Get organized for travel: What supplies will you need to pack for your vacation?


This is Part 10 in my How to Plan for Travel countdown series with one blog post per month containing travel tips to get my family, friends, clients and you ready to go for your next vacation overseas. From August 1 through June 30, I’ll be counting down the tips by how far in advance it’s optimal to plan. If you stumble across this blog post in June, and you’re planning a trip in July, you’re not too late. You’ll just have to do things a little more quickly.



How can I get organized for travel: 1-2 months before


How to Plan for Travel: What supplies will you need to pack for your vacation?



I’ve received requests from clients and friends about how to pack for their upcoming travels. There are two overall methods of packing:


1)      Take everything under the sun with you in multiple checked bags.

2)      Take the bare minimum using only carry-on luggage.


My method isn’t for everyone, so you can decide which tips you’d like to use.


The last time I checked my luggage on a flight was in 2004. That was when I arrived in Vienna, and my bags did not – until two days later. Fortunately, I packed enough necessities for the first 48 hours in my carry-on. I learned from that trip to 1) always stay in the arrival city for at least 48 hours so that your bags can be delivered;  and 2) maybe I should just travel light and not worry about lost luggage!


When I go overseas, it’s usually for 2-3 weeks. I pack enough clothes for seven days, with an outfit to wear on the eighth while my clothes are getting washed. If I’m not staying in a hotel that offers laundry service, I head on over to a Laundromat and blend in with the locals. I bring take-out dinner, some dessert and kick back and relax while writing in my travel journal. I think of it as a café with the aroma of fabric softener.


I’m able to squeeze all of the clothes I need into my carry-on by rolling up my thin “wicking” clothing. Wicking wear is awesome! It’s designed to keep your body dry, which also makes it great for overnight washing if you get in a bind. It’ll be dry after hanging overnight. In the winter, I pack Under Armor instead of thick sweaters. My jacket serves as my blanket on the airplane (instead of using their possibly cootie-filled blankets), so I don’t need to pack it. My day bag (a backpack) has one set of clothes, my toiletries, medicine and electronics. If I ever had an emergency (we’ve been in a few questionable places), I would be able to bolt with just my day bag and leave my roller board behind with my clothes. (I can always pick up more clothes no matter where I am.)


For more details about packing, you can watch my oldie but goodie video on how to pack. (Look how short my hair was!!)


For the exact kind of supplies you might need, check your travel itinerary for the places and events you’ll attend. The websites for each one of those will often contain information about what to wear (or not wear) or what supplies to bring.


Here are a few general supplies you might need:


Current/voltage converter and adapter:

If you will plug in or charge any electronics, you’ll need a converter if your device cannot handle a 220 current. The U.S. is 110; most other countries are 220, which is why your electronics will get fried if you don’t use a converter. The outlets are different outside of the U.S., so you’ll also need an adapter into which you’ll plug your device, then the adapter will fit the plug in the wall. Most devices perform only one of these functions, so unless you find a gadget that specifically says it does both, you’ll need two different gadgets. By the way, it’s cheaper to purchase your batteries and chargers at home, so make sure those are on your shopping list.


Travel purse:

I prefer not to check my bags at museums and major sites, so I carry a small travel purse similar to this one. It’s big enough to hold my necessities (point and shoot camera, extra memory cards, extra battery, water bottle, Kleenex, sun glasses, chapstick, travel journal, etc.), but small enough to be allowed in by security at the venues. Since I do carry-on only, I put this purse inside my backpack when I board the airplane, so it counts as one item. I specifically chose the Baggallini brand because of the high praise it’s earned from fellow travelers, and I haven’t been disappointed.


Wicking or quick-dry clothing:

If you plan to travel with just carry-on luggage, it will be helpful to have at least a few shirts made from this material.


Shawl for the ladies:

If you will visit a mosque, you must be covered from head to toe. Placing a shawl over your head will meet the requirements. To save packing space, the shawl can double as a cover up for the evening. If you plan to visit a cathedral, your shoulders and legs to the knees must be covered. I carry a long-sleeve cotton shirt or light cardigan to put over my summer top and wrap the shawl around my waist if I’m wearing shorts that day.


Money belt or neck wallet:

Security experts advise carrying your passport, credit card, debit card, and the majority of your cash in either a money belt or neck wallet. You can decide which one you’ll be more comfortable wearing.


Travel size toiletries and medicine:

You’ll need these if you plan to do carry-on only. Some of what I use does not come in travel size, so I purchase 3-oz containers and transfer my goods into those. Since there are stores in even the most remote destinations, we usually carry the bare minimum and just purchase a larger size (soap, toothpaste, lotion, etc.) when we arrive.


Wide-brimmed hat:

Since most of our travel is during the summer – and I don’t want any more freckles or wrinkles – I pack a crushable wide-brimmed hat. It smooshes nicely into my back pack or, if necessary, inside the waistband of the back of my pants. It’s also water repellent, so between my hat and my water repellent jacket and shoes, I’m good to go in the rain and don’t need to carry an umbrella.


Ear plugs:

Hotels around the world seem to have thin walls and window panes. It’s helpful to have a pair of earplugs in case you end up staying in a clean, pretty, but noisy joint.



These aren’t supplies, but you’ll want to look into them at this time:


House sitter



If any of these apply to you, you’ll want to reserve them as soon as possible because the great ones book up early.


What other packing questions do you have that I can help you with?



How to Plan for Travel series:

Part 1: Budget

Part 2: Set your travel goals

Part 3: How to choose your accommodations 

Part 4: How to choose your transportation

Part 5: How to develop your daily itinerary

Part 6: What documentation do you need?

Part 7: Credit cards, debit cards and travelers checks – oh my!

Part 8: How to avoid being slapped

Part 9: It’s time to start spending!

Part 10: What travel supplies do you need?

Next time: The countdown begins! Need a checklist?

About Helene Segura

Helene Segura teaches go-getters how to use their time more efficiently in order to have a more peaceful life. For details about her, be sure to visit

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