What to Pack

Pack light. That's what to pack! Take half the items and twice the money.

In summer, I dress in lightweight layers with similar colors, such as T-shirts, shirts and jacket. I take a nice pair of pants, jeans or Dickey's work pants. I bring several pairs of shorts with multiple, deep pockets.

In winter, I bring the same with a heaver coat and a few sweaters. If I need more, I buy clothes abroad.

I take a week's worth of clothing, do laundry once a week. Basically, pack things you can’t live without and get the rest when you arrive.

Here are some tips on what to pack:

  • Water Bottle & Use local plastic water bottles found in stores. Refill with fresh water after going through airport security.

  • Backpack – Travel backpacks are lot better than a rolling suitcase, if you are climbing lots of stairs and visiting local villages and the like. Travel backpacks are great for medium to long term travel, with lots of places to hide things and keep things organized. Get one that's expandable. Try several of them before deciding on one.

  • Rolling suitcase – It is fine if you are only staying in hotels and use taxis and tour buses. Get one that's expandable. If you want more freedom of mobility, go with a travel backpack.

    Put luggage tags inside and outside your bag. If the outside tag comes off, you can still get your luggage back.

  • Buy good and well broken in hiking boots (for use in mountains and any major hikes), quality athletic shoes (for cities and moderate hikes) and/or light sandals (for beaches and around the hotel). Boots should be a size or two too large to accommodate new, thick socks. Buy gel insoles/inserts for shoes. They are a godsend for keeping your feet healthy.

  • Carry a Swiss Army Knife. I used it mostly for opening wine bottles and cutting slices of cheese until airport security took it. (So pack the knife, don't carry it on board. Make sure it has a small screw driver.

  • Bring extra passport-sized photos of you for obtaining visas.

  • Also, bring family/personal/home photos. Show them to people who want to know more about where you come from.

  • Bring a few tourist pens and key chains from your home city or region. Give them away as small gifts to people you meet.

Here is my list of what to pack:

Money Belt:

  • Passport

  • Visa

  • Driver's license

  • Emergency information (phone numbers, addresses...)

  • Plane and rail pass tickets

  • Travel itinerary (addresses, phone numbers, confirmation numbers, local maps...)

  • Money (Emergency cash, foreign currency, traveler's checks)

  • Credit cards

  • Health insurance card

  • Health insurance card, certificates and any doctor's instructions

  • Frequent flier numbers

  • Address book (keep your friends)

Carry On the Plane with You:

  • Cell phone

  • Camera (photo, video) I only use digital. Bring extra memory sticks and batteries.

  • Music (MC3, CD, iPod)

  • Guide book and maps

  • Pen and paper

  • Glasses and/or contacts.

  • Sunglasses

  • Jacket/sweater

  • Umbrella

  • Bottle of water. (Empty. I fill it up after I pass the security checkpoint.)

  • Tissues and extra toilet paper. (I include this in my day pack for many places that don't supply TP.)

  • Medication (I do not check these in with the luggage)

What to pack in luggage:

  • I pin an extra set of house keys to a secret place in my pack.

  • Photo copies of all the important ID's and papers.

  • Scan them also into a Word document with a password and email them to yourself for access worldwide.

  • Save them also on a USB stick along with a list of what you packed.

(One week's worth):

  • T-shirts (buy them there to look like a native. Sports T-shirts work great.)

  • Wrinkle free dress shirts

  • Long pants (jeans or work pants)

  • Shorts

  • Coat

  • Sweater (Use in layers)

  • Footwear (comfortable shoes, sandals, maybe hiking boots, flip flops)

  • Socks

  • Belt

  • Underwear

  • Swimsuit

  • Small Laundry bag

  • Small towel


  • Comb/brush

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Dental floss

  • Deodorant

  • Soap

  • Shampoo (Put it in a small baggie.)

  • Suntan lotion

  • Mirror

  • Soap for laundry

  • Nail clipper, nail file

  • Personal Items

  • Contact lens supplies

  • Foot powder


  • Make-up

  • Day/Night cream

  • Nail polish and remover

  • Razors

  • Personal hygiene items


  • Razors/shaving cream


  • Sunscreen

  • Pain reliever

  • Vitamins

  • Ointment

  • Personal prescription medication

  • Diarrhea medication and prescriptions

  • Cold medication

  • Motion sickness medication

  • Laxative

  • Bug repellent

  • Condoms

Small First Aid Kit:

  • Antiseptic spray

  • Band-Aids

  • Thermometer

  • Sterile pads

  • Tweezers

  • Antibiotic cream

What to Pack – Extras:

  • Day Trip Backpack (I use plastic shopping bags even from home.)

  • Flashlight

  • Travel alarm

  • Charger (for cell phone, camera, extra batteries ...)

  • Power Converter and Adapter Plugs (Try to buy equipment that works on 100 to 250 VAC)

  • Sewing/repair kit

  • Zip-lock bags (Small, medium and Large. Put all liquids in bags.)

  • Rubber bands

  • Superglue

  • Poncho (Large enough to drape over me and my back pack.)

  • Bed sheet (Hostellers will need this.)

  • Business Cards

Don't worry about what to pack, you can always buy things you need on your trip.

Before You Leave Home:

  • Hold the mail at the post office (Or have someone pick up your mail.)

  • Stop newspapers and any deliveries

  • Give a house key and trip itinerary to a friend or neighbor

  • Call banks and credit card companies and warn them which countries you are visiting.

  • Call home alarm company about trip plans

  • Pre-pay any bills

  • Arrange care for pets, lawn and plants

  • Set up a timed lighting system

  • Empty refrigerator

  • Unplug appliances

  • Turn down thermostat

  • Turn off water heater

  • Check that all doors and windows are locked

  • Make your own list of what to pack for your next trip to make it easier. I did.

  • Reconfirm tickets with airlines

What to Pack – Camping Equipment:

  • Tent – I bought an inexpensive $45 two-man, lightweight tent. I used it everywhere when I was young and foolish.

  • Sleeping bag – I used a fluffy 40°F Coleman bag with synthetic insulation for a whole summer. It worked great.

  • Space Blanket – A space age blanket is great on cold nights. I wrap it around myself INSIDE the sleeping bag (prevents condensation from reaching the bag) and stayed snug as a bug.

  • Air mattress – This makes comfortable camping possible. I don't blow it up completely so that I sink into the air mattress, nice and comfortable.

  • I don't bring a camping stove or other extra camp equipment. I brought them one time and never used them unless I was doing true camping. The campgrounds where I stayed in Europe had camp stores and restaurants there. I just eat cold food if I have to and save the extra weight.

  • Poncho – I have a Poncho large enough to drape over me and my back pack. Also good as a ground cloth to keep out moisture from the ground you're sleeping on.

You can buy camping equipment inexpensively in most countries, if your need to cut expenses by camping.

Return to Home Page from "What to Pack"

Here are some important planning tips:

Go to the Page on Get Organized

Choose a Good Guidebook

Go to the Library Travel Section.

Passport Requirements

Passport Application

Visa Requirements

Travel Itinerary

What to Pack for Your Next Trip

Choose a Travel Companion

Change Course - Follow Someone Else's Idea of a Good Trip

Last Minute Travel Bargains

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