Packing Lists For All Occasions

by Ramona Creel

Travel Plans

The easiest way to keep track of your reservations is to schedule your hotel, flight, entertainment tickets, etc. on the web in advance — then print a copy  of each confirmation and store those documents in a file. I personally know the value of having all your ducks in a row — at the last conference I attended, my registration wasn't in the system, and that printout of my confirmation saved me a lot of hassle! Be sure you have the following packed when you head out the door:

  • itinerary
  • airplane tickets or confirmation number for e-ticket
  • car rental reservation number
  • tickets for attractions, events, performances you purchased in advance
  • any discount coupons
  • directions to hotel, airport, train station, major attractions, etc.
  • guidebooks and maps (including maps for public transportation)
  • travel insurance documents (if applicable)
  • travel membership and discount cards

Currency And Important Documents

The”paperwork” side of travel can be a real pain in the neck — you neverknow what you might need, so it's the one place where less is not more.I say that in terms of documentation (especially for internationaltravel), you can never be too careful. This includes the papers thatallow you to access your funds — you really don't want to be 6,000miles from home, discover that you've left your traveler's checks athome, and realize that you have no cash for the duration of your trip(this happened to a friend while we were in India!) Here's a handy listof vital documents to take with you:

  • cash (carry only what you will need immediately)
  • ATM/credit cards (if traveling overseas, make sure these work at your destination)
  • traveler's checks (if you use these, record the numbers and store separate from checks)
  • picture ID (passport, driver's license, government ID, etc.)
  • proof of health insurance and copy of medical history
  • driver's license (international, if required) and proof of auto insurance (if you plan to drive)
  • proof of immunization for foreign travel (check to see what is required by your country)
  • address/phone book and emergency numbers (including your embassy if traveling overseas)
  • business cards (you never know where you might meet a good networking contact!)
  • if traveling overseas, copy of marriage license and birth certificate
  • calling card or long distance phone access number and code (if no cell service)
  • photocopies of all documents and cards (one with you, one at home, in case lost or stolen)

Toiletries And Personal Items

Of course, you can generally always buy toothpaste and soap at your destination if you forget them — but will they be the brands you like? If you're traveling outside the country, understand that some very basic items (like cosmetics or hair gel or even deodorant) simply might not be available where you're going (had that experience in India!) And don't count on being able to find specialty grooming products on the road (things that you can only buy from certain stores or on the internet). If you're going to want it on your trip, do yourself a favor and put a travel-size (3 ounces or less for airport security) in your suitcase:

  • toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, and mouthwash
  • shampoo, conditioner, and hair gel
  • soap or cleanser
  • lotion and sunscreen
  • shaving gear
  • deodorant
  • feminine hygiene products (if needed)
  • contraceptive devices (if needed)
  • vitamins and supplements
  • lip balm
  • q-tips and cotton balls
  • comb or brush
  • contact lenses cleaning supplies (if needed)
  • cosmetics
  • nail clippers and tweezers (can be important for first aid, too)
  • glasses and sunglasses (if needed)
  • ear plugs and eye mask (for sleeping in noisy or lighted areas)

First Aid

Of course, no one wants to get hurt on a trip — but the chances of it happening are pretty good (even if all you manage is a paper cut or a headache). And the last thing you want is to go hunting for a bandage or some aspirin in a strange place, and come up empty. I'm not suggesting that you pack a whole huge first-aid kit — just a few essentials that nearly everyone needs at some time while on the road:

  • bandages (just a couple, pick one semi-universal size)
  • anti-histamine or other allergy medication
  • painkiller (aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, whatever you prefer)
  • anti-diarrheal pills (if traveling overseas)
  • sleep aids (if needed)
  • seasickness pills (if needed)
  • any prescription medications (pack in your carry-on bag)
  • water filter or purifying tablets (if traveling to an area with questionable water)

Clothing

What to wear? What to wear? This is where most people really get in trouble packing — it's hard to know what you might need, so you just start throwing everything into a suitcase. Then, when you return home, you find that you never wore half the stuff you lugged with you on vacation! Just remember that you don't need a different outfit for every day of your trip. You can do laundry, you can re-wear a pair of pants more than once, and you can mix and match. Try packing your suitcase, then going back and removing 1/4 to 1/2 of what you've packed — you'll still probably have too much:

  • underwear (bras, slips, panties/briefs, whatever you use)
  • shirts and tees
  • pants/shorts/skirts
  • socks and hose
  • warm weather clothes if needed (swimsuit, sun hat, lightweight clothes)
  • cold weather clothes if needed (sweater, gloves, hat, scarf, jacket)
  • shoes (if you can't just get by with the one pair you're wearing)
  • belt and ties
  • raincoat or umbrella
  • pajamas
  • watch, jewelry, and accessories (try to bring a few items that can go with anything)
  • workout clothes (it's important to stay fit while traveling!)

Those Little Extras

In this day and age, there are lots of little miscellaneous items that need to travel with you for a successful trip — most of them electrical! I can't wait until the day they come up with a TRULY universal adapter, one that will fit every gadget you own — so you don't have to take a dozen different cords with you to power your cell phone, computer, PDA, camera, iPod, and whatever else you can't live without as you travel. But I digress — here's a list of items you might easily forget:

  • cell phone and charger
  • alarm clock (if you don't use your cell phone)
  • language dictionary or translator (if traveling overseas)
  • MP3 player, portable game system, travel DVD player, and charger
  • digital camera or video camera, extra memory cards, batteries, and any cords or chargers
  • computer, cords, and peripherals
  • GPS (pre-programmed with your destinations)
  • zippy bags (to keep items dry when it's raining or when doing “wet” activities)
  • extra batteries (usually AA and AAA)
  • magazines or a one book (you'll probably have less time to read than expected)
  • travel blanket and pillow
  • notebook and pen
  • currency converter (if traveling overseas and bad at math!)
  • travel lint roller
  • luggage locks approved by TSA
  • sports gear (tennis rackets, golf clubs, skis, etc.)
  • travel packets of detergent and spot remover

Traveling With Children

Going on vacation with kids can be challenging — getting them through airport security, keeping them still on the plane, being asked “Are we there yet?” 27 times in the first 10 miles of a road trip, trying to find a restaurant that will please your little picky eater (can you tell I'm child-free?) Wink Seriously, though — whether or not the actual process of traveling as a family is stressful for you, packing to go on vacation with children is a breeze. In addition to little-sized versions of all the same clothes and toiletries you bring along, you want to make sure you take these items on your trip:

  • diaper bag or backpack for storing all kid items
  • zippy bags filled with non-messy snacks (cheerios, raisins, etc.)
  • a water or juice bottle or spill-proof cup
  • wet wipes for cleaning hands and faces
  • baby food, formula, and bottles (if traveling with an infant)
  • bowl with a lid, spoon, bib
  • diapers, wipes, and ointment (if needed)
  • pacifiers
  • baby blanket
  • convertible travel stroller/car seat/carrier
  • convertible travel play pen/bed
  • a few travel toys, crayons, and books
  • plastic bags for wet clothes, etc.

Heading To The Beach

The beach means fun — but only if you have all the right equipment with you. It's much easier to enjoy the sand and sun when you're protected from burning, have playthings to keep you occupied, and have a comfortable place to sit. While you may not need all of these items every time you hit the beach, this is a pretty comprehensive list of potential seaside paraphernalia — whether you enjoy diving or fishing, splashing in the water or just laying out soaking up the rays:

  • beach bag    
  • swimsuit
  • flip flops, sandals, or beach shoes
  • sunscreen, insect repellent, and aloe vera
  • pool toys (beach ball, noodles, rafts, etc.)
  • water wings and flotation devices
  • beach chairs and mats
  • plastic bags for wet clothes, etc.
  • towels
  • dive mask, fins, and snorkel
  • sun umbrella
  • fishing equipment (poles, lures, line, etc.)
  • coolers and ice chests

Going Camping

So you're headed out into the wilderness for a few days of hiking,  open-air cooking, sleeping under the stars, and nature-watching — you're going to need some specialized equipment that you don't normally carry on a vacation where you stay in a hotel. And it is vitally important that you take everything you need with you — that you not forget any of your supplies or equipment — because it's unlikely that you'll be able buy a replacement out in the woods:

  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • insect repellent and sunscreen
  • backpack
  • binoculars
  • water filtration system
  • tent, stakes, poles, mallet, etc.
  • tarp or groundsheet and rain fly
  • sleeping bag, pillow, and mat
  • walking stick or trek poles (if you use them)
  • stuff sacks
  • trash bags
  • lightweight moisture-wicking clothes (appropriate for the weather)
  • compass
  • whistle and emergency signal mirror
  • twine or rope and duct tape
  • food (obviously!)
  • cookware, dishes, camp stove
  • water bottles or hydration system
  • camp chair (if needed)
  • waterproofs
  • matches and fire starter
  • camp tool and shovel
  • toilet paper
  • emergency blanket
  • trail guide and maps
  • backcountry first aid kit (including needle and thread, moleskin, antibiotic ointment, and larger gauze pads)

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.