Do you have trouble keeping what you pack to a minimum? You probably pack with more than one suitcase because you feel like you need to take everything with you. But, (and I know you know this deep down) you don’t actually need everything. There are essential things to pack for travelling, and the list is pretty minimal. Packing can be stressful though. You put it off until the last minute and then you feel panicked because you don’t have enough space to put everything in that you want to bring.
To keep it simple, you need a list. And this list should apply to you whether you are packing for a weekend, a week, or a month. If I am traveling for a week, I fit everything I need into one backpack. If I’m packing for a year, just like I did about a month ago, I pack everything I need in one suitcase, and one carry-on. You can too!
You just need to know what these 7 essential things to pack for travelling are. Think of this as your list. It should be your go-to when you are getting ready to go somewhere. So, let’s get into it:
This is the number one thing I think about when I am going to pack. Think about how long you are going to stay, what you will be doing, and what the weather will be like.
If you are staying for a weekend then pack 3 pairs of clothes. I usually go for:
- Two pairs of pants
- One pair of shorts
- Two t-shirts
- One long sleeve
- One sweater
- 4 pairs of underwear and socks
If you are staying somewhere for 1-2 weeks:
- 5 pairs of pants
- 2 pairs of shorts/skirts
- 1 dress (depending)
- 5 t-shirts
- 2 long sleeves
- 2 sweaters (I’ll usually wear one sweater on my way to the destination)
- 7-10 pairs of underwear and socks
When it comes to what essential things to pack for travelling, remember that you should be sticking to your basics. Believe it or not, this will fit into a backpack. But, if you are feeling unsure, then use your small carryon suitcase. It won’t take up much more room in your car and you can pack a considerable amount of things in it.
If you are staying somewhere for a month:
- 7 pairs of pants
- 2 pairs of shorts/skirts
- 7 t-shirts
- 4 long-sleeves
- 3 sweaters
- 14 pairs of underwear and socks
For a month-long stay or longer, I will usually pack a single suitcase. Don’t think about extra things like accessories until number 7. Remember, we are sticking to the essentials. But, if you are going to need something formal, bring it. I will usually switch out one pair of pants and one t-shirt for whatever event I am going to if I am going to an event(think business meeting, a day at the beach, etc.). Basically, my rule of thumb is to switch out one basic outfit for an outfit that will match the attire I need for each event. For every one event, there is one outfit to be switched out.
This is very important that you keep your toiletries to only the necessities. The following toiletries will be all that you need but try to keep them to travel size. Travel size items are doable if you are traveling anywhere from a weekend to two weeks. Remember that you can always get what you need where you will be going. So, if you run out of toothpaste, for example, a store will have it!
- Shampoo and conditioner (if not staying at a hotel)
- Tampons(if that glorious time of the month)
- Q-tips(I can’t tell you how many times I wish I’d brought some)
- Soap/body wash (if not staying at a hotel)
- A couple of pony tails
- Contacts and contact solution
- makeup (if you wear it, keep it simple!)
- any medications you need (try only bringing for the amount of time you will be gone)
This list should get you through your trip. I usually keep this in my front pouch of my backpack. Only bring what you can fit and what you absolutely need!
We live in a digital age. So, it’s no surprise that you will be bringing some electronics with you. Just try to keep this at a minimum. No matter where I am going or for how long I am going, I keep my electronics to a minimum. For the most part, your phone is all you should need. If you have to work on your trip, then bring a laptop. But, your kindle or tablet is not necessary. It is more likely a want more than a need.
So, if you have room, and you know for sure you’ll be using it, then go for it! Otherwise, save yourself the hassle, and leave it at home. It will be there when you get back!
Now, there are other electronics out there and you may need to bring them. For example, most of my trips have been going to tracks with my man to ride motorcycles. He usually will bring a GoPro and/or this little gadget that tracks his time for each lap and a bunch of other stuff (I don’t remember the name of it). This isn’t a necessity for everyone. However, I think this is a good example to show that what you bring will depend on you and your circumstances. Just ask yourself if it is a need or a want and that should help.
The awesome thing about this category is that when it comes time for you to make your list of essential things to pack for travelling (nationally), you won’t always need a lot of documents. Obviously, you should always carry your ID with you but unless you are traveling internationally (a little difficult to do right now), you won’t need much. If, however, you are traveling internationally, it is not just essential to bring your important documents. It’s vital. So, my tip to you would be to designate a binder for this exact purpose.
I personally chose a zippable binder because I’m terrified of the idea of one of my important papers falling out when I don’t notice. Or what if I did notice but then the paper got damaged! That would be a nightmare. So, I chose the better safe than sorry route. If you are a paranoid person like me, get this Engpow binder. It is fireproof and waterproof supposedly (I haven’t exactly tested it out myself), zips up, is compact, and probably most importantly, it is budget-friendly.
Alright, so now you have a binder and you are ready to put all your documents in. But what documents should you bring? Well, I’m here to tell you the basics. But it should be noted that you should be double-checking this information for the purpose and place that you are traveling to as well as for how long. It also should be noted that this is written in 2020, so who knows what travel documents could be needed in the future! Anyways, here is a list of the basics when traveling internationally:
- Visa if needed (student/work, etc.)
- Travel insurance if you so choose
- Money(credit cards, debit cards, etc.)
- Plane tickets and/or hotel bookings (I print these out because you never know if your phone will want to work for you!)
- Copies(keep a copy of all your important documents at home or with someone you trust, just in case. I would also recommend keeping a copy of every document in your binder as well)
The most important tip I can give you in regards to your binder is to double and triple-check that you have everything you need or could need. While traveling to the UK last month, I needed to bring more documents than this (birth certificate, undergrad diploma, etc.) so it is very important that you check. Also, keep your binder on you. I would carry this in your carry-on luggage on the plane so you don’t have to worry about lost luggage.
Lastly, is the items that just can’t fit very neatly into a category as essential. I would only pack these if you have space AND if you will use them. Stick to the essentials as best you can to make your trip easier. This could be things like a list of emergency contacts, medicine, hair tools/accessories, snacks, entertainment (movies, books, etc.), earplugs, travel pillow/blanket, and more. Basically, think of your miscellaneous items as things you won’t always need. It is the list of things you may need according to circumstance. You should also leave this for last on your list just as I did. If you go in order of importance, then you will do just fine!
Let’s Talk About It!
Okay, now you have your list of essential things to pack for travelling. Only 5 categories which are clothes, toiletries, electronics, documents, and miscellaneous. What makes this list of essentials even better is that you won’t always need to include the last two categories when you are packing. The two top tips I can give you are:
- When packing, look at the item and think, “Do I need to bring this or do I just want to bring it?”
- Write down your list before packing, and then double and triple-check after packing to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
I use those two tips every time I am packing to go somewhere. A bonus to bringing only essentials is that you will have room in your bag(s). This gives you room to bring back souvenirs or gifts if you so choose. And that is never a bad thing!
After sharing my list of essentials, I got to wondering what yours are. What is one thing that you must bring when you are traveling? Let me know in the comment section below!
P.S. If you are a travel bug like me, then you will love these blog posts. They are written just for you! Check out my blog posts on everything travel, from lists to destinations, tips, and more.
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Hi! I am a book blogger primarily. The aim of this blog is to help readers and writers alike. I also write the occasional travel related post. I am a nerd like you, with a passion for neuroscience and learning. Hence, my love for books and the authors who write those books!