Packing For A Trip

Here are my own personal opinions about what to take on a trip. After I wrote this, I found some other good sites:

The number-one rule in packing for a trip, unless you have hired several football players to carry your gear for you, is to pack lightly. You will be moving your luggage into the trunk of your car, out of the trunk of your car, through the airport, off of the luggage carousel, to the train station, to the bus stop, onto the bus, off the bus, back two kilometers because you overshot your stop, up six flights of stairs, and onto the dresser.

While this might be great exercise, you might rather save your energy for climbing up to the top of the cathedral. Leave the bowling ball at home.


Here are things that it is difficult to imagine not packing:


Contact lens equipment and spare glasses
Makeup (for business trips)
Hair care equipment (brushes, comb, blow dryer)
Business/calling cards
If you are doing a low-budget trip, you should also bring cleansing products:
If you will be looking at ceilings (like on a castle or church crawl), bring a small mirror so that you won't strain your neck.


My rule of thumb is to take enough underwear for one week, or for the length of the trip plus two days, whichever is shorter.

If you are traveling on business, you can probably take two suits and rotate between them. Try to take different colors of shirts/blouses; mixing and matching might fool people into thinking you brought more clothes than you did.

If you are going on an extended trip, pick one color and stick with it. If you are part of Generation X, rejoice, as black travels very well. You can get horse slobber all over your black jeans, and as long as nobody stands too close, you'll look fine.

Plan on inclement weather. It will happen, and everybody there will say, "Oh, it almost never rains/snows/hails/blows/floods like this! This is very unusual weather." In particular, be prepared for it being colder than you expect. A polypropelene shirt is a wonderful thing to take traveling with you: it is light, very warm (even when wet), and dries quickly. Packing a Gore-Tex shell is another good way to save a vacation; Gore-Tex rain pants wouldn't hurt.

(Californians and other desert denizens, take note: what will dry out overnight in California might take two days to dry out in wetter climes!)

I also recommend bringing a pair of flip-flops (also called thongs or shower slippers). Not only can they come between you and the strange things that are growing in the bathroom of the scummy dive you ended up in, but if your shoes get wet, this gives you something that you can wear while they dry.


Day pack
Neck wallet or money belt
Tiny flashlight
Tape and magic marker
Earplugs, waterbottle (with water!), chewing gum, food
Phone Numbers
Watch with alarm

Outside Your Country

Phone beeper
Electrical transformers/plug adaptors


Hex wrench
You can get sets of wrenches that all fold together.

Spoke wrench, tire irons
Unless you are certain that your wheel will never become untrue and your tires never puncture, take along these small tools.

Crescent wrench
(Only needed if your pedals can't be removed with a hex wrench.)

Patch kit
These come in little boxes and take very little room.

You might also want to give serious consideration to Kevlar tires. They are heavier, but much much much less prone to flats.

Leave It Behind!

Do not pack camp fuel or even an empty fuel container. In some countries, the airlines get upset about even the SMELL of fuel. (I am not joking. See my New Zealand Trip Report for a discussion of all the hassles we went through.) If you plan on camping, bring a stove that does not have an integrated fuel canister and leave the fuel at home.

It is a very good idea to avoid controlled substances. You probably do not want an extended vacation in another country's jail system, even if room and board is free.

If you are traveling internationally, be very hesitant to take anything for anyone else, especially if you do not know them well. At best, the airlines will ask you lots of questions about what you are taking. At worst, the airplane will explode and you will die. (The Lockerbie crash, if I recall correctly, was caused by an explosive device carried on by a passenger for her fiancee. Nice guy.)

See also Diana Fairechild's How Should Jet Travelers Pack?.

Go to Tips For Travellers
Copyright, Kaitlin Duck Sherwood, 1994

You may reproduce this document in whole or in part without my permission provided that you do not receive money for it, you do not alter it, and you attribute the author (me). You are enthusiatically encouraged to link to this page, but please email me if you do so.