Have you ever reached your destination thinking that the hard part was over and now the fun can begin only to realize you’ve forgotten your contacts or medications? I’ve done that. Not fun, let me tell you.

One surprising thing that the lockdown has made me realize is how automatic packing used to be for me. When I was traveling somewhere almost every other weekend I got into a routine with how I packed. (I only forgot my contacts once a couple years ago and I’ve triple checked I have them every time since.)

When we took our first weekend trip to Snowshoe a couple weeks back though, I stood in my bedroom staring at my backpack for a few minutes thinking where do I even start?

And voilà – this post was born.

This list will not only tell you what to bring, but also give you some tips on how to make the process quicker. The beginning of the list is all the essentials you’ll need for a vacation and as you scroll down there are packing lists for different activities.

If you’re looking for the other articles in the Travel Planning Simplified series here are the first two about budgeting your trip and finding cheap accommodations.

General Travel Packing List

  • Cute shirts/Blouses – long or short sleeve
  • Jeans/Pants/Shorts
  • Dresses/Rompers
  • Leggings
  • Shoes – sandals/Boots/Sneakers
  • Socks – based on shoes
  • Underwear
  • Bras – regular & sports
  • Bathing suit
  • Sweatpants/Joggers
  • T-shirt/Shorts combos
  • Slippers (if staying in B&B)
  • Pajamas/lounge clothes

Accessories Packing List

  • Hats/Toboggans
  • Scarves
  • Jewelry
  • Gloves
  • Belt
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Watch
  • Glasses/Sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle (collapsible works great)

Toiletries Packing List

  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap
  • Hair Products – mousse, hairspray, etc.
  • Hair straightener or curling wand
  • Face wash
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Contacts
  • Medication
  • Chapstick
  • Period supplies
  • Nail Clippers
  • Makeup

Technology Packing List

  • Camera/Video camera
  • Phone
  • Ipad/Laptop
  • Chargers
  • Portable charging bank
  • Camera tripod
  • SD cards

Miscellaneous Items

  • Cash/Credit card
  • ID/Passport
  • Visa (if needed)
  • All tickets purchased in advance
  • Copy of itinerary

Hiking

  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • Extra socks
  • Backpack/Daypack
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks & water (double what you think you need)
  • First aid kit
  • Multi-tool
  • Downloaded or paper map
  • Rain coat
  • Bug repellent

Camping

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillows
  • Chairs
  • Headlamps/Lantern
  • Hammock
  • Matches
  • Food for camping meals
  • Cooking dishes & utensils
  • Stove/Fuel or grill/charcoal
  • Plates/Forks/Knives/Spoons
  • Duct Tape
  • Hammer/Mallet
  • Books/Notebooks/Music/Bluetooth Speaker
  • Toilet Paper/Trowel
  • Hand Sanitizer/Antiseptic Wipes

Skiing/Winter Travel Packing List

  • Multiple layers – Thermals/Mid-layer
  • Snow pants
  • Waterproof heavy coat
  • Ski socks
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Neck Gaiters
  • Sunscreen
  • Helmet & goggles
  • Snowboard/Ski boots
  • Snowboard or skis
  • Ski poles

Whitewater Rafting

  • Quick-dry clothing
  • Bathing Suit/Wet Suit (weather depending)
  • River shoes/Old sneakers
  • Splash guard
  • Waterproof camera
  • Towels
  • Change of clothes
  • Plastic bag for wet clothes
  • Dry bag

Beach Travel Packing List

  • Bathing Suit
  • Cover up
  • Large bag
  • Beach towel or blanket
  • Sun umbrella
  • Beach chairs
  • Cooler
  • Snacks/Water/Drinks
  • Koozies
  • Games

Biking

  • Cycling clothes
  • Helmet
  • Bike gloves
  • Go pro
  • Cycling shoes
  • Hand pump
  • Water pack & extra water
  • Bicycle

This is meant to be a generic list, not a “must-have” list. When I travel I don’t take everything under the Accessories, Toiletries, or even the General Packing List.

Packing Tips

Packing Cubes are Your Friend – Organize your clothes into categories and use compression packing cubes to keep them separate. I have one large and one small cube that will fit in my 40L Osprey backpack.

Roll Your Clothes – Instead of folding your clothes roll them up and place them in the cubes. Rolling your clothes takes up less room so you can pack more.

Keep a Toiletry Bag Together – I keep a small ziploc bag full of travel sized shampoo, conditioner, soap, and a travel toothbrush. The size of the bag meets airline requirements for bags of liquids in carry-on bags.

Wear Your Bulky Items – If possible, wear the items that take up the most space. This is especially important in winter.

Pack Things The Same Way – When I pack up often, I get into a routine. Shoes go in the bottom of the bag, clothes go in the big packing cube, underwear/socks in the small packing cube. Then my hair mousse and any extra clothes fit in around the cubes.

My toiletry bag goes in a small pocket on the front and chargers and electronics go in the middle pocket of my backpack. When you have a routine and pack things in the same place each time it’s easier to remember what you need.

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This ultimate travel packing list will make sure you don't miss anything on your next vacation! No matter what activity you're doing this packing list includes it. #travelpackinglist #whattopackforvacation

12 Comments

  1. This is such a helpful post. I especially love your tip about being sure to bring packing cubes…those things have been a lifesaver for me during my long term travels! Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. I agree, I didn’t start using packing cubes until I did a 5 week trip through Europe and now I use them every trip!

    1. For sure! The only problem is when you’re running through the airport in the winter and about to die from a heat stroke! Haha. It does save so much space though.

  2. This is an impressive list to keep in handy when I’m packing. Especially for when I want section off the items in my suitcase.

  3. I was looking for this information relating to such ultimate travel packing list travel planning simplified. You have really eased my work by posting this article, loved your writing skill as well. Please keep sharing more, would love to read more from you!

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