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 6:48PM

    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 6:48PM
    A frisbee is essential. You can cut things on it, sit on it when seats are wet, and of course play with it.
  • edited 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    Multivitamins are very useful. in remote countries you will not eat properly so supplementing with essential Vits is a good idea.
  • edited 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    Pack some anti-bacterial wipes. Really good for helping you avoid stomach bugs by cleaning hands before meals etc.
  • edited 6:48PM
    I've met Australians who always travel with a tin of Vegemite.
    They really are an odd people, but not without charm.
  • edited 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    yer i like vegemite to.
    i miss it when i cant take it with me on my travels
  • edited 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    Insect repellent is a must, lots of wild insects in some travel destinations like Africa.
  • edited 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    (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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    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 6:48PM
    I am going to america to work at the carnival soon, thank you
    for all the rips much appreciated!
  • edited 6:48PM
    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.
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