The ultimate travel packing list: Everything to bring on your next trip

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There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport or arriving at your hotel, only to realize you’ve forgotten something important for your trip. But, those days of smacking your forehead in frustration are over with our Ultimate Travel Packing List. Pull up our list on your phone or print it out before every trip and never forget a packing essential again.

If you are choosing to travel now, amidst the current pandemic, what you pack becomes even more essential. There are a variety of health and safety items that will lessen your chances of catching or spreading the coronavirus amidst your travels — consider adding them all to your must-have list! Additionally, some countries are requiring negative COVID-19 tests and/or documentation verifying the good health of international travelers when they arrive.

Because of all this, packing may look a little different than what you’re used to. Keep track of everything you need in one place with our list!

Ultimate travel packing list

This checklist covers many of the items to consider packing when getting ready for a trip. While it is extensive, it doesn’t mean you need to bring everything on it. You probably won’t need to bring a suit and tie if you’re going on a casual beach getaway. There may also be items not on the list that you’ll want to have during your journey.

You can download a PDF version of the list here — save it to your phone, download on a laptop or print it out.

Note: You’ll notice our packing checklist includes “medication.” Medication should only be brought as a precautionary measure if you are traveling and begin exhibiting coronavirus systems — some over-the-counter fever reducers and decongestants have been proven to treat mild symptoms. Do not travel if you are currently experiencing symptoms.

As a bonus to our list, keep reading for the best packing hacks that will make you an expert.

General packing tips and tricks

Here are the must-knows in the world of packing.

Photo by By Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.

Ask yourself the basic questions

Before you even begin packing for a trip, there are a couple of questions you should consider that will make filling your suitcase a lot easier.

Where are you going? What’s the temperature? Are you going to rainy Seattle? Or, the deserts of Egypt?  Depending on the weather and climate, your suitcase will look a little different.

What are you doing on the trip? Is it a relaxing beach getaway or an adventure-filled hiking trip? Your activities have a significant impact on what you should bring. For example, here’s our packing list for visiting Disney.

How many days/nights are you staying? No one likes an over-packer and you don’t want to have to pay for a checked bag if you can avoid it.

Is there anything you don’t need to bring from home because it’ll be easy and accessible to get at your destination? Bringing your underwear is always a safe move, but if you’re staying at a hotel or resort, you can probably snag some toothpaste from the front desk for free.

In short, packing isn’t a one size fits all model, so be sure to consider the nitty-gritty of your trip before you begin.

Choose identifiable luggage

The last thing you want when you finally arrive at your destination is to be stuck at the airport searching through 100 basic, black suitcases at baggage claim.

Instead, choose luggage that you can spot from far away. Or, at the very least, pick a bright luggage tag that will make your bag stand out from the rest. (Bonus tip: Always have a luggage tag with your information in case your bag gets lost in transit!)

Consider using a packing app

If you’re the kind of person who likes a little more structure on top of a printable checklist, consider using an app designed specifically for helping with packing.

Packpoint is a great option for any traveler, because of its basic and easy to use features. The app asks for your destination, travel dates and the activities you’re planning to participate in. With all of this information, the app makes you a customized packing list based on your specific needs.
Image courtesy of PackPoint

Make copies of your documents

It’s always a good idea to have copies of your most important documents. Worst case scenario, you’re stuck in a foreign country because you don’t have your boarding pass, passport or visa. That can be avoided when you bring extra copies of these with you and spread them out (in different bags) in case an item of luggage gets lost. Remember that many credit cards offer lost and delayed baggage insurance.

During a pandemic, it’s even more crucial to make copies of your documents. For example, if you’re traveling to a place that requires a negative COVID-19 test result, you don’t want to arrive at your destination only to find you left your negative test result on your kitchen counter at home. Make extra copies of things that show you’re in good health, so you don’t have to quarantine or find testing at your destination.

Packing tips for clothes

Avoid the hassle and fees of bringing extra bags because you packed too many clothes.

Roll your clothes, not fold

Everyone knows clothes typically take up the most room in your suitcase. To save space and time when you’re packing, roll-up your clothes. For shirts, start at the base and roll upwards, tucking the arms in as you reach them. For pants and shorts, fold in half and then roll from the bottom.

But, for clothes that are delicate fabrics or prone to getting wrinkles, it’s best to fold the usual way and sacrifice the extra room in your bag.

Go easy on the shoes

Shoes are bulky, and it’s hard to minimize all of the space they take up in your bag. For every one pair of shoes you pack, you probably could’ve put 3-4 shirts in your bag instead. So, when you’re packing your shoes, try to pick versatile footwear.

For example, a basic pair of flats could be worn during the day, but also dressed up for a night out. Alternatively, you can opt to bring shoes that are smaller and easier to pack, like flip-flops.

Throw in some dryer sheets

Weird but true, adding dryer sheets to your luggage is something you should add to your packing routine. Dryer sheets will help your clothes smell fresh when you take them out of the suitcase. It’ll also help the clothes be less wrinkled after being rolled-up for all that time in your bag!

Carry-on essentials

Your carry-on is just as important as your main luggage bag!

Cleaning & safety supplies

In the age of coronavirus, we’ve added a few new items to our must-brings when traveling. As of right now, when you’re around any large crowd, you should be wearing a face covering. This becomes even more important when you’re packed into a train, plane or car with little air circulation!

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to bring sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer with you when you travel. Pandemic or not, traveling exposes you to a lot of germs. It never hurts to wipe down your seat before you settle in, or sanitize your hands an extra time after eating a snack from the flight attendant.

Travel size toiletries

Toiletries are a must-have when you travel, especially if you have a particular soap, shampoo or face wash you just can’t live without. But if you want to bring these items from home, don’t make the rookie mistake of throwing your full-sized toiletries into your carry-on bag when you’re flying. All that will get you is a stop from airport security and your favorite products tossed in the garbage.

Those full-sized items are for checked luggage, but there’s still a way to bring a little splash of perfume, dab of cologne and more on your flight — travel-sized items. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you’re allowed to bring 3.4 ounces of liquid on a plane. So bring your must-have toiletries, just make sure they’re pint-sized!

But, there is one exception to the pint-sized rule at the time of this writing — hand sanitizers. Because of the pandemic, TSA is permitting hand sanitizers up to 12 oz to be in a carry-on bag. Take advantage of this and sanitize your hands often while traveling!

Entertainment

Long trips can be tedious and boring. To combat the boredom, pack some entertainment with you on your flight. This could be anything: books, magazines, crossword puzzles, pre-downloaded episodes of your favorite show and music, just to name a few. The longer you’re on a flight, the more activities you should pack to keep yourself occupied.

Last-minute hacks

Make sure you do these things right before your trip.

(Photo courtesy of Travel man / Shutterstock.com)

Pack toiletries the morning of

Write yourself a note with everything you need to bring with you the morning of your trip, so you don’t forget any of the items you need right up until the last second. You don’t want to wake up in the morning and waste time by searching through your luggage for your toothpaste or a brush to get rid of your bed-head before you head to the airport!

Wear comfortable clothes

Traveling involves a lot of sitting and waiting around. It’s best to wear comfortable clothes when you’re most likely going to be sitting in uncomfortable seats for most of the day. It’s usually easier to nap that way too!

Double-check you have your must-haves

Lastly, before you leave the house, make sure you have everything you can not travel without. This includes your boarding pass, travel credit cards (especially a no-foreign transaction fee card if traveling internationally), passport, medications and more. Even if you know you packed them, just check once more before you walk out the door.

Bottom line

Traveling is fun and exciting, so why should packing be stressful and difficult? With our ultimate travel packing list, you’ll never forget an item you need for your trip again.

Follow that list and these few tips, and you’ll be a packing expert in no time.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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