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The Ultimate Holiday Packing List

A comprehensive holiday packing list with special packing and organisational tips. Includes a free downloadable resource

We can't think of anything better than getting ready for a holiday. It's that time of the year when you can finally relax, forget about work and just enjoy. We also know that having a holiday packing guide to help you with your planning is essential. Whether you are preparing for your first trip ever or you are a veteran traveller, having a handy packing can help a lot. We recommend saving this article so you can refer to it whenever you get ready for a trip.
We know it took us 5 years to become packing pros. We used to always forget things or do packing lists on random pieces of paper which get lost. Not anymore, we always print one and tick the boxes so we keep track of what to bring with us. Also, these are incredibly valuable for travel insurance purposes. Imagine your luggage getting lost and needing to remember everything you had with you so you can claim back on your insurance. A holiday packing list is the best course of action, trust us!

Table of Contents

Holiday packing tips

The top and most important tip is to wear your heaviest items so you have more space in your luggage for extra outfits. Airlines measure and weight your luggage and not you, which means you can wear your jacket, an extra jumper and the heaviest pair of shoes. This also works to your advantage since it gets pretty cold when you are on a plane, so the extra clothes will make your journey more comfortable.

Our next tip is to not pack anything you can buy at your destination. At the beginning of our travels, we used to pay for a checked suitcase so we can carry a lot of liquids with us (like shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, cream etc). We quickly realised that it actually works out more expensive to pay for checked luggage, than buy a few essentials once we are at the destination. Besides, most hotels offer these in the room anyway. Sunscreen is the only exception, but we tend to buy it at the airport if we fly with hand luggage only.

When possible, roll your clothes and don't fold them. This helps with space and avoid creases too. Roll your socks and underwear and tuck them in your shoes, or small gaps around your clothes.

Picking your luggage

Make sure you know your limits before going on holiday. Does the airline allow for hand luggage only or checked luggage too? We put together a handy guide for understanding suitcase sizes. This will help you pick the luggage you need based on the carrier you'll be flying with.

We recommend buying a suitcase that is versatile, lightweight and large enough for all your travel essentials. We advise that you invest in a suitcase that comes with a long warranty because then you are guaranteed durability for your money. Here are a few options to consider:

Hand luggage - We have several bags we used as hand luggage depending on the type of holiday we have planned. For example, we use a small SwissGear suitcase for most of our trips. We also use our Thule bags when we go on a trip specifically for photography/videography.

Backpack - A backpack is always a great idea when going for a short (active) holiday. We primarily use a backpack for our photography gear. Having the flexibility to carry your items with you when you hike it's really great. A larger backpack is also versatile for long term travel if you want to go backpacking around the world.

Duffle bag - We noticed men usually prefer duffle bags to the usual rolling hand luggage. To be fair, we do use a duffle bag when we go on road trips. It's much more practical and easy to take in and out of the car. The cool thing about buying a duffle bag is that you can use them for other purposes too (taking them on a picnic date, using them at the gym etc).

Rolling Luggage - It's the best choice for checked in luggage. We have a suitcase from Samsonite and we love it. We had it with us for the last two years since we decided to go full nomad and it's been great. It travelled across the continents and has been on so many flights, yet it's still intact and in perfect condition.

Decorate your suitcase and label it with tags. Maybe give it a bit of a makeover to make it stand out. This will make it more identifiable if the luggage gets lost and will help you spot it on the carousel.

Organise your items

To organise your things we recommend packing cubes. Ever since we discovered them, we realise how much more stuff we can bring with us on holiday. Packing cubes are also fantastic for keeping everything organised. They are perfect for not dealing with so many creases. Packing cubes compress your clothes so there are fewer pockets of air, which ultimately means more space for extra items.

We use packing cubes for almost everything when we organise our items. We also use them during road trips so we can keep everything well organised. It makes things so much easier and less messy, especially when you need to find something quick. No more digging through the suitcase. The best thing to add to your holiday packing list? Packing cubes! Order yours here, you'll never look at packing the same again.

In order to make it easier to pack, lay everything out on the bed or on the floor so you can see all the items you want to bring with you. We also suggest organising everything by category.

We know you will probably want to pack a lot of outfits, but the trick is to pack smart. Don't overpack because you are probably going to end up not wearing everything.

Holiday Packing List

Here is what we recommend for your holiday packing list. We categorised everything for you to ensure you don't forget a thing. Don't forget to also check what to pack for a cruise. Packing for an overseas trip can include most of the following. The list below can be used for a week trip or even a 2-week trip. For a 3 day trip, we recommend travelling with hand luggage only.

Essentials

  • Passport
  • Travel insurance
  • Flight confirmation (download it on your phone as well)
  • Accommodation confirmation
  • Bank cards
  • Foreign currency
  • Travel money card
  • Spare card (put somewhere else in case of emergencies)
  • Phone
  • Charger
  • Adapter
  • Copies of passport/credit card/etc.
  • Emergency contacts

Click to shop holiday essentials

Clothing

  • Underwear
  • Socks/stockings
  • Undershirts/bras
  • Sleepwear
  • T-shirts
  • Dress shirts
  • Casual shirts
  • Jeans
  • Trousers / Chinos
  • Shorts
  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Suits (if planning on a very formal evening)
  • Swimsuits/cover-ups
  • Coats/jackets/rainwear
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Laundry bag
  • Leisure shoes
  • Hiking/athletic shoes
  • Snow/rain boots
  • Dress shoes
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Purses

Click to shop all holiday clothes

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The Ultimate Holiday Packing List
The Ultimate Holiday Packing List

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/conditioner (if cannot be purchased at the destination)
  • Brush/comb
  • Face wipes
  • Face lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Contact lenses/solution
  • Shaving supplies
  • Makeup
  • Feminine-hygiene products
  • Birth control
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Hand sanitizer

Click to shop toiletries

Health

  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medicine
  • Pain and fever medication
  • Thermometer
  • Allergy medicines
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Sunburn relief
  • Insect repellent/mosquito net/sting reliever
  • Motion sickness pills
  • Altitude sickness pills (if required)
  • Eye drops
  • Medicines and vaccinations specific to the region/activity
  • Vitamins

Click to shop for travel health items

Electronics

  • Laptop/tablet
  • Chargers
  • Voltage adapter
  • Film/memory card
  • Camera
  • Spare battery for the camera
  • Camera lenses
  • Drone
  • Spare batteries for the drone
  • Tripod
  • GoPro

Click to shop for electronic items

Hand luggage

  • Books or e-books
  • Electronics
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Travel blanket
  • Travel pillow
  • Earplugs/eye mask
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes
  • Lip balm
  • Change of clothes (in case your luggage gets lost)
  • Food/snacks
  • Mints
  • Vitamin C
  • Empty water bottle (to fill after security)
  • Valuables
  • Passports and visas
  • Cash
  • Cards
  • Insurance
  • A copy of your itinerary
  • Maps/directions (in case your internet doesn't work abroad)
  • Glasses/sunglasses
  • Your house and car keys

Click to shop hand luggage essentials

Prepare for airport security

You are allowed to bring a transparent bag of liquids, in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint at the airport. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 millilitres) or less per item (and 1 litre in total).

To pass through security as quickly as possible make sure to empty all pockets, take off any upper body over garments (jacket, blazer, coat etc.) and place them in the plastic trays. Belts and shoes may also have to be taken off upon request. All laptop computers must be removed from your hand baggage and placed into a separate tray. All liquids must be removed from your hand baggage and screened in a transparent plastic bag.

Ultimate packing list

For your ease, we put together a free printable packing list. Click on this link to download yours. Feel free to use it as many times as needed. You can print it and fill it in before your travels.

Want to learn even more about how to pack for a specific type of trip? We’ve got more expert packing advice below:

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