Travel Packing

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Because people seem to love packing lists (and since I love lists in general), you can find all my travel-related posts and specific packing lists here, followed by a detailed breakdown of some of my favorite gear.


Amanda and Pacsafe in the Faroe Islands

Travel Essentials: The Top 12 Things I Can’t Travel Without

These are the things I ALWAYS pack, no matter where I'm going or how long I'm traveling.

Amanda with a camera

A Peek Inside My Camera Bag: My Favorite Travel Photography Gear

A look at all the gear I use to take the photos you see on this site.

Amanda in rain gear in Ireland

What NOT to Pack: 12 Things You Probably Never Need to Pack

Here are 12 things that you likely don't ever need to pack for travel.

The Best Luggage and Bags for Travel

My picks for the best bags to travel with, from backpacks to rolling luggage and everything else in between.

The best travel shoes

The Quest to Find the Perfect Travel Shoe

A look at all my favorite travel-friendly footwear (for women). These are all shoes I personally own and travel with!

In-Flight Essentials to Make Long Flights Suck Less

These items should hopefully help make your next long flight a little less awful.


These destination-specific packing lists should help you prepare for any trip!

North America

USA Road Trip Essentials: What to Pack for a US Road Trip

All the essentials you'll want to take with you on a road trip around the United States. I road trip in the US a lot, and this list includes all my must-haves.


What to Pack for a River Cruise in Europe

After my first river cruise down the Danube, I put together this packing list for anyone going on a similar vacation. This is perfect for any sort of river cruise in Europe, and can be tweaked for any season.

What to Pack for a Trip to Ireland

This sample packing list should cover you for just about any season in Ireland.

Packing for a Trip to Iceland in Winter

I've now visited Iceland twice in the winter, so this is the ultimate guide for what to pack for the Land of Fire and Ice if you're visiting during the winter months!

Packing for a Trip to Northern Norway (in Winter)

Going to Tromso or Alta to try to see the Northern Lights? Here's everything you'll need to stay warm and comfortable in Northern Norway in winter.

What to Pack for Backpacking Around Europe

I headed to Europe for 8 weeks in summer 2012, hitting up Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the UK — meaning lots of different types of weather! Here's what to pack.


What to Wear in Morocco: A Complete Morocco Packing Guide for Women

Planning a trip to Morocco and want to know how to dress respectfully but still be comfortable and cute? Then this Morocco packing guide is for you!

Can I Wear Capris in Egypt? (Or a Complete Egypt Packing Guide for Women)

Yes, Egypt is safe to visit right now. And yes, it's a more conservative country, meaning that if you're visiting (and especially if you're visiting as a woman), you want to be mindful of what you wear. This packing lists covers all the dos and don'ts.

What to Pack for an Overland Trip in Southern Africa

Overlanding is, in my opinion, the best way to see and experience much of Africa. This post details what to pack for an overland trip in Southern Africa.


Packing for a Trip to New Zealand

This list is for a spring trip, but could easily be tweaked to apply to any time of year in New Zealand. (Hint: take lots of layers. And a rain coat.)


Packing for Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia seems like it would be easy to pack for: hot temperatures and plenty of beaches. But don't forget that many countries in this part of the world are slightly more conservative. Check out what I packed for 6 weeks in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.


Packing for Summer and Winter in One Trip

It's bound to happen eventually if you travel often — the dreaded multi-season trip, where you have to pack for more than one climate in just one bag. Here's how I fared packing for a trip to both Scotland (in winter) and tropical Belize in one go!


Here's a look at some of my favorite travel gear.

My bag(s)

Kelty Redwing 44 — This small, compact backpack has traveled around Europe with me for 3 months, and Asia for nearly 2. I love how small it is (it keeps me from over-packing), and love that it unzips fully to be front-loading. There are also some extra side and front pockets that make organizing easy.

Osprey Meridian 60 — For trips when a backpack isn't necessary, I've started using a convertible Osprey pack. It has sturdy wheels on the bottom, but also comes with removable backpack straps, should you need them. I LOVE this bag — it's the best of both worlds! I've been using a 60-liter bag similar to this one for 5 years straight and it's still in great shape.

Osprey Farpoint 40 — If you're looking for a backpack that's incredibly well-made but also carry-on-friendly, check out the Farpoint 40 by Osprey. I LOVE my Sojourn, but it's too big to act as a carry-on. The Farpoint doesn't have wheels, but it does have straps that zip away and plenty of interior space.

Packing must-haves

Packing cubes — Like to be organized? Then you HAVE to start using packing cubes. They come in multiple sizes, and usually fit together, puzzle-like, in any size bag. I use anywhere from 3-5 when I pack: one for shirts, one for shorts, one for skirts, etc.

SegSac — I love my packing cubes, but sometimes you need something with even more compartments for things like socks and underwear. I use a SegSac by Gobi Gear for all these miscellaneous items. It's divided up into 6 compartments and has compression straps so that you can shrink it down.

Toiletry kit — Yes, I love anything that helps me organize a bag better – and that includes a good toiletry kit! If you're just taking the essentials (i.e. travel-sized toiletries instead of the big stuff), then this kit is perfect. It organizes your things nicely, and lays relatively flat in a suitcase or backpack.

Day packs

Pacsafe Slingsafe — This little backpack really packs a punch. With anti-theft features like slash-proof material and secure zippers, this bag is perfect to carry around just about any city. It even fits a tablet, iPad, or 11-inch Macbook Air. It's a bit small to use as a carry-on if you have a bigger laptop or more electronics, but it's great to use as a secure daypack.

STM Haven — The STM Haven is a great carry-on backpack. The Haven is slim and will easily fit under any airplane seat. It also has “floating” pockets for laptops and tablets, giving your devices a little extra padding. Lastly, the bag has a ridiculous amount of pockets, which is a must-have for any organizational freak.

Pacsafe Camsafe V17 — Now that I'm traveling with a lot more camera equipment, I've shifted over to taking a camera-focused bag as my main carry-on. Like the Slingsafe, this bag has anti-theft features like slash-proof material and secure zippers. It also has a separate compartment with dividers made for camera gear, which is perfect for photographers. (There's also a larger version of this bag here.)


Anti-theft cross-body bag — A cross-body bag is a must for any traveling woman, and one that is anti-theft is even better. Made by Travelon, I really like this one. It's big enough for everything I would want to take with me for a day (my camera, wallet, Kindle, a scarf or sweater, etc.), and I also love the side pockets for water bottles or an umbrella.

Pacsafe Citysafe — If a smaller handbag is more your style, I'll recommend another bag by Pacsafe (can you tell I love this brand??). This small handbag is made from Pacsafe's signature slashproof material and a RFID-blocking interior pocket.

A convertible bag – Another Pacsafe recommendation coming at you! I usually use this bag in its small backpack form, but love that I can also convert it into a cross-body purse, too. Talk about versatile! I always get compliments on this one when I travel with it, too.

For sleeping/showering

Cocoon silk sleep sheet — We've all experienced questionable sleeping situations on the road. A silk sleep sheet is the answer — it acts like a lightweight sleeping bag, meaning you don't have to actually touch those sketchy sheets or mattresses. These also take up virtually NO space in your bag.

Micro fiber towel — Traveling with a quick-dry towel is a must for most travelers. I never go on long trips without mine. Even if I'm staying in a hotel where towels are provided, having a micro fiber towel can be great for the beach. And, since these towels don't take up much room, packing one is a no-brainer.

Dual voltage hair dryer — In some parts of the world, it's easy to forego the hair dryer and just let your locks dry naturally. But in other situations (I'm looking at YOU, winter), you really need a hair dryer. And, because I don't always stay in hotels that provide hair dryers (and because sometimes hotel hair dryers are AWFUL), I bring my own dual voltage dryer that folds up and packs easily.


Thermal top – This “Cloud Nine” turtleneck by Terramar has been my go-to layering piece for cold-weather trips for the past two winters. I love everything about it, from the length to the zippered pockets to the thumb holes that ensure it doesn't inch up into your coat sleeve.

Silk leggings – If you need some warmth without the weight, definitely invest in a pair of silk leggings. They don't feel bulky under another pair of pants, and yet they do a pretty good job of adding an extra layer of warmth in colder destinations.

Fleece jacket – I'm in love with my North Face Agave Jacket. It's soft and super comfy, and is perfect either as a layering piece or as a light jacket on its own. I also love that it comes in lots of fun colors, and has zippered pockets!


Mosquito jacket – Especially now with the scare of Zika virus, it's more important than ever to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos when traveling. I invested in this BugsAway mosquito jacket by ExOfficio in 2016, and it actually does WORK. The mesh is light and airy, and yet the bug repellent in the material really does help keep the bugs at bay.

Breathable undies – Maybe it's weird to talk about underwear here, but I don't care. When you travel, a good pair of breathable, quick-drying underwear is essential. I have a week's worth of ExOfficio briefs like this, and they are my absolutely favorite. I don't have to worry about having sweaty nether-regions when I'm traveling in hot climates, and I can wash these by hand at night and know they'll be dry in the morning.

Hidden pocket travel scarf – I really hate money belts and those passport-holder necklaces. I think they just make you stand out MORE as a tourist. As an alternative, check out Speakeasy's hidden pocket travel scarves. The pocket is large enough for a passport, credit cards, and money, and yet when you're wearing the scarf you would never know it!


Columbia Minx Omni-Heat boots

Compression socks — For long plane rides (or really any time you're going to be sitting a lot), I recommend getting a good pair of compression socks. They help increase circulation and decrease swelling, and can also help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. I'm a fan of my Travelsox!

Winter socks — For cold-weather trips, you definitely want something that will keep your toes warm and toasty. My recommendation are Heat Holders – some of the warmest socks I've ever worn! These puppies kept my feet warm while chasing the Northern Lights in Northern Norway in February.

Columbia Omni-Heat boots — Going somewhere cold? Then you'll want boots that are not only nice to look at, but also warm! I bought these omni-heat boots for a trip to Iceland, and they did a great job keeping my toes toasty.

Teva Verra sandals

Crocs flat — Okay, so I hate most Crocs shoes. I think they look ugly and obnoxious. But I was convinced to try a pair with the promise of supreme comfort. I found these jelly flats which don't actually look like Crocs at all (and don't have the name branded on them anywhere you can see it), and they ARE, in fact, incredibly comfy. These are my go-to flats now.

Teva Verra sandals — While perhaps not the cutest sandals out there, my Tevas are my most comfortable travel sandal. They're not super clunky, and don't look terrible when you're wearing them out and about – AND they provide great support, which I need when I'm on my feet a lot.

Keen Whisper sandals — Good for hiking or just walking around in a city, these lightweight Keens are my go-to if I don't want to take sneakers but still want to have a shoe that will keep my toes protected. They dry out really quickly if you get them wet, too!

Merrell Moab

Merrell Moab waterproof hiking boots — I'm not much of a hiker, but I still think it's good to have a solid pair of hiking boots in my arsenal. I bought these for my trip to New Zealand, and was SO glad I did. These are ankle-height, lightweight boots that actually don't look entirely hideous. And, bonus, it didn't take long at all to break them in!

Kodiak Surrey II Hiking Boot — Want a pair of boots that will get you through easy hikes, keep your feet dry in the rain, yet still look cute enough to wear with normal outfits? Then these Kodiak Surrey II boots are for you! I bought these for a trip to Iceland in the late summer, and they were great!

SUAVS Zilker shoes – I have a hard time finding sneakers that are both practical for traveling AND cute – the two often don't seem to go together! But then I tried on a pair of SUAVS Zilker shoes, and fell in love. These lightweight, packable shoes are perfect for travel. They fit more like socks than shoes, and are machine-washable! They're super comfy and have become my go-to shoe for warmer destinations.


Kindle Paperwhite — I used to be quite anti-Kindle, but now that I have one, I can't imagine traveling without it! The Paperwhite is great because it comes with a built-in backlight, making reading on planes or in bed a breeze. It's also really small, meaning it's easy to tuck away in my purse or daypack. And don't forget to sign up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited to make the most of your Kindle (get a 30-day free trial here).

Panasonic Lumix – If you're looking for a point-and-shoot camera that takes photos that will rival those of a DSLR, the Panasonic Lumix LX10 is worth considering. I purchased this as my “back-up” camera, and often take it with me on trips where I don't want to lug around my larger camera and lenses, or on nights out where I just want something small I can throw in my pocket or purse.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II — This is my NEW camera; an update from the PEN series model I used to have. It's a slightly bigger, beefier camera and comes with a price tag that reflects this. I LOVE this camera, though, with its electronic viewfinder and tons of settings/options. I also love the 12-40mm Pro lens I bought to go along with it.

GoPro HERO7 Black — The newest GoPro (the HERO7) is an amazing action camera. The HyperSmooth video stabilization and Time Warp Video mean anyone can take pro-level video on their travels. I use mine for underwater footage and adventure sports!

A mini bluetooth speaker – Lately, with lots of road trips under my belt, I've found traveling with a small bluetooth speaker to be really handy. I'm in love with this Soundcore Mini by Anker, which sounds great but is very easy on the wallet.

For keeping charged up

Belkin SurgePlus Travel Charger — With 3 regular (US) outlets and 2 USB outlets, I never travel with out this surge protector. It's easy to pack, and also comes in super handy when I find myself in a hotel room or hostel with too few wall outlets.

Portable charger — When you use your smartphone, video camera, and other electronics a lot, you run through a lot of battery. I've started traveling with a portable charger to make sure I don't run out of juice in the middle of the day!

Skross World Travel Adapter — When you're traveling to multiple countries/continents in the same trip, keeping all those outlet adapters organized can be a pain. Enter this awesome little adapter from Skross. It will work in all corners of the world, AND comes with built-in USB ports.

On the Plane

Coloring book

Travel-themed coloring book – Because, I mean, really – WHO DOESN'T LOVE COLORING?!? Adult coloring books are “the thing” right now, and this is one of the first travel-related ones out there. Perfect for that long-haul flight!

Bose headphones – Whether it's listening to music or catching a movie on your in-flight entertainment system, you probably don't want to rely on those awful airline headphones. Investing in a decent pair is worth it. I love these Bose ones because they are super comfortable. I don't like noise-canceling headphones, but many other travelers swear by those, too.

How Not to Travel the World – Need a good travel read? Check out this book by my friend and fellow blogger Lauren Juliff. It's an easy, fun read that chronicles Lauren's adventures (and proves that she may indeed be disaster-prone and one of the unluckiest travelers ever).


Pacsafe portable safe — Sure, you can count on hotel safes and hostel lockers to keep your valuables safe. However, a laptop or DSLR camera won't always fit into those tiny hotel safes. And what happens when you stay in a room that doesn't HAVE a safe? I highly recommend the Pacsafe portable safe – it's basically a sturdy, slash-proof bag that you can secure around a sink or something else in your room that can't be removed.

Doorstop alarm — If you're traveling solo in a place where security might not be the best, it might help put your mind at ease to pack a doorstop alarm. Simply shove this under your closed door at night, and the alarm will sound if anyone tries to get in.

Combination padlocks — I never go anywhere without one or two of these. They have come in handy in hostels, on buses, and during my overland trip in Africa. I especially like these ones because the wire loop means you can use these locks just about anywhere without having to worry about whether they'll fit.


Dry bag – You'd be surprised how handy a dry bag can be on your travels. I've used mind for kayaking trips, rainy hikes, and even a boat trip where we had to swim to a beach (I was the only one able to bring a real camera with me!). I never go on a trip without my dry bag – because when you spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment, you want to make sure you can keep it dry!

LensPen – This marker-sized item is a must-have for anyone with a camera. One end has a brush to remove dirt, dust, and sand, and the other will safely clean your camera's lens to get rid of smudges and fingerprints.

Reusable water bottle – If you want to do the planet a favor and cut down on your plastic usage, definitely pick up a reusable water bottle to travel with. I love my Camelbak Chute – mine has been to 3 different continents so far! (And if you travel frequently in areas where the tap water isn't safe to drink, you can check out this filter bottle by LifeStraw.)

Want even MORE gear suggestions? Check out my Amazon shop for more of my favorites!

41 Comments on “Travel Packing

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  1. I’m totally convinced that a menstrual cup belongs in every single female backpacker’s pack!

      Eh, I’m not a huge fan. But I do know a lot of female travelers who use them!

    I, too, have been a Travelsox fan but because of my circulation issues related to a heart condition. For years I wore these great sox to work when I was living in casual long slacks. When asked for gift ideas I either asked for a gift from or Travelsox.

    But having moved to Lexington, KY from Cleveland, OH I needed to get familiar with the local stores and was happy as a clam when across the street from the newly discovered Honda dealer I found JH Outdoor store… someplace to augment my online, catalog hobby. They carry a brand of compression sox made by a Chattanooga company named Sockwell. Sockwell also markets Diabetic sox but I ended up getting those through Amazon. I love the Sockwell sox and they are less $$$ than the Travelsox.

    While I don’t wear them with my shorts I can be seen around Lexington wearing my lightweight but reinforced quick dry pants (used for both wilderness canoe trips and Sunday morning worship services), a pair of Sockwells and my Keen H2 water shoes. The Sockwells come in jazzy colors so I’ve branched out from the Travelsox black and navy colors.

    Who’da thought someone could write so many words praising the “lowly compression sox”?


    Thank you so much for sharing these checklists! I am going to see the my new house next week and I have to bring some luggage with me. I am going to move these next month because I still have work in my old apartment. Thank you again!

    I’m concerned about using international plug converters to charge phones. We have older iPhones (4s). Do you use international plug converters to charge your phone or are there special adapters for smart phones? (We’re traveling to Iceland in a few weeks.)

    As a native Floridian, I’ve enjoyed your tips on what to wear/bring to Iceland. There’s a large part of my brain that’s terrified of snow, ice and weather in the 30’s. (I’m pretty sure we’re only allowed to have two days/year of that kind of weather, per Florida statute…)

      Hey Connie! Don’t sweat it! Up until this year, I was also traveling the world with an iPhone 4s. All iPhones are made to handle most voltages, so you don’t need any special kind of adapter – just a plug converter for Iceland!

    I was just wondering – about the Belkin Surge Protector, when overseas do you just need an adaptor or do you need to use a voltage converter as well?
    Ps. Love the blog 🙂

      These days, you usually just need the wall plug adapter, since most electronics (like cameras, phones, laptops, etc.) are made to be dual voltage. The only things you’ll have to be careful with are things like hair dryers and straighteners, because these usually are NOT dual voltage. (You can check on your chargers – the voltage is usually listed. If it’s already dual voltage, it will say something like 110-240V.)

    Hi! I have been checking out your website for a while. One thing I have found to be extremely useful while traveling is the Go Travel clip pouch wallet. I have been using it as my wallet for years now. I attach it to my bra strap or sock and no one can see it. It is particularly great if you are going out and don’t have pockets (like when you wear a skirt.) Or, if you want to go for a run and just want a piece of ID and a key on you. I bought it at an airport years ago and now pick up several more each time I find them. I’ve given them to friends all over the world. It is small, fits credit cards, and hides away easily. I also find traveling with a small bungee cord also very useful. I have used it for hanging clothes, securing items to my backpack, securing my backpack to motos… Another item that is great for girls is the Diva Cup. It’s a reusable menstral cup that I find to be more sanitary than tampons and you just need to bring the one cup. No more searching for tampons in random countries.
    Keep up the great work. And I love your pictures, by the way!

      That definitely sounds like a great travel accessory!

      I haven’t brought myself to try anything like the Diva Cup yet, but then again I never travel for months and months at a time – so it’s usually easy enough for me to take enough tampons with me!

    Hey girl,

    I just booked New Zealand for two weeks this December and I came across your blog. I have been reading it every day since. You write so well and so much incredible experience and passion for travel. Thank you!

    Do you have a short packing list for New Zealand by chance? My boyfriend and I are flying into Christchurch from Honolulu Dec. 3-17. Any itineraries would also be so helpful and exciting.

    This will be my second international experience (went to England/Scotland last Thanksgiving!) and my boyfriend’s first. Still new to the club 🙂

    YOu rock,


      Hey Ali! So glad that you came across my blog! 🙂

      I don’t have a short NZ packing list, though I plan to put one together later this year, as I’ll be spending about a month in NZ in November! I would suggest the following for that time of year: lighter clothing (since it’ll be summer), but also some layers as it can still get cool at night down south. A rain jacket, because the weather can change quickly. And solid walking shoes (hiking shoes if you plan on hiking).

      As for itineraries… if you’re starting in Christchurch, I would suggest Akaroa, Kaikoura, the glaciers on the west coast, Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook, Wanaka, and of course Queenstown! But… that’s just the South Island! Haha. If you want more detailed suggestions, shoot me an email!

        Thank you for your quick reply and helpful information!

        I can’t believe you will be in NZ for a month! Lucky for my boyfriend and I that we will be following a few weeks after. I am already excited to the upcoming blog posts and will stay tuned for a more intensive list for NZ.

        In the meantime I will be researching the itinerary you suggested for the South Island and will shoot you an email once I get it more organized.

        Thanks for your help,



    I love the fact how more i travel how less stuff i Need.
    When I started to travel three years ago I had such a big backpack.
    Nowadays I walk around with maybe 50% less.

      I’ve downsized my backpack recently, but I’ve definitely hit a wall when it comes to how much stuff I pack. I have my few essentials that I refuse to give up, even if it would lighten the load slightly!

    I love this section. I stumbled upon it as I was looking around your archives :).
    Do you ever use space bags…or bags of any kind? I have yet to meet another traveler who likes them, but despite the room, it is nice to separate wet/smelly clothes :). They are pretty cheap too.

      I don’t use space bags, but I do use packing cubes to help organize my bag! I LOVE them, and never travel without them these days.

    Just found your website and signed up for your blog.

    I have been traveling for many years. Initially ever summer with parents 50 to 62.

    Did Europe in 77 for 110 days with a large backpack and a shoulder/hand bag that I carried things I bought until I mailed them home ever few days.

    In 2001 I took my first trip around the world in 73 days and carried only a small roller bag that was also a backpack and even carried dress clothes for making presentations.

    Looking forward to reading more about your traveling

    [email protected]

      It’s funny how, the more you travel, the less “stuff” you find yourself needing.

      I’m glad you’ve discovered my blog!

        I have been traveling only a couple years, but your comment on needing less and less as you go is without a doubt spot on!

          Definitely! (Though, now that I’ve more or less figured out what I need and what I don’t, I still do tend to bring a few extras along.)

            Clothes, hats, cheap sunglasses, vitamins, and some deodorant for the flight is mostly all I bring now. Waterproof by bagging and cellophane if headed to SE Asia. Sometimes a favorite instant coffee unavailable elsewhere will I find room for in by bag. I dislike the traveling portion of traveling immensely.