Save time and be prepared with the ultimate holiday packing list, with a PDF version you can print at home. There's no time to waste, let's get packing!
The Ultimate Holiday Packing list With Printable
Here's the ultimate holiday packing list to suit every situation with a free printable travel packing list for you to download.
Seriously. We're assuming nothing and cover luggage, visas, medication and what to wear while travelling and I've organised it into a streamlined system so no-one gets overwhelmed.
I've also put links to anything you may need to buy next to the travel tips and gathered them together on a single page in my Amazon Travel Shop (if you buy something that way, it costs exactly the same to you but I may earn a small commission. Hurrah!)
To get your printable copy of this holiday packing list, simply pop your details in the form below.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLE Holiday PACKING LIST
How to Use the Ultimate Travel Packing List
Travel checklists are supposed to make things easier, not harder. So here's how I've arranged things.
- The essential sections come first. You need these for all trips.
- They are organised in time order: ultimately, you can buy toiletries at most final destinations. You cannot fix missing medication or visas.
- Specialist travel checklists come at the end. These cover road trips, flying with babies, hiking holidays and so on.
Who is this Travel Packing List for?
I've really tried to make this accessible and useful, while also streamlined.
The ultimate holiday packing list works for men and women, international and domestic travel, travel to Europe and beyond. Certain sections link out to more hyper-focused lists, such as the cabin luggage essentials or what to pack for a walking holiday.
But don't get too bogged down with this.
Get reading the list and get packing!
Your Holiday Packing LIst: The Ultimate Holiday Checklist
Health should always come first. If travelling abroad or for any extended period of time, book an appointment with your doctor or nurse to check whether you need any vaccinations, antimalarial medications or a back up plan for your prescription supply.
When it comes to packing, here are the essentials for any holiday packing list:
- Prescription medication - include a copy of the prescription, contact details for your doctor and pharmacy, a sharps box for any needles, and a plastic, airtight container to keep tablets from getting crushed.
- Paracetamol for all purpose pain and inflammation relief.
- A Travel First Aid Kit containing compeed blister protection, sticking plasters, antihistamines, antiseptic wipes, gaviscon, loperamide, sterile gauze and tape at a minimum. You can buy prepared first aid kits here.
- Sunscreen - pack at least factor 30 SPF and consider special sunscreen for your face. Children should have factor 50 SPF.
- Insect repellent, bug spray and bite treatment. I like this new, non-cream Bite Away gadget, which decreases itch and pain with a neuroscience-focused blitz of heat. You can buy one on Amazon here.
- Prescription glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses, with spares and your prescription.
- Travel sickness pills and bracelets if you need them.
Travel Documents and Holders
A good rule of thumb is to have a copy of everything on your phone and stored in the cloud. For really important documents, such as passports, make sure someone has a copy who is staying at home.
Make sure to add to your holiday packing list:
- Passport and visas
- Travel insurance documents
- Car documents if required (see this road trip essentials checklist.)
- Contact numbers
- Flight details, hotel details, phrases for your destination
- Paperwork for any medication
- Paperwork for a child travelling with you who does not share the same family name.
- Loyalty cards and frequent flyer numbers.
- Travel money.
Travel Money Tips
Ooh, travel money deserves an article on its own.
Here's the short version:
- Cash - take some cash with you in the local currency but no more than you'd need for 1 - 2 days. It's also helpful to have some US dollars in small denominations to help you get out of any emergency situations. Avoid changing money at the airport or in large hotels as the rates are usually really high. If possible, book cash in advance by following the advice from Money Saving Expert here.
- Credit cards - do take a credit card with you, with maybe one backup, but leave the rest at home. Contact credit card companies in advance so that they don't block your card while you're away. Put one into your checked luggage and one into your personal item. Set up text alerts for unusual spending so that you can cancel them the moment someone starts to use it for something dodgy.
The jury's out on whether you need a money belt. These lightweight fabric holders slip beneath the waistband of your trousers and protect some of your money and important documents from being stolen by pickpockets.
I would say that in most places in the world, you don't need them. However, they are really useful if you will be sleeping anywhere in public (think long coach journeys, train journeys and backpacking) and in high crime areas. I would also suggest you also carry a wallet anyway.
Yes, savvy criminals know that tourists wear them but so what? I've found them useful over the years in the situations I mention above.
Chic Document Holder
These days, though, I rarely need a money belt. Instead, I use a "grown up" document holder that helps to keep everything together. The ideal one should be zippable so that things don't fall out and have space for a pen (for all those immigration forms and luggage labels.) As a bonus, it should have a wrist strap so that you don't lose it at the airport among all the other commotion.
I'm not a fan of passport holders as I don't really see the point. You have to take your passport out at checkpoints and, well, it doesn't really matter if the picture rubs off the outside of the passport ;-)
Plastic Document Holder
Yes, plastic has a bad name at the moment but at least these plastic wallets are reusable. Instead of carrying everything in the "nice" document holder, I put the essentials in there I'll need for that day and everything else into an A4 plastic wallet that can be stashed in my cabin luggage or suitcase.
Now we're on to the fun part! Wait, not everyone finds testing out different bags or suitcases fun?! Weird.
Never skimp on having decent luggage. The fallout (quite literally) just isn't worth it from substandard stuff.
But what kind of luggage you need depends on your trip. I've written a guide to the best cabin luggage for all occasions here for when you are travelling hand luggage only.
For checked-in bags or when you aren't flying, your options are:
Only for the truly fit and strong. And only useful if you will be squeezing bags into small spaces on trains, small safari planes that won't accept anything else, or if you plan on travelling anywhere where you will need to carry your luggage across sand, cobbles or anything else too uneven.
I used backpacks for years and my back and shoulders have never really forgiven me. Don't feel you need to. Most of the time, a wheelie is fine!
Backpack and Wheelie Combo
I tried one of these during my transition from backpack to wheelie. They are a useful idea but the zip up wheeled part does add weight and is quite uncomfortable to carry. The best I found was the Osprey Farpoint Travel Backpack.
Yes! Four wheels are better than two. Hard cases are good for travel to countries where you can't be sure how secure your luggage is going to be. Soft cases are good for squeezing into car boots and trunks or trains in Europe. My favourites include the Samonsite wheeled luggage series for hard cases and the Osprey Transporter 120 for more of an adventure wheelie.
This is like the backpack only worse! Unless you are a tall, young, strapping, fit and able adult, avoid this. If you are, the Northface Duffel bags are very popular.
Your Travel Wardrobe Holiday Essentials
Start by sketching out each day of the trip, with a note on what you will be doing and wearing in the day and evening for each day. This should jog your memory for any unusual activities that require special gear and help make sure that you neither overpack or underpack.
Think layers and think capsule wardrobe.
Travel Checklist Essential: A Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is just a fancy name for having clothes that you can mix and match and which all go together. This takes a bit of preparation.
It's good to choose one neutral colour, one brighter colour and then one accent colour.
I tend to wear black, blue and yellow. They go together well and mix and match nicely. I also look out for things which don't crease and which don't need special care on the road.
Watch out for the full article in weeks to come, but in the meantime, check out this brilliant wardrobe starter guide from Putting Me Together.
Any trip longer than 10 days will require some laundry while you're away, so don't try to pack something for each day of a three week trip.
Here's the clothing holiday packing list:
- Underwear - one per day up to 10 days
- Socks - one pair per day up to 10 days
- Tops/T shirts/shirts- one per day up to 10 days
- Trousers - 2-3 per 10 days. One pair if hot weather destination.
- Shorts and skirts - 1 per 10 days. 2-3 if hot weather destination.
- Pullover/cardigan/jumper/jersey - one per five days
- Shoes - one snazzy pair, one casual pair. Both suitable for walking in.
- Dress - take out one top for each dress you pack.
- Do you need a blazer/jacket/ suit for this trip?
- Do you need any special sports clothes or beach wear?
- Do you need ties, jewellery, hats or hair accessories? If the answer isn't a definite yes, it's a no...
- Sleepwear if you wear it ;-) Or if you're staying at your in-laws...
- Coat - ideally lightweight and low maintenance.
Inside tip: always make sure you have at least one outfit that covers your shoulders and ankles and one pair of shoes that aren't flip flops. That covers most dress codes for temples, restaurants and so on.
Another fun part! While many travel checklists include all kinds of travel gadgets that you don't actually need, here are the bare essentials. With, well, OK, a few nice things throw in.
- Travel adapter.
- Multi plug port to help charge things from one adapter
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Laptop or tablet and case (if required)
- Charging cables for all gadgets
- Travel camera
- Spare batteries or hard drives to store photos
- Torch or head lamp
- Power bank
- Cable organiser
Most of these are pretty generic but if you have something that really does the trick then make sure to stock up in advance. You can always pour it into smaller bottles if you need to.
Here are the ultimate holiday packing travel essentials for your toiletry bag:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hairbrush and any gel, mousse, brush, what have you
- Sunscreen (in case you missed it higher up!)
- Mouthwash, dental floss, any other dental things
- Shower gel (ditch this if you're staying in hotels)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Tweezers, nail clippers or nail scissors
- Ear buds and ear plugs
- Make up and make up remover
- Feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads if required
- Razors and shaving cream
- Eye drops
- Hairbrush, hairbands, other hair accessories
Travel Hack Gear
- Swiss army knife
- Head torch
- Food - dried packets of couscous, nut grain bars and rice cakes help out in emergencies.
- Tissues and toilet paper
- Packing cubes
- Travel pillow
- Book or magazine
- Safari vest for tight carry on situations. Fill the pockets with heavy items to extend your allowance.
- Eye mask and ear plugs to help you sleep on a plane.
- Scarf. Doubles up as a pillow, covers shoulders or hair if needed and ties your luggage together if things break.
- A spare bag (folding, to fit in extra luggage or serve as a daypack while you are away.)
- Glasses case if you plan on using contacts on the ground.
- Travel umbrella
- Hand sanitizer.
Travel Packing Checklists for Special Situations
Travelling with children requires a section of its own. So I wrote one! Find the family travel tips and advice here. In particular, look out for the best baby travel gear (and the things you don't need) and a handy list of travel toys for toddlers.
Travel Checklist for Beach Holidays and Vacations
Yes, it's your vacation packing list. For beaches and warm spots, make sure to pack:
- Swimwear x 2
- Lightweight cover up outfit
- Flip flops or sandals
- Lightweight bag you don't mind getting sandy
- Plastic bags to carry home wet swimwear. Or are more eco-friendly, reusable wet bag like this.
Travel Checklist for Sports
- Footwear - specialist shoes and boots or socks
- Sports bag
- Sports bra
- Layered sports clothes
Business Travel Checklist
- Business cards
- Pass or ID
- Workout clothes - inc swimwear and goggles if hotel has pool
- Lint roller if appearance matters
- Suit holder
Off the Beaten Path Checklist
For the truly ultimate packing list, you're going to need to think of every eventuality. If you'll be heading far from shops and supplies, then think of:
- Toilet paper
- Small bottle of laundry detergent
- More advanced first aid kit: antibiotics, sterile needles, sterile syringes.
- Water bottle
- Wet wipes and hand santizer
- Travel alarm
Read about more packing tips and travel tips here.