Packing for vacation might feel like a chore. However, the better you do this job, the less money you will have to spend to replace things you’ve forgotten to pack.

First of all, you have to decide on your baggage. Ideally, your bag should be both easy to move and large enough to hold all your belongings; thus, wheeled bags are always the right choice. Accessibility is another important issue to consider: choose bags with as many compartments and pockets of varying sizes as possible. Be sure to fill in the name tag on your bag.

Packing for Vacation

Second, you need to make a clothing packing list. How many days are you going to be away from home? What places are you going to visit? Answer these questions and you will know how many clothes you will need and what you should pack. When choosing what to pack, opt for lightweight clothing that can be easily layered. Always pack similar things together: pants with pants and shirts with shirts.

Use this check list to make sure that you have not forgotten anything really important:


  • Long-sleeved shirts/blouses
  • Pants and shorts; skirts
  • Dresses
  • Sweaters
  • Tank tops and T-shirts (only if they are acceptable in the country you are going to visit)
  • Belt. (It might be reasonable not to wear belt at the airport to get through security as fast as possible. Instead, place it in your checked baggage)
  • Comfortable shoes (an item of considerable importance; choose them carefully)
  • Windbreaker or rain jacket
  • Umbrella
  • Socks, pantyhose, stockings
  • Underwear (bras, panties, underpants)
  • Hats, sun visors
  • Bandanas, scarves
  • Swimsuits, swimming trunks
  • Costume jewelry
  • Sunglasses (in cases)

Clothes for Vacation

Third, pack a carry-on toiletry bag. This bag should be (1) light and (2) TSA-compliant. All your gels, liquids, creams, aerosols and pastes should be 3.4 ounces (equals 100ml) or less per container; you should keep them in a quart-sized zip-top bag made of clear plastic.

You might use this check list to pack your toiletry case. Only choose items you are really going to use.

Toiletry case

  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, dental floss
  • Comb, hair brush, bobby pins, barrettes, hair ties
  • Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant
  • Sunscreen (remember that ultraviolet is detrimental to your skin)
  • Make-up
  • Night time lotions and moisturizers
  • Q-tips, make-up removers, face wash
  • Lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm
  • Products for personal and feminine hygiene
  • Razors and shaving kit
  • Glasses (in cases), contact lenses (in cases), special solution for contact lenses
  • Perfume and cologne
  • Mini mirror
  • Products for hair care (hair gel, hairspray)
  • Sewing kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet wipes

Fourth, you need to prepare a first-aid kit: pack a small bag with medicines you might need. Use this check-list:

First-aid kit

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antiseptic wipes or spray
  • Petroleum jelly or another lubricant
  • Sunburn relief ointment
  • Sting reliever
  • Elastic bandage
  • Multivitamins
  • Motion sickness pills
  • Thermometer
  • Medicine dosage cup
  • Pain and fever relievers, throat lozenges, laxatives, antacids, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea and cough and cold medications (versions for both children and adults; consult your doctor before buying)
  • Prescription medications (they should remain in their original packaging or have labels on them and be accompanied by copies of prescriptions)

First-aid kit for vacation

Fifth, prepare a carry-on bag with important personal items. As there is always a possibility of your baggage getting lost, this bag should contain essential toiletries, a clean set of underwear and a few items of clothing. You might also find it useful to pack a long-sleeve shirt in your carry-on baggage as air conditioning in some places might be too cold. Put the things you might need soon on top.

Things to pack in the carry-on bag:

Carry-on bag

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Electric adapter and converter (you might need them when traveling abroad)
  • Laptop, tablet (do not forget about chargers and power cables for them)
  • Camera(s)
  • Capacious power bank and/or spare batteries
  • Headphones
  • Memory cards
  • Travel pillow and blanket
  • Loud alarm clock
  • Eye mask, ear plugs
  • Books and magazines (remember that e-reading devices are lighter, take less space and better suited for traveling)
  • Phrasebook (if you travel a country where people do not speak English), guide book, maps
  • Jewelry (however, think twice before taking really expensive things on vacation)
  • Reading glasses and sunglasses (in cases)
  • Notepad, pen, pencil. Write down the addresses of your friends into your notepad if you want to send them postcards.
  • Small chess set, playing cards, other travel games
  • Hand sanitizer. Sometimes there are fellow passengers who sneeze and cough near you: use a sanitizer to prevent catching a cold
  • Healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruits and granola bars. They will help you to while away the time at the airport and not get overcharged in shops and cafes

Carry-on bag for vacation

Sixth, use a travel documents organizer to collect documents you will need. Among them might be:

Documents organizer

  • Passport (make sure that it has not expired) and travel visa
  • ID cards (personal and/or student)
  • Frequent flyer, discount and other loyalty program cards
  • Cash. You will need plenty of $1 bills for giving tips; what’s more, if you withdraw cash abroad, you might have to pay higher ATM fees
  • Credit card(s). Do not forget to inform your bank that you are traveling abroad so your credit cards won’t be frozen because of assumed fraud
  • Health and travel insurance documents
  • Reservations (both print them out and save them on your cell phone)
  • Hotel address and contact information
  • Tickets (if possible, also keep their copies on your phone)
  • Emergency contacts

Documents organizer for vacation

Do not neglect travel security: in some countries, airports and other public places are crawling with pickpockets. Wear a money belt, neck wallet or an undercover bra stash to keep money, credit cards and other valuables as close to your body as possible. Use combination travel locks to protect your baggage.

Last but not least, always weigh your bag(s) before you get to the airport to make sure that you won’t have to pay extra. It might be wise to leave some room in your baggage for mementos and holiday purchases. Take a photo of your baggage contents: it might help you in case of loss.