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Courtney
Los Angeles

General Travel

What to pack???

It seem like no matter where I go or when I have a constant dilemma about what to pack so I'm curious--are there things you never leave the house without? Are there things you just always take because you feel better if you have them? Are there items you find especially useful? If so, what are they? I'm trying to up my packing game! 


22 Answers

top answer by
Toddre

Hi Courtney, 

As a Stylist, I find it extremely useful to create a capsule collection with my wardrobe.  A capsule collection is simply a selection of clothes and accessories that coordinate.  For instance on my last trip to Zanzibar my colors were shades orange, blue and black.  You want to choose 2-3 pop colors and 1-2 neutral colors.  All of my jewelry was gold toned.  This time around my colors were indigo, red and white as my neutral color.  With this strategy, you will find that everything will mix and match with each other.  It's also helpful that when you purchase something while travelling that it work with your capsule collection so that you won't be thinking about which shoes will match, etc.  Hope this helps.  


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answered by
Kim from Colorado

As an ex-flight attendant and vacation traveler with children, I found that I have a few favorite items and the rest can stay home. I have a system of putting everything I want to bring on my bed. Then eliminate clothes by color combinations.  The black shirt will go with the skirt and shorts that stays. The items I cannot coordinate do not make the cut!  That typical eliminates 1/3 of what I thought I needed to bring. I always pack another light weight bag I can tuck away in my suitcase.  Never fails, somehow my clothes gain weight on vacation and things never fit in my suitcase like they did when I left home!  


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answered by
Lee from Florida

All answers here are great, many I use myself. Taking it a step further, the foolproof way Is to create a list for each type of trip. I’m retired & travel for pleasure, so I have three lists — one for cruise vacations, one for flying to destination vacations, and one for driving trip vacations. Clothing is black & white & gray, with bright scarves and jewelry for accent. Based on experience, I finessed my packing, listing items that are always used, and adding items that should have been packed. Each list is separated into Carry-on, Checked, and Handbag.At the end of each list I memo the chores to be done to button up the house.

If this sounds like too much trouble, I can vouch for hours I’ve saved avoiding re-thinking packing decisions for dozens of trips. Everyone’s different, so black & white easy-do might not work, and my handbag must-haves of moisturizer, makeup, hand sanitizer, contact lens in & out supplies, phone backup charger, and headset might not be useful for others. Updating the lists over time is the point - no dilemma - make it foolproof, no overthinking needed 


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answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

It depends on where you're going. Places have their quirks. There are countries in Europe where you often can't use a credit card -- Switzerland is largely a cash economy, even for fairly large purchases such as your hotel room (we had this experience in Davos). If you go there, bring at least twice the amount of cash you normally would carry in, say, France or the UK. Read up on local laws and customs. For example, you can no  longer bring plastics bags -- not even ziplocs -- into Kenya. We happened to be going there when this law had just gone into effect, and airport security in Frankfurt insisted we put our carry-on toiletries in plastic bags, notwithstanding the fact that we were going to have to empty those bags in midair and leave them on the plane. 

Do check up on the type of power adapter for each country you're visiting.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Davos (city)
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answered first by
claus

I always check my pockets for credit card and passport. And then for my laptop. The rest I can buy if I forget it. But you know me Courtney. I'm crazy :-)


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answered by
Erika from Omaha

I always go to Walmart (whoever sells small bottles of personal goods) and buy toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deo, face lotion, lipstick, makeup, sun screen etc. Actually, Avon sells these travel sizes and they are great.  

Also with meds, I have a 7 day dispenser that I fill. If I am gone longer I put the rest of the meds in smaller bottles and as I empty them, they get tossed.


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answered by
RosalieAnn

I didn't address clothes in my first post because I thought the question was about things other than clothes.  Clothes wise, I almost never take clothes that are black unless I'm going to be in a helicopter or someplace where I want to avoid the reflections of my clothes in the glass.  Black is too hot in the sun. Another thing I almost never take is jeans (at least not real jeans that are heavy or bulky) and I never take shorts.  Unless I'm going to be climbing in and out of boats or something of that sort, I prefer to wear a dress or skirt -I find it cooler not to have something around my legs.  I also do not wear jewelry - I have a plain gold wedding band and a black Timex triathlon watch and that is my total amount of jewelry for a trip.  I just do not want to worry about keeping track of it. I take plain solid color pants or skirts of tan or medium blue and patterned tops that will go with either of those colors.  I usually take one of what we in the US call a jumper.  I don't know what they call it in the UK but it is a dress with no collar and no sleeves that you can wear a top underneath of it.  I never buy a dress or skirt that does not have pockets or needs to be dry cleaned or ironed.    


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answered by
RosalieAnn

I have a generic packing list which I modify depending on what the climate is where I'm going. Some things are obvious (passport) but if I'm traveling in the US I have a Golden Age Passport (free admission to the National Parks) and I also bring my shot record and a list of my medications.  I always have a hat and sunscreen. I bring a power strip and the appropriate plugs for wherever I am going. A nail clipper, tweezers, bandaids, a small screw driver (the size to put the screws back in a pair of glasses, a small mirror, address labels with my home address, a spare pair of glasses, and a small flashlight.  I also always pack a bathing suit and swim goggles.  I take at least two pair of well broke in shoes.  If I were going to take an actual book to read, I would take one that I would leave in a hotel when I finished with it.  (When I go to a doctor's appointment, I take magazines that I haven't read, and leave them there when I finish with them)
 
 


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answered by
Mary from Leicester

I'm addicted to reading (not on a Kindle). Unless it's a daytrip I feel edgy without a book so when I travel there's always one in my daypack (my 'cabin bag') and at least one (often two) spare in my main bag. 

Same applies to the small self-created first-aid kit (scissors, tablets, creams, plasters (band-aids) etc) I always take except on daytrips There are a few washpegs in there as well and they can be surprisingly useful. 

I usually have a map or two in the daypack: printed out googlemaps of the relevant city centre/s and, when I'm in the UK countryside, an OS map of the area. I prefer hard copy to electronic versions and I like to know where I am. 

Being from the UK means I automatically pack for all seasons, regardless of the time of year. I have to consciously remember not to do that when I know it's going to be warm where I'm going! :-)


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answered by
Luc from Portland

I use Eco-dent tooth powder because it will last many months, is lightweight, is not a gel or liquid and takes up very little space.  It also doesn't have all the poisons of traditional tooth paste brands.  Bottle says 200 brushings.   


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answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

I always carry medications and phone charger. After that I layer camisoles, dressy t shirt and long sleeve button up. My colors are all basic: black for winter, tan for summer. I never travel with jewelry. I like to swim and I try for a hotel with a pool. Also work out wear. I carry flats and walking shoes. Basics. Athleta is where I mostly shop. With that I am good to go.


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answered by
Maria from Fort Worth

I always travel with packing cubes. They come in several sizes and keep everything organized. I also bring 2 pair of walking shoes in case a pair gets wet from the rain. I also pack a small air freshener, hand wipes/hand sanitizer, chapstick, sunscreen, a fold up travel backpack and instant coffee. Also some dollar bills and change if traveling in the US. 


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answered by
Rachel from New York City

if you are traveling to a remote or expensive area and/or out of the country, pack sample sizes of cold medicine and pain relievers and vitamin c. Just in case, even if you are someone who "never gets sick". A couple of times I got sick on vacation, and not only were over-the-counter meds crazy $$, they were different than what I'm used to and made my cold worse. And in the Caribbean & resorts, the cost hike is always high. But never go without--a nice black t-shirt and nice black cardigan. And a scarf, black or one that goes with anything. 


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answered by
Janelle from Charleston

Aside from the obvious things like credit cards, medicines, feminine products, etc., other things I always take with me are a few tall kitchen plastic trash bags (convenient for storing dirty clothes and keeping them separate from clean ones), hospital gloves if I'm going someplace where you eat with your hands, and a phone charger with a convertible wall/car ash tray/USB plug. 


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answered by
Sherry

We are a Scouts family from the Pacific Northwest of the US, so we pack in layers & in ziptop bags... 

 

Generally, clothing goes in shades that complement each other, things that can be double duty - easily washed or Fabrezed & worn again. Walking shoes, flippies & water shoes w/a nicer dressy shoe for evenings out..if someone could make one pair that could do all that & save my feet from sea urchins, we’d be in business! Have seen too many folks hurt in the sandy surf with super sharp coral reefs & urchin, so we always pack water shoes, I do not care!  

 

Reef /fish safe sunscreen & bug spray, rash guard (or other SPF garments important for keeping skin Cancer away without reapplyling #75 sunblock) a water safe camera - there are a few out there - love them! My fav thing is a Kobert Watersafe pouch that holds my passport, ID, iphone 6 & room key w/some cash securely around my neck & DRY while I snorkel in the hotel pool, cruise ship pool or sandy beach - no, I’ll just shove everything I own in the toe of my shoes...” and I’m sure it’ll be riiiiiight here in two hrs after we’re done swimming!!!! Yeah, read enough guidebooks to know...thieves circle those lounge chairs! My stuff will stay with moi!!!! Sure, they can have my 100 degree bottle of water but my sht stays with meeee! I always bring a lil drawstring backpack, hubs carries a bigger daypack w/the towels, bottles of water, etc.. 

 

Universal plug is great, we always bring a small power cord for our electronics, our cell ph charger cords, Kindle, etc.  

 

Started using a shampoo BAR...lathers great, no bottle, no waste, no spillage, even the label is recycled! Perfect for traveling!  

 

Always travel with a guidebook of the area, hardcopy & a diff version on my phone or Kindle...I’ve done my due dilagence ahead of time...know kind of what types of things we want to check out, if it’s a boating activity we bring Sea Bands (for poss sea sickness) and Ginger Root capsules...the TV show, Mythbusters did an episode on motionsikness & Ginger Root caps (found in the vitamin aisle or online for like $7-) worked best! We never travel without them! We also bring a little medicine cabinet of sorts, who wants to fly in at whatever hour & have to look for the nearest 24 hr drugstore? We have cruised - a LOT - you often have just what you brought (certain hrs)! So, I pack a few diahrreah, heartburn, headache, remedies as well as bandaids... 

 

Nightlight or small flashlight & travel alarm is super helpful, esp when changing time zones, like with cruising...a cheap waterproof watch is important to stay on schedule as your phone will not always be set to the country your traveling to’s time zone - roaming & cell charges creep up! We learned this the HARD way! Let your phone co & CC and bank know you are traveling (& where so they can put a travel alert in your accts) we buy an International 

plan now if we’re going to one place for a bit....waaay cheaper! Heard too many horror stories!  

 

Even in a warmer climate, people need a light jacket or sweater...there is AC to consider! Saw people freeze because they’d just brought shorts & tee shirts...really?!? Layering is your friend! Lol 😂


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answered by
Jon from Kalispell

In regards to air travel here are four tips to make for a smoother journey.  #1.  If at all possible do not check your luggage.  Buy what ever you are debating about to bring at your destination.  (unless you know it will be unavailable)  If you foresee using it every day, then bring it!  #2.  Travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees.  (and if you can find a card that includes the travel lounges at the airport GO FOR IT.  This little secret is something that you will never want to go without once you have tried it.  #3.   Clothing specifically designed for travel.  Yes, they are expensive, at least twice as much.  In my experience they make perfect attire to where during the whole trip as well as blend in at airports, while remaining professional and comfortable.  They have been well worth the money for me :)    


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answered by
Kelly from Massachusetts

This is clothing-related. I learned taking large zip-top bags come in handy to separate dirty clothes and shoes. This came in handy when I had to pack a wet swimsuit too. With children's clothes, you can pack daily outfits in each bag so they know what to wear each day. (I also love these bags for uneaten, opened food and the germ-ridden remote control.) 


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answered by
Linda from Pittsburgh

Depends on where you are going, international or domestic?


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answered by
Ruth from Utah

We were on an international flight and got to the airport when my husband realized he forgot his passport! Yikes! Lucky we were able to contact someone to meet us halfway with the passport and he amazingly made it on the plane in time. So first of all, if you are going on an international trip - remember your passport!! Second, at least one credit card that can be used wherever you go - and don't forget a bit of cash for those that help you along the way (bellboys, tips, etc). Other than that, you can probably get the rest where you are going. If you don't want to be contacted, you can forget your phone, too.


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answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

l pack one month ahead. l write what l pack on a note card. l put socks in small ziplock, unders in ziplock, l put extra ziplocks in. All papers and meds and travel documents go in outside pockets, along with notecard with address labels on it, if lost they can find me. 

All meds go in a zipper bag that is see through. 6 ft extension cord goes in ziplock, plus extra charger&cable, plus clips for curtains, and any electronics. 

Any computer, tablet, phone etc. goes in backback, or wheeled laptop case. Pashmina scarf, tissues, pens, nail file, beauty supplies in ziplock, and one outfit, plus $1 flipflops for shower. All is written on a notecard, plus notecard with Address label. Address label is on media items, l take pictures of serial numbers and IMEI, and trael papers and tickets. Empty water container. Whistle. Hat. 4 Clif bars. Small new IKEA pillow and 2 nylon bags. 2-4 nylons. Dental supplies. Travel mirror.


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answered by
vanessa from Iowa

I never leave the house without my cellphone/charger, my gun(havent traveled internationally) and chapstick. I agree with the capsule wardrobe. I always use black as a base color, all my jewelry is silver. I also take a large scarf, they have so many uses!!!!! I will wear my hoddie to the airport and brave the weather with my scarf as a cover rather than take my hoodie because we always fly to a warmer climate.


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answered by
Claudia from New York City

Besides the smartphone and headphone, my travel must-haves include a large scarf, an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses, OTC ibuprofen, lavender and peppermint essential oils, a portable charger, a travel adapter, a few quart-sized Ziploc bags, some breath freshener,  a journal, a pen and a water bottle. These are lightweight items and easily carried either in my personal item bag (handbag) or my carry-on bag.


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