Packing list - what to pack when travelling abroad?

edited July 2009 in World Wide
I am putting together a packing list of really useful items people can use when packing for their holidays and trips abroad. I'll put our travel check list in the post below, but would love to hear from YOU on what you would add to the list!

What are the essential items to pack and what can you leave at home?

I'll give one example I wished I had seen before my trip to Cambodia: before I left I bought a cheap, crappy rain jacket that wasn't really water proof or wind proof. Then when i was there i got caught in a monsoon rain while riding a motorbike. So I put on the jacket. Which falls apart and lets in all the rain and wind. I get sick. Really sick. And get hospitalised and my trip was ruined. Moral of the story:

Pack a high quality, lightweight, water-proof rain jacket!


  • edited 6:56AM

    Passport - valid 6 months after date of travel, (1 photocopy)
    Ticket - or confirmation code for E-ticket
    Visa – get it close to departure date to make sure it's still valid
    Suitcase/bag - with small combination lock
    Clothing - depends entirely on where you go....always bring swimsuit
    Drivers License – almost nowhere requires an international drivers licence
    Travel insurance – sometimes required for a visa


    Cheap cellphone with removable SIM card
    I-pod w/ charger– and headphones
    Electrical converter –
    Tiny flashlight –
    Toiletries –
    Sunscreen/lip balm
    Sunglasses –
    Tiny first aid kit w/ Advil –
    Prescription –
    Toilet paper –
    Rain jacket –
    Cheap watch with alarm clock –
    Flip flops –
    Guide book –
    Inflatable neck rest –
    Plastic bag –
    Book –
    Sarong –
    Extra passport photos –
    Pen -

    What not to bring

    A vest with more than two chest pockets – No you don't need to bring matches on your safari
    A under clothing travel pouch of any type – You look ridiculous and like a tourist with money.
    Canadian flag if you aren't Canadian – Where's your pride?
    More than one hat – Why would you?
    Umbrella – Too bulky, bring a rain jacket
    Knife – Contrary to every man's instinct a knife is very rarely useful

    Travel hints

    Move your wallet to your front pocket which is difficult to pick pocket.
    Tell the airline you only eat vegetarian/kosher/halal because you get served first
    Always wear pants on a bus or plane which are always kept a bit cooler than comfortable
    Save a copy of your passport in your email so you can print it out if lost.
    Forget travellers checks, bring an ATM card and American dollars, almost everywhere has an ATM
    Gold shops often give the best exchange rates
    Buy things there: Don't pack batteries, tape, water bottle, etc., all that is best bought when needed.
    Tell your bank or credit card company the destination so they don't cancel credit purchases.
    Tell them when you are back so they can cancel any mysterious credit purchases.
    Visit on your I-phone and you don't need to lug a guide book.
  • edited 6:56AM
    A frisbee is essential. You can cut things on it, sit on it when seats are wet, and of course play with it.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Remember that airlines have baggage allowances and foreign countries have shops too. Dont panic about not having suncream etc there will be rows of it for sale where you're going at half the price you'll pay in Boots. Ignore advice from some guidebooks to take sewing kits (unless this is your hobby!), money belts (which make you look like a tourist) etc. Pack light is my advice especially if you're going to be on the road a bit. Its often worth trying to fly hand baggage only - you get the same weight limit but have to squeeze it in a small suitcase - but your bag wont get lost, and you will be the first away from the airport. If you do this just remember to take small pots of shampoo etc - individual containers must not exceed 100ml.
    Visit for destination advice
  • edited 6:56AM
    another tip: if flying overnight buy some earplugs. They dont give them out of most aeroplanes any more and I think they are essential for a good nights sleep.
    Visit for destination advice
  • edited 6:56AM
    one more packing list tip: send a few emails to your webmail account (hotmail/gmail etc) with a list of useful phone numbers and addresses, a scan of your passport, travel documents, tickets, and driving license, plus any medical prescriptions etc. This way if you loose your bags you can alway login to your webmail account to get hold of this essential info.
    Visit for destination advice
  • edited 6:56AM
    Lot of people dissing the moneybag, but there are two kinds: the big fat one that you wear over your clothes that makes you look like a mugging victim waiting to happen, and the thin, invisible one you wear under your shirt. I use this kind, and keep my passport and cash and cards if travelling long distances. My bags have been stolen or ransakced but this little bag under my shirt means the essential stuff is safe.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Multivitamins are very useful. in remote countries you will not eat properly so supplementing with essential Vits is a good idea.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Don't forget Travel Insurance, and proof of it in case you're in an emergency. Don't rely on the "free" insurance you get with your credit card: buy a specific policy to cover your trip, especially if "dangerous" sports are involved like skiing or scuba diving.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Just so you know - if you order special meals on the plane your hope of an upgrade is absolutely zero!! All this packing looks like stuff for boys. Here's some for the girls:

    I travel frequently (frequently!) and I always take a sleeveless ankle length black shift in a crumple free fabric. This means it will do for winter and summer. In winter I wear a polo neck under it and in summer I wear shirts over it. I can make it look fabulous for night or day. the other thing that always comes is a sarong that ties but has a button on the waist (not losing your clothing is mandatory). I can wear pants or tights under and shirts/jumpers over the top. I don't necessarily take jeans as they are heavy in the bag, don't dry quickly and are not always a good choice depending on where you are going. If it's winter I take a lightweight wool/angora pullover which doesn't weigh much but keeps me very warm. And because I know I will buy something - there are always sales somewhere in the world - I take two large bags that I can put everything into, roll the air out and voila, my suitcase weighs no more and has room for everything. Oh - and I always take a backpack with a combination lock. It is steal proof.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Pack dark clothing, which despite smell, can appear clean for a lot longer. another hint, when in dogy area, just take out the credit card from your wallet/purse and put it into your pocket.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Lesley - great tips and thanks for the feminine perspective! I second your point about jeans - they are a disaster in hot humid climates, and generally best left at home. I always take chinos, and cargo pants: both tough and flexible.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Another packing essential - a rubber multi-size bath plug. It's no fun trying to wash yourself or your clothes when you can't keep the water in the bath/basin. I can tell you from experience that rolled-up underwear doesn't do the job!
  • edited 6:56AM
    Pack some anti-bacterial wipes. Really good for helping you avoid stomach bugs by cleaning hands before meals etc.
  • edited 6:56AM
    I've met Australians who always travel with a tin of Vegemite.
    They really are an odd people, but not without charm.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Dear Q - just so you know vegemite is a dietary staple and that's why we have charm, rosy cheeks and full of vitality and health!!! And yes we are odd....................I now live in Tunisia and I always have veggie in the cupboard and my husband has a fondness for it as well!! Go figure
  • edited 6:56AM
    Bring a memory stick - they now sell up to 16Gig memory sticks that are smaller than a peice of gum. Keep images of your passport etc, phone numbers etc on there. Its also usful to download images from your camera when its full to the stick via an internet cafe PC.
  • edited 6:56AM
    yer i like vegemite to.
    i miss it when i cant take it with me on my travels
  • edited 6:56AM
    My tip is the humble spoon. Can be used for eating plus becomes a useful universal tool to tackle a variety of travel related tasks!
  • edited 6:56AM
    Insect repellent is a must, lots of wild insects in some travel destinations like Africa.
  • edited 6:56AM
    A pashmina or similar big scarf/shawl for ladies!!! Useful onthe flight as a blanket, pillow, general cover up and when you get there is great if visiting a religious site where covered head/shoulders etc is required. It's also useful as an extra pillow or blanket, sarong or a stylish cover up for cooler evenings or days but rolls up really small to be carried.

    A tip for ladies carrying money - I always used to keep mine in my bra!!! Acts a little like the famed Wonder Bra if you divide it equally ;o) but you can sleep quite happily with no fear of anyone getting your money while you sleep on the bus, plane or where ever!!

    Another tip is tp carry a "dummy" wallet or purse to hand over to any would be muggers. Get together a wallet or purse and put in a little money, a few credit card lookalikes, such as store point cards, sample credit cards sometimes sent as junk mail, so that it looks as though this is your main wallet. Then if accosted hand over this rather than your real stuff. It needs to look realistic enough to fool a would be assailant at a glance.

    Also on the already suggested memory stick it is handy to have a list of any medication and the dosage you are on. Helps if you either lose your medication or have to be treated in hospital/medical centre. A paper copy is handy as well.

    A pair of really comfortable "old" shoes. Especially if you intend sight seeing or simply have worn out sore feet. Nothing is quite as comforting as a pair of your own well worn well loved footwear!
  • edited July 2010
    Yep. Agree with all of the above.

    Really I would say don't take anything that you would be sad to lose (except perhaps your camera - and always burn two copies of your pics to disc so that you can send one home).

    Essentials: passport, cashcard, back up card, maybe a few traveller's cheques, photocopies of passport.

    Others: walking boots, bikini, headtorch, mosquito repellant, camera battery charger, adaptor.

    That's it! The rest is all buyable around the world - really. Travel with a backpack as empty as possible to begin with and you'll get home with a backpack full of interesting treasures and memories. That's my best advice.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Yeah I agree with the above messages as well, but here are my essentials for a packing list

    Essentials for your Packing List
    - Passport
    -Visas and extra passport pictures if you need to apply for a visa along your travels.
    - Money
    - Any medications especially bite spray!
    - Toilet Rolls
    - Toiletries
    - Waterproof Jacket (that really is waterproof!)
    - Camera is always great to have with you
    -I-pod or book for all those long train or bus journeys. Books can be easily picked up at hostels/ guesthouses/ resorts along your travels.
    - Chargers for phone / I-pod
    - Photocopies of all your documents or copies send to your email account for you to print off just in case of an emergency

    Other things which I found quite useful;
    -Waterproof bags for you to put your valuables / clothes in your bag, there’s nothing worse than travelling on a bus in the pouring rain knowing that your bag is up on the roof and everything inside is getting wet. Also they are good to have when you are travelling by boat and just happen to fall out of the boat backwards with your bag on your back like I did!! (I do not know how I managed this)
    - Clothes line for you to hang up your wet laundry when required - see above comment
    - Pen and paper to write down all the address of people you meet
    - Money Belt
    - Lastly a pack of cards, to make friends along the way
  • edited 6:56AM
    (If u r going to study)
    Laptop and chargers .
    Diary ,pens ,light books and some note pads
    Mobile, headset, USB and chargers.
    Toothbrush,cream,facialwash and makeup seta
  • edited June 2011
    My tip would be always bring a pan-european adaptor. The number of times i've been stranded without my ipod!

    Oh, and dress nice if you want to try and get an upgrade to first class!
  • edited 6:56AM
    The little item that I use most often is a very small pocketsized notebook (and pen). It helps me learn the local language (I write down little bits as I learn them, or they do not stay in my mind); addresses of places I am going to or that get recomended to me; emails and contact info for friends met along the way; travel arangements made hastily over the internet where there is no printer; and I use it as a bargaining tool when I do not speak the language (the seller writes a price, I cross it out and write a lower one, etc.). Invaluable and cheap, and it is fun to it look over when you fill it up.
  • edited 6:56AM
    I never used to take them but now I take a small pair of scissors. So many times I've had a packet of something I couldn't open or I bought something & then couldn't get the plastic tag off eg. a pair of socks joined with plastic tag which I ended up tearing in my efforts to remove the tag. Small scissors are light, can have rounded ends so don't cause any trouble in one's luggage. Really loved everyone else's suggestions.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Pack a Kindle 3G and you can save a fortune in weight by not carrying books. Plus, the Kindle has free data transmission so you can access your Amazon account all over the world without paying data charges.
  • edited September 2011
    Whenever I go holiday I always take a travel pillow, especially on a long flight it is a must.
  • edited 6:56AM
    I am going to america to work at the carnival soon, thank you
    for all the rips much appreciated!
  • edited 6:56AM
    As a seasoned traveller I have found that the most comfortable way to travel on a plane is to wear a loose fitting, modest length skirt with nothing beneath. Sitting for long periods causes panties to bunch up and become very uncomfortable. Just be careful of the wind at airports.
  • edited 6:56AM
    While I was travelling through Europe, I met a guy who was patenting a great invention for washing clothes while travelling: The Scrubba Wash Bag. I traveled with this guy for a few weeks and was lucky enough to be given a prototype of the Scrubba wash bag to trial. The bag weighs around 150g and you can effectively wash your clothes in minutes without having to worry about the availability or cleanliness of sinks. The inventor has just started taking presales at below RRP:

    Essentially, it is a sealable waterproof bag with a flexible internal washboard. You put your dirty clothes in the bag with a few litres of water and a few drops of washing liquid or shampoo. Seal the bag, expel the air through a valve then rub the clothes against the washboard from the outside of the bag for about 40 seconds. Rinse and you are done.

    I think the Scrubba wash bag is a must pack item for travelers, especially if you are heading to Europe where I found that washing machines even in hostels cost from 6-10 Euros per load. I also halved the weight of my backpack when I found I only needed a few changes of clothes as I could do washing when and where I wanted for free.
  • edited 6:56AM
    I am going to Asia for the first time. I read your things to pack and they are helpful. I would like to know will my Droid Razr work over there using my WiFi just for information off it and also what apps should i download before i go there. Oh i am going to Singapore,Thailand, Hong Kong, Beijing and Dubai. Thanks
  • edited 6:56AM
    Dear VegasWayne
    I don't know whether your Droid East will work on.some Asian countries as their internet I'd controlled very closely but you should download Google Maps, Trip Adviser if it has an app and.a few games to keep you entertained.
    I'm going to England, France and Germany ( on a roadtrip-thing) soon so has anyone got any idea what I should bring?
  • edited 6:56AM
    For those who are desperate for a breakfast fix, Vegemite is available in toothpaste-style tubes.
  • edited 6:56AM
    Another thing that can come in handy if you are traveling with more than one electrical item, is a small power board. It means you can charge all your things at once without having to have more than one adapter
  • edited 6:56AM
    Don't forget to check the power wattage for the country you are visiting. I forgot this when I was much younger, and was stuck unable to charge my camera, phone, etc.

    If you buy a converter, you can plug in that hair straightener you HAD to squeeze in your bag, the camera charger to take all those unforgettable pictures, etc.
  • I am satisfied with the very first comment of Simon.
    But i would like to add more :
    Although you have to check what you cannot take with you inside the airport.Somethings which seems important to you may be banned/not allowed to carry with you.So be careful with that.Beyond this you should take light luggage with only necessary things for your daily use.Reduce your luggage with unnceccessary items for sure.
  • edited 6:56AM
    When I stay at a hotel that has complimentary slippers, I take them with me to use when I travel long distance. As I like to remove my shoes on long flights, I pack the slippers in my carry-on bag to wear when I go to the bathroom on the plane. No need to worry about walking on disgusting bathroom floors in socks or barefoot, or struggling to get shoes back on. Also, as they are the slip-on style, they take up minimal room.
  • edited 6:56AM
    My travel must-haves include flip flops, great footwear around hostels and in less than spotless shower-rooms, they are also allow your feet some fresh air if they are a bit sore from a days sightseeing.
    Also, baby wipes - they are great for freshening up after flight or when there aren't showers available, are soothing on sunburned skill if there's no aftersun, a good alternative for makeup remover and can be used if there's no toilet roll available!
    I will also always take spare camera batteries - even if you can recharge at a hostel and won't use them ordinarily it sucks to be without power on your camera when it's needed
  • -At this point I never travel anywhere without my 7" tablet. It's a notebook, camera, book, movie theatre, laptop (especially with its keyboard dock), and many other things all in one!

    -I would suggest that if you're bringing a travel pillow, invest in an inflatable one. I had a normal one filled with beans that I loved, but took up 1/3 of my carry-on bag!

    -It's a good idea to have photocopies of your itinerary, reservation confirmations, tickets, and passport; but keep an electronic copy in your email or dropbox just in case! That way, in the worst case scenario you always have these documents!

    -For women, a pashmina is invaluable! Mine has secured my hair on windy boat trips, been a pillow on buses, acted as a shopping bag, kept me warm, covered my head at religious sites, and in a pinch has even been a makeshift top! A sarong can be just as handy.
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