travel packing tips

Travel Packing Tips (in 27 Easy Steps)

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Packing isn’t something you do on the fly.

You need to plan what you need, just like you plan your travel residence.

Why? Because you could miss vital items, thus ruining your travel.

Or, you may pack the wrong items, giving you a hard time…

Fortunately, you can avoid the previous issues by reading this article.

We’ll mention travel packing tips in 5 parts (27 steps). And specifically, we’ll discuss…

  • Part #1 – Basic Travel Packing Tips.
  • Part #2 – Picking Your Bags.
  • Part #3 – What You Must Pack.
  • Part #4 – What You Must Never Pack.
  • Part #5 – Additional Tips (Based on Travel Medium).

Consider this article as a checklist (especially for upcoming Christmas holidays). Go through each point as you prepare for travel!

———- (Part 1 – Basic Travel Packing Tips) ———-

#1 – Visualize your Travel.

Visualize your daily routine at your new destination.

What will you need? Which items are “must haves” to get through the day?

Visualize as much detail as possible. Include factors such as…

  • Climate.
  • Morning routine.
  • Allergies and medical problems.
  • Work equipment and necessities.
  • Clothing and shoes (for seasonal and professional reasons).
  • Others coming along (children), and the items they need.

#2 – Create a Checklist.

What you write down is what you’ll pack.

Don’t worry about getting it right the first time. Simply repeat the visualization process, and add items as you go.

We’ll provide corrections on what to pack, and what not to pack. And you can modify your list as you read.

#3 – Packing Goals.

When packing a bag, there are 2 goals in mind.

First – keep it minimalistic. Only take what you need.

Minimalistic packing is useful for all forms of travel.

If you’re relocating – you ship most items beforehand. So what’s left is easy to carry through your trip.

If you’re travelling for business, you only want what’s necessary for work.

If you’re travelling for vacation, minimalistic packing ensures maximum relaxation.

Also, minimalistic packing is cheaper. Because it means less weigh-ins at airports and ferries, and less time wasted unpacking.

And with less items on-hand, you’re less likely to lose something.

Second – reduce the number of bags as much as possible.

This is the second part of the article.

We’ll mention the types of travel bags, and how to pick what’s necessary!

———- (Part 2 – Picking Your Bags) ———-

People seldom travel with only 1 bag.

Usually, you have a few with you. And you’re placing different items in each. Those items are used at different stages of your journey…

And this leads us to the next point…

#4 – There Are 3 Types of Bags.

The 1st is your personal bag. Here, you pack all items used on-hand (like weekend bags or a flight bag).

This includes your passport, money, and items for emergencies.

The 2nd are your luggage bags. You unpack those after reaching your destination. So you never carry them on-hand.

The 3rd is a specialist bag. Here, you pack professional and hobbyist items. They include…

  • Custom bags (like a travel camera bag – or paint, golfing, laptop bags etc.).
  • Suitcases with important documents.

What you pack in a specialist bag is self-explanatory. So we won’t discuss it any further.

As for the other 2, you need to ask some questions to pick the bags you need, such as…

#5 – How Many People Are Coming Along?

The more people coming along, the more bags you need.

1 Traveler.

If you’re solo, you need 1 of each bag (at most).

Your personal bag can be a backpack, enough for a flight or a cruise. As for luggage, pick a wheeled duffel bag.

Pick one large enough for all your items.

2 Travelers.

If 2 people are travelling. You’ll need a slight expansion.

You need a larger personal bag. And for luggage, bring 1 wheeled duffel bag per individual.

3+ Travelers.

Here, your packing needs expand even more.

The personal bag is a staple, especially with children coming along.

3+ travelers are usually families. Thus, you’ll need a large luggage bag (at minimum) to pack your items.

Bags you can drag personally won’t do you good here. As a family, you want nothing to drag along.

#6 – How Long Will You Be Away?

The longer you’re away from home, the larger the bags you need.

This isn’t a strong determining factor (like the number of people travelling). And that’s for a reason…

If it’s 1-2 people are travelling, you can manage on little.

After all, you can wash most of what you pack at a Laundromat.

But this question is mainly for families (3+ travelers).

Travelling for Vacation (1-4 weeks).

Vacations aren’t long. And families don’t look to settle down during that time.

So you shouldn’t be over-packing. You’ll simply need enough to last you the vacation.

Relocation (Permanent).

This is different. You’re moving to a different environment. And here, you’ll need as many bags as possible.

When relocating, you ship most items beforehand.

Ironically, when relocating, you plan as little as possible. Even less than vacation travels…

After all, your new residence is permanent. So you ship all as luggage. And you keep aside enough for the trip.

#7 – How Are You Travelling?

Are you doing so by flight or sea? Or are you travelling by bus and train?

Or, maybe you’re travelling by car or trailer (personal modes of transportation).

How you travel defines what you carry. For example…

Travelling by Bus/Train.

Here, you need as little luggage as possible.

If you’re travelling by bus or train, you’re doing it short distance.

Your travel shouldn’t take more than a few hours. So you shouldn’t carry much with you.

Try to minimize luggage here.

Travelling by Ship and Plane.

Those are long distance, many being international.

Here, you can bring along luggage, if you’re away for more than 8 weeks.

Travelling by Private or Rental Car.

This one is slightly different.

You control the transport mechanism. So you have more room for storage.

For cars, don’t worry about bags you carry. Everything is available, whether in a trunk, or in a trailer you drag behind.

———- (Part 3: What to Pack in Each Bag) ———-

The second part discussed the bags you need. By now, you have setup your personal bags and luggage bags.

In this part, we’ll discuss what goes in each bag type. And we’ll start with personal bags…

(A) Personal Bags.

#8 – Travel Paperwork.

This one’s obvious. Pack all your paperwork, specifically the passes you need at travel checkpoints.

This includes your passport, visa documents, tickets, and ID.

1 Compartment.

You’ll rarely find a personal bag with only 1 compartment. There’s usually more than one.

Add all your paperwork in a separate compartment. And if possible, add all your paperwork in a single folder.

This ensures protection from accidents (such as liquid spills or being crumpled up).

#9 – Plastic Cards.

Yes, your plastic cards (not your cash money).

Plastic cards are how you pay for items at travel checkpoints. Specifically airports and bus stations.

And it helps internationally, where your home currency isn’t viable.

What if I Want Cash?

You can carry cash, and exchange it after landing in a foreign country. But that’s not something we recommend…

Travel checkpoints tend to overprice currency swaps. And you lose much value there…

It’s also easier to just use plastic cards. They work everywhere, and you can pay for everything with ease.

#10 – Medical Items.

Some medicines you must have on-hand, no matter what.

Most of those are prescription drugs, specifically ones used on a schedule, or for travel sickness.


A serious travel problem.

You’ll need an inhaler in your personal bag. And you should carry a backup one too, just in case.

Blood Pressure Monitor.

For those whose blood pressure fluctuates rapidly, bring a monitor.

It’ll save you pass outs. With a blood pressure monitor, you can regulate your intake of medication that increases pressure, especially during flights.

What About Travel Pillows?

You can bring those along if you have neck problems. Other than that, you won’t need them.

1 More Thing…

When carrying drugs and inhalers around, put them in their manufacturer’s box.

This ensures that travel security won’t get suspicious about what you carry.

Suspicion arises if you put pills into random plastic cases, which makes them seem like illegal drugs. And you don’t want to be stopped for that…

Also –get a doctor’s note with your prescription drugs. It’s an extra layer of preparation through for airport security.

#11– Wet Wipes.

You need those for public bathrooms. Because in many travel checkpoints, the bathrooms aren’t hygienic.

Most public toilets and urinals are unclean. And in those cases, wet wipes help.

Wet wipes are an emergency item that work well outdoors. And if you’re smart, you always carry a pack with you.

#12 – Moisturizers.

Do you live in a dry area? Is your skin sensitive to heat and humidity changes?

If that’s your situation (or one of your children’s) pack one. It saves you the trouble of blisters and painful fissures.

Not to mention, moisturizers are easy to carry. They’re well sealed, so they won’t spill and cause a mess in your personal bag.

Don’t Wet Wipes do the Job?

They do, but not as effectively.

Wet wipes dry off in seconds. You want something that properly coats dry skin for a few minutes…

So you want oils, and not some moisture that evaporates fast.

#13 – Breath Mints.

The longer you travel, the less time you have to use a toothbrush.

This applies especially to overnight flights. You need a way to clear bad breath without resorting to toothpaste.

Breath mints help with that. You should carry some with you.

But, be careful not to consume it all during your travel. Only use it when it’s time to clear up your breath!

#14 – Books and Smartphones.

On your phone, you can play games, listen to music, surf the internet, and just pass time.

However, there are situations where there’s no internet connection. Or, you might not have an electric socket for a few hours.

For that, bring along a book to read.

Pick a book that’s engaging, like a fiction novel…

Read it and let the time fly by. Enjoy it as you forget the hours required to reach your destination!

An Extra Trick…

Bring noise cancelling headphones for air travel.

They let you listen to music, while blocking out the noise of aircrafts, ferries, and businesses. And it lets you block out other people’s music too.

#15 – Portable Battery.

Maybe you’re not a bookish person. Maybe you want to pass time through gaming.

Do that with a portable battery. If your phone gets close to shutting down, you now have a method to recharge it.

Also, portable batteries act as flashlights (if you own such models).

So they serve a dual function, excellent for night time travelling.

(B) Luggage Bags.

By now, you should have your personal bag ready. You can take care of other extras with the money you carry…

Now we move to luggage bags. What you add is obvious, being clothing and bathroom items.

But, there are some special items that travelers forget to pack. And we’ll mention those below.

#16 – Travel Cubes.

As the name implies – they’re cube bags that go into luggage bags.

Travel cubes help with organization. They ensure you use space in a luggage bag efficiently.

They’re useful for those with a habit of disorganized packing.

They’re also necessary to portion items away from each other.

In one cube, you can have mechanical items (like shavers). In another, you can have thermal clothing. And in a 3rd cube, you can have a bathing suit.

And the Best Part?

They’re useful for packing dirty items.

Shoes are a major example.

You never pack shoes next to personal items (like an underwear). Nor do you want them near a toothbrush and facial care items.

Useful (Especially) for Solo Travelers.

As we mentioned before, solo travelers should bring 1 luggage bag.

Pick one large enough to fit your items. It should carry multiple item categories. In that case, you use travel to separate each item.

#17 – Beauty Care.

You need your hair dryer. And if necessary, bring your hair straightener along.

Women need those products on long travels. Because there’s no way you can borrow those items on a vacation…

Not to mention, such items don’t fit into personal bags.


Women need it, and social standards demand it. Since it is part of your daily life, pack a set while travelling.

For Men – Shaving Devices.

Unless you use non-electronic razors, bring your shaving devices along.

You need them, especially on professional trips for a clean shave.

Ensure you pack the chargers too. And make sure that where you’re landing uses sockets that don’t overheat your shaver chargers.

#18 – Heavy Blankets (If Cold).

When travelling in winter, you’re landing in an ice cold location.

In that case, bring blankets along.

Make sure they’re thick enough to enable warmth. Pack as many as you need, depending on how many are travelling along.

#19 – Foam Padding.

Yes, it’s an odd tip. And you’re not packing it for personal use…

The padding is for items that break while being transported. This includes fragile items and machinery.

Padding lets you safely pack expensive items, like microwaves and a coffee machine.

It ensures that your packages are protected if mishandled.

———- (Part 4: What You Shouldn’t Pack in Each Bag) ———-

Part 3 discussed what you must have before travelling. Those setups ensure you’re prepared for emergencies while and after reaching your destination.

Items in part 4 are hard rules. You have to follow them, no matter what, and for all travel purposes.

Again, we’ll start with personal bags.

(A) Personal Bags.

#20 – No Drinks or Food.

Drinks can spill.

So don’t pack juices or cans. If you need those, purchase them from a nearby canteen or market.


If you have kids, you can bring along a water bottle. Just ensure you can strap it on your shoulder, separate from your personal bag.


Food is a ban in most cases, whether you bring kids or not. So you must never bring them in off-road travelling.

So air and sea travel means no food. Food is always prepared and sold there, during the trip and at leave terminals.

Now on-road is different. You need food if you’re travelling by car, as you have more room for storage.

Here, the food won’t go in your personal bag. You can stuff it elsewhere.

Why On-Road?

On a bus, travels are short. They might extend for ½ a day, which is too long for a child to go without food.

In that case, bring along a separate snack box.

#21 – No Glass.

Avoid anything made of glass.

You don’t want the item to break inside your personal bag.

The last thing you need is to struggle as you pick apart shards at a terminal.

#22 – Liquids in Untagged Packs.

This touches on point #7.

There, we discussed packing medication in manufacturer boxes. And you do that to avoid problems with travel security.

This is why you don’t use untagged packs for liquids. After all, you might get suspected of carrying a dangerous chemical or an illegal drug.

(B) Luggage Bags.

It’s rare to find an item you shouldn’t pack. Because it’s possible to pack everything, with the right sizes and padding.

But, there are 2 “never pack” items in this category. And those would be…

#23 – Most Toiletries.

You can always buy toiletries at your travel destination.

Everything from shampoos to conditioners, and even hair creams are buyable. And sometimes, you’ll find them setup as part of a service (hotels as an example).

Now, we say most because there’s an exception to this rule. This being…

Cologne and Perfumes.

No two scents work the same on people.

Some individuals smell well with certain brands. And others smell horrible.

Bring along the cologne/perfume that works best for you. Make sure you have more than enough for your travel, so that you don’t need to repurchase.

Dental and Nail Care.

Bring your toothbrush, tongue scraper, nail clippers, and your floss.

But, there’s no need for toothpaste and mouthwash (as you can buy those).

#24 – Junk.

Are you travelling to relocate? Because if you are, you have to discard all the junk.

Don’t be a pack rat. Don’t bring along items for the nostalgia.

If something is too old, dump it. If something is worn out or not functioning, also dump it.

Also, if something is too cheap to buy already, don’t pack it. You can always buy more at your new travel destination.

———- (Part 5: Additional Tips Based on Transport Method) ———-

#25 – Bus and Train Travel Tips.

Double check your personal bag.

Why? Because their stations aren’t well equipped with consumer items like airports.

It’s harder to get the foods and drinks you need before setting off. And often, bus/train stations are packed with people (as they’re more affordable).

So you might have to bring many home items. Food is an example, which is a necessity here, but an “avoid” for other transport.

#26 – Car Travel Tips.

This is the easiest to prepare for.

If you travel by car, it’s usually your car. Or it’s a car rental that you keep for a while.

In both situations, you have more packing space. And you can be lax with what you put in each bag, and the bags you bring along.

In fact, for car travels, you can ignore the “banned” checklist. Because your luggage bags go in the trunk, while you have large space for multiple personal bags.

#27 – Air and Sea Travel.

Always ship as much luggage as possible in advance.

With air and sea travel, you have less room for error. Because packing errors mean cancelling plane and ferry tickets, which cost a lot…

Also, it’s hard going back to get items you missed.


This is the end of the article!

By now, you should have a detailed list of your bag types, and what to pack.

But revising a second time doesn’t hurt. So we recommend reading this article one more time!

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