Your Ultimate Packing List for Any Vacation

It’s time for a vacation! Planning the trip is the fun part – packing… not so much. Many of us (myself included) tend to leave packing to the last minute. Sure, you’ve picked out a few outfits… but your flight leaves at 6 am, and your suitcases are sitting open on the bed. 

Don’t be caught in the rain without an umbrella or get to your hotel only to realize you forgot your toothbrush. No matter your destination, this handy packing list can help you get all the essentials together and ensure you don’t miss a thing! 

What to Wear on the Plane

Prevent yourself from feeling frazzled. Set yourself up for success the morning before your flight and lay out the outfit you’ll wear on the plane. Consider what heavy items may weigh down your bag or be challenging to fit compactly in your suitcase. 

  • Warm jacket 
  • Waterproof boots 
  • Bulky sweater

You can take off your coat once you board, but you won’t risk paying extra fees for your bag being overweight. 

Most airlines allow one personal item and one carry-on bag with no fee. Check size requirements before you pack since they can vary between airlines. 

Personal Item 

Use your personal item for any belongings you do not want to be separated from during your trip. Make the most of this bag, but don’t overstuff it, as it may be challenging to pull out your book or snack during the flight. 

  • Wallet 
  • Passport  
  • Laptop
  • Phone 
  • E-reader
  • Camera
  • Book or magazine
  • Headphones
  • CHARGERS (don’t forget them, it’s the worst)
  • Power adaptors for international travel 
  • Prescription medications 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Compact travel umbrella 
  •  Snacks
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes 
  • Mask (you never know when restrictions may come back)

Carry-On Bag 

Consider what outfits you need for your trip. What pants could you possibly style differently with a classier shirt or a bit of jewelry? Find ways to stretch a small bag for the entire trip by using multiple pieces in various looks. For quick trips, your carry-on may be your only suitcase. 

Even if you are packing a large suitcase, having a well-equipped carry-on will prepare you for the worst if your bag doesn’t show up on the carousel once you land. 

  • Pajamas 
  • 2-3 changes of clothes 
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  •  A few pairs of underwear
  • Clean socks 
  • Any jewelry, clothing, or shoes you’d regret getting lost
  • Toiletries bag 


It’s a worst-case scenario, but checked bags do get lost. It’s best to pack your toiletries bag in your carry-on to ensure you have everything you need once you land. Otherwise, you may have to stop at a pharmacy to replace make-up, skincare, and a toothbrush before settling in at your destination. 

TSA allows a quart-sized bag of liquids in travel sized 3.4 oz containers. Separate all your lotions, soaps, and shampoos into these small containers as you pack. You can place toiletries in either your carry-on or keep them in your purse or briefcase to make it quicker to get through security. 

  • Toothbrush 
  • Travel sized toothpaste
  • Floss 
  • Facewash 
  • Make-up remover
  • Moisturizer 
  • Miscellaneous skincare products
  • Makeup  
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Hair spray 
  • Dry shampoo 
  • Brush 
  • Hair appliances – curling iron, blow dryer, etc. 
  • Hair ties, clips, and bobby pins 
  • Feminine hygiene products 
  • Deodorant 
  • Pain relievers 
  • Band-aids 
  • Contact lenses/solution 
  • Nail file/clippers

Do a pass through your bathroom. Once you think you’ve packed everything, you need to make sure you didn’t leave anything on the counter. 


What you pack in your suitcase depends on where you are traveling and what you have planned during your trip. If you are headed to the mountains for a ski trip, you’ll need long johns, snow pants, a hat, and gloves. That’s very different than the multiple swimsuits, sarongs, and sunscreen you need for a week at the beach. 

This list should help you consider what essential outfits to pack wherever you travel and help you avoid overpacking. 

  • Bras
  • Underwear (2 more than you need… you never know)
  • Socks 
  • Formal outfit for a night on the town 
  • Jeans 
  • T-shirts 
  • Button-downs
  • Tank tops
  • Compact tote bag 
  • Swimsuit (even on a snowy vacation, you may want to soak in a hot tub)
  • Cover Up
  • Pants or shorts
  • Dresses or skirts 
  • Rain jacket 
  • Exercise clothes
  • Sandals/flip-flops (great for the beach or shared showers at hostels) 
  • Purse or clutch 
  • Formal shoes 
  • Plastic bag for wet items 
  • Laundry bag to separate out dirty clothes
  • Large liquids like sunscreen or bug spray
  • Accessories
  • Hat
  • Belt
  • Scarf
  • Gloves

Other Packing Tips 

  • Lay out all your outfits on your bed before packing to reduce bringing things you don’t need 
  • Roll, don’t fold 
  • Stick small items, like socks, inside shoes to save space

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