Updated June 2, 2021 by Clarisse
Are you looking for a printable packing list template for your next trip? Check out the travel essentials below that will help get you started.
PS. Scroll down to the bottom to access your free printable packing list template!
Are you the kind of packer that always forgets something at home? Or do you feel as though there’s not enough space in your suitcase to fit everything you want to bring? I get it!
Packing can be very time consuming and sometimes even downright daunting. From the first time that I packed my suitcase up until now, my strategies and style have evolved.
I still remember having two big suitcases, a backpack, plus a personal item. That’s only for trips that would only last for a couple of weeks.
I made these mistakes so many times in my early traveling days. Not only do I end up not using most of the items in my luggage, but I had a hard time lugging everything around.
Nowadays, I travel with one mid-sized suitcase and a small backpack, with one personal item. This type of packing suits me a lot better and has helped tremendously with packing just the right items.
I hope that the packing essentials list below will help you on your next trip.
Carry-On Travel Essentials (aka the stuff you take on the plane)
I usually put these items in a small backpack. Your carry-on essentials should consist of your personal items. These are the items you’d want to keep with you at all times.
You can forget everything else on this list, except for this one. Passports are your gateway to travel. You won’t be able to leave the country so this is something that should always be on your top priority list.
2. Cash, Debit Cards, and Credit Cards
Take your preferred selection or all of the above. I tend to carry debit cards and credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees. It saves the hassle of trying to find an exchange place that won’t rip you off.
3. Drivers License
A driver’s license provides second proof of identity, as well as the chance to be able to drive in another country.
A few countries will accept your license where you’ll be able to drive and rent a car legally. Make sure to check with the official website of the place you’re traveling to.
4. International Health Insurance Card
Most backpackers use travel insurance, and for good reason. I personally prefer having international health insurance instead. It is a good idea to have both if you plan on traveling long term.
5. Copies of All Your Identification
It is a good idea to photocopy every single identification that you are bringing on your trip. This is in case you lose your original document, then you’ll have a backup with you at all times.
6. Visa/Any Required Travel Documents
Every country will have its own travel requirements. Make sure you check them out on the official government website. Print any documents you will need to present when entering your international destination.
7. Phone + Phone Charger
These may seem obvious as you use these items every day but one can never be too careful to add it into your packing list.
8. Laptop + Laptop Charger
If you intend on bringing a laptop, make sure that you can access it, as TSA requires you to take them out for screening.
It’s best to have these as a carry-on even if you don’t plan on using it. I recommend this only because there’s a chance they could potentially lose your luggage. Also, it’s a lot safer with it not being tossed around in transit.
9. Fully Charged Portable Charger
Portable battery chargers are life-savers when there are no electrical sockets near you. Make sure to charge yours up before leaving for the airport.
10. Travel Neck Pillow
Grab the most comfortable travel neck pillow you can find and you won’t regret carrying it around. I usually put mine on the strap of my backpack for easy access. They are useful on long flights as well as an extra pillow if needed in a pinch.
11. Small Travel Blanket
They give out airplane blankets on select international flights. But you’ll never know if you will get one or not. It’s always best to carry one with you, especially if you get cold easily.
12. Sunglasses or Prescription Eyeglasses
I never leave home without both my sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses. If you have a favorite pair, I recommend bringing them along.
Please do remember your eyeglasses if they’re prescribed and are made only for you. It will be pretty hard to get a replacement during your trip.
13. Sleeping Eye Mask
If you want to catch some zzz’s on your flight, I highly suggest bringing one of these along. Get one that’s super comfortable and one that you’ll enjoy having during your trip.
Better yet, hint to one of your friends that you’d love one for your next trip. It’s a great travel gift for frequent explorers.
Do not forget to carry a pen with you. I’ve had countless flights at the beginning of my journeys where I’ve had to borrow one from the guy across the aisle. It’s a bit awkward having to ask and it’s best to have your own. Trust me on this one.
Flight attendants will hand these out if you forget to bring your own. But I do find them more uncomfortable than the ones I bring along for myself. Essentially, it’s better to have a pair that you own just in case.
16. Insulated Refillable Water Bottle
An insulated refillable water bottle is handy if you drink a lot of water and want to keep it cold. They are great to take on airplanes as you can fill them up at the airport before your flight. They’re also great for when you’re hiking or out exploring.
Check-In Luggage Travel Essentials
The best thing I can tell you with your check-in luggage is if it’s over 50 pounds (23 kilos) then you are overpacked by a lot.
Try and fit all the items below into one suitcase, as you don’t need more than that. I promise you will feel better during your trip. After all, we’re fulfilling an off the beaten path life.
17. International Adapter
For any international travel, none of your chargers will work without an adapter. It’s best to buy one before you leave, as it saves you the hassle of trying to find one during your trip.
There are plenty of good adapters on Amazon that actually work. I bought two of the ones I currently own there.
PS. You don’t need to buy a voltage converter unless you’re bringing along your hairdryer or a straightener.
18. Small Toiletry Set
Small toiletry sets are all you’ll need for your next adventure. There’s not a whole lot of reason to bring big bottles of everything because you can buy these items anywhere.
I would recommend purchasing most of these items at your destination. Provided you’ll be staying long-term in one place and you’re looking to save space in your luggage.
- Body Soap
- Nail Cutter Kit
19. Microfiber Towel
Microfiber towels are lightweight, and they do the job of drying you. They fold seamlessly and can fit into any part of your luggage. This is a great solution if you are looking to travel long-term.
They’re excellent to have for places that don’t offer towels, such as hostels or a few Airbnb’s.
Hint: Pat yourself dry with it, they work better that way.
20. Extension Cord
Extension cords are excellent for places with limited electrical sockets. I’ve used mine in hostels, apartments, and countless Airbnb’s that I’ve rented.
This is something that most people pack first in their luggage. I did write down everything you may need for your next trip, covering all the bases. Sometimes, there are still a few weekend trips where I forget to pack my nightwear. Thus why I think it’s so important to have a list handy.
- Jean Shorts
- Jeans or Jeggings or Leggings
- Rainproof jacket
- Workout clothes
Keep your shoes to a minimum and only pack what you’ll need for your trip.
Remember, you can always purchase shoes once you’re at your destination. I did write below what I always pack during my travels so that it can give you an idea of what to bring.
- Tennis or Walking Shoes
- Sandals or Flats
- Slipper Socks
23. Spare Plastic + Ziploc Bags
These are super handy if you need extra plastic bags. They’re great for groceries, dirty clothes, or any other emergencies you may have on your trip. I never leave home without packing a few of these with me.
24. Important Medications
I can’t stress this one enough if you need prescription medications. You most likely won’t be able to access these internationally. Make sure that you take enough medications with you to last for the duration of your trip.
For my gap year, I took over a year’s worth of medication with me abroad.
Hint: Please make sure to declare these at customs. It’s always better to be honest and upfront with them than trying to hide anything that’s in your bag.
Covid-19 Pandemic Travel Essentials (2021)
You can decide where you’d want to keep these, but I will include it as I had these items during my latest international trip in 2020. I will keep these here until we’ve returned back to normal pre-covid level. Remember, to please stay safe and take extra precautions during your travels at this time.
25. Hand Sanitizer
This is essential all through-out, as it’s good practice to have one on you when traveling. But, as the world grapples a pandemic this time, it’s almost mandatory to carry one with you.
It’s a good idea to keep your temperature checked, especially if you begin to feel symptoms. At this point, it’s better to have one just in case.
27. Alcohol Wipes
Alcohol wipes were handed throughout my flights from Dallas, Texas to Belgrade, Serbia. Airlines are now taking extra precautions. I felt that they were making sure that safety and cleanliness are a priority. But, it never hurts to have a few extra wipes with you.
28. Disposable Face Masks
For your travels, I would suggest disposable face masks instead of the reusable ones. They are easier to travel with, and you can switch them out if the one you’re wearing is getting too unsanitary.
29. Cough Drops
During the 2020 pandemic, you can never be too careful. Take some cough drops with you in case you start feeling a bit under the weather.
30. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is always a good idea to help with your immune system. Through these times, however, they’re more than essential. Keep up with your health and take your vitamins, especially during your travels.
I saw a few people on the plane wearing gloves to protect them from the virus. I brought some along but felt safe enough not to wear them during my trip.
Everyone’s safety level varies, though. If wearing gloves will make you feel safer during your trip, bring some with you.
There were even a couple of people who brought goggles along with them. Most wore it for the duration of their flight. It’s always better safe than sorry.
Miscellaneous Travel Essentials
The list below consists of travel essentials that are personally up to you to decide if you will need them. They will depend on your habits and the length of your travel. I wanted to include these in the list because you never know what you might just need.
32. Hair Accessories
Hair accessories are available everywhere, but I am quite picky when it comes to my hair. Thus, I bring mine along on my trips. If you have any that you can’t live without, I’d suggest that you take them with you.
33. Razor & Shaving Cream
Razors and shaving cream can easily be bought during your trip. But if you’re like me and you have a preferred one you like, you risk not finding the same exact brand.
34. Acne Wash
I never leave home without my favorite acne wash. This specific brand is the only one that works for me, and so I don’t want to risk not finding it in my travel destination.
35. Terabyte Hard Drive
Do you love taking pictures but find yourself running out of storage? Now, don’t get me wrong, I have two cloud subscriptions that store a back-up of my photos. However, it’s nice having a physical drive, just in case.
36. Rechargeable Charger + Batteries
Rechargeable batteries are great, especially if you carry items that need constant replacement. This will save you money in the long run. Plus, they’re more environmentally friendly than their original counterparts.
PS. None of the energizer rechargeable chargers have worked out for me. I ended up having 3 that worked its way to the trash. The batteries work but I recommend purchasing a different charger.
37. Contact Lens Supply + Case + Solution
If you don’t wear contacts, go ahead and skip to the next item on the list. Contact lens wearers, please do make sure that this is in your luggage before you leave.
Also, don’t forget your eye drops. They will help with dry eyes and will keep your contact moist during your plane ride.
Hint: Take more than you think you’ll need, in case it breaks or any other unforeseen circumstances.
38. First Aid Kit
In case of emergencies, a mini first aid kit will be handy to have. They are light, compact, and easy to carry. Make sure to fill yours up with band-aids, pain tablets, and alcohol wipes.
One jewelry set that consists of a ring, bracelet, and necklace should do the trick.
Charm bracelets are my go-to choice allowing me to change things up. I usually bring along the charms I want to add to my bracelet later on. I use the same technique for my necklace. Bring one chain with you alongside multiple pendants so you can switch them up on your travels.
40. Reusable Foldable Grocery Bag
Invest in a reusable grocery bag, they are a lifesaver in most countries outside of the US. I never thought I would use mine, as it was given to me as a travel gift before my gap year. Now, I always bring it along with me for any trip I take.
Now You’re Ready to Travel the World!
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