Packing for an international trip is a tricky process. You want to be prepared for anything, but you can’t lug everything you own around the world with you. Find the sweet spot by focusing on the essentials, starting with the items on this list.
Comfortable walking shoes: Great walking shoes are crucial to a good experience abroad. You can’t enjoy yourself if you’re wincing in pain all day.
Cardigans or pull-over sweaters: Layering is essential to on-the-go dressing. Store a cardigan or a thin pullover in your day pack and use it to warm up on a chilly morning or a brisk evening.
Long pants: Even if you’re traveling to a hot climate, bring at least one pair of long pants. Some religious sites won’t admit you if you’re wearing shorts.
Over-the-counter medicines: The pain relievers, allergy medications and other over-the-counter drugs you’re accustomed to may not be easily available internationally. Pack a small supply of these medicines in your carry-on so you’ll be prepared if you’re separated from your checked luggage.
Battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock: These clocks don’t require access to a specific type of power outlet, which is a major benefit when you’re vacationing overseas.
Scarves: Bring two scarves along with you. If you’re traveling to a cold climate, choose thicker, warmer materials. In warmer climates, gauzy scarves can keep the sun off your face and the sweat out of your eyes.
Sunscreen: Sunscreen can be expensive abroad, especially in beach-filled, tropical locations. Bring a biodegradable sunscreen with a high SPF, and wear it every day—even in chilly weather. Remember, if you’re outside, you need to protect your skin from the sun.
Towel and washcloth: Many hostels don’t provide towels or washcloths, so carry thin, packable versions with you. Look for microfiber towels that dry quickly and won’t take up much room in your bag.
Small items and toiletries: Remember to bring the basics, from toothpaste to feminine hygiene products to hair styling tools. Small comforts from home can ease your morning routine and make your trip much more comfortable.
Travel documents: Bring your important paperwork, including your passport, visas, driver’s license and airline tickets. You should also make copies of your passport and visas just in case you misplace the originals.
Traveling abroad requires you to pack mindfully and effectively. Use this list to identify the essential items for your trip, and leave the extras at home. Soon, you’ll be boarding a plane with a pleasantly light bag that still contains everything you’ll need for your exciting international journey.