What you'll need for a trip depends on where you're going and when you're going.
If you're headed for Dubrovnik, you probably won't require water purification tablets, and if you're roughing it on a multi-day jungle hike in Brazil, you can give your hand-held steamer a pass.
We've made some assumptions and listed essential items that work with most itineraries so you're well-prepared for your domestic or foreign adventure. It's not a big deal if you forget some of these things because you'll often be able to buy what you need, but preparation will save you money and time to optimize your stay abroad.
You can't do international travel without your passport, so keep it in a valuables pouch with your wallet and phone while you're flying to and from your destination and guard it with your life. Be sure to have digital copies of your travel documents. If you don't need your passport when you arrive, keep it in the safe in your hotel room.
Look into getting some theft-proof clothing with hidden compartments to protect you from pickpockets in busy tourist areas. You can also get a smart wallet or passport holder to locate your valuables if you misplace them.
Put your health insurance details and important contacts in your wallet, too, in case of an emergency.
You'll need some gizmos for modern life for both R&R and remote work in a location that inspires you.
Pack earphones, your phone and laptop chargers, and a power bank. Get a cable bag to keep your wires neat and extend their lifespan.
You should carry a car mount if you'll be driving with your phone as a navigational tool and get a travel router if consistent access to the internet is necessary.
There are a few essentials you shouldn't travel without.
If approved by your GP, bring cure-all meds that can make a niggling headache disappear so you can focus on the scenery or ease the ache in your tired legs after walking all day.
Carry something you can take when you feel the first hints of the flu, antihistamines to deal with allergies, and something for motion sickness on planes and boats.
A first aid kit with bandaids, antiseptic wipes, and burn cream is an optional extra. Remember, you won't want to deal with a language barrier at a pharmacy if you're not feeling your best.
Whether you're traveling solo or with family in tow, it's always a good idea to carry snacks on your person. Low blood sugar levels can turn into hunger and spoil the mood or leave you feeling out of energy when you're out exploring.
Snacks like dietitian-approved protein bars, dried chickpeas, granola from home, or fruit and yogurt from your hotel buffet will keep you fueled between meals.
Taking a reusable water bottle along on your travels isn't just the responsible thing to do to minimize your impact on the environment; it's also an easy way to save money on bottles of water with jacked-up tourist prices.
You can fill up with potable water at your accommodation, and insulated bottles will keep hot water hot for tea or coffee on winter exploits, and cold water cold for those sweltering days when room temp H2O won't do. Hydration, check.
Taking a hair straightener or other gadget along for the journey? You'll want to check that your tech's plugs will fit in your destination's outlets.
Universal adapters cover most countries, but you'll need specific adapters for places like India, Israel, and South Africa. Do the groundwork, and your laptop will get all the juice it needs for that flex job you just signed up for.
The clothing you pack depends on your trip's purpose and the time of year. But let's assume you're headed for a balmy location to unwind. You'll need the following:
Liquids can leak and make a mess in your bag so opt for environmentally-friendly solid toiletries if you can or a magic makeup cloth instead of a cleanser. Get small reusable containers you can fill according to the length of your trip where possible. You'll need the following:
Wet wipes are something you'll always want on hand. You can wipe down your seat and window area on the plane for peace of mind, clean your hands before a snack when water isn't available, or mop up a small spill.
A small pack of wipes shouldn't cause issues during baggage control.
One of the biggest deterrents to a bout of peaceful sleep while on the move is the inability to support the face and neck while sitting upright. If you have a seat at the very back of a plane, something like a memory foam neck pillow you can strap to the back of your chair can be a game changer on long-haul flights, even if it looks ridiculous.
Getting some shut-eye while en route will be worth the Not Cool sign hovering over your unconscious form and bodes well for the rest of your trip.
A light foldable daypack will put less strain on your body than a single-shoulder tote bag, for example, and be more comfortable.
You'll want to keep one close while traveling through airports so you can have your valuables with you without hauling your hand luggage around—put a friend on watch duty and return the courtesy. Daypacks are also great for city exploring because some attractions don't allow large backpacks.
Unplugging completely for a few days could be what you need to have a real vacation.
A book you can physically page through can fill the hole left by social media and the other apps you've convinced yourself you need but mindlessly scroll through when bored.
Take a break from the epubs and audiobooks and buy a new book with that fresh paper smell. Try and choose an escapist title for maximum stress-free vibes.
Maybe you're not much of a reader or traveling with others and don't want to seem antisocial. A simple deck of cards can keep you and your buddies entertained and unplugged during delays or lazy evenings when you don't leave the hotel. You can play games like Go Fish, Canasta, Crazy Eights, or even Uno.
Having at least one plastic bag at your disposal always comes in handy. You can chuck a dirty pair of shoes in until you get a chance to clean them up or separate used clothing from fresh items.
You can use a plastic bag as an extra layer of protection around the manuka honey you bought in New Zealand to contain opened but unfinished snack items or collect trash.
No, not the kind you slather on your visage to "glow." Pandemic rules are in flux, so you're better off being safe than sorry by carrying a few face masks you know fit you comfortably and are approved by your health authority.
You don't want to go halfway across the world and be turned away from an attraction you've been looking forward to because you don't have a mask and the service provider isn't offering disposable ones.