10 Tips on Packing for an International Trip

10 Tips on Packing for an International Trip

Check out these 10 tips to make packing for an international trip a little easier.


By: Nicole S.

I wish I could tell you, "Don't sweat the small stuff," when packing for an international trip, but unfortunately packing for different climates, different cultures and different necessities is not all that easy. For myself, a simple weekend getaway can seem daunting when I have to decide what stays and what goes, so getting it right for an international trip can be downright intimidating. There is so much to factor in. Weather? Activities? Time of year? You name it.

The best thing you can do is focus on packing light and adopt the mentality that, besides your documents, essential credentials and prescription medications, almost anything you may have left behind can be purchased or replaced upon arrival. If you can wrap your pretty little head around this mentality, it will relieve many type-A stressors, giving you freedom to actually enjoy your trip. Here are my 10 must-have items when packing for an international trip.

1. Documents
First things first, and I cannot stress this enough. Go online and make sure all of your documents are together, current and accounted for, and then double check again. Then make three copies. I know that sounds a bit excessive, but it's safe to keep a copy at home with someone you trust, one on your person and one in the hotel lobby safe.

The most commonly needed documents are:

  • Current passport: Be sure your passport is not expiring within the next six months and that you have at least 2-3 blank pages left in your book. Several countries have adopted these two regulations.
  • Visa if needed.
  • Vaccines: Are your vaccines up to date? Do you need vaccine verification for the specific country you are traveling to?
  • Paper copies of the following: passport, visa, flight itinerary, hotel confirmation(s), prescriptions and emergency contacts. Paper copies are necessary in case your phone or device is lost or the battery dies.
  • Are you traveling with your child(ren), but the child's other parental guardian is not? Then make sure you have a notarized letter from the guardian granting permission to travel. It must be notarized.
  • Register your trip with the U.S. Embassy. Make sure they know the dates you will be in the country and whom you are there with.

2. Carry-on Tote
Most of the time, international travel translates into long flights. Pack light, but be prepared.

The things I can’t be without when flying the friendly skies at 30,000 feet?

  • My iPad and wireless Beats. Now that I can watch my favorite shows offline, I am all about binging. I also use my tablet to write overdue emails, listen to my playlists and catch up on podcasts.
  • Disinfecting wipes. I'm not a germaphobe, but the last thing I want is to be ill on my trip.
  • One book, one magazine and a travel journal with my favorite pen, simply because I'm still old school like that.
  • A lightweight pashmina, which doubles as a wrap, pillow or blanket on those never-ending flights.

3. Camera Gear
I'm a "less is more" kind of gal, so I cringe a bit when it comes to lugging around my heavy camera and lenses. I'm upping my game using my camera phone and waterproof/action gadgets. I also love dabbling with different types of smartphone camera lenses (fish eye, wide angle, etc.) in order to secure the best shot since Instagrams are the new postcards of life.

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4. Travel-size Toiletries
While many hotels have soap, shampoo and conditioner, I don't like to leave that to chance, but I also don't like lugging toiletries back home on the return trip. So I always make sure to have the absolute travel-size necessities: shampoo, conditioner, a brush, hair ties, deodorant, razor, toothpaste, toothbrush, body wash and mini mouthwash.

5. International Plug Adapter
No matter how much you are hoping to unplug during this vacation, you still need to charge your phone, tablet, watch, etc. in case of an emergency. Having an electric grounded adaptor with different plug configurations can work with both 2- and 3-pole plugs.

6. On-the-go Chargers
A lightweight, mobile power bank to stay charged on the go is the best travel companion you can have. No matter where you are, it is as though you have your own little generator in your back pocket. Never leave home without it.

7. Travel Insurance
I am a huge proponent on obtaining travel insurance before your trip. For a small amount, you are making sure that everything goes smoothly in case of an emergency, including medical evacuation. I believe it is better to secure travel insurance and not need it, than be in dire straits and not have the means to expedite yourself home.

8. Prescriptions
I can't begin to tell you how many travelers I know forget this one. Bring copies of your prescriptions just in case your bag is lost, you've misplaced them, or they are meds that you don't need to take every day, but might need to obtain due to an allergy or condition. Many countries may ask for you to provide proof upon entrance to make sure the names on the pill bottles match the name on the prescriptions to prevent drug trafficking.

9. A Bag for Dirty Laundry or Wet Bathing Suits
I roll a few gallon-size resealable storage bags into my luggage for bathing suits that have not dried completely when we need to board the plane. And, believe it or not, I pack a clean pillowcase in my backpack and use it as a "sack" to keep all of our dirty clothes in. It makes it so much easier to unpack and start my laundry piles at home and also avoids any cross-contamination.

10. Journal
Sure you are going to have your photos and the memories to last for a lifetime, but there is something so peaceful about writing all of the feelings you experience during your adventure on paper, especially on a train, plane, or ... beach! "I regret journaling," said no one ever.


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7 Tips for Learning the Basics of a Foreign Language
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Armed with the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Chuck Taylors and a boarding pass, Hilton Mom Voyage writer Nicole is on a perpetual mad dash quest to find the world’s best places one passport stamp at a time.

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