So it’s officially June and maybe some of you are planning to travel in the next few months. Travelling is so much fun but packing for a trip can be such a hassle. Through my years of travelling, I have come up with a packing list that is pretty minimalistic and helps me to remember all the essentials for traveling. I hope it will be helpful for you as well!
As per my previous post, I prefer to travel carry-on only. This means I pack all my belongings into a small backpack and a carry-on suitcase, whether it’s a one-week vacation or a multi-month adventure. The key is to only pack enough clothes for one week and do laundry as needed. Also, it is important to bring versatile clothing for layering instead of limited-function or bulky items. In addition, unless if you are going to super remote areas, you can always purchase items on your trip as needed.
First, let’s take a look into my backpack. I like a backpack that is compact. At the same time, it should have multiple compartments for ease of access to important items. The one I have even has a little hidden zipper in the back for very important items.
- In this day and age, electronics are very important. Over the years, I realized that all I really need is a good phone. In essence, this can act as a computer, camera, and e-reader, if needed.
- Chargers are essential and it is definitely something I have somehow forgotten to pack last minute in the past. Don’t forget a battery pack especially if you plan on using your phone a lot during your trip. You don’t want to run of batteries while navigating a new city.
- Earphones are very important for entertainment on the phone/train. If you have noise-cancelling ones, even better.
- I prefer e-readers over paper books since it saves space and allows me the flexibility of adding new books to my collection as I travel without adding bulk to my luggage.
- For blogging purposes, I bring a laptop, but this is optional for those who don’t really need to type extensively. I’ve tried using my phone or iPad to type in the past but it’s just not as efficient as I’ve become more expressive over the years.
- I carried a DSLR during my most recent trip, which enabled me to take some nice photos but it was annoying to have to carry around one more bag. In the future, I would rather invest in a phone with a nicer camera (or keep asking Aaron to be my photographer with his iPhone X), so I can forgo this.
- I put these in my backpack for ease of pulling them out during security. I put all my liquids in travel-sized containers and they all fit in a clear Ziplock bag.
- I don’t bring body wash, conditioner and shampoo anymore, since they are usually provided at hotels/Airbnbs and I’m not very picky. If for some reason I don’t like the shampoo or they don’t have conditioner, I can always pick up some at the destination. No biggie. The only thing I have a problem with is the lotion provided by hotels. They are usually more drying than moisturizing so I bring my own.
- Eye makeup remover and hairstyling products are optional depending on your styling needs.
- I usually bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent depending on the destination. For the most part though, I am travelling to hot destinations so this is usually required.
- This is another key part of my packing. We usually pack minimal cash and we can always withdraw more when we are at the destination using our credit card or debit card. We just have to transfer extra funds in our credit card a few days in advance to avoid cash advance charges.
- We try to use credit card if possible since our card (Capital One) has no transaction fees and has amazing foreign exchange rates. #notsponsored. It is also a good idea to bring more than one credit card in case one type (Visa vs. Mastercard) isn’t accepted (or stops working because your credit card company mistakenly block it with their not-very-accurate fraud-detecting system while you’re travelling. So much for not needing to notify them of your travelling plans.)
- Medical insurance is important so check what your extended health covers (if any) and bring the appropriate proof.
- Life hack: If you live in Canada* and intend to do any travelling, apply for a Nexus card. It’s only $50 for 5 years and we have been able to skip many long security lines as well as breeze through Canadian customs. It even gives us access to TSA PreCheck which means not having to remove laptops, belts, liquids, light jackets at participating US airports. It’s great! *Those in the US can also apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. For details and a listing of all Trusted Traveller Programs, check out their official website.
- If you’ll be driving at your destination, remember to get an International Driving Permit, if required, in addition to bringing your driver’s license.
- If you’ve travelled to the destination before and still have the local transit pass (E.g. Suica (Japan), Compass (Vancouver), etc.), remember to bring it.
- These are the items that I frequently access in-flight or things that I would want to have quick access to if needed (e.g. prescription as well as emergency medications).
- Emergency antibiotics for diarrhea are recommended for travel to certain areas. Check with your local travel medicine clinic to see which antibiotics are appropriate for your destination.
- See my previous post on the joys of having a water bottle and travel slippers for a more comfortable in-flight experience. I also use the travel slippers in my hotel room too, if one is not provided.
- For clothing, as mentioned above, I only pack enough for one week. If you stay at Airbnbs, find one with a washing machine.
- I’ve learnt through experience that two pairs pajamas are usually needed, since I need to wear something while the other pair is in the wash. If you have clean comfortable clothes that can double as PJs, that’s even better.
- Cardigans and hoodies are key items in my wardrobe for chilly nights and air-conditioned places.
- Workout pants are great for physical activity as well as on the plane for comfort.
- If I know I will be going to a fancy restaurant/event, then I’ll pack a light dress.
- Packing footwear is the bane of my existence. They are usually so difficult to pack as they take up so much space. Ideally, I really only need one pair of walking shoes that I can just wear onto the plane. HOWEVER,
- If we’ll be doing a hike (which we do on most trips), a dedicated pair of shoes is usually needed.
- Flip flops are usually also needed if I intend to go to the beach/pool.
- For fancy dining/events, I end up having to pack a pair of flats as well.
- You see how it can add up.
- Depending on the climate, I may need to pack some gear. This is especially important if travelling through multiple countries with varying temperatures.
- I often take the scarf on the plane with me since it can be chilly.
- An umbrella is helpful for rain as well as those super sunny days to provide some shade. Otherwise, you can buy a cheap one at your destination.
- I pack all my non-liquid toiletries in my luggage.
- Noticed I pack a razor but not shaving gel? Conditioner can be used as a substitute.
- I usually pack minimal make-up and jewelry, again depending on the occasion (i.e. guest of a wedding, formal nights on a cruise), I may need to pack a little more.
- I wear glasses and pack a few pairs of daily contacts for physical activity and for special events. Since I use dailies, I do not need to pack contact lens solution and a case.
- For laundry bags, I usually just pack a few extra plastic bags to separate my clean from dirty clothes. Aaron likes the compression bags to squeeze out the air between clothes but I find regular bags are more malleable.
- Dryer sheets are a great way to keep clothes smelling fresh.
- If you think you’ll be doing any shopping, or just as an emergency luggage, it’s a good idea to pack a foldable duffle bag to accommodate this.
Feel free to download the PDFs of my packing lists for personal use. Please do not distribute for commercial purposes.
Let me know if there is anything that is not listed here that you feel should be added.