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  • Writer's pictureSadé Richardson

Be Prepared: How to Pack Like a Pro [With Free Checklist]

Going on big trips is fun. Packing for them—the tough decisions, the second guessing, the sense of dread that you’re forgetting something important—not so much.

Here is a checklist to ensure you pack all the essentials for your next excursion, whether it’s to the beach or the mountains, an ocean cruise or a land tour.

Download the Ultimate Packing List Here

Download the free list, and make sure you ask yourself these key questions before you pull out your luggage:

Is your passport up to date?

Let’s start with the obvious: If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a passport. Keep in mind that some countries don’t accept passports expiring in six months. Make sure you’ve double-checked expiration dates for everyone in your party, and renew passports as soon as possible leading into your trip—some may take up to eight weeks. Once traveling, keep your passport somewhere both accessible and secure.

How long are your flights?

Stay comfortable on long international flights by packing a travel blanket, pillow, and an eye mask to catch some ZZZs. These items will come in handy for layovers, or in-between stops on your travels, as well. Extra battery packs are always a good bet, too, especially as you cruise through your favorite TV shows or movies.

What’s the climate like?

It’s not enough to assume that your destination is warm or cold, wet or dry. Weather can change at the drop of a hat, especially with factors like elevation and proximity to large bodies of water. Not to mention some “hot” places cool off significantly when the sun goes down. Prepare accordingly, and check forecasts often before you leave.

Heading somewhere tropical? Bug spray and sunscreen are musts.

Will your credit cards work?

Credit cards aren’t universal. Visa and Mastercard are accepted most everywhere, but Discover and American Express are more limited in their scope. Check where your cards are accepted before you head out, and carry cash.

How long are you staying?

Will you have access to a washer and dryer during your stay? Do you plan on finding a laundromat? For longer stays, pack outfits you know you’ll wear to eliminate the guessing game, and prioritize versatility: pants or skirts that go with multiple tops, shoes that can be worn casually or formally.

What activities do you have planned?

Don’t limit what you can do on your trip by neglecting to pack proper clothing. Whether it’s for swimming, hiking, yoga, or just walking the city streets, the right attire can make all the difference.

The same is true for nights out. If you’re planning a romantic evening, pack an appropriate outfit, and consider bringing a travel steamer to get any wrinkles out before leaving your accommodations.

Spending time on a boat? Make sure Dramamine finds its way into your luggage.

Other tips to optimize your packing:

  • Roll Don’t Fold - This will save you space in your suitcase, while reducing wrinkles in your clothes.

  • Save Space for Souvenirs or Gifts - Whether you plan on purchasing commemorative items or not, at least give yourself the option.

  • Ziploc bags are your friends for chargers, small headphones, jewelry, toiletries, etc.

  • If you plan to read, save space by downloading digital versions of your books and/or magazines.

  • Place dryer sheets between clothes to keep them fresh.

I hope these tips and the checklist are useful to you for your upcoming trips whether you're a first time traveler or an experienced traveler. Happy traveling!

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