, to avoid showing your large bills and to minimise damage if it gets stolen.

Segregating your methods of payment will protect you should you be robbed. The bulk of your cash and methods of payment should be stored in a concealed, safe location, such as a money belt tucked fully underneath your pants, or tucked away in your first aid kit, toiletry bag or in a hidden pocket in your baggage. Avoid having a bulge show where your currency is.

Keep a credit card, ATM card or sufficient cash readily accessible, such as in a front pocket, which is closed by button or preferably with a zipper. Your means of payment should be kept small to avoid potential thieves from seeing a bulge showing where your currency is.

Gifts edit

In some situations, gifts, especially gifts that are characteristic of your home, may be more useful than money. In some cultures, the exchange of gifts is an important part of business relationships. Small gifts or candy may be a good way to show your appreciation to a host, or as a friendly overture to the locals.

Smartphone apps edit

Having a currency conversion smartphone app or a separate calculator helps to get a sense of whether a quoted price in a foreign currency is reasonable and within your budget. The conversion apps often have additional features, such as graphs showing the conversion rate trend. They may be useful for some, but most will want the currency conversion functionality to be as straightforward as possible. Depending on the conversion rate and how used you are to doing maths in your head, the calculator may be needed only in special situations (such as when doing expensive purchases).

Luggage allowance considerations edit

Leave some room and weight allowance for things you buy when abroad. If you plan a lot of shopping, consider packing one or two folding duffels. You can then put purchases in returning, checked baggage, and soft items displaced by purchases in duffels for carry-on.

Wear edit

See also: Clothes

Clothes typically make up most of travellers' baggage. Your strategy depends upon your method of travel. If you're going car camping in a large caravan, then you probably have room to take a few extras; if you're hitchhiking or backpacking, then you need to be ruthless about eliminating unnecessary items of clothing. Your purpose in travelling also matters. A business traveller to Asia will probably need multiple dressy outfits, but a young person with the cheapest European train pass and a list of hostels probably won't need any.

The strategies of layering and versatility are essential for wilderness travel, and they're useful for other kinds as well. Items that you can mix and match and wear in various combinations for various levels of formality and/or warmth are best. For example, khaki slacks can be worn with a dress shirt and jacket for semi-formal situations, or with a t-shirt for sightseeing. A t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and a sweater can be worn individually for hot-to-cool situations, or combined for cold weather. Especially for women, accessories such as scarves or wraps can turn one outfit into two or three. A sarong can do multiple duties as clothing, beach towel, extra blanket, etc.

What you wear may also have an impact on how readily thieves may target you for pick pocketing, which is a consideration in higher crime areas. For instance, if you have pockets that are button closed, or preferably zipper closed, this can make it more challenging for thieves to retrieve valuables from your pockets.

The question of "how many?" is a complex formula of how much you want to be prepared vs. how much you want to carry. The more you can determine ahead of time what the weather will be like, where you'll be going, and what you'll be doing, the less "just in case" packing you'll be inclined to do. Factor in (air) travel time and time zones when calculating how much to carry on shorter trips. Packing a tuxedo or gown because you're not sure if you'll be going to a formal dinner or not, generally signals that you're over-packing. On the other hand, if there's a pool or beach, you may end up kicking yourself for not bringing a swimsuit.

Footwear edit

Shoes are a bulky nuisance to pack, but make sure you bring at least one pair that you'd be comfortable walking around in all day. A pair of slippers, sandals or flip-flops provide something else to wear if your shoes start to hurt or get wet. They can also be quite useful for going to and from shared showers, or shared bathrooms in the middle of the night in cheaper accommodation.

Tips for packing clothes edit

Both packing too much, and packing too little, can ruin your trip. Make sure you double, triple check the weather, hotel services (i.e. washing clothes, free clothing per room like bathrobe) and your list.

In developing nations essentials are commonly sold in single-serve sachets. Keep this in mind when packing.

Make a list about two weeks in advance because then you have a set plan instead of last-minute frantic packing. If you will have more than one bag, then think about what items will go in which bags. For example, many experienced air travellers carry all essential medications and also a T-shirt and underwear in their carry-on baggage, in case their checked baggage gets delayed or a cup of coffee gets spilled on the clothes they're wearing during an unexpected moment of air turbulence.

Laundering clothes edit

Consider whether you'll be able to do laundry while there. This can save you from the urge to pack 14 pairs of underwear and socks for a two-week trip. Bring a universal sink stopper and you can do your washing in your bathroom sink if necessary. Keep in mind the type of clothing material you wear can also affect frequency of washes. For instance, wool clothes are odour resistant, which makes it possible to wear clothes such as socks and shirts for two days without laundering being needed to control odour. Airing wool clothes also does wonders.

If you have sensitive skin and expect to find a coin-operated washing machine, then consider taking a few portions of your favorite laundry detergent. Liquid and powder detergents can be sealed in bottles like other toiletries, and laundry pods can be secured in a rigid container, such as a screw-top jar or a box inside a zip lock bag. Laundry detergent sheets are a very compact and light way of washing small amounts of laundry, such as in a sink or during camping. Alternatively, single-use sachets of laundry liquid are often sold at corner stores in developing countries. The resulting rubbish is a significant environmental problem but the cheap single-serves are very convenient for travellers!

Insect protection edit

Consider applying waterproofing compound, and/or permethrin against insects and ticks, to clothing or baggage before you leave. In general, you should not carry these; aerosols are not allowed on planes, and you don't want extra weight. However, blasting your hat, jacket or canvas baggage before going may be quite helpful.

Extra lightweight edit

Sometimes buying new clothes can be cheaper and easier than laundry. Find any clothing you have that is almost worn out, wear it to start your journey, and discard it when it gets dirty.

If you don't need to look nice or plan to do anything wet or dirty, then a four-week trip can be managed with two pairs of jeans, discarding the old pair and wearing the new after two weeks. If the climate isn't too muggy, then T-shirts, thin socks, and underwear can be rinsed at night and put back on just slightly damp the next morning. Some companies make extended-wear underwear, which is good for the long-term traveller. You only have to buy one or two, and then wash them in the sink every night – they are quick to dry and antimicrobial, so you'll save a lot of room and stench. Put socks on around 20 minutes before your shoes to give them a chance to dry fully from body heat. Pajamas are optional if you're not staying in dorm rooms. Even if you need clothes to sleep in for warmth or modesty, you can sleep in a T-shirt and comfortable shorts or pants, rather than bringing something that can only be worn to bed (in cold climates with cool bedrooms, use long underwear instead). It really is possible to travel with nothing but the clothes on your back if you want, and it opens up a whole new world of travel, particularly at a destination where it isn't too cold. No need to find lockers, and sightseeing right from the bus station or airport. Walking and the local bus become easy options. Just be prepared for some quizzical looks at customs and immigration.

Workwear edit

If you travel for work and will be wearing (something akin to) a uniform, ask yourself how much time you'll actually spend out of uniform and limit your personal clothes accordingly.

See and do edit

Power supplies edit

Bring battery chargers and travel power adapters for any electrical device you may use. Be sure to check the correct voltage and frequency is available in your destination. If you are driving, bring a power adapter that plugs into the car's cigarette lighter socket. Adapters providing USB power outlets are small and lightweight.

Photography and videos edit

You'll probably want to bring a camera, along with sufficient storage and batteries. See Travel photography for more on this topic.

Consider whether you are willing to take the risk losing your photos and videos, such as due to theft or damage to electronics. Risk of losing these recordings of your trip can be reduce by bringing backup up storage media or setting up for your photos and videos to be automatically uploaded to a cloud service.

Other gear to pack edit

Beyond that, what other kind of gear you'll need to pack depends on where you're going and what you're doing there. Snorkel and flippers? Caribiners and rope? Golf clubs? Snow skis? If your trip is focused on an equipment heavy activity like skiing or scuba diving, you may want to take your own equipment along, or depending on your destination and facilities there, have no choice about bringing it along. Finding an activity specific packing list and using it as a reference is a good way to make sure that you don't forget something crucial. For some activities you may even want to pack spares of some equipment: scuba divers sometimes prepare a "save a dive" kit with spare masks and fin straps so that the failure of a small bit of equipment doesn't mean skipping a day's diving.

Pack gear or rent it? edit

Depending on the activity and your destination, the alternative may be to use hire equipment. The decision to hire or buy depends partly on your activity: hiking boots and wetsuits, for example, often need to fit their wearer well to be effective. It's also partly based on expense and convenience. Buying equipment is typically a big one-off cost and ongoing maintenance might be required. However, renting is usually more expensive over the long run if you are a regular participant. The final consideration is the size and weight of your baggage, particularly if you are flying. Packing both your equipment and day-to-day essentials might put you over the airlines' free baggage limit, fragile equipment can be damaged when transported in baggage holds and sometimes there is a separate surcharge for either sporting equipment or large and difficult to handle baggage.

See the various articles under Travel activities for more about this.

A game of cards in a hostel in Tamil Nadu

Time fillers edit

Bring some amusements for long waits and journeys. Bring stuff you enjoy, that passes the time, or that helps you get to sleep. Load up your phone with music before you go travelling. Streaming services like Spotify or Netflix allow you to download music and movies to watch offline. You may prefer to bring cheap corded headphones instead of expensive and easily-lost wireless headphones.

Books and magazines never run out of battery, and are great entertainment on buses, planes, boats and lazy days. But they are heavier than an mp3 player. For long trips, pick ones you won't mind giving away when you finish them. You can swap them with other travellers, "leave one, take one" at a hostel or B&B, or even stop by a used book store along the way.

An e-book reader (e.g. Kindle, Nook) lets you bring your entire library, provided you can charge it every other week.

Electronic games, can amuse kids or adults for hours. Bring along a pack of cards for when the batteries are dead, and all else fails. Some board games are available in special travel editions adapted to be played in close quarters or on moving vehicles.

Eat and drink edit

See also: Camping food, Outdoor cooking

Traveling usually involves a fair amount of sitting and waiting and time spent in transit. Packing water and some snacks will make those times go more comfortably. Even if refreshments will be available, they're often overpriced for travelers.

Drinks edit

At airports edit

But beware security restrictions on more than 100 ml (3.4 fl. oz.) of any liquid at most airports; you'll just need to empty the bottle outside the security checkpoint, then fill it back up again at a water fountain or sink airside. A foldable waterbottle is considered by many to be a worthwhile purchase.

Other considerations edit

Some travelers carry a kettle and tea or coffee. You can also get a compact water heater that boils a glass or mug of water. Be aware of electrical requirements where you are going.

Food edit

Crossing borders edit

Keep in mind that if traveling internationally, some snacks may not be permitted by the country that you are entering, such as fruits, seeds, and meats. In some countries, such as Australia there are also restrictions on taking certain types of fresh fruit between certain states.

Other considerations edit

For suggestions about packing food for places where you have to bring your own breakfast, see Packing for a week of hiking. See outdoor cooking for portable cooking equipment.

Packing a small plastic spork allows you to tackle any snack or meal you buy at a supermarket

Utensils and other supplies edit

If traveling to developing countries, consider bringing re-usable utensils, as those might not be provided at some places, such as if you are buying street food.

If you pack some utensils, such as bottles, cups, bowls, spoons and knives, you will much easier be able to make your snacks and even some meals yourself, instead of always resorting to restaurants and ready-made packages. This will be cheaper and easier on the environment. Aim for light but reusable equipment. Sometimes washing the dishes may be awkward or impossible, so some disposable ones can still come handy.

Stay safe edit

A money belt to protect your valuables is a very good idea.

A money belt or passport pouch to protect your valuables is a very good idea, ideally with RFID blocking built in to prevent identify theft. See destination articles for information on local risks, and the pickpockets and crime articles for more on avoiding thefts. Don't be lazy and wear your money belt outside of your clothing. In some areas it will get stolen.

A baggage lock to seal checked bags may be a good idea. But for travel in the US, use a lock approved by TSA; they have master keys for these locks, and with any other lock, airport security will cut it off if they decide to look in your bag.

A number of companies make Pack Safes, which are basically a wire mesh, secured by a padlock, that can enclose your backpack or suitcase and attach it to a solid object (chair, bed, etc.) so that prying eyes and fingers cannot remove items from your baggage without a bolt-cutter or your keys. Their weight is not insignificant (about half a kilogram) but worth it on some voyages. They are good for when you have to leave your bags unattended, i.e. in bus baggage holds, dormitory rooms, ferries and when you need to go to the bathroom. Don't leave your bag locked up and unattended in a bus stop or a train station, or airport where security is high, as it may be opened with an explosive charge by the local bomb disposal unit. They are efficient, if you keep them on throughout your journey, as opposed to taking them on and off. They are designed not to get tangled. Make sure they fit well, try it on to your bag before purchase, and put on a waterproof underneath for extra protection.

You probably won't ever need the address and phone number for your embassy or consulate, but if you do — for example, if your passport is stolen or you are arrested for some real or bogus offense — you'll be glad you had them with you. Phone numbers for family at home are also good to have, just in case. The numbers of your charge cards and travellers cheques, stored separately from the cheques themselves, can be vital if you need to phone the issuer to report a theft.

Most travelers will sensibly avoid areas where armed conflicts are in progress. For those who must go, see War zone safety. It is a good idea to check with your local foreign affairs department for any travel warnings to areas you may be visiting. Things may have changed since you were last there.

Stay healthy edit

If you have travel insurance — and travel insurance covering at least medical expenses and evacuation home is highly recommended for travelers who are going to be outside the realm of their country of residence's healthcare and insurance arrangements — you should carry a copy of your policy details and the insurer's contact details with you. In some countries, it is difficult to obtain medical care without being able to demonstrate adequate insurance.

You don't want to sacrifice personal hygiene, but some compromises from your usual assortment of personal care products might help. Your hotel may or may not provide soap and shampoo. Of course you'll probably want to have your own toothbrush (or a travel toothbrush), deodorant, shaving gear (if applicable), and tampons/pads (if applicable), but it may be easier to purchase some of these at your destination, especially if your trip is a long one. A travel-sized roll-on deodorant is very useful. If you bring toothpaste, shampoo etc., bring a smaller package or one half-empty. Think about what items can be shared within your party.

Women may want to consider a reusable alternative to tampons, such as a menstrual cup or sponge. Tampons can be scarce outside of shops catering to tourists in countries in Asia, South America, and Africa. Some public toilets do not supply toilet paper, so it's a good idea to keep tissues on you at all times.

Beware that you cannot carry on containers larger than 100 ml (3.4 fl. oz.) of any gel or liquid on many airlines and there is a limit to the total volume of those containers that are allowed, such as in Canada, where all of those gels and liquid containers must fit in a single transparent bag capable of holding 1 litre size bag (such bags will are unable to hold anywhere near 10 items of 100 ml size). Aerosol cans are often restricted or banned. Put larger cosmetics in your checked baggage; get travel-sized versions of anything you actually intend to use while on a plane, inside the airport's secure zone, or would miss if you were delayed overnight, such as saline solution for contact lenses. Consider whether it would be more convenient to buy cosmetics after you arrive, versus spending more time enjoying your destination.

A bottle of no-wash hand sanitizer or wipes can come in handy, no matter where you travel. If you're going to be outdoors much, sunglasses, sun-screen, lip balm, and other skin-care products are important in more places than not. Insect repellent is very handy in many places, especially tropical countries with mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, and zika.

Some countries require face masks to be worn when traveling on some modes of transportation within the country or internationally.

A copy of your eyeglasses prescription might come in handy should you break or lose your glasses or contacts, but a backup pair would be faster, and there's no better way to ruin a trip than not being able to see anything. If your destination is a low-cost country, then it may make sense to bring the prescription and buy a new pair there. In particular, a pair of prescription sunglasses are useful on many holiday trips.

First-aid kit edit

Consider a small travel health kit with adhesive bandages, anti-bacterial cream, etc. In some countries it may be advisable to carry a more comprehensive first aid kit, including hypodermic needles, wound dressings, etc. Ideally talk to your local travel doctor or family doctor about what you may or may not need before you go.

Medications edit

See also: Medications

If you take any medications, take personal supplies of them, as they may be in short supply or difficult to obtain during certain hours, but resist the urge to re-package them for travel across borders; keeping them in their original packages, with copies of prescriptions, will save you from hassles (or worse) from customs & immigration. (Also, make sure they're legal where you're going.) Pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medicines, etc. may come in handy, but keep in mind that they can also be purchased most places during normal store hours. If you have any medical conditions, including allergies, then keep that information on you; med-alert tags will be recognized in most places.

If you are traveling to any developing countries, obtaining antibiotics to take with you on the trip may be helpful in the event you develop significant food poisoning.

If you are going to the tropics, see also tropical diseases.

Other edit

  • Odor eliminator – for long trips, if laundry will just not be all that convenient
  • Portable clothesline – for drying clothes in bathrooms
  • Good quality sports bra – even designer stores in third-world countries often have export surplus and thereby bad quality. Considering the number of potholes you'll encounter, it is a good idea to have one.
  • Powerbars – especially useful for hikes and as backup. Did your flight get delayed for hours? Are you jet-lagged and hungry in the middle of the night, with no restaurants open? Food, especially substantial food, is not always available when you want it, especially when you're on foot.
  • Toilet paper – if toilets at your destination might not provide it. Alternatively, a travel-size pack of tissues may be handy for many things, including as an emergency substitute for toilet paper.
  • Batteries – prefer brand name alkaline batteries. Cheap or fake batteries are often carbon-zinc and do not last long.
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET – over 30% DEET is poisonous and not needed, as the effect against mosquitoes does not increase after that.
  • Sunscreen – Good quality sunscreen should have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in the ingredients. Paradoxically it can be next to impossible to get, of low quality and/or expensive in many tropical and subtropical countries in addition to sometimes being past the best before date.
  • Carabiners – Metal loops with a sprung or screwed gate. Often useful for clipping things together. The cheapest ones cost about a dollar, but do not use these cheapies for actual mountain climbing!
  • Anti-itch cream – often not available except in herbal form.
  • Ear plugs are useful when you're trying to sleep in a very noisy location, e.g., flying. If you fly often, consider buying good, noise-canceling headphones. Note that using ear plugs can be dangerous in some circumstances, e.g., if a fire alarm goes off and everyone except you evacuates the building.
  • An eye mask is good for those who need darkness to sleep
  • Alarm clocks are perhaps less necessary these days as cell phones and watches tend to have built-in alarms. But don't rely on early morning calls from your hotel to make that unmissable flight.
  • A utility knife for outdoor life; not recommended for city-life, though.

Connect edit

Bringing a mobile phone along makes perfect sense, but check to see whether the place you're going has a compatible network, and that either your service provider offers roaming there or that your phone would be compatible with a local prepaid service. Obtaining a local mobile phone plan in the country where you are traveling may save you for exorbitant charges that may be charged for roaming using your country's mobile phone service provider. Even if you don't intend roaming, you can usually use your phone for emergency calls should the need arise – if it is compatible. Phone cards and/or numbers for "collect" calling may be more practical, or even buying a local phone along with a prepaid service. If you bring your own phone, don't forget your charger and checking its electric compatibility. See also Telephone service.

You may want to bring along a laptop or tablet to get online. Remember to carry a plug adapter if you need one. Free wifi is common in hotels, cafes, shopping centres and even on the street in major cities.

See also edit

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