The Ultimate Vacation Packing List
A busy business trip, or a solo yoga retreat? A romantic weekend getaway, or a chaotic, three-week family holiday?
No matter where you’re headed, how long you’re going for, or what you’re doing, you’ll always need to pack a bag for your vacation.
Before every trip you’ll say to yourself that this time will be the time you pack the perfect suitcase, and without fail, you’ll open your bag when you arrive at your destination to discover that you’re forgotten something, you’ve brought far too many bikinis, and you haven’t left enough room to bring any souvenirs back with you.
There is no exact science to packing for a holiday. However, we've designed a special Vacation Packing List to try and make that process just that little bit simpler, and a little less stressful...
First, consider the factors affecting your trip
- Where are you going, how long for?
- What will the weather be like?
- What plans do you have for while you’re there?
- Will you need to make multiple outfit changes?
- What are the baggage size and weight restrictions of the airline you’re traveling with?
- Are there any cultural dress codes where you’re going that you will need to adhere to?
Try and answer these questions at least two weeks before your trip so you have time to purchase new items if necessary.
Use Accuweather to check the forecast of your destination.
Have a list of ‘essentials’ for every time you travel
This vacation packing list is strictly for things you’re going to need every single time, such as your passport, your sunglasses, a comfy pair of trousers, or your purse.
This list will act as a packing base for all your vacations, and means you can include all the things you absolutely cannot live without for each holiday.
If you need, use a website such as Pinterest for inspiration.
Lay out everything you want to take
Start the process by getting out all the items you want to take with you, which suit your destination and itinerary, and begin organising them into outfits.
Packing by outfit is efficient because you can avoid packing items you don’t need, but remember you can mix and match and reuse certain pieces for different outfits. Don’t pack items that don’t go with anything.
Avoid heels unless you’re going somewhere particularly fancy – give yourself a chance to relax and wear some flats while also saving on suitcase space.
If you’re struggling, use Packpoint – an app which creates a full, free packing list tailor-made for your destination and itinerary.
Once you’ve chosen what you want, it’s time to figure out what you need.
Be ruthless in the editing process – remember that you likely don’t need more than one outfit for each day, plus bikinis, activewear, or any other itinerary-specific clothing.
You don’t want to spend your entire holiday ironing, so take out anything that creases easily.
Eliminate the ‘just in case’ mentality – if it’s not absolutely necessary, don’t bring it.
You can survive on a lot less than you think.
Make a Vacation packing list
Do this as soon as you’ve downsized.
One list for your big suitcase – the one you’re going to check at the airport, and one list for your carry-on.
This means you can check things off as you pack them, or remind yourself of anything you might have forgotten, and also ensures you won’t leave anything behind on your way back.
You can use Packpoint to make a list, or the checklist feature on your Notes app, or go old school with a trusty pen and paper.
Have a toiletries bag just for travelling
This way, you can have all your essentials ready to go at a moment’s notice – from shower gel and spare contact lenses, to mascara and hair ties.
Keep a small first-aid kit
This is a must when packing for any trip.
You can just use another toiletries bag, or buy an actual mini first aid kit like this one.
Always carry the basics, such as bandages and painkillers, and make sure it is stocked up with anything else you may personally need, for example allergy relief, diabetes medication, or your contraceptive pill.
Get creative with your bigger items
If you really need to take that thick winter coat, then wear it to the airport.
Huge pair of hiking boots an absolute necessity? Stuff them with your socks and underwear before packing them.
Contemplating that bulky beach towel? Swap it out for a fast-drying microfiber travel towel like this Wise Owl one, which comes with its own compact travel pouch.
Place heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase
How many times have you gotten to the car airport and tried to lean your "top heavy" suitcase against the wall or the ticket counter only to have the whole thing fall over because it's too top heavy?
This is what we mean by ‘bottom’, we mean the end with the wheels on it (or the opposite end from the handle, should your luggage lack wheels).
This will keep your suitcase balanced, preventing it from toppling over or zig-zagging when you’re wheeling it!
Try packing cubes
Packing cubes slot together neatly in your suitcase, and helpfully divides your clothes into sections – for instance, one cube for tops, one for shorts or skirts, and so on.
This is good because it limits how much you can take for each section, but also feels more organised because when you arrive at your destination, you’ll already know what’s what.
You can also keep all of your dirty washing in one cube for the way back!
Roll don’t fold
Ah, the golden vacation packing list rule.
Rolling your clothes will keep them from creasing too badly in your suitcase, and is also a huge space saver.
If you have stiffer, or perhaps embellished clothes which won’t roll, leave them until last, and lay them carefully on the top.
Separate your jewelry
No one likes having to untangle all their jewelry when they’re unpacking at the other end.
To save time and space, get a daily pill dispenser to use as a handy jewelry box.
If you’re staying active on your vacation, make sure you pack a couple of workout outfits – these should roll up and tuck away pretty easily.
If you’re going to be partaking in any particularly intense watersports, remember to pack appropriate, secure swimwear!
Invest in an Outbreaker Wet/Dry bag to keep your damp swimwear or sweaty workout clothes separate from the rest of your luggage on the return journey.
Pack a Kindle
If you’re a bookworm who loves a good vacation read, a Kindle is your best bet.
Even if you’re strictly loyal to the traditional paperback at home, this will save you a lot of space and weight when you’re travelling – and the books are cheaper too!
Just download your books before you leave and you’re all set for your flight and beyond.
Weigh your luggage
Save yourself some embarrassment (not to mention hassle!) at the airport and weigh your suitcase before you leave the house to make sure it fits within your airline’s baggage restrictions.
You can grab some bargain luggage scales from Walmart.
Remember to leave a bit of room for souvenirs or anything else you might buy when you’re away!
Take a deep breath, and remember, don’t panic too much!
So long as you have your vacation essentials, you’ll survive your holiday – anything else can be easily bought when you’re abroad if necessary.
Now that we’ve helped you with this vacaction packing list and advices, you'll have a perfect suitcase!
You can embark on a smoother overall journey, no matter where you’re headed!
Visit our blog for more helpful travel tips.