Packing for a Trip

Whether you travel frequently or infrequently, you may from time to time find that you've forgotten to pack an essential item. If you don’t travel frequently enough to know just what you need, one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself is to use a list to make packing for a trip easy. Here are some tips for using a travel list to ensure that you pack all essentials while making your packing process more streamlined.

Using a List when Packing for a Trip

You can begin with a generic computer document and save it in a folder called “Travel Checklist.” When you are packing for a trip, you can open your generic list document, modify it for the particular occasion, use the “Save As” function on your computer to name the document by the name and date of your trip. For instance, saving a separate list for a beach trip or ski trip will come in handy the next time you take a similar trip.

Your generic list might look something like this:

Carry On Luggage:

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  • Plane Tickets
  • Eyewear/Contacts, case and solution
  • Pain reliever
  • Small first aid kit
  • Lip Balm/Moisturizer
  • Bottled Water
  • Tissue
  • Address Book
  • Breath mints/Gum
  • Cash
  • Credit Card/Phone Card
  • Reading or listening material

Checked (or Carry On) Luggage


  • Bandaids/First Aid Kit
  • Antacid
  • Insect Repellent
  • Prescription Medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Other necessities


  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Stockings/Socks
  • Pants
  • Shirts/Blouses
  • Skirts/Dresses
  • Accessories

Shoes, Outerwear and Accessories:

  • Umbrella
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Appropriate outerwear such as light/heavy jacket, scarf, hat, gloves


  • Tweezers
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Q-Tips
  • Makeup
  • Nailpolish
  • Shampoo/Conditioner, other hair products
  • Brush/Comb
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste, floss


  • Watch
  • Paper/Pens/Clipboard
  • Laptop/Charger
  • Book/Magazine
  • Work Items
  • Additional travel information

For each trip, depending on how you’re traveling (by plane? by car?), the purpose of the trip (work? family holiday?), and the duration (a day? a week?), you can alter the list to suit the purpose of the trip, print out a copy, and use it in packing for your trip both before you leave and before you return home.

Additional Hints for Packing for a Trip

Here are some additional things to be aware of:

    • You can use a weather website to find out the prediction for the area you will be visiting. This can help ensure that you bring clothing of appropriate kinds and weights, as well as the most suitable outerwear. Go to one of the following, and enter the zip code or name of the place you are visiting.

    For the United States: The National Weather Service

    For Canada: The Meteorological Service of Canada

    For International Weather: AccuWeather

    • Make sure that the items you need to get you to your destination are accessible and included in your packing. Depending on your travel, this may include:

      • Addresses
      • Phone numbers of taxi or car services as well as important contacts
      • Travel directions
      • Maps (street, subway, bus)
      • Compass

    • When traveling by airplane:

      • check the current baggage restrictions for your destination and any intermediate stops, both going and returning, as well as where your carry-ons will be reviewed;
      • wear shoes that are easy to get on and off and pack other shoes
      • bring items to keep you comfortable on the plane: the climate control can cause dehydration and can be cooler or warmer than some people like. On long flights, you may wish to replace your shoes with slippers for in-air time.

    • When you reach your destination and also when you get home, jot down any items that you wish you’d had on your list, and add it to your document on your computer. This way, you gain from each experience. And if your next trip is a near repeat of a previous trip, instead of starting from your generic list, start with the list from the last time.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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