Travel Checklist - What to Pack

Travel Preparation Checklist: Get Ready the Right Way

September 22, 2018

Whether you’re going on an adventure in a foreign country or you’re looking forward to conquering a distant mountain peak, you have to pack the right supplies. Preparing thoroughly for the upcoming trip will make it comfortable and much more enjoyable.

I recently returned from a long-overdue holiday to Thailand. It was a beautiful experience and quite different from the dry, windy shores of South Africa. What I learned was you should always do some research prior to leaving, and know what is worth or not worth packing in.

If you like being prepared, using a checklist for the purpose of ensuring you’ve brought the right supplies is a good idea. The following guide will acquaint you with the essentials of travel preparation. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned adventure pro, a little bit of preliminary preparation will always come in handy.

A Backpack, a Suitcase? What Would You Need?

Obviously, you’ll first have to sure that you have the right bag or suitcase to carry your things in.

A suitcase (especially the hard plastic varieties that come with wheels) are great for travel outside the country. If you are planning a longer trip, a suitcase may also be a good idea to bring all of those essentials.

Trekking, hiking, camping and mountain adventures necessitate a good backpack. If you are travelling light, this is also the most comfortable option. There are specifics when it comes to choosing the size of the backpack, the material that it’s made of (whether it is waterproof), the back support it provides, the availability of water compartments, hooks, straps, etc. You may want to visit a specialized sport or outdoor adventure shop in order to have a consultation about the selection of the right backpack.

A few alternatives you may want to consider as far as luggage is concerned is to include duffel bags (a lightweight alternative to the suitcase) and a carry-on bag on top of the suitcase.

Documents and Money

No matter where you are travelling, you will always need an ID and some money in the local currency.

Will you need a passport or would a form of ID like your driver license be sufficient? This will depend on the destination you have chosen. Place the documents and your money in a plastic file or another waterproof option, especially if you’ll be going on an outdoor adventure.

Pack essential documents and cash when travelling.

Remember to pack essential documents and cash when travelling.

As far as money goes, you need to have a credit or debit card with you, as well as some cash. Accessing cash abroad may be a challenge, which is why you will have to be prepared. If possible, exchange some money before you leave home. This way, you will benefit from a safe service and a favourable exchange rate.

Exchanging currency in another country will usually occur in a change bureau. Unless you know the language and the exchange course, you may easily become the victim of a scam. Don’t agree to money exchanges on the street. The best case scenario will be to exchange currency in a local bank. You can be certain about the safety of the service this way. Also, you can use sites like ScholarAdvisor for learning certain phrases in foreign languages that will help you to avoid scam’s and generally understand what is going on.

Medical Essentials

I never leave home without certain medical essentials that can be used to address emergencies.

Once again, the right supplies will depend on the destination and the types of activities you’ll be engaging in.

If you’re going to a tropical paradise, you will definitely need sunscreen, an insect repellent, antidiarrheal medications, soothing lotions to apply after a day at the beach, antihistamines, antifungal and antibacterial ointments and bandages/antiseptics.

For a mountain vacation, the essential medical supplies will include:

  • Sunscreen and a skin moisturizer
  • Lip balm
  • Pain medicines
  • Antiseptics and bandages
  • Aspirin and Tylenol
  • A basic antibiotic (you may be miles away from a hospital, don’t take the risk with an infection!)
  • Antihistamines
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A water purification system (not a medicine but an essential to stay healthy and out of bacteria’s way)

Clothing Choices

You shouldn’t be frivolous about the selection of clothes for your trip.

By going on a vacation, you will either participate in a certain activity or relax and want to feel comfortable. The clothes that you choose will play an important role in enabling you to make the most of the respective experience.

If you are going to the mountains, you need good trekking shoes, sunglasses, a hat, lightweight clothes like a waterproof and windproof jacket and pants, a fleece for cooler weather and thicker socks. A wintertime adventure will necessitate much more emphasis on warm and protective clothing.

Urban adventurers and those going to the beach have a lot more freedom when it comes to clothing selection. Still, pick the items that you need and that will make you feel comfortable. This is especially true if you want to travel light without bringing numerous unnecessary items for the trip.

Bring with a small day pack or carry bag for those accessories.

Bring with a small day pack or carry bag for those accessories.

Other Essentials to Consider

Documents, money, clothes and medicines form the pillar of travelling safely and having a great time. Still, you may want to consider a couple of other essentials based on the specifics of your trip.

The following checklist will acquaint you with other optional items you may want to include in your luggage:

  • A multi-purpose Swiss knife
  • Matches and a lighter (in a waterproof container)
  • A battery charger or a USB battery for your smartphone
  • GPS devices and maps, especially if you’re going to a location that you’re unfamiliar with
  • A camera
  • Umbrella or a raincoat (depending on the expected weather conditions)
  • Toiletries, personal hygiene items and cosmetics
  • A water bottle or two
  • A sleeping bag
  • A good book (for those long layovers or rainy days)
  • A tent
  • Snacks
  • A phrase book or a translator app if you’re unfamiliar with the language

Remember, there is no universal checklist for trip preparation. Think of your safety, health, wellbeing and having a good time. Based on these criteria, you can easily narrow down the list.

Please share your packing recommendations below, and for those about to head off on a holiday, have a blast!


  • Reply
    Naomi Lai
    November 6, 2018 at 6:47 am

    This is so well laid out. So many travel blogs post about packing but this was really easy to read. Thanks!

  • Reply
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    December 26, 2018 at 7:48 am

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  • Reply
    Kristal Siu
    February 3, 2020 at 4:09 am

    I think it would be great if we learn or know how to fold our clothes tidily. Then this can help us save a lot of space in our luggage

  • Reply
    Julia M. Jones
    August 4, 2020 at 11:58 am

    The post is interesting. The content looks at the Travel Preparation Checklist. Are you going to travel? You should look at certain things to make your travel a memorable experience. If you don’t prepare for the travel as it should be, you will experience a horrible trip. So, there is always a need to prepare for travel in the right way. Reading the post will help you to understand certain things that you should take care of while going for a travel.

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