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Packing for Travel


Stress-free Travel Requires Packing Smart and Packing Light

Packing Light

The importance of traveling light is underestimated, and I have included some travel packing tips below. Learning this lesson the hard way, I discovered that it’s important to pack the essentials and replace what you can’t live without at your destination.

As Rick Steves says: “I’ve never meet a traveler who, after extensive traveling exclaims: “I wish I had brought more! You can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two”.

One of the most important travel packing tips if you are traveling abroad is to limit yourself to one bag of 9” x 21” x 14” with a limit of 20 pounds. This bag, a carry-on, will fit in the airplane’s overhead compartment pretty easily.

You will enjoy the mobility and freedom and be happy for your decision. 

Things you will discover:

1. When you travel, you’ll walk and have to carry your luggage more than you think you will. 

2. Keeping your luggage in your possession means, it’s less likely to get lost, broken, or stolen and you will be less of a target as a tourist. 

3. Sometimes last-minute flight changes occur and when you have a smaller bag in your possession is simpler and less stressful. A small bag sits on your lap on the bus or taxi and stashes easily overhead on an airplane. 

4. Upon arrival at your destination, you are ready to go. No lost time waiting at the luggage carousel.

Other reasons for packing light

As plane travel is getting more expensive today with all the add on’s you can also save money by bringing less. While it’s still free to check one bag on most overseas trips, you’d likely pay a fee to check a second bag. As an example, if you’re taking a separate flight on many airlines, expect to be charged to check even just one bag.

Packing light isn’t just about saving time or money — it’s about your traveling lifestyle. Furthermore, serendipity suffers if your focus is on your luggage. Changing locations becomes a major operation but with only one bag, you are able to move and control your time and options.

Additional Travel Packing Tips

Additional travel packing tips I suggest are: don’t pack for the worst-case scenario, do pack for the best-case scenario and simply be prepared to buy yourself out of predicaments you might encounter. For example, If you think in terms of what you can do without — not what will be handy on your trip. “When in doubt, leave it out”. However, If you can’t find one of your essentials, ask yourself how all the other people living in that location do without it.

Whether you’re traveling for three weeks or three months, pack exactly the same. As a rule, a travel packing tip I use is to keep my clothes tightly packed and well organized, by using packing cubes. You will find that this tip really maximize bag space and keeps your things in order. Also, you should consider clothes compressors or baggies that can be compressed. (make sure they are heavy-duty for everyday use). You might find that mesh bags are an option that works for you. For example, one can be used for underwear and socks, another for miscellaneous stuff such as a first aide kit, another for electronics and gadgets, or use them to store a clothesline and sewing kit.

I also recommend light weight cotton/poly blend clothes that dry quickly and are wrinkle friendly. Go casual, simple, and very light. A note on this, you don’t need to worry about making a good first impression with your wardrobe. You will find, It’s better to do it with your attitude. Keep in mind that, in your travels you’ll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had.

Special items you might need

Other travel packing tips might depend on the type of travel you are doing, where you are going and the time of year. Therefor, you might find that there are some “special” items you might want to include. For example carrying some kind of extra waterproof bag might be essential if you are going somewhere during monsoon season. At its most basic, this could be a simple ziplock type bag.

If you have booked a trip that includes hiking where rain is a possibility or even a probability – then in this case it might be worth having a bag or cover specifically designed to protect equipment you might be carrying. Subsequently, you might choose a dry bag, a rucksack or pack cover which slips over your backpack that will keep its contents safe.

In certain parts of the world a pack cover has the added bonus of deterring would-be pickpockets. Choose one with reflective stripes and you’ll be easier to spot in the dark too.

Determine your need to pack any specialty items that can’t be purchased at your destination.

Remember, the first thing to do when packing is to lay out all of the items you are planning on taking with you. Having a visual can be really helpful in paring down questionable items.

Men’s Packing list


(including what your are wearing)

  • Shirts long and short sleeve 3-5
  • Pants/Shorts 2-3
  • Sweater of fleece or water resistant lightweight jacket
  • Tie or scarf
  • Swimwear
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear and socks 5
  • Shoes 2 Make sure they are comfortable for walking


  • Toiletries kit with soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, facial mask
  • Medicines and vitamins
  • Glasses/contacts/sunglasses (with prescriptions)
  • Laundry soap and clothesline (parachute cord) (or use hotel soap)
  • Small towel/washcloth
  • Sewing Kit, First Aide Kit, Nail clippers/file/tweezers
  • Earplugs
  • Hairdryer
  • Sealable baggies
  • Travel alarm (I recommend your cell phone alarm)
  • Watch
  • Small pack of tissues

Documents, Travel Info, Money

  • Money belt or neck wallet. Cargo pants with zipper compartments are good security measures also
  • Debit card for ATM transactions
  • Emergency stash of cash (recommended: $20’s)
  • Credit cards if you use them (maybe 1-2)
  • Plane/train/rental car documents + vouchers
  • Passport with back-up copies in separate location
  • Driver’s license
  • Student ID/hostel card (can often be used for discounts)
  • Hotel confirmation emails or transaction receipt photos on your phone
  • Health/travel insurance info
  • Guidebooks and maps
  • Notepad and pen
  • Journal
  • Small day pack


  • Smartphone or Mobile phone which can accommodate sim cards from locations visiting
  • Digital camera or good cell phone camera
  • Tablet, ereader, or bluetooth or headphones for media on your phone
  • GPS on your watch, phone, tablet etc
  • Good noise cancelling headphones or earbuds
  • USB
  • Chargers and back-up batteries
  • Plug adapters
  • Laptop possibly if you cannot get by with tablet or phone

Optional and Miscellaneous

  • Water bottle
  • Fold up tote
  • Small flashlight or flashlight on smartphone
  • Insect repellant
  • Travel locks
  • Universal drain stopper
  • Inflatable travel pillow
  • Small binoculars
  • Hat (can be purchased at your destination)
  • Address list
  • Duct tape (you can also use this as a drain stopper)
  • Sun screen

Women’s Packing list


  •  2 pairs of walking/comfortable shoes (one closed toe/one open, depending on location and time of year)
  • 2 pairs of shorts/capris (shorts are fine on the beach, but not in churches; capris are OK anywhere)
  • 2 pairs of pants (one a little dressier, one casual; cotton blend or quick dry, light weight travel pants found in shops and online that specialize in outdoor clothing and gear. Consider convertible pants/shorts
  • rainproof jacket
  • belt (optional)
  • 1 swimsuit or board shorts and top for double duty use as one of your shorts
  • 4 pair of socks (cotton blend)
  • 4-5 pairs of underwear (quick dry material)
  • 2 bras
  • 4–5 shirts (long/short-sleeved depending on destination and time of year, various colors you can mix and match)
  • 1-2 light sweaters for layering (depending on location)
  • 1–2 skirts/skorts (wrinkle-resistant; one should be at least knee-length for church visits in historical sites). If in a tropical location I have used sarongs to wrap around my legs over shorts.
  • 1 dress (optional)
  • 1 hat (can be purchased at your destination doubling for a souvenir)
  • A scarf or sarong is one of the most versatile items. It can come in handy for cooler temps or to wrap up in on colder airplane flights. A sarong can become a skirt, robe, beach blanket, a towel or a bag
  • vest (optional but good for layering)
  • sleepwear


  • Body soap/puff/synthetic washcloth; many hotels do not supply washcloths and some more basic do not supply soap or shampoo
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  • Shampoo/conditioner (travel size) you can purchase more if needed
  • Brush/comb
  • Sunscreen with recommended spf
  • Lotion, hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellant
  • Aquaphor for chapping, blisters, etc
  • Razor
  • Prescription drugs (in original container with your name and your doctor’s name, write down generic name), Vitamins
  • First aid kit, sewing kit
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Protection mask
  • Nail clippers/file/tweezers
  • Spare glasses and/or prescription, mini-eyeglass repair kit, or contact lenses and supplies
  •  OTC remedies (whatever works for you): Pepto, decongestants, etc
  • Clothesline or parachute cord which is also useful for tying things to your bag, your body, and in a pinch makes a functional belt,
  • Sink stopper (consider using your duct tape)
  • Soap for laundering clothes and or yourself
  • A small quick drying travel towel

For the rest of what you will want to pack see the mens’ packing list.

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