We’ve rounded up some packing advice to help you travel like a pro again
Let’s face it, packing for a vacation is never easy. And with so many factors at play—from the length of your trip to your changing itinerary—it’s easy to overpack or underpack, especially if you leave it to the last minute. To help you get going again, we’ve compiled an ultimate all-in-one packing list which you can see here.
While we can’t do all the packing for you, we’ve got you covered with useful travel hacks courtesy of your fellow travelers…
Go light on the luggage
1. Use packing cubes
These durable and lightweight bags allow you to group similar items (think: underwear, accessories, beachwear) and pack them together in one cube. This makes for easy unpacking and repacking.
2. Roll, don’t fold
Rolled-up clothes take up less space and help prevent wrinkling. However, for heavier clothing like winter jackets, you’ll save more space by folding them or laying them flat at the bottom of your suitcase.
3. Place the heaviest item at the bottom
Always pack your heaviest items at the bottom of the suitcase. A top-heavy suitcase runs the risk of toppling over. Frequent budget airline fliers will also know that the best way to shrink your luggage is to wear your bulkiest clothing on the plane.
“Wear your bulkiest item(s) of clothing on the plane. A sweater, jeans and sneakers take up way more room than T-shirts, slacks and sandals do. This lets you take a smaller bag/suitcase.” – MusketeersPlus2 in the Tripadvisor asks… forum
Be ready for worst-case scenarios
4. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on
While lost luggage is pretty rare these days, baggage delays are still common, even if your flight is short and direct. Pack an extra set of clothes (especially a change of socks and underwear)—this is also useful during a layover if you want to freshen up.
“I always pack a swimsuit, a complete change of clothes, all meds, lotions, sunscreen, and anything else you would want in case your luggage gets lost or delayed. This has happened to us before and we were able to carry on as though nothing happened and enjoy beginning our vacation.” – Bips in the Hawaii forum
5. Share suitcases if you’re traveling as a family
Another approach is to make sure you have each person’s essentials in every suitcase, in case some bags get delayed or go missing.
“We always ‘mix-pack’ our cases so that each person has some of their stuff in each case so if one of the cases goes missing, we all have something remaining. We have had cases going in one direction whilst we have gone in another so this works for us.” – fjab in the Family Travel forum
6. Bring a socket extension
If you’re traveling with someone, or with family, the last thing you’ll want is to fight over the limited number of charging points in the hotel room. Bring along a socket extension so that you can juice up multiple devices in one go.
Pack for the season
Packing for winter
7. Pack layers for cold weather
Instead of one bulky winter jacket, go for lightweight layers that won’t weigh down your suitcase. A thermal shirt will keep you warm when layered with other pieces of clothing, including scarves. You can always add or remove layers depending on how cold it gets outside.
“I bring clothes that dry really quickly, so I can wash them easily and I can get away with packing really, really light. The goal for me is to never check bags.” – BlueSparrow in the Tripadvisor asks… forum
8. Choose down over wool
Skip the fashionable wool coat and go with a puffy down jacket. You can stuff your jacket into your daypack as an extra layer of warmth on super cold days, use it as a pillow on the flight or roll it into a little pouch to save space.
Packing for spring
9. Look out for pollen season
Pollen particles rise with warm air on midday afternoons and shower down again when the air cools at night. While outdoors, keep a small tube of Vaseline handy to spread on the inside of the bottom of your nose, which can act as a trap for some pollen particles. A good pair of shades can also keep the pollen out of your eyes.
“It’s weird, but we’re used to it. (Pollen) might cover your parked car windshield in a matter of a couple of hours at its worst. Just bring a light jacket and you should be fine.” – panchopup. in the Road Trips forum
10. Bring clothing for changing weather conditions
Traveling in spring can be especially tricky—your destination can be chilly, warm, wet or dry, or even all four in a single day. Your best bet? Bring clothing that is breathable, insulating, sweat-absorbing and quick-drying to prepare you for those abrupt weather changes (merino wool clothing is a good choice).
“In a word, layers! We wore mainly lightweight travel-type pants and long-sleeve T-shirts, or a T-shirt under a light jumper. It certainly can warm up during the day and if you’re walking, you could still get warm but by evening it would cool off.” – cravingescape in the Japan forum
Packing for summer
11. Use resealable bags to keep out the bedbugs
Apart from your usual insect repellent, bring along a few resealable bags when visiting the tropics to prevent bedbugs (it’s peak season!) from hitching a ride in your luggage. Use these bags to stash your dirty clothes, and wash them in hot water the moment you arrive at your next hotel.
12. Use spray bottles to beat the humidity
We get it—humid countries (think many parts of Southeast Asia can get you feeling hot and sticky within minutes. If you can’t park yourself in front of an A/C unit, the next best thing is to bring a water spray bottle to mist your face while exploring under the hot sun.
Packing for fall
13. Pack for erratic weather
Fall weather can sometimes seem unpredictable, with its sunny days, chilly evenings and the occasional afternoon downpour. Make sure you pack a loose-fitting waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker that you can take off or tie around your waist when needed along with a few pairs of woolen socks.
“Be sure to pack a raincoat, a waterproof scarf, a small folding umbrella and gloves, and layer clothing type. I wear mostly dark slacks for the dirty metro rides and lighter tops but not white (only because I don’t want to be washing clothes all the time). For nice dinners I bring one nice black dress and some colorful scarves.” – Discover
Pack for different activities
Packing for beach days
14. Find clever ways to stash your cash
Keeping your valuables safe is crucial to having a great day at the beach. If you’re leaving anything unattended, consider stashing your cash in a conspicuous beach towel with a hidden pocket, and leave it near the lifeguard if possible.
15. Bring talcum powder to get rid of lingering sand
Say goodbye to pesky sand residue after beach day by chucking a bottle of talcum powder in your duffel. Before hopping into your car or walking back to your hotel room, sprinkle some talcum powder all over yourself to take the moisture off your skin and hair, and let the beach sand fall off easily.
Packing for hiking or camping trips
16. Distribute your backpack weight evenly
Organizing your backpack well can help you hike comfortably for longer periods. Start by packing compressible items like your sleeping bag or nightwear at the bottom of your backpack, which acts as shock absorption and lumbar support. Then, place bulkier food and cooking items towards the midsection, padding them with tent fabrics or spare clothes to prevent them from digging into your back. Lastly, keep the top layer of your backpack for items that you’ll need most frequently while on the hike, like your insulated windbreaker, waterproof layers, toilet supplies and first aid kit.
“You want something with a hip belt that will transfer a lot of the weight off your shoulders. Something like an Osprey Talon/Tempest is lightweight and should carry the weight well.” – Liz M
17. Bring an emergency kit
Cuts, scrapes, blisters and unexpected serious injuries could always happen while you’re out there, so make sure you’re fully prepared for every scenario. Prep an emergency kit loaded with essentials including a lightweight 1L water bottle, water purification tablets, ready meal kits, box matches, a waterproof flashlight with backup batteries, flares, a multi-tool, and first aid supplies like antiseptic wipes, medical tape, and allergy medication like antihistamines. Depending on how remote your hike will be, you might even want to bring signal equipment like a satellite radio, signaling mirrors, flares, or survival whistles.
18. Protect your gear from moisture
If you’re planning a trip during the wet season, line the inside of your backpack with a heavy-duty plastic bag before placing all of your items in it to keep them safe from the rain.
Packing for roadtrips
19. Keep the food and trash organized
Keep the car cleaner for longer with designated snack and trash compartments. Pack clips or clothing pegs to seal unfinished snack bags. For disposables, line a spare cereal or cookie box with a trash bag and tuck it between the car seats for chucking used napkins or sweet wrappers.
“Take a few clothes pegs—they’re often just what you need to hang up wet things or clip things together. You won’t even need to bring them back home, so bin them on the return trip.” – Pfeiffer
20. Don’t forget the cooler box
A great cooler box is one luxury you’ll thank yourself for. Other Tripadvisor members have even found creative ways to keep their drinks cool, from using bottles of frozen water to lining the interior of the box with frozen vegetables.
“It’s nice to have a cold drink during the day. We always freeze a couple of bottles of water to serve as our ice packs for the first day. We also take ice packs and freeze them if our hotel rooms have the facilities. If not, you can buy packs of store-brand frozen vegetables (think peas) which keep things surprisingly cold.” –TxOffWeGo
Packing for ski trips
21. Prioritize ski gear that you can’t rent
Unless you’re willing to splurge on extra baggage allowance, it’s generally a good idea to only pack ski gear you won’t be able to rent at the ski resort. Leave bulkier items like skis and boards at home.
“There are plenty of shops which rent out ski gear and it really depends on your level of expertise. For beginners, rent the cheapest possible, whilst for the more experienced, look around for the skis/boards that match your skill level.” – Aceozski
22. Use tea bags as a deodorizer
Slip tea bags into your musty ski boots to absorb the stench and keep your hotel room odor-free. Hot tea bags can also be applied to newly formed blisters to keep them from bubbling up.
23. Bring lip balm
Aside from protecting and healing damaged lips, you can also apply lip balm to your face to prevent windburn, or rub some on the inside of your nostrils to keep them from going dry and irritated. Lip balm can also be used to lubricate the zipper teeth on your coat if they get stuck.
24. Pack for warm days and cold nights
Even on the hottest days in the desert, temperatures can drop dramatically when the sun sets. If your itinerary includes a desert safari, long-sleeved tops and pants are a must to protect you from the sun while keeping you warm at night. A shawl is also a great multi-functional item that can keep the dust away from your face.
“For camel rides, wear soft trousers that won’t rub, depending on how long your trek is. I did an hour in a maxi dress and was fine but trousers are certainly more practical.” – LaLico
Pack for different traveler types
Packing for young kids
25. Choose coloring sheets over bulky toys
Leave the train sets at home and pack simple card games like Uno or crayons and coloring sheets to keep the children busy on long flights or road trips.
“Crayola Color Wonder Markers/coloring books (they’re neater than regular markers since they won’t stain clothes or car seats)” – BlueTang2
26. Don’t pack extra shoes for the kids
One pair of all-purpose shoes (usually sneakers) is all they’ll need on a city getaway. On beach vacations, ditch the sneakers for a pair of sandals.
27. Pack lots of snacks
Pack healthy snacks to set the little ones in a good mood on long journeys. Lollipops can help ease the ear pressure during flight take-offs, while sugar-free chewable treats like gummies can help calm hyperactive kids.
“All drinks are always put in sippy cups (even for my older kids). I bring large plastic cups to pour snacks into—this way they can sit in the cup holders, less chance of spilling while eating. Lastly, get crunchy snacks not sticky—much easier to clean up afterward.” – Julie F
Packing for a solo trip
28. Take a piece of home with you
If there’s one thing you need when you’re traveling alone, it’s an item that brings you comfort. Solo trips can get lonely, so bring along a little treat from home—whether it’s your go-to snack, your favorite worn-out sweater, or episodes of your favorite show to rewatch on your phone when you feel homesick.
Prepare for a safe trip
Traveling again can seem daunting at first, especially as domestic and international border restrictions change with the evolving Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re taking the leap (and all the precautions too,) here are some additional things you should pack to make your journey as smooth as possible.
29. Keep up with local regulations
Entry requirements vary from place to place, so check the official government sites for the latest restrictions and requirements for the country you’re visiting. Is quarantine or a pre-departure test mandatory, or do you have to show any type of documentation on your way back?
Some tour groups, activities, and accommodations require travelers to produce both a proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test, so be sure to do your homework and make preparations in advance.
30. Bring additional disinfecting supplies
Bottled hand sanitizer is useful when soap and water aren’t available, and disinfecting wipes come in handy for wiping down airplane seats, toilet seats and sanitizing your hotel room upon arrival. Some airlines and places may be stricter on the type of masks you’re supposed to wear, so make sure to carry some extra surgical masks with you even if you prefer wearing fabric ones.
“Due to COVID, I have added (to my packing list) cloth and medical masks, Clorex wipes, hand sanitizer, and baggies to store used masks in until the end of our flight.” – Condu
Source: Tripadvisor, March 2022