The Best Packing List For International Travel

There are certain items to always take with you when it comes to travel, no matter where you go. Unfortunately, things usually get forgotten or lost in translation when it’s time to start packing.

Man with tatted arm packs suitcase for adventure travel trip. Packing bag with camera, laptop, portable battery charger and electric toothbrush. Modern travel blogger concept.
Photo Credit: BublikHaus/Shutterstock.

I’ve found that using a master packing list of must-haves helps me remember the important stuff, and then everything outside that list is catered to the destination. Whether traveling solo or in a group, an international packing list can help prepare you for anything.

Your Travel Packing List Of Must-Haves

Unlike a checklist of things to do before going anywhere, this packing list is what you need to take on your journey.

Important Documents

Invest in a travel wallet that will function as your travel document organizer to hold what you’ll need to enter another country and come back home. These documents include passports, visas, paperwork, Covid testing, and vaccination results. These documents come before anything else, as they are what allow you to travel in the first place. Be sure to make copies of your passport (or take a picture on your phone) so that if it gets lost, you have an easy reference.

Travel Credit Cards

If you have credit cards with travel perks, then be sure to take those with you! No time like the present to make the most of those benefits.


While credit cards generally work everywhere, carrying cash is also essential. That is especially true if you’re going to more rural, underdeveloped areas of the world. Cash will get you out of a bind. Plus, any leftover bills can make for an excellent souvenir.

Preview (opens in a new tab)Important Phone Numbers

If you’re going to less developed countries, look up the phone numbers and location of the US Embassy. As a citizen, this is where you will be going if you need help! Save that information on your phone and write it down somewhere to have a hard copy. In addition, whoever your emergency contact is, write it down somewhere if you don’t have their number memorized. Keep hard copies just in case you lose your phone.

Universal Adapter

Other countries have different plug-in sockets! Invest in a universal adapter to toss into your bag, and be prepared for any situation abroad.


However many electronic items you decide to take with you, aside from your cellphone charger, create a separate bag for all wires/chargers. This way, you stay organized, and nothing gets left behind.

Other Items To Pack

What follows are items for different specific packing lists. You may not need everything for every trip, but it should serve as a friendly reminder and form a basis for getting started.

Shoes, Accessories & Clothing Packing List

There will be specific items needed depending on your destination, but there are basics to pack for almost any trip. Use this as a guide so you don’t forget!

Shirts (t-shirts, casual, dress shirts, tanks)UnderwearScarves
Skirts/DressesHiking shoes, Snow bootsHats
ShortsFlip FlopsGloves
Swimsuits and coverupsSneakersHandbags
Coats/jackets/blazers/cardigansCamera, memory card 


It’s super easy to forget things on this packing list, so having one is so important.

Toothbrush, toothpaste, FlossHairbrush, hair ties, hair accessories
Face wash and creamsContact lenses, case, and solution
Shampoo, Conditioner, Body WashReading glasses
Body lotionFeminine hygiene products
DeodorantFirst aid kit
Hand sanitizerBug spray
Nail file, nail clipper 

Remember, all of your toiletries need to fit in a TSA-approved 311 bag. So, be prepared with the travel sizes of your favorite products.

Regarding first aid kits, a smart traveler always has one in their suitcase. Consider making one just for travel so that you can grab and go and not worry about it.

First Aid Kit Packing List

Band-aids, gauze, bandages
Pain relievers
Antibacterial cream
Alcohol wipes

Covid Safety Packing List

I touched on some of these items already, but to bring it all in one place and keep it simple, be sure to pack these:

  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Home Covid tests (these allow you to self-test if you do develop symptoms. It can save you a lot of money while traveling)

Packing List To Treat Jet Lag

If you find it difficult to adjust to time changes when you travel, leading to jet lag and time wasted at your destination. To combat it, be sure to keep these items with you:

  • An eye mask to wear to bed
  • Sleep aids
  • A reusable empty water bottle
  • Herbal teas (this way, you have something hot to drink and can avoid the caffeine to help you sleep)
  • Low sugar, high protein snacks to help you stay full and avoid a sugar high

Your Luggage

One of the best packing hacks is only to take a carry-on and backpack. It forces you to pack lightly and saves you time and money by avoiding checked bags. I am often asked a big question: “how do you fit everything into your carry-on, and what exactly should I be putting in my bags?”.

Allow me to answer these questions.

Packing List For Your Carryon

Makeup kit
Bag of charging wires
Laundry bag
Collapsible duffel

A collapsible duffel is key when traveling lightly, as it allows for more bag space on the way home. Alternatively, if you have a multi-stop journey, it gives you room for extras without the bulk of a bigger suitcase.

Pack it while collapsed, and open it up if you need it on the way home for those extra souvenirs! A super-easy way to take additional space!

Tricks To Pack Your Carryon

You can use certain tips and tricks to pack everything you need into a carry-on. These include:

Use packing cubes to stay organized. You can easily find a set on Amazon for under $20. They come in different sizes and fit most traditional carryons. You can sort your clothes any way you see fit. For instance, I put all my clothes into the large packing cube and pack them on one side of my double-sided suitcase. I use a half-sized cube for undergarments and accessories that I place on half of the other side. The space left is for shoes and toiletries.

Roll your clothes. Doing so saves space and allows you to pack more items. That works with or without packing cubes. For shoes, pack pairs that work with the majority of your outfits. If you need to take bulkier ones like hiking shoes or snow boots, then plan to wear those on the plane. By wearing the bulky items, you save space and free yourself from dragging around the extra weight.

Tuck small items into any crevice you can find. Those chargers and wires? Stick the little bag you made into a shoe. The same goes for last-minute things you may have forgotten.

Pack lightweight clothing that you can layer. Doing so creates less bulk in your suitcase, allows you to mix and match garments, and helps you stay prepared for different weather scenarios. It also eliminates the need to pack extra jackets and the like.

Packing List For Your Backpack

Now, what to take in your backpack? There’s a packing list for that.

Change of clothesEmpty, Reusable Water Bottle
Toiletry bagTissues
HeadphonesHand sanitizer
Travel wallet with documents, cash & credit cardsEarplugs
Book to read/E-reader or electronic devicesLip Balm
Change of clothesSnacks

In Summary

Going abroad and realizing that you’ve forgotten something can be super difficult and frustrating. A universal packing list such as this one can streamline your travel planning, eliminate the stress of remembering everything you need to take, and allow you to enjoy your time off!

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

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