It's not always easy to know what's the best travel gear to pack, whether packing for a short vacation or for long-term world travel. Yet after traveling around the world for 6 years to 100 countries, we've developed what we've found to be the best travel packing checklist for value and versatility.
Even though our travels span from luxury cruises across the world's oceans to rugged backpacking trips across South America, our carefully curated packing list remains much the same in order to be prepared for multiple situations and climates around the world. It's taken much trial and error over the years, but we've finally managed to get our travel packing checklist down to a science.
It's our hope that you can use this travel packing checklist, gear recommendations, packing tips, and travel product reviews while preparing for your next trip.
This version of our Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist was last updated in October 2020, reflecting what we packed throughout our last worldly travels through Ecuador, Mexico, cruise travel and a round-the-world-trip spanning 21 countries across Asia, Europe, and Africa! But we've recently added to that, given new travel items that's now necessary to pack in 2020, given pandemic conditions.
Yet during any time, a critical component to packing for world travel is versatility. You'll find versatility constant theme throughout this travel packing list.
But this list of travel gear recommendations also focuses greatly on value. Many of the carefully selected items throughout this travel packing checklist have been chosen because of the value they bring in combination with the practicality they deliver.
We don't like to pick out most expensive travel gear available. If you're looking for the best travel gear at high prices, you won't find it on here. Instead, this travel packing list for 2020 suggests items that provide the best usage for the money spent. This is a travel packing list for those who appreciate excellent value!
This travel packing checklist contains all of the items we roam around the world with and recommend. We personally own every one of these items unless it's otherwise stated that we have a similar item. Most of this travel gear can be easily purchased on Amazon, an affiliate of ours, and is where we do most of our travel gear shopping. Whenever we're back home in the US, we always stock up using the free two-day shipping that's included with Amazon Prime.
You can use this link to get a 30-Day Free Trial to Amazon Prime. If you have no intentions to continue using it, just be sure to cancel before 30 days. It's a nice way to get Prime (and 2-day shipping) for a month completely for free! That will give you an entire month to gear up for travel without having to pay the $12.99 monthly membership fee. So try Prime for free today.
We hope you find this travel pack list and packing tips helpful, whether gearing up for a trip around the world or a quick weekend jaunt!
💡 Electronics Travel Gear to Pack
–📱 Travel Gadgets Every Traveler Needs
–🔌 Necessary Cables, Plugs, and Adapters
–💻 Electronics for Long-Term Travelers
–📷 Photography Travel Gear
🧳 Travel Luggage Recommendations
✏️ Travel Accessories to Remember
😷 Additional Travel Gear to Pack in 2020
👖 Travel Clothes
–👕 Men’s Travel Clothes
–👚 Women’s Travel Clothes
–🧳 Shoes & Footwear
🧴 Toiletries Packing Checklist
❌ What Not to Pack
Outdoor & Adventure Travel Gear to Pack
Although we're constantly adventuring around the world, it's not practical to pack a lot of outdoor adventure gear. We leave behind all the bulky items, as we find that you can typically rent them in most destinations around the world.
Unless you're planning to camp for the majority of a trip, it makes more sense to rent gear such as tents, camp stoves, and climbing harnesses along the way. We've had no problems renting camping gear throughout Africa, New Zealand, South America and more. For us, it's proved to be worth the expense in order not to lug such heavy equipment around the world.
Instead, we recommend limiting your adventure travel packing list to only to the items that you will use regularly and are fairly compact. So here is the outdoor gear on our travel packing list that we regularly use.
Quick-Dry Travel Towel
We're always getting wet on adventures, so towels are key. You don't want to pack a towel that's heavy or bulky. So bringing a lightweight travel towel is a must. "Quick-drying" is likewise an important feature, so it's not damp when you repack it. We like this lightweight, quick-dry travel towel.
Monkey Mats Let You Sit Anywhere in the World
As seen on the TV show Shark Tank, these Monkey Mats always gives you a clean & dry place to sit anywhere in the world. It's waterproof, sand proof, and has weighted corners. So it's great to use at the beach, a picnic, a park, or really anywhere. We particularly like it because it's compact and lightweight (only 18 oz!). So it never takes up much space or weighs down your luggage. We often toss it in our day pack whenever exploring somewhere new.
Lifestraw to Make Water Drinkable
You never know what situations you may wind up in where you can't drink the water. This is great to have on hand for backcountry trekking to drink out of rivers. But it's not just for use in an emergency in some remote destination. We first used our Lifestraw when arriving to our apartment in Quito in the middle of the night, when all the stores were closed. You can't drink the tap water, but our Lifestraw allowed us to do so. Travel with a Lifestraw and nearly all water around the world then becomes drinkable!
Headlamp for Handsfree Lighting
We couldn't travel without a headlamp. It's not just for caving. This can serve as an everyday flashlight, allow you to read at night when your partner wants the lights out and it gives you the ability to do anything at night handsfree. This was critical for us when we had to cook in the night while touring Africa. Here's a great basic headlamp for under $10 or go for this heavier-duty version.
Waterproof Your Phone
We almost never go out without our phone. But it often becomes susceptible to rain, the ocean, splashes by the pool, the mist of a raging waterfall, and even water fights during Thailand's Songkran festival. Whenever in one of those situations, we're always armed with a waterproof case to keep it dry. This JOTO Waterproof Cell Phone case not only protects phones from splashes but you can even take it snorkeling down to 100 feet!
We can personally vouch for it but if you don't want to take our word, check out the 45,000+ glowing reviews on Amazon. We saw similar products being sold out at local outdoor retailers for $35, so we're impressed that Amazon keeps the price point under $10. It's a small yet wise investment to protect a pricey smartphone during your travels.
Compact Travel Umbrella for Sun & Rain
You can't only waterproof your phone. If traveling anywhere with a chance of rain, it's best to pack a compact travel umbrella like this. It takes up little space in luggage, is lightweight (< 1 lb.), fits in a pocket, holds up to wind, and even has a lifetime replacement policy. It's a great everyday umbrella, but it's perfect for travel. Check prices and reviews.
Powerful LED Pocket Flashlight
A small yet powerful travel flashlight is an indispensable piece of gear for any traveler to find your way back on dark streets, search for something under the bed, or to use while camping in the middle of nowhere. We think this LE Adjustable Focus Mini LED Flashlight is the best and most powerful small flashlight you can buy for under $10. We love the strong beam that ours emits.
Mask & Snorkel
We always travel with our masks. Many beaches around the world have reefs right offshore, providing for hours of a free activity ...if you have a mask. Otherwise, you'll constantly have to rent one or miss out altogether. It's not only for reefs though. There are some unique snorkeling opportunities inland too. We've used our masks in Lake Malawi in central Africa, snorkeling in crystal clear lakes in the high Andes mountains of Patagonia, and the underground cenotes found in Mexico's interior. This US Divers Mask & Snorkel is a fantastic mask, particularly so for its low price.
A Dry Bag
If you're ever traveling over water by ferries or taking day trips on a boat, then you absolutely need a dry bag! This will help protect important belongings from getting wet and ruined. Dry bags can also be practical during kayaking trips, rafting, or even a day a the beach. Yet dry bags can also be a nice idea to throw in your backpack if you're roaming around town on a rainy day, to protect your camera or other electronics from rain that may otherwise seep into a backpack.
A 20-liter dry bag is a perfect size for our needs. A dry bag with a strap is essential to carry it on the go. This MarchWay Floating Waterproof Dry Bag ticks all those boxes, has a good price, and a consistent track record of positive reviews.
A Good Multitool & Pocket Knife
These are invaluable on the road. The knife, scissors, saw, corkscrew, and bottle opener always seems to come in handy. Be sure to pack this in your stowed luggage though, as it will definitely be confiscated if you carry it onto flights. A Swiss Army Knife is always a trusted favorite. The non-branded multi-tool we currently use isn't listed online. Yet for a less expensive alternative to Swiss Army, we can suggest this well-reviewed SWITCHEDGE 14-in-1 Pocket Knife.
A Hands-Free Way To Carry Water
This is a must for anyone who takes day hikes. Yet it can also be useful even just for long days touring around a new city. For full-day or half-day hikes, we always bring at least a 1.5-liter bottle of water. That's a pain to hold in your hand for a long trek. Alternatively, you can wear a sweaty backpack to carry your water and other items. But a better solution is to pack a water bottle carrier like this. It keeps your hands free and your back sweat-free! We never trek without it.
Electronics Travel Packing Checklist
There are so many great travel gadgets out there. The following electronics gear is what's in our packs and what we recommend. Note: because we're bloggers and work remotely, we tend to carry way more electronics than the average traveler may need. So we've appropriately split this up into a few sections.
Tablets Are Perfect for Travel
Tablets are great for the road to watch movies, play games, read, and stay connected. There's no need to lug around a bunch of heavy books with you. Just load them onto your tablet. Even guidebooks such as Lonely Planet now have electronic versions that can load onto tablets. iPads are nice, but expensive; hence we don't recommend carrying that liability on the road. Kindle Fires are a fraction of the price and they're more durable. The Kindle Fire HD 8 now includes Alexa, has dual cameras, lots more RAM, and a vibrant HD display. It's absolutely incredible value to have that all in a tablet for under $100! So we just picked up a new one ourselves! Check the latest Kindle deals on Amazon.
Tablet Protective Case
If you're bringing a tablet, don't forget to protect it during those bumpy rides. This durable case not only keeps your tablet safe but also acts as a stand for your tray table.
A Flash Drive to Transfer Memories
You'd never guess how handy a flash drive has been while traveling. We've used it to swap movies in exchange for electronic guidebooks with other travelers while on a bus in Cuba. In Zimbabwe it was needed to exchange our white water rafting video for photos that other travelers had snapped. These tiny pieces don't take up much space, so just pack one like this 128 GB SanDisk Flash Drive.
Inexpensive Earbuds You Can Afford to Lose
Having earbuds can be invaluable to listen to music or watch movies during long journeys. Unless you're a real audiophile, we suggest leaving the expensive BEATS headphones at home. They'll just draw attention and become a liability. Plus they're bulky to carry around. Instead, we suggest simply packing earbuds since they're lightweight and functional. But earbuds can also be easily lost and forgotten. That's why we suggest an inexpensive but decent pair of earbuds like these Panasonic earbuds that are durable, comfortable, and produce a crisp & clear sound, yet are still only under $10.
Best Value Smartphones for Travel
We can't imagine not having a smartphone during our travels. It allows us to navigate a new city, translate menus, take photos, discover restaurants, call an Uber, stay connected, and be entertained during long hauls. It's the ultimate travel multi-tool and an absolute must! But which mobile phone is best for travel?
Over the years we've used an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Yet for excellent value and great travel functionality we can highly recommend either a OnePlus 8 ($679) or a Pixel 4a ($349).
The brand new (Fall 2020) Google Pixel 4a is an excellent value choice that we just purchased ourselves. It's so nice to have a great phone camera to quickly capture all those special travel moments. And the Pixel's camera is often touted to be the best in the biz, particularly so for its HDR+, Night Sight, and Portrait Mode. Google has squeezed all these fantastic photo features into a more budget-friendly rendition of their popular Pixel smartphone. It's a smart value pick to take traveling with you.
Meanwhile, we're also roaming with our OnePlus phone. This smartphone is a bit more expensive, but also presents great value. Many of the OnePlus's specs are comparable to the latest iPhone. Yet the OnePlus is almost half the cost! The latest OnePlus 8 phone includes an Ultra Clear Triple Camera to capture crisp images. In side-by-side comparisons, the OnePlus camera holds up to both the Pixel and iPhone. Yet the OnePlus boasts more features! A particularly useful travel function that's fairly unique to OnePlus is its dual sim card slots. This is useful for anyone constantly swapping out sim cards when moving from one country to the next.
Use an Unlocked Phone and Google Fi for Roaming Internationally
For ease of moving from one country to the next without constantly swapping SIM cards, we've found the most economical and practicle solution is Google Fi's phone plan. It works internationally in almost every country around the world. The base plan is only $20 and then you're charged monthly based on the data used, which is $10 per gig. In one month we use about 1.5 gigs. So our total bill comes to $35 and we can use it almost anywhere in the world! Find out more about Google Fi here.
Protect Your SmartPhone
Whatever phone you have, you must protect it from drops, bumps, and dust while on the road. We swear by using an OtterBox as it's kept our phones alive after numerous drops that would have otherwise proven fatal. They're available for nearly all phone models. Also, be sure to apply a screen protector to help prevent cracks.
A Must for Couple Travelers: Headphone Splitter
This is a necessary cord for couples traveling together. On those long flights and bus rides, this simple little headphone splitter gives two people the ability to watch & listen to the same movie from a single laptop or tablet. Just bring two pairs of headphones to go along with this splitter. At just a few dollars a headphone splitter is such a well-worthy investment for any couple travelers.
An Extra Long 10-Foot USB Cable
It seems that electrical outlets are always in the most inconvenient places in hotels. When you turn in at night, of course you want your phone charging at the bedside. But there almost never seems to be an outlet there. This 10-Foot Long USB Cable gives you the ability to plug it in way across your room and still use your mobile phone from the comfort of your hotel bed. This was a long-overdue purchase for us and we now can't imagine not traveling with it. We'll never go back to only traveling with a short, standard length charging cable again.
There's no need to carry a different travel adapter for each country. This universal travel adapter with USB ports will cover you in over 150 countries. Those extra USB ports are important too, giving the ability to charge three devices (e.g., a phone, a camera, and a computer) all from the same single plug. We've found that many hotels, hostels, and even cruise ship cabins only have one single outlet per room. Yet this will give you the ability to charge multiple devices at once while also converting the foreign. It's essential for any international traveler.
Extra USB Cables to Use & Lose
USB cords charge your tablets, phones, cameras, and so many more electronics. But like socks and underwear, USB cables always seem to disappear. Not only that, but they regularly ware down. If you're traveling longterm, we recommend bringing an entire pack of USB cables to replace those that will inevitably go missing and get worn. Obviously, the type of charging cable you personally need will depend on the devices you're traveling with. We use Micro USBs that works for our GoPro, our Kindle, and our Sony camera, and more.
We like this six-pack of USB cables because you get six cables that come in varying lengths, for different needs.
Portable Power Bank Keeps Travel Gadgets Charged
Phones and camera batteries drain at the most inopportune times. While traveling, you'll likely be making increased use of GPS/maps, camera, and video. Unfortunately, those are the functions that tend to consume mobile phone battery the most. That's why phone battery drain occurs much quicker on the road compared to everyday use back at home. A solution to this problem is carrying a portable power bank like this to ensure our phones and camera stays charged.
We recommend an external battery with at least 10,000 mAh. Such strength provides the ability to recharge your devices many times over. You'll also want something lightweight that fits in your pocket. This compact Anker PowerCore Backup Battery is the smallest and lightest backup battery that still has 10,000 mAh power, that we could find. So it's exactly what we use and recommend, as we've been extremely happy with ours. And it's super well-priced too! Check prices and recent reviews on Amazon.
Multi-Outlet Travel Surge Protector
There are never enough outlets. This Belkin 3-Outlet SurgePlus Charger turns one outlet into three, plus includes two additional USB ports, allowing for the potential of five items to charge at the same time. It's great. Note: this model is only for North America (and parts of South America).
The Decision to Bring a Laptop or Not?
Unless you absolutely need it for work while traveling, we advocate leaving the laptop at home. It just becomes a liability and something else to lug around. You can now do just about everything from a smartphone or tablet. Obviously, we need our laptops. I love my lightweight and durable MacBook Air 13". It's super lightweight, hence the name "air", so it's the perfect laptop for travel. And for a Mac laptop around$1,000, it's pretty good value.
If you're not a Mac person, then find a Windows/PC laptop that works well for you. (Heather uses an HP we found on sale during a Black Friday promotion.)
When deciding on a laptop to bring traveling, just make sure to weigh out these critical components:
- Battery life - important for long hauls, in between charges
- Size & weight - obviously compact and lightweight is ideal
- Storage - if you're saving lots of photos & videos
- Value - an expensive laptop can become a liability when traveling
Portable External Hard Drive
We travel with a bunch of external hard drives to back up important work, video, and photos that simply won't all fit onto our computers. Sure, cloud storage can be a good solution too, but while traveling, a solid wifi connection can prevent access to cloud storage. So an external hard drive becomes the best solution for backups. Be careful with these though, as they as they are susceptible to damage. We dropped one of ours once which rendered it useless. Now, we instead recommend this shockproof hard drive that's more durable and perfect for travel.
A Headset for Clear Calls
We need a headset for conference calls and Skyping. This Logitech Clearchat Comfort headset is inexpensive and does the job.
Travel Photography Gear Pack List
We're travelers, not professional photographers. But we still want to take professional pictures! So we've shopped carefully for photography gear that is easy-to-use, has superior auto-functions, and is good value.
Obviously, as bloggers, we travel with a bit more photography gear than most. Phone cameras are getting really good, so your smartphone alone may suffice, particularly for close-up shots and landscapes. But if you need to zoom, you'll want something more powerful. You may also want to consider an underwater camera or perhaps even a travel drone to capture aerial footage.
Here's all the travel photography gear we use and recommend.
Our Travel Camera Recommendation
When we started traveling, we carefully researched and chose to travel with a Sony Nex-6 and have been quite happy with it. The current equivalent of this camera is now the Sony Alpha a6000. It's a mirrorless camera that many travel photographers are gravitating to over true-dSLR cameras, due to it being more compact yet offering an equivalent (arguably better) level of photo of dSLRs at similar price points. We love its auto features, as we're not experts with aperture and shutter speed. Yet expert photographers rate this camera similarly high. We think it's one of the best cameras for any amateur photographer who wants to up their photography game. We use ours with its original lens plus a zoom lens for faraway shots.
Action Cam - Less Expensive Alternative to GoPro
If you want to document any sort of adventure activities while traveling, you need an action cam like a GoPro. These shoot great wide angle videos and are perfect for kayaking, surfing, skiing, snorkeling, Scuba diving, mountain biking, and more. We loved our GoPro Hero 3 that we used for the first three years of travel. But it finally broke while snorkeling in South Africa. We debated getting another, but GoPros are so expensive now. Instead of spending $400+ on the latest GoPro Hero, we bought off-brand action cam on Amazon for a fraction of the price - less than $50! And it's 4K video quality!
A nice perk is that it actually includes two batteries and extra accessories that are extra costs when buying a regular GoPro! We were very skeptical, given the price, but we now like it even better than the old GoPro we were using. And at these low prices, the value simply cannot be beaten. Check prices and latest reviews of this great value Akaso 4K Waterproof Action Cam.
We've learned the hard way that GoPros and action cams don't float. If you're taking your GoPro (or another action cam) in the water, you absolutely need to have a floating attachment. We use this GoPole Floating Hand Grip to ensure our action cam floats to the surface if dropped in the water. It also comes with a carabineer that I keep attached to a belt loop or harness during extreme sports. We also travel with a head strap attachment for hands-free use when we're doing activities like mountain biking and whitewater rafting, in which we need to use our hands.
A Drone: DJI Spark Is a Great Value Intro Travel Drone
We usually travel with a drone to capture aerial shots of some of the amazing places we travel to. Of course, we look for quality + value and we found that in the DJI Phantom 3 Standard when we bought ours way back in 2016. Yet a major drawback to the Phantom series is its bulkiness. The weight and size make it impractical for travel. A separate piece of luggage is needed to schlep the drone around the world. During our last trip around the world, we even made the decision to leave it behind.
Thankfully, DJI now makes a number of compact drones that are much for portable and practical for travel! We're now planning to buy the DJI Mini Mavic to capture our areal shots. It only weighs about a half pound and fits in the palm of your hand! And at a mere $399, it's a great value intro drone! Check Mini Mavic prices.
If Taking Lots of Phone Video - You Need a Gimbal
We've taken lots of video during our travel over the years using our phone. But it always comes out looking shaky and amateurish. Those days are over now that DJI has released a high-quality gimbal/stabilizer for phones that is also affordable! In the past, such gimbals were several hundred dollars. But the new DJI Osmo Mobile 3 retails for only $129. (Check current price on Amazon.) Whether walking around town, navigating stairs, in a car, or on a horse, this simple device smooths out your shots to give it that cinematic effect. It's lightweight and portable too, so it lends well for travel.
For an example of the video recorded with our phone, in combination with this gimbal, see our video from the Ruta Puuc.
A Travel Tripod
If you want to capture that perfect steady shot, you absolutely need a tripod. The downside is they can be clunky to travel with. But this lightweight Travel Tripod has extendable legs that fold up nicely to make it very compact to travel with.
A Camera Cleaning Kit
A camera is bound to get dirty while traveling across dusty roads, sailing across salty ocean breezes, and hiking over rugged terrain. We constantly get smudges and dirt in our lens that we wouldn't be able to remove without a simple camera cleaning kit like this.
A Selfie Stick?
We're very hesitant to recommend this because we're growing to hate seeing these things everywhere while traveling around the world. But this is the age we live in and if you want to get that perfect selfie shot and have no one else to take your picture, you gotta have a selfie stick. It can also be practical to take pictures above a crowd. We rarely use ours but there have been a few times when we've been glad we've had it.
Adjustable Phone Tripod is Better than a Selfie Stick
If you're taking lots of pictures using your smartphone, like we are, then it's really convenient to have a compact tripod to get that perfect shot. This flexible and adjustable mini tripod even allows us to wrap it around a tree branch and use the bluetooth remote to get a perfect still shot. Even in the middle of nowhere, it can be wrapped around a tree to snap the perfect selfie. It's very versatile and useful! Better than a selfie-stick.
Extra SD Cards
On a long trip, you may be snapping away and your SD Cards may be full before you can back it up to a hard drive or the cloud. They're tiny and relatively inexpensive, so bring extra. I always keep an extra in my wallet just in case we left an SD Card behind or if one fills up before we realized.
A Camera Strap That Doesn't Weigh You Down
Of course you need a camera strap to go around your neck. But if you have a big, bulky camera it's annoying as it pulls on your neck during a full day of sightseeing. This leather camera-lift strap connects to your backpack, which puts the weight on it instead of your neck. We actually happened to meet the inventor of this great product when we were in a jam, as he gave us a ride from Croatia to Slovenia, as the borders were closed to public transportation. He later sent us a sample of his product and we've been loving it ever since. So we're now very happy to recommend this novel invention as a great way to relieve pressure from your neck during a full day of touring. Check it out here!
Choosing the Right Travel Backpack
I use a travel backpack as my main bag because I find it easy to travel with, in many different situations. I don't mind carrying the weight on my back to keep my hands free. It really comes in use when we do overnight trekking trips.
I've been using this bag for more than 5 years now and it's held up great. It's an Osprey backpack which is the most common brand we see travelers using around the world. Osprey bags tend to be lightweight, very durable, and comfortable. When choosing a backpack, my biggest recommendation is to find one that completely zips open around the bag. Some backpacks open solely from the top which is a total pain-in-the-butt to get things in and out of. As for size, get a pack that's right for the amount of gear you travel with. For most people, this will fall somewhere between a 40-70 liter backpack.
A Rain Cover for Your Pack
Sometimes travel can occur during downpours. A rain cover is an essential item to keep all your belongings dry whether you're trekking across town or through the jungle. When traveling around the world, sometimes bags are placed atop buses or get splashed on the side of a ferry. I use this Deuter rain cover for my travel backpack. I also put this rain cover on whenever I check my bag in order to keep all the straps from getting caught in the airport luggage handling conveyor belts.
A Personal Item with Convenient Travel Features
We both also carry smaller sized backpacks that we use as a carryon item. Important aspects to look for in a day pack are anti-theft features, water resistance, durability, and comfort. We're now using (and loving) this awesome travel laptop backpack, which excels in all of those functionalities, is stylish and even has a USB port to charge your phone.
Here's Why You Need to Pack an Empty Backpack
We strongly advocate traveling with a completely empty backpack. We quickly learned a hard lesson during our first year of traveling. Every time we would go on a day excursion, we would have to empty out one of our carry-on backpacks and repack it with bottled water, cameras, snacks, and whatever else we needed for the day. This hassle can be completely avoided by bringing a small, collapsible, lightweight backpack. We use this High Sierra Sport Backpack that compresses small enough to fit inside a water bottle but expands into an 18-liter backpack that's perfect day trips! Having a compact empty backpack also comes in handy towards the end of a journey, as it gives room for souvenirs you may have picked up during a trip.
A Reusable Shopping Bag Is Now Necessary in 2020
All around the world from Europe to Asia to Africa and the Americas, stores are forgoing single-use plastic bags as an environmentally-friendly move to reduce the world's plastic problem. It's wonderful to see this practice being so widely implemented across the world in the past year. Yet this lack of disposable shopping bags is becoming a problem for unsuspecting travelers who buy several items and have nothing to carry their purchases. That's why it's essential to now travel with a reusable shopping bag. Even if plastic shopping bags are still being used in the destination you're traveling too, it can still be a responsible effort to bring your own reusable shopping bag.
Roller Bags Are a Practical Luggage Choice
Roller bags just make sense when it comes to travel. It relieves the necessity to carry much weight on your back. Wheeling a roller bag across and airport or across town comes with ease. Sure, you'll encounter some uneven sidewalks every once in a while. But roller bags are otherwise a breeze to travel with.
In the past year, we made the switch to a large hardside 30-inch suitcase with spinner wheels. It's proved to be a great move for us. It's been a breeze to roll around and we're never running out of packing space. And the hardshell can take a beating while keeping all our belongings safe.
If you're undecided between a travel backpack and a roller bag, they also make roller bags with backpack straps. That's what Heather used before making the switch to a suitcase. She admittedly never used the backpack straps, but still liked having that option. Heather has an Eagle Creek rolling bag that she found on sale and she's been happy with it. This versatile piece of luggage is big enough to hold all her belongings but small enough fit in the overhead bins, so it can be a carry-on.
Packing Cubes to Keep Organized & Save Luggage Space
When traveling around the world with so many different clothes and items, packing cubes become critical to not only keep you organized but to help compress the many items you're bringing along. Packing your bags can be a giant game of Tetris, but these packing cubes are your travel hack to beating that game. These also really come in handy for couples on shorter trips. With travel cubes, we can check one bag, but still separate each of our clothing. Then once we get settled into a hotel or Airbnb, we can quickly and effortlessly transfer each cube to appropriate drawers and closet space.
Mesh Laundry Bag to Separate Dirty Clothes
This is simple yet essential piece of luggage that's often forgotten. But you do need something to separate all your dirty laundry during your trip. A mesh laundry bag is that solution.
A Must for Ladies: Anti-Theft Travel Bag/Purse
Heather uses one of these Travelon Anti-Theft Bags and has fallen in love with it. These bags have unrivaled security features and many different stylish options. The straps and body of the bag are completely slash-resistant. The compartments and zippers have locking clips to thwart any would-be pickpockets. And the bags have RFID blocking technology in slots for both credit cards and passports to protect from any thieves with handheld scanners who are trying to skim information.
Travelon's Cross-Body Bucket Bag is among their most popular and comes in over 30 different colors. It's a fairly sizable bag, capable of being able to fit a bulky DSLR camera, tablet, umbrella, and then some. This mini shoulder bag is a nice option, for a more petite bag that sports all the same security features. The exact bag that Heather has and loves is this Quilted Slim bag, that is not too big and not too small, and still stylish to use as her go-to purse simply when going out for a night on the town.
An RFID Blocking Wallet to Avoid Electronic Theft
Chip technology on most modern credit cards is great and now widely used around the world. But it is susceptible to theft as people have scanning devices can pick up your card information by simply walking by your pocket. It may have happened to us, as our ATM card was compromised in Argentina during our 2015 travels and someone was able to steal over $1,000 from our bank account by somehow cloning our card! Thankfully the bank reimbursed us for the fraudulent activity, but we now use this RFID Blocking Wallet to ensure it doesn't happen again. It's another travel must!
Attach a Bag atop Your Rolling Luggage
We recently added this welcomed accessory to our gear. A Demi Hugger allows you to securely attach your carry-on (or virtually anything) to the top of your roller bag, to give you free hands and no weight on your back when you're on the move. Love it!
Eye Mask to Sleep in Transit
Eye masks have proved critical on long journeys and in accommodation that doesn't have the best blinds. We're currently carrying around some eye masks that were given to us on one of our last flights. But you can try this comfy Jersey Slumber Light-Blocking Silk Sleep Mask which is a best seller on Amazon and has great reviews. Check latest reviews and price.
Reusable Ear Plugs for Noisy Nights
This is another essential item for sleep whether on a long haul flight or on staying on an exterior low floor of a busy city. Just on recent travels we've been so glad to have ear plugs. It helped us to sleep in as the roosters did their thing in Key West and during early morning rush-hour on the busy streets of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Rather than carrying a big container of 50 disposable ear plugs, we prefer these reusable silicone ear plugs. Two pairs come in a handy travel case.
Waterproof Playing Cards
We always travel with a deck of cards. It's a great way to pass time and make friends. We don't personally own this exact deck (yet) but this pack of Hoyle waterproof playing cards is perfect to take to the beach, camping, boating, or for any trip! And they're an excellent price too. It's the perfect deck of cards for traveling! Check on Amazon.
Inflatable Neck Pillow for Long Journeys
This is an important item to have to get sleep on long bus, train, or plane journeys. But it also serves a dual purpose for us to act as a pillow during camping trips. Foam neck pillows are great, but we recommend an inflatable neck pillow since it doesn't take up much space in your pack when not in use. This inflatable pillow receives high marks on Amazon, is inexpensive, and comes with an eye mask and ear plugs.
TSA-Approved Travel Locks
Luggage locks help to keep your belongings safe while in transit. But just be sure to use a TSA-approved lock like this or else your locked may be clipped while in flight. Yet bags aren't the only use to carry around a few locks with you. There are often situations when we need to store your bags. Thankfully lots of accommodation around the world will have lockers for you to do so. But you'll need your own lock. And sometimes when we leave valuables in our hotel room without a safe, we like to have the peace of mind of having our valuables secured with a lock in one of our zippers. We've never had anything stolen from us yet, and taking this extra precaution has likely helped.
A luggage scale is a great little item to pack so you know how to adjust your luggage accordingly to comply with airline weight limits. This particularly so important when utilizing budget airlines, as they're very strict in charging by exact weight-limit categories. We also use it to estimate laundry costs for places that charge by the kilo.
Beer bottles in most countries around the world are not twist-off. So beer drinkers must come prepared with a small bottle opener.
Pen & Pad of Paper
You never want to be that person on the flight that doesn't have a pen to complete the customs form, so be sure to bring one. And you wouldn't believe how hard it is in some countries to find something as simple as a pen and a pad of paper. There's always something to write down. So we recommend packing a small pad of paper and a few pens. It's one of those things that's easily forgotten when packing.
Pandemic Travel Essentials to Add to Your Packing List in 2020
With the ongoing pandemic, there's now a few more things we must all add to our 2020 traveling packing list. Whether embarking on a road trip somewhere close or hopping on a flight, there are a number of additional items to remember to pack in an effort to be safe and considerate to those around you.
You can also read our separate post on 35 Travel Tips for a Safer Road Trip during the Pandemic. But here's a few things to remember packing for 2020 and potentially beyond.
Travel- Size Hand Sanitizer in Stock
Don't forget the hand sanitizer! For when you can't immediately wash your hands, it's great to have some sanitizer on hand (pun intended). The travel size (2 oz) hand sanitizer can be very convenient for travel. Do know that TSA has been allowing larger size hand sanitizer, up to 12 oz, when flying. But bottles over 3.4 require extra screening, which will take up more time at the airport. So those 2 oz. bottles are still very practical and convenient for flights. Note: confirm the hand sanitizer allowance directly with TSA here.
Hand sanitizer has been a hot commodity that has been often been out-of-stock, inflated prices, any/or questionable quality. So it's nice to see this 5-pack of travel-sized hand sanitizer on Amazon for less than $10! It's 75% alcohol and usually in stock. Check now.
When traveling in places with unknown cleanliness, it can be nice to have the reassurance of wiping down surfaces. Whether it's a seat-back tray, dirty public restrooms, a questionable restaurant table, or high-touch areas in your hotel room, sanitizing wipes can come to the rescue. They're also just convenient to have to clean up messes! This 10-pack of sanitizing wipe pouches is particularly convenient for travel, with 20 wipes in each resealable package.
Face Masks Are Often Required and Get Dirty - Pack Extras
Masks are now a requirement in so many travel situations. You must wear masks during flights, usually on public transport, in most stores, often while getting seating at a restaurant. Some localities even have mask mandates imposed anywhere outside. So when traveling in 2020, we suggest packing a few extra masks so you find yourself in an uncomfortable position of being caught without one. Masks get dirty after repeated use, so it's wise to bring extra since you won't be doing laundry regularly on a trip to wash your mask. This three-pack of premium 3-fly face masks is a best seller on Amazon.
It can be a wise precaution to travel with a thermometer these days. If you or a family members does get sick while traveling, you'd certainly want to check body temperature for a potential fever. Yet thermometers are long sold-out in many drug stores around the country and around the world. So be sure to add a thermometer to your travel packing list in 2020! There's no need to carry around one of those forehead thermometers that are pricey and take up space. A simple digital oral thermometer like this is inexpensive, compact, and does its job.
When pumping gas frequently during a road trip, disposable pair of plastic gloves can be quite handy. We bought a big pack of these disposable plastic gloves and just leave them in the car for whenever we need them. They're super cheap, as the price works out to about two pennies per glove. Check the price.
Travel Gear & Clothing Packing Checklist
When putting together a world travel packing list, we're often packing for multiple climates and multiple occasions. We constantly shift from warm sunny beaches to snowy mountain peaks. We also must pack for many different scenes. We need to have outfits for formal dinners on luxury cruises in addition to activewear for rugged camping trips. The key to this is versatile clothing that can be used for many occasions. You'll find that versatility to be a theme in our travel wardrobe recommendations.
How much clothing you add to your own packing list will be based on your travel style, the destinations you're visiting, and your personal preference. While it may seem that we pack a bit more than is needed, we do find it necessary since our travel style is so multifaceted. Our recommendation is to pack as little as you can get away with. Except for underwear - pack lots!
For the Legs
Jeans or No Jeans?
It's a contentious debate among travelers, but we strongly advocate bringing jeans. Sure, they are heavy and can weigh down your pack, but jeans also have a big upside. They can be very versatile as you can dress them up for a night out on the town or wear them hiking across mountains. Yet perhaps the greatest benefit to jeans is that they can sustain many usages without the need to be washed. And jeans tend to hold up extremely well while traveling and can be downright comfy. We recommend dark washes that tend to hold up better against dirt.
A Good Pair of Travel Slacks
This is another great versatile piece of clothing for guys. You can dress them up and wear them as you would a pair of khakis. Yet they can also make for perfect hiking pants while on the trail. Lightweight, quick-dry, SPF, water resistant, and pockets are all qualities to look for in a pair of travel pants. Those are all found in these Unionbay Travel Slacks. A lightweight pair of pants like this is also great in hot climates to protect from sun and mosquitos, yet still keep you cool.
2 Pairs Shorts
Be sure to pack a pair or two of shorts, depending where you're traveling. I recommend a pair with deep pockets to help thwart pickpocketing and prevent your belongings from falling out.
1 Bathing Suit / Hybrid Shorts
If you're gonna get wet, you need some sort of bathing suit or board shorts. To keep up with the versatility that's so important to a smart travel pack list, we suggest hybrid shorts that fuse classic chino pant design with the functionality of a surf trunks. These Volcom Men's Hybrid Shorts accomplishes that. They can function as a bathing suit at the pool or the beach, but can also act as an attractive pair of shorts for simply walking around town.
Breathable Dry-Wicking Underwear: Pack Extra!
Underwear is the one item I recommend bringing more of than necessary. You may be able to get away with wearing shirts, shorts, and pants multiple times between laundry days - but not underwear. Bring extra. They don't take up much space. I strongly recommend dry wicking underwear for any long travel day. I absolutely love these quick-dry, odor-preventing ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Boxers and have converted many of my friends. They can be pricey but are so worth it. They're super comfy and even after some lengthy usage, they never smell!
This is another item that we err on bringing a bit more of since you don't want to wear stinky socks. I travel with about a half-dozen regular white ankle socks and two pairs of wool socks which are great for hiking and/or just keeping your feet warm in colder climates.
I picked up a pair of rain pants while in New Zealand before trekking through some downpours. These have proved invaluable ever since and I've used them to keep dry in many rainy locations. The pair I have are similar to these rain pants.
Make sure your pants don't fall down. I find that a brown leather belt is the most practical and versatile.
Sun Protection: Hat & Sunglasses
This is essential travel gear for most guys and helpful to protect you from the sun. I'm currently using a nice big wide-brimmed sombrero I bought on the side of the road in Mexico. Yet this foldable, moisture wicking hat with UV protection makes a very practical choice for travelers. Bring a baseball cap or whatever suits you best. And don't forget the shades either! 😎
1 Dry-Wick Long Sleeve Collared Shirt
This is a great versatile piece to the travel wardrobe. It's lightweight, breathable, and non-iron. It can be worn during outdoor adventures to protect from sun and mosquitos. Yet you can most definitely dress up a shirt like this to wear out at night. I've been traveling around with a Van Heusen Traveler Shirt since Day-1 and it's still with me now 6 years later!
1 Nice Long Sleeve Dress Shirt
Forget the dry-wicking and functionality for a minute and just pack at least one nice dress shirt that you look good in. This will be your go-to for any nicer dinners or special occasions. A non-iron shirt is highly recommended.
1 Flannel Shirt
This is another versatile piece for the traveler that can help to keep you warm & cozy but can also double as a casual shirt for night out. I travel with a flannel shirt similar to this one. Find a flannel to fit your style.
2 Dry-Wicking Short Sleeved Collared Shirts
These can be great to wear out at night to keep cool in open air-restaurants or during the day while touring a new city. I use this Columbia Super Tamiami Short Sleeved Shirt that boasts sun protection, odor protection, and advanced evaporation. These collared, buttoned shirts are important because in many places around the world men do NOT wear t-shirts. So pack a few lightweight collared shirts instead, so you don't stand out while still keeping cool.
Your Home Team Sports Shirt (controversial!)
Some travelers suggest leaving this at home, as it makes you stand out and look like a tourist. We only partially agree. In our opinion, wearing something like a giant football jersey will certainly help you to stand-out while traveling abroad. So consider leaving it at home. But DO bring something subtle to represent your hometown, whether it's a sports team or otherwise. I always travel with a polo shirt that has a small Miami Dolphins logo on it. Wearing this has led me to connect with fellow travelers from my home area in the most surprising of places. But unlike a giant jersey, the small logo is subtle and understated enough that you don't stand out and look like a tourist.
A Few Dry-Wick T-Shirts
These are essential for traveling through warmer climates. I have been happy with my Nike Dri-Fit Shirt and this Under Armour T-Shirt, both of which keep me cool.
2 Long Sleeve T-Shirts
Great to wear around cool climates or as an under-layer for even colder climates.
1 Fleece, Sweatshirt, or Hoodie
Bring something to keep you warm in colder climates. I'm currently using this North Face fleece.
A Waterproof Jacket
This is an important piece of travel gear that serves the double purpose of acting as an outer layer in cold climates but can also be used as a rain jacket to keep you dry. The jacket I use now is similar to this Columbia Men's Pouration Jacket which is waterproof yet breathable.
A Few Undershirts
I advocate bringing a few pairs of undershirts to allow them to get stinky during a single use, while protecting your outer layer to allow you to potentially wear a second time in between laundry stops.
Tops for Women to Pack
A 3-in-1 Jacket
If traveling in cooler climates, a 3-in-1 jacket is a must. You can use just the outer shell as a breathable rain jacket, or just the inner layer for chilly days. Combine the two layers to keep warm during really frigid weather. I love my North Face 3-in-1 jacket that has kept me warm for the past four years. This North Face Thermoball Triclimate Jacket is the successor of my jacket that's currently on the market.
A compressible vest is perfect with a sweater, or as extra insulation with a jacket on those below freezing days. I like this Lightweight Down Puffer Vest because it's perfect for travel as it comes with a packable pouch and it's great for the price.
5 Tank Tops: 2 Regular + 2 Quick-Dry + 1 Dressy Tank
I like to bring a few tank tops to use for athletic activities and to use as a base layer for other outfits. Try to stick with tones that will match well with the bottoms you're traveling with. I travel with a few cotton stretch tank tops. But for more active days I wear moisture-wicking tank tops to keep cool and dry in hot climates. I also pack a reversible cami for times that I want to dress up a bit. Since it's reversible, it's like having two tanks in one!
2 T-Shirts + 2 Dry-Wicking T-Shirts
You've gotta pack a few t-shirts for everyday use. In many destinations around the world, tank tops are inappropriate. Instead, you'll need to keep your shoulders covered. These quick dry t-shirts do the trick and also help to keep the sun off your shoulders. I also pack a few regular t-shirts like these.
2 Moisture Wicking Long Sleeve Shirts
These long sleeve shirts are nice to have during athletic activities on chilly days because they pull away the moisture and keep you warm. They're also nice to use for water activities because they protect your skin from the sun and dry quickly. These Under Armour Long Sleeve Shirts are work great in either instance.
2 Long Sleeve Collared Shirts
These are good for dressing up and while traveling through countries with more modest cultural norms. I pack a basic chambray shirt, which is good on its own or layering. I also have a lightweight portofino shirt from Express that's nice to have for going out.
Of course a few sweaters are great to have for cooler climates, but take one even if you're traveling through warmer regions. It's these hot climates that I find that buses and shuttles tend to blast the air conditioner, so I'm always thankful to have a sweater.
A Must: This may be one of the most practical and adaptable clothing pieces I travel with. It can be used as a scarf or to cover shoulders while entering a historic church. A pashmina like this has been invaluable to help blend in when traveling through Islamic countries and also great to use as a light blanket during long flights.
1 Bathing Suit
I recommend a suit that can pull double duty where you're constantly not adjusting it during active activities, but still stylish enough to hang by the pool or beach. I use a Victoria Secret bathing suit that I've had forever and they no longer make, but I like this Halter Racerback Bikini, which is similar.
1 Bathing Suit Cover-Up
A bathing suit cover-up is nice to have to throw over your bathing suit when hanging out at the pool or the beach, and when not wanting to receive unwanted attention when walking back to your accommodation.
Of course you need to bring a bra or two. I recommend one of them to be a nude convertible bra.
Bottoms for Women to Pack
Jeans: 1 or 2
I travel with 2 pairs of jeans. How many you pack is up to you. Most people would prefer to travel with one pair or none at all. But for me, I live in jeans. They can be fashionable yet also durable enough for adventure activities. I travel with one denim and one black pair. I don't recommend designer jeans. Rather, consider an older pair of jeans that you don't mind if they get destroyed or lost. I've been traveling with some Gap jeans and find them to hold up well.
2 pairs of Athletic Leggings
2 Pairs of Athletic Shorts
1 Pair of Jean Shorts
1 Maxi Skirt
Lots of Underwear
Bring more than you need. You can always toss a pair or two along the way. The funny thing is a few pairs always seem to go missing before you even get a chance to toss them. It's essential to have clean underwear when laundry days grow far apart, so just bring a few extra. If you're an active traveler like us, I highly recommend packing a few ExOfficio Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs. They're breathable, lightweight, and quick-drying which makes them perfect for travel!
Clothing Accessories for Ladies
This is a staple for your travel packing list if you're always cold like me. Instead of a hat to keep my ears warm, I prefer this fleece headband because I can put my hair up in a ponytail and keep my ears warm for chilly outdoor actives.
Buffs aren't just for Survivor contestants. I recommend packing a buff for your travels. I use mine for many occasions, from traveling on dusty roads to block sand out of my face to protect my neck and head on chilly days.
1 Wide Brim Hat
A wide brim hat is an essential item to pack if you'll be spending time under the sun. This Roll-up Wide Brim Hat is particularly great for travel because it's foldable and crushable. The durability is great, it's fashionable, and its's UPF50+.
You need sunglasses. I love my Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. They have held up remarkably well and I've had them for over four years.
Shoes & Footwear for Travel
Shoes can be a bulky yet necessary travel item to pack. Wear your biggest shoes during travel days and pack the other two. Some people are able to get by traveling with one or two pairs, which is great, but we recommend bringing three pairs: trainers, something that can be dressed up, and sandals.
Shoes for Him
Trail Running Shoes
Although we do lots of hiking, we do NOT travel with proper hiking boots due to the space constraints within luggage. Instead, we use trail running shoes. They provide excellent grip, are lightweight, and very comfortable. They can be worn while walking around a city all day or tackling a challenging hike.
The biggest downside for trekking is the lack of ankle support, but that's never been a problem for us. Hiking shoes like these Merrell and these Salomon trail runners are oft-recommended. But they're usually priced well over $100. While they are indeed great shoes, we usually find trail running shoes closer to the $50 price point that are comfortable and hold up well.
Right now I'm roaming around in these Asics Gel Venture Running Shoes that were designed to tackle rugged terrain. They're a great everyday sneaker to walk around in, yet the extra tread holds up well on the high Andes trails that we're currently hiking.
Fashion Sneakers Are Casual Shoes that Can Dress Up
It's great to have a versatile shoe that you can dress up or wear to walk around town. Boat shoes are nice since the soles usually provide good traction. But I've recently converted to a pair of fashion sneakers which I love. I'm currently walking around in these boat-shoe inspired Clarks that can be worn in so many occasions.
Sturdy Sandals that Can Hold Up
A pair of flip flops are essential for the beach, short jaunts around town, and questionable showers around the world. I live in my flip-flops, so I take it a step further (pun intended) and even occasionally go on short hikes in my flip-flops (not recommended for most). That's why I now travel with (and am in love with) these Columbia flip-flops. Reef-brand sandals seem to be the most popular around the world and I've had a few pair. But I find that Reefs tend to blow very easily for people like me who frequently use and abuse their sandals. (I once blew three pairs of Reefs in the same year). I'm now a huge fan of these Columbia sandals because they're super durable, have soft cushioning, great grip for rocky terrain, and these sandals last!
Shoes For Her
Trail Running Shoes
A versatile pair of sneakers is needed for walking around the city as well as more intense treks. I also advocate for trail running shoes instead of boots for the same reasons (see left). I've tried a few different pairs over the years but right now I'm really digging these Nike Zooms that I've been using to hike across the Andes. These kicks are lightweight, have great grip and help give me a little pep in my step.
A pair of mules is another versatile shoe that works for many occasions. I had used to travel with ballet flats, which can be really hard on your feet walking around town. I now love my Dr. Scholl's Gia Slides. It's what I wear when going out to dinner or short walks during a night out. They are super comfy too! But perhaps the best asset is their adaptability. I can use them to dress up an outfit but they're still practical with plenty of cushioning. They are sporty yet chic.
You gotta have a pair of flip flops. I'm not as crazy about flip flops as John and would never go hiking in them. But a pair of sandals are still certainly a necessity for your travel pack list. I have these Reef flip flops which are great for the beach.
Don't Forget the Insoles!
There is so much walking involved during every day of travel and it all really wears on your feet by the end of each day. These Dr. Scholl's Athletic Sport Insoles that are absolute lifesavers. They really provide such a strong upgrade to sneakers, as they literally massage your feet while walking. We both added this to our travel pack list on Year 2 and we now both can't imagine roaming around the world without these slipped into our shoes. Highly recommend!
What Toiletries to Pack for Travel
There are lots of toiletries to remember to bring with you on your trip. Some items you may be able to find wherever you're traveling. Yet we've found many travel destinations where even the most common toiletries can be difficult to come by. Pack your favorites in advance and use this section of the travel packing checklist to ensure you haven't forgotten any of the essentials!
- Sunscreen - For sunny destinations, don't forget to pack the sunscreen. For some reason, this tends to be really expensive around the world ($30+), so bring it from home. Anything above 30 SPF is usually good. We like this Banana Boat Sport which is sweat and waterproof.
- Extra-Strong Mosquito Repellent with DEET - When traveling in areas with Zika, Malaria, or Dengue, your first line of defense is to ensure you don't get bit by mosquitos. Repellent with DEET seems to prove most effective.
- Natural Mosquito Repellent - While DEET repellent works great, it can also be very harmful to the environment. It not only kills mosquitos but also kills fish if you're going in the water with it applied. Instead, consider a natural mosquito repellent like this if going in the water.
- Deodorant - We can never find our preferred style of deodorant around the world. Asia only has liquid roll-ons while Africa tends to only use spray deodorant. So be sure to pack your preferred brand and maybe a few extra.
- Dental Floss or Flosser Picks
- Hand sanitizer - We've already mentioned hand-sanitizer, but it's worth repeating in this toiletries packing list section.
- Chapstick or Lip Balm - Protect your lips with lip balm that contains SPF.
- Ziplock bags - Bring a few. You'll find a use for them.
- Small sewing kit - This has been invaluable for minor repairs on the road. This Embroidex Travel Sewing Kit is a best seller on Amazon.
- Compact travel hair brush or comb
- Nail clippers
- Travel scissors - to trim bangs and many other uses.
- A toiletry bag - to keep all this stuff in.
- Travel shampoo, conditioner, & body wash - We usually hoard the ones from hotels. For longer stays, we buy these items on the ground which have always been easy to find decent brands except for shampoo/conditioner in Africa.
- Hair gel (for him)
- Make-up (for her)
- Cold medicine
- Pain reliever - we use ibuprofen
- Sea sickness medicine - We find Bonine to be the most effective and least drowsy. We also use ginger pills as a natural remedy.
- Anti-acid - very necessary when trying new local foods
- Multi vitamin - Food in some regions may not provide the essentials, so we like to take a daily multi-vitamin.
- Pepto-Bismo tablets - This liquid can be an absolute lifesaver but can also be a pink nightmare if it explodes in your bag. Pack Pepto-Bismol tablets instead.
- Roll of toilet paper or tissues - In some parts of the world not all restrooms have toilet paper. Depending on where you're traveling, it may be a good idea to pack a roll.
- Baby wipes - These always seem to come in handy weather to freshen up after a long flight or to clean up an unexpected mess. Pack a small tub of baby wipes.
Things Not to Pack
Water bottles - While useful, water bottles are space hogs. Instead we just buy a single bottled water when we land and use it over and over again in places where we can drink the water.
Wedding rings or expensive jewelry - Heather never travels with her engagement ring. Instead, we both wear simple wedding bands. This helps not draw attention to ourselves and prevents what could be a heartbreaking theft. Additionally, when traveling to countries where haggling is the norm, it helps your cause to not have flashy jewelry.
Hiking Boots - Although we're avid hikers, we find hiking boots to be too heavy and bulky to lug around the world. Trail running shoes work well for us instead.
Heels (women) - Unless you're taking a luxury trip with many formal occasions, leave the heels at home. They're impractical, take up too much space, and hell to walk in over all those uneven sidewalks around the world.
Debatable Whether to Pack or Not:
Passport Covers - I say no to passport covers. Heather says yes. The problem with passport covers is that you almost always have to remove them when going through customs and immigration, so it's just a small yet added unnecessary hassle. But they look nice and do serve an actual purpose. My passport is bruised and beaten, while Heather's still looks new since she keeps a cover on hers. So, you decide!
Best Travel Gear to Pack for a Trip?
These are all the things we pack and travel with and recommend. But we always come across people who have their own unique travel gear and preferences. What's yours? What do you pack for a trip? We're always changing around our travel pack list.
Also, we'd love to hear if you've used any of our gear recommendations. Be sure to let us know in the comments below.
Be sure to bookmark this page or pin it to your travel Pinterest boards so you can review and use as a checklist before your next trip.
Hi there! I just read through your ‘womens travel clothing’ section and have a question – how often do you do laundry when you travel? I LOVE the idea of a minimalist approach to packing, but we’re pretty active so if I only had 2 pairs of leggings/shorts, I’d have to do laundry every 2 days. Is there a ‘pro tip’ I’m missing? Thx!
John Widmer says
We do laundry, as needed, usually every about every 7-10 days or so. It really depends on the climate, how active we’ve been, etc. As for the 2 pairs of athletic leggings, we’re typically not in situations that she is wearing those every single day. Other bottoms such as jeans, skirts, and other shorts help to supplement in between laundry days. If you find your travels would involve wearing leggings every single day, it sounds like it would certainly prove worthwhile to bring more to tailor to that. 🙂
deepak Pandey says
Wow, very nice information. Learned a lot, Nice information
Arfa Moore says
Usually, I keep a reusable bag with me so I don’t need to buy any plastic bag while traveling. This checklist is gonna be my favorite because it has everything mentioned which I need while traveling. Thanks for such a nice post!
Thanks for sharing this informative article.
Useful travel tips.I have more then 4/5 years traveling experience. I learned so much from your article. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Brian Hastings says
Awesome post! Thanks for sharing the knowledge and keep up the good work
Tracey Jones says
I have made some packing, but after reading this I wondered that I haven’t done anything so many many things to get packed 😀 Thanks for sharing this post <3
I was glad to see that you included earplugs on your list! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times they have saved my sanity while traveling around the country, not to mention, helping me get a good night’s sleep in hotel rooms.
[email protected] says
Hey John! This is indeed the best, complete travel packing list! I’m the kind that always forgets something, so this would definitely help me a lot whenever I travel. Thank you for putting this together.
Jess Walters says
Hey, thanks for this informative post! I’m a travel lover so this guide is very useful for me. A month ago, I’ve gone for an outdoor trip but I forgot to pack water filter it was horrible to drink contaminated water. Next time I’ll recheck my packed gears with this amazing guide. Definitely, I’ll pack all the pieces of stuff perfectly for my upcoming adventurous trips!
Fantastic ideas ….. Seriously I never pack the right things . Thanks for sharing these good ideas … For my next trip I will definitely follow your ideas. Keep Sharing.
abhiti soma says
These are really helpful tips for long flight travel and I hope people will follow them and get benefits. Thanks
Luke - GSE Solutions says
Thanks for sharing this post I saw the monkey mats on Shark Tank and totally forgot about them. After reading this article I’ve gone and ordered some for myself. I do a lot of travelling with the company I work for, GSE Solutions. Thanks! Luke
Thanks for the great list! I ordered the adjustable phone tripod and am looking forward to trying it out. Happy travels!
Rob Johnston says
That’s a great list, I’ve bookmarked the page for future reference. The lifestraw is excellent. I used it while canoe camping for 3 days around the boundary waters in Minnesota and it worked great. An essential piece of kit to take with you if your doing something like that. Many thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing your packing expertise! I won’t leave home without my dry bag again! A couple of items we’ve added over the years are: a couple of caribiners attached to our day packs (mulptiple uses including clipping our waterproof camera and it’s floating strap to my bathing suit), a flat travel plug (we also take a line and a few clothes pegs – I wash & hang undies etc most evenings & they’re dry by morning), a rubber door stopper (keeps the door secure in a sketchy hotel), and a light weight shopping bag. I also pack a couple of quick dry ‘ skorts ‘ rather than shorts. They can be a bit more modest and I’ve been allowed in to sites that don’t allow shorts. They are comfortable for most activities in a warm climate. Thanks again and safe travels!
John Widmer says
Oh yes, that dry bag has become so essential for us on so many occasions. We had actually gone without one for a bit more than the first year of our travels. With all the water activities we pursue, the need was dire yet we didn’t realize until we got one. Thanks so much for the other suggestions! May need to add a few of those onto our next iteration of this post. 🙂 We also do carry a lightweight shopping bag and neglected to include here. I can only imagine how handy careeners can be and now you’ve got me thinking that we should pick some up. And that’s a great idea for a door stopper …just in case! 🙂
While you made your trek around the world, what did you do about the logistics of leaving your home, i.e: getting mail, paying all bills, filing tax returns, etc. Do you have any information about that? Your trip sounds wonderful, but how do you take care of everything you left in the States?
John Widmer says
Great question! And it’s a good reminder to us that we really need to write a complete post to detail some of those complicated logistics. But I’ll try to give a short answer here. Mail is sent to a family member. There’s not much since we’ve tried to cancel all mail to do as much as possible electronically. We usually visit the US once per year in which we’ll open a few Christmas cards and trash whatever junk has collected. As for bills, we don’t really have many regular bills since we don’t have a home, cars, etc. We buy prepaid phone plans wherever we travel. We irregularly buy travel insurance. And we have a few reoccurring business expenses to run this blog. That’s about it. All of those bills are paid electrically. Tax returns are also filed through online tax software. We can access most of our needed tax forms electronically too. There are a few forms that are sent snail mail. Those have been collected for us and read over the phone. It’s pretty simple really and we’re fortunate to have a family member to help us out with the mail. There are services that do this too and can even scan and upload every piece of mail into the cloud, but we don’t bother. It’s mostly junk really. 🙂
review wish says
Hey, I think this is a complete packing list before goes any trip. I am so glad I found you at the right time. Next week we are going on a long trip with my family. I must remember your packing list ideas when I am going for this.
dale fowler says
Traveling is something that makes you feel worthy but packing is like a daunting task. The above points really give some idea for an individual what things are necessary when planning to go out for vacation. Thank You
Amazing list. I always carry a backup when it comes to chargers, equipment, storage etc. And I never go on a trip without a good pair of hiking boots and a raincoat. 😀
Judith Milliken says
Anozther travel essential is a small tin of zinc oxide (baby diaper cream). Applied to any cut or abrasion, it creates a barrier which prevents infection – I learned this from a former emergency physician (after struggling with a staph infection I caught in the tropics from a small sore on my foot). I never leave home without it!
John Widmer says
That is such a great idea! During our first year of travel, I got a skin infection on my leg from an open sore while in depths of Guatemala. Sounds like the zinc oxide could have prevented it. We update this post regularly and may need to add that to the list! 🙂 Thanks for the great recommendation!
Yvonne Corzo says
I read THS Tieks ballerina flats were great shoes for traveling. They also fold up.
Fredrick Morgan says
This is an excellent post. Your travelling cheak list is awesome. All in one. Many people will benefit from the blog. Everything has told about the tour.
Varuna Jithesh says
Nice and Perfect looking outfit..
Amara Karras says
Nice tips John Widmer!! When anyone go to travel they should check this list at least once so that they can ensure their easy going journey.
I’ve been on the road for the last 23+ years. I carry a small roll of duct tape (wrapped around a popsicle stick to save room). It’s come in handy many times.
Brain chan says
Thanks for providing the detailed packaging list. I will keep this list on my mind for my next trip.
Thomas Madinson says
This is a complete and perfect packing list. I am delighted with getting your packing list. Next weeks I go on a trip I think this list is beneficial to me. I will share this list my all social activity and my friends. Lovely sharing.
John Widmer says
Thanks so much. We’re so glad you found it helpful! 🙂
A very comprehensive and informed packing list.
Will do a checklist to make sure I miss nothing. Printing it out now.
Gioko Pat says
Quite a list of things to pack that you have compiled here. I love the part about electronics because, really! No matter how much I would love to get away from the din, I am certainly not ready to do away with my electronics. I would definitely recommend this list to a beginner traveler.
John Widmer says
Thanks! Yes, we agree 100%. They’re almost a necessary evil for us. Yet some of our gadgets help so much to make traveling a breeze! 🙂
Linda Harasim says
Very helpful list. Thank you. Always new things to learn. One comment on my part: I noticed that all the women’s shoes, save the runners, have thin soles. Having traveled alot, both in urban and in more rugged locales, I really experienced the need for thicker soled shoes: not necessarily dumpy. I have found some very hip, light weight and flexible shoes from Germany, Italy, etc. But with bendable cushioned soles to make it thru long days and assorted surfaces. The ballerina shoes really don’t cut it and result in sore, achy, and perhaps damaged feet.
Hope you enjoy your Canada segment.
Heather Widmer says
Hi Linda, thanks for the comment! When planning long days of being on my feet, I almost always wear my trainers. I agree with you that most ballet flats wouldn’t work if you’re trying to avoid achy feet. I will say that I’m a big fan of my Puma ballet flats. I find that they have a decent cushion insole and an outer grip and flexibility to navigate uneven streets. I like wearing them when trying to dress up a bit when in cities and such, but admit that I couldn’t wear them if on my feet all day. What travel shoes do you prefer? I’d love to hear your recommendations 🙂
leonora uribe says
Thanks for this very comprehensive and detailed packing list. I am actually going through it to make sure I have several of this items with me on my next trip.
John Widmer says
Perfect, I hope it helps! We had actually initially drafted this list when we were packing for Ecuador.
Denyse charlebois says
Hi, we are cruising the Baltic with Oceania and would like to know how dressed up you have to be for the dinners? We are in our 60’s? We have never been on a big cruise ship.
Heather Widmer says
Thanks for the comment. We dress “smart casual” when in the formal dining rooms on cruise ships. I would wear either a light dress or a nice blouse with jeans. John always wears a collared shirt with travel slacks. We don’t travel with suits or formal wear. We’ve never cruised with Oceania Cruises, but they recommend “Country Club Casual” where they ask men to wear a sports jacket to be ready for the Grand Dining Room. Hope this helps. Enjoy your cruise!
leonora uribe says
I’ve sailed with Oceania and ladies tend to dress up the “Country Club Casual” so I stick to wearing mostly black clothing. In the Baltic, the cool and the A/C also makes the ship cold, so I wear wraps and light sweaters in the evening. This cruise line does not allow jeans at dinner for men.
Laurel Santos says
This is a great help to all travellers. Never seen something this detailed. Will definitely save this. Looking forward to more helpful posts.
Heather Widmer says
Thanks so much for the kind comment. We’re thrilled to hear that you found our packing list and tips to be helpful 🙂
Great & thorough list! I’d add Clorox wipes though, to sanitize surfaces when we first get to our stateroom.
Heather Widmer says
Thanks for the comment and the great suggestion! The sanitizing wipes are perfect for questionable surfaces likes phones and RV remotes.
Corey Gasman says
Great site, articles, tips, photos, etc…
Keep up the good work! Wish there was a site like this when I did my world trip back in 2004-2005! Great resource for travelers.
Looks like your having a blast in the Galápagos.
P.S. Meet you guys hiking up the Quilotoa Crater Lake and day tour, then for a few minutes in Puerto Ayora.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Corey, great to hear from ya! Thanks for the kind words. The Galapagos has been incredible. Best to you and your continued travels, perhaps our paths will cross again 🙂
Thank you for enlisting this preparation tips for us.I like more when you include storing water bottles on your trip.
Heather Widmer says
Thanks for the comment Denise. We’ve found it so much easier to buy a water bottle and reuse it rather than traveling with one that takes up space.
Wooo! I NEEDED this list! Super overwhelmed over here, lol. Do the packing cubes add a lot of weight? We are traveling with our 4 kids and will need to be carrying some of their things too. Space will be tight! And also, do you find a need for a sheet or anything for the places you stay? I’ve seen the sleeping bag style flat sheets used often.
John Widmer says
Glad it helped! 🙂 The packing cubes are very lightweight. It’s just thin plastic, so doesn’t contribute to extra weight at all. If anything, we find that it conserves space, as the cubes tend to compress your things a bit as we stuff ours. This year is actually the first time we’ve used them and we now wonder how we ever traveled without them. It is so helpful to organize each of our different belongings as we bounce from one place to the next. Highly recommend!
As for the travel sheet… we had packed one during our first year of travel and never used it. We find most hotels around the world to be very clean (we always vet reviews). Even the hostels we stay have been completely fine. In 3+ years of constant travel, we’ve never had bed bugs (knocks on wood). For long bus/train/plane rides when we’ve wanted a blanket, we just use our big travel towel. Hope that helps! Packing for 4 kids too – wow – that’s awesome! Have a great journey together!
This list is amazing! Amazing post with great Research, Love your site. Thank you
John Widmer says
Thank you! Glad you like and we hope it has given you a few new ideas for things to pack on your next adventure!
This is a great list! But you forgot Clorox (or some sort of sanitizing) wipes! Planes and trains are never cleaned enough, if at all. You don’t have to pack the whole package of wipes, just put a few in a plastic Ziplock bag. Nothing worse than getting sick while you’re traveling.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Dianne, thanks for the comment.
Very good point! We mentioned baby wipes, but you really do need some sort of sanitizing wipes or sanitizing hand gel. Especially for those trays on airplanes! Great tip about just taking a few and putting them in the Ziplock bag. Very true, getting sick is the recipe for ruining a vacation!
Wow, what a great tips. It is the most comprehensive packing list I have ever seen. I have most of the items that you carry. I only need to buy a mask and fins for scuba diving
Heather Widmer says
Hey Mansoureh, thanks for the comment! Glad to hear we have a similar travel style 😉
Good call on investing in a mask and fins. Once you factor in how expensive it can be to rent the gear, it practically pays for itself.
Sara Broers says
Wow- this list is amazing! I received a dry bag for my cell phone as a Christmas gift and I see that’s on your list. I went kayaking last year and was afraid to take my phone, due to it getting wet. Anything that has the word “dry” on it- is something I would recommend for the avid traveler.
Heather Widmer says
Hi Sara, thanks for the comment. That’s awesome that you received a dry bag for Christmas. You’re going to find so many uses for it, especially the kayaking. It’s so nice doing adventure sports and not have to worry about belongings getting destroyed.
Happy travels to you in 2017!
Carol Perehudoff says
Wow. No wonder I never pack the right things. I usually spend my packing time obsessing about the right pairs of shoes! I’ll keep your camera options in mind. I do need an underwater one. And a drone. Thanks for the tips.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Carol, thanks for the comment!
As a fellow lover of shoes, I can relate to the struggle 🙂
Highly recommend some sort of action camera, you’d be surprised with the amount of usage you’ll get out of it!
Wow — You weren’t kidding when you said “ultimate!” I like the baby wipes tip, to leave heels and water bottles at home, and the suggestion to rent certain bulky camping items instead of buying them. And YES to leaving hiking boots at home. The two times I packed them, they made me so angry with their bulk, and I never used them!
leonora uribe says
I wear my hiking boots on the days that I travel that way I do not have to worry about having to pack them and taking up valuable space in my backpack.
Steph Be says
I loved this article most importantly because I have a lot of the items on your packing list. I definitely want to look into some of the luggage you recommended- I am looking for durability and you have some great options.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Steph. That’s awesome that we have a similar travel style 😊
I’ve been very happy with my Eagle Creek and has John with his Osprey. Both bags have been through a lot and I still feel that we will not need to replace either bag anytime soon, giving a testimant to their durability.
Erin Harris says
The ultimate checklist indeed! The Universal Adapter sounds super helpful–much better than my clunky old adapter kit from 2003. Love the shower caps over shoes too–awesome tip.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Erin, thanks for the comment. We use the universal adapter all the time and cringe when we think about the number of bulky adapters we used to carry.
Isn’t the shower cap idea great? Never thought I’d be so excited to see shower caps included as amenities in hotel rooms.
Hugo Cura says
Super insightful! I have to agree packing is a science and it takes a while to master. Over the years I’ve changed a lot the way I pack and what I bring along for a trip. Definitely traveling lighter these days!
Packing cubes are super useful. Can’t live without them. Versatile clothes are also quite important, and durable as well.
Not sure how you can travel with the drone. I can’t cope with any more electronics! Too much camera stuff.
And I really need to buy my own mask and snorkel. Doing it now… 🙂
Heather Widmer says
Hey Hugo, thanks for the comment!
We are loving the packing cubes and only wish we we discovered them sooner.
Agree that the drone is big and bulky to travel with, so that’s a point to consider. We’re traveling at a relatively slower speed now, so that helps with carrying the drone from place to place.
Great idea to pick up a mask, you’ll be so happy you did!
Anne Slater-Brooks says
I travel with a ton of stuff because I need my photography stuff, laptops, tablets etc and soon everything becomes really unwieldy and heavy. I simply cannot pack light but a dry bag is a great idea as is the torch especially for many destinations in Asia where electricity outages can be a common occurrence.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Anne, thanks for the comment. We feel your pain with all the electronics!
Glad you found some of the recommendations helpful. I can’t tell you how many times that dry bag has come in handy.
And yes, very good point about some countries having frequent power outages and needing a torch even if you’re not planning to do outdoor activities.
Wow, the most comprehensive packing list I’ve seen! When I went on my first three month backpacking adventure, I honestly had no idea what to bring – and what to leave behind. This would have been useful. Love the tips – especially the shower caps over the shoes and laundry sheet hack.
Punita Malhotra says
The whole world in my bag! 🙂 Seriously, makes you wonder whether we would be able to even survive without technology. Impressive compilation, though.