Travel Must Haves: The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist

As summer is settling in, many of us are looking forward to vacation travel plans. Maybe you’re taking a cruise to tropical islands or going hiking in rugged mountains. You might find yourself roaming the streets of an ancient city or trekking across a desert on camel-back under the blazing sun.

No matter where your summer takes you, you’re going to need a few travel must-haves during your trip. From the right bag to carry-on essentials, it’s a good idea to have a checklist to go over before you take off. Read on to find out what you’ll need in your bag when you launch off on your next adventure. 

The Right Bag

When you’re packing for a trip, you may be tempted to reach for socks or underwear first. But the first thing you really need is a good bag. In addition to being well-made, easy to manage, and distinctive (to make it easier to spot on luggage carousels), your bag will need to suit your travel style.

If you’re the “travel light and cheap” type, look for a well-made duffel bag or backpack that will fit carry-on requirements so you don’t have to pay bag check fees. If you know you’re going to come home with gifts for your entire family, consider a larger, hard-side suitcase with wheels that roll in all directions. It’s also a good idea to pack a smaller, separate bag that you can take out on day trips, leaving your large bag back at the hotel.

Organization Tools

Everyone has come home from a weekend trip with a suitcase that looks like you just upended your laundry hamper into it. And while that’s fine for short trips, you’re going to need a little more order during long trips. Organization tools can help you keep a tidy suitcase throughout your whole trip.

Grab some zippered packing cubes that will help you separate your suitcase out into separate compartments. It’s a good idea to get a separate, leak-proof bag for your toiletries. And there are some cool packing techniques you can use to keep things organized and fit everything you need into one suitcase.

Clothing Essentials

The first thing you’ll put into your bag should naturally be clothing. The best policy here is to pack for any situation—hot weather, cold weather, rain, sun, formal dinners, sweaty trail hikes, vibrant nights out on the town. Even if you aren’t expecting to need a certain type of clothing, travel can take you by surprise, and it’s always better to be prepared. 

Pack lightweight clothing that can be layered; things like long-sleeve t-shirts, light sweaters and jackets, t-shirts, tank tops, and a variety of shorts and pants are a good idea. Bring good, comfortable socks and solid shoes that will support you through a lot of walking. Also, make sure to bring plenty of underwear and at least one extra full set of clothes.

mom and baby pack a suitcase on the bed

Weather Protection

It’s also a good idea to bring along plenty of weather protective gear. Even if you’re visiting the Sahara, if you don’t have a raincoat with you, your trip will be the one day a year it rains. Once again, try to be prepared for any possibility.

Bring water-resistant shoes and a light rain jacket that will be comfortable to walk around in. You should also bring hats, visors, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect you during sunny days. It’s a good idea to bring along some scarves and gloves in case the weather turns cold and a swimsuit in case you get a chance to dive into the water.

Travel Tech 

These days, traveling across the world doesn’t mean getting an atlas, a camera, and a local guidebook. Everything is on cell phones and laptops, and it’s a lot easier to travel light if your compass, camera, translator, road map, and guidebook are all in your pocket. But this means you need to have the technology essentials with you when you pack.

Make sure to bring along chargers for any electronics you plan on bringing on your trip. It’s a good idea to bring headphones and/or a portable speaker that will work with your phone. And chances are you’re going to need adapters to make the configuration and voltage of foreign electrical outlets work with your devices.


Packing the right toiletries can be a bit tricky, especially if you only plan on taking a carry-on. Start with the basics—deodorant, a toothbrush, a hairbrush, lip balm, and any other products you may need. For your liquid products, you may need to get a little creative. 

Consider bringing along solid shampoo and conditioner bars that will last your whole trip, but not get confiscated by the TSA. You can also find solid toothpaste tablets and mouthwash tablets that dissolve in water. Consider swapping out your face cleanser for face wipes and your body wash for bar soap. 

Health Care Items 

While you’re packing your toiletries bag, don’t forget to bring along your essential health items. Start with your prescription medications in their original, labeled containers. This will head off any questions from the TSA about what kind of drugs you’re transporting and will help you to stay organized during your travels.

It’s also a good idea to bring along a basic first-aid kit in your bag. This should include bandages, alcohol cleansing wipes, antiseptic cream, and some basic painkillers. You may also want to bring some allergy relievers, motion sickness medication, cough drops, and medication to manage diarrhea or constipation. 


Travel is its own great adventure, but in between the adventures, you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting on planes, boats, trains, and cars. You need to bring along something to keep you entertained during these travel days.

Find a podcast or audiobook series you like and download several onto your phone or tablet. Grab a book of crosswords, word searches, Sudoku, or other mind puzzles. Or bring along a craft project—knitting, bracelet making, drawing, and coloring all work well, and at the end of it, you’ll have a project that reminds you of your trip.

Travel Accessories 

You’re also going to need several travel accessories to make your trip a little more comfortable. If you’re taking long overnight flights or train trips, it may be a good idea to bring an eye mask and earplugs to help you sleep better. You may also want to stash a pen in your carry-on since you never know when you might need to jot something down. 

Neck pillows are a great way to prevent getting a crick in your neck from sleeping in odd positions in planes. A memory foam neck pillow can provide you with support and comfort so you’re well-rested and ready to take off on your adventure when you land. You may also want to get a leg hammock that hangs under the seat in front of you and gives you somewhere to rest your feet.

Important Documentation

mom and daughter have fun packing a suitcase

No matter where you’re traveling, you’re going to have some important documentation you’ll want to bring along. First and foremost if you’re traveling internationally is your passport. But you may also need to bring another form of photo identification, as well as any boarding passes or tickets for your trip. 

Make sure you keep your passport and other identifying items on your person in a safe place at all times. But just in case those get lost or stolen, it’s a good idea to make photocopies of everything and keep them in your suitcase. That will help you avoid having to get a new passport while you’re in another country.

Multiple Forms of Currency

If you’re traveling internationally you’ll need to do a few things to make sure you have access to money while abroad. First, go to your bank and let them know you’re going to be traveling internationally. They’ll be able to remove holds on your credit card that will allow you to use it in other countries with no issue. 

But just in case something goes wrong with your credit card, you need to have some local cash. When you’re at the bank, ask them to exchange some of your money for the currency of the country you’re going to visit. Keep this cash on your person and avoid spending it as much as possible until you get to the end of your trip.

Security Tools 

If you’re traveling by yourself, it’s not a bad idea to get a small can of pepper spray. You should also research the culture you’re visiting and figure out what kind of cultural safety measures you may need to take (dark sunglasses in Italy, high-waisted skirts in parts of Africa, etc.).

Pickpocketers like to target popular tourist destinations, so make sure you keep your valuables secure. Get a travel belt that secures your important documents and money underneath your clothing, where it’s harder to reach. If everything you have with you is in a backpack, try to get a tamper-proof backpack or put padlocks on the zippers of your backpack.

Mid-Trip Essentials 

As you travel, you may find that you need items you didn’t need at the beginning of your trip. First and foremost among these is a laundry bag. Be sure to throw in a small bag to keep your dirty clothes in until you can wash them or until you return home.

You may also find that you want extra space to store gifts and souvenirs. It’s a good idea to put an extra duffle bag or backpack in your luggage just in case you find a few extra items you want to bring home. Just make sure you’re prepared to pay any extra checking fees on your flight back home.

Location-Specific Items 

Depending on the kind of trip you’re taking, there may be some specific items you need to bring along with you. For instance, if you’re traveling to the Swiss Alps for a winter getaway, you may want to bring snow pants. If you’re taking a snorkeling trip in the Caribbean, you’re going to want a swimsuit at the least and maybe a snorkel mask and fins. 

Think about the things you have planned for your trip and figure out what you’re going to need for certain activities and what items you want to bring from home. You don’t want to be breaking in a new pair of hiking boots in the Himalayas, and you might want to bring a scarf to wear on your head in the Sahara. Make sure to research what rentals will be available and what you need to bring.

Your Carry-On

No matter whether you’re checking a bag or not, your carry-on will need to contain a few essentials. First and foremost, put at least a few days’ supply of any medications you’re taking in your carry-on. If your checked bag gets lost, you don’t want to be without those. 

You should also put a change of clothes or two in your carry-on, along with some pajamas. Stow a small toiletries kit in there, and don’t forget your phone charger and the appropriate adapter. Essentially, anything you’ll need for a couple of days without your checked bag should go in your carry-on.

Get All Your Travel Must-Haves

Traveling is always exciting; you get a chance to experience a new culture, see new sights, and make memories you can treasure forever. Making sure you have all the travel must-haves with you can make your trip go off without a hitch. Review this checklist before you head out the door, and bon voyage!

If you’d like to get the essentials to make sure your trip is as comfortable as possible, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have neck pillows, footrests, and more to help you travel in comfort. Shop our products and start seeing the world from a more comfortable perspective.

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