The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist for 2024 and the Best Vacation Packing Tips (Printable) - The Vacationer (2024)

Natasha Gabrielle

Before taking a vacation, it’s a good idea plan. In addition to planning your itinerary, you also need to figure out what you will pack. Taking the time to sort out what you need to bring before you leave is an excellent way to prepare well for your trip. If you haven’t traveled in a while or you feel like you’re always missing essential items when you travel, this travel packing guide may help. Are you taking a trip soon? Here’s what you need to know before you pack for your next trip or vacation.

Table of Contents

What to Consider Before You Pack

Before you begin packing, it’s best to think more about the trip you will be taking. After all, not all trips are the same, and some trips may require different items.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What bags to bring: Your travel plans and airline’s baggage policy may dictate what bags you bring. Knowing what bags you plan to bring before you begin packing is a must. That way, you can strategize and not overpack based on the luggage space available.
  • Number of travel days: You want to have plenty of clothes and essentials for your entire trip. Make sure that you pack plenty of items for the number of days you plan to travel. If you’re staying in a home rental with laundry facilities, you may be able to pack less and do laundry during your trip. If you prefer to pack light, check to see if you’ll have access to laundry facilities or if there is a laundromat near your accommodation.
  • The weather situation: You want to make sure that you pack clothes that will be comfortable for the weather. Check the expected temperature, see if there will be rain or snow, and let this information guide you when packing. If you don’t pack appropriate clothing and gear, you may have to spend money when you arrive or risk being very uncomfortable. If you have room, bring a compact umbrella.
  • The type of trip you plan to have: Your planned activities and travel style will also dictate what you need to pack. If you’re all about comfort and hope to lounge around a lot, you may not need to pack many dress clothes. If you’re an adventure seeker who plans to participate in recreational activities, athletic attire and appropriate shoes are necessary.
  • What you can buy at your destination: Some items may make more sense to buy at your destination. For example, if you’re only bringing a carry-on bag, you might decide to buy a bottle of full-size sunscreen after you arrive. When creating your packing list, note items that you can easily buy at your destination to avoid wasting space.
The Vacationer Tip

Review your airline’s baggage policies before packing. Here are polices for some of the top airlines.

American Airlines Baggage Policy
Delta Air Lines Baggage Policy
Spirit Airlines Baggage Policy
United Airlines Baggage Policy

How to Decide Which Items to Put in Which Bags

When it comes time to pack for your trip, take some time to think about which bag each item will go in; for example, if you’re planning to check luggage, some things may make more sense to go in your checked bag rather than your carry-on bag. Additionally, some items may not be allowed in your carry-on bag—such as full-sized liquid products.

If you take any medication or have other essential items that you’re packing, those items should stay close to you—such as in a carry-on bag or personal item, like a backpack or purse. Checked bags may get lost or delayed, and you don’t want to be without essential medications or other necessary items. If you’re packing medications, the TSA recommends they be clearly labeled.

As you pack your carry-on bag, It’s also a good idea to bring at least one change of clothes with you. If something happens to your checked baggage, you’ll be thankful that you have some clothes to change into after traveling.

If you’re traveling with a laptop or another electronic device, like an iPad, keep those items in an easy-to-access place (like upfront or in a laptop pocket). These items will need to be removed from your carry-on bag, purse, or backpack during security screening. If they’re not accessible, it will take you longer to get through security, and you’ll hold up the line.

Further Reading: Carry-On Essentials for Flights and Best Carry-On Luggage

Packing Liquids

As you prepare for your trip, don’t forget to consider which liquids you’ll need to bring. If you’re bringing some checked luggage, you’ll need to consider which liquid items will go in your checked bag vs your carry-on luggage.

If you plan to pack liquids in your carry-on bag, they must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. They also need to fit in one quart-sized resealable bag. If you’re traveling with multiple people, each person can have one quart-sized resealable bag with appropriately sized liquids. Ensure that all containers are sealed well, so you don’t have a mess all over your suitcase and belongings.

When you go through the security screening process at the airport, you’ll need to remove your bag of liquids and place it in a bin; You do not have to remove your liquids if you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. To conserve space, focus on packing liquids that you need. Most hotels and some home rentals provide essentials like shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Before packing, check to see what will be provided at your accommodation.

Packing Shoes

Most people plan to bring more than one pair of shoes when traveling. If you have several pairs of shoes that you want to bring, you may be worried about wasting space. But if you’re strategic, you can pack several shoes and make it work.

One way to save on space is to use the empty area inside your shoes to your advantage. You can fill your shoes with smaller items such as socks, underwear, and belts. If you’re worried about dirty shoes, put disposable shower caps on the bottoms of your shoes. If you don’t have these, you can use smaller plastic bags to protect your clothes from dirt.

Ideas to Maximize Space

If you’re looking to maximize the space that you have available, you may be wondering how to pack your items to save room. Here are some techniques that may help:

Packing cubes: Some travelers use packing cubes for their clothing items and accessories. These cubes can help by slightly compressing your items, so they take up a bit less space in your bag. If you’ve never tried packing cubes, it may be worthwhile to give them a chance.

Rolling instead of folding: Another option to consider is rolling your clothes. This does take time, but you may find that you’re able to fit more items in your bag this way. Just make sure that you remember to roll your clothes back up when packing up to head home.

Choose versatile clothing items: You can also save on space by strategically choosing which clothing items you bring. Consider packing versatile clothing items that work well for multiple outfits. As an example, packing clothing with neutral colors is a great idea. You can wear items multiple times without it looking obvious. Doing this will make it easier to mix and match outfits, and you may find that you can pack fewer items.

Buy some items at your destination: If you only have so much space to work with, buying some things at your destination may be the best bet. Make sure that you consider cost and availability before choosing to do this.

Suggested Vacation Packing List

Having a packing list can help you make sure that everything you need makes it into your suitcase. If you’re forgetful, printing out your list and checking off each item as you pack is recommended. Here’s a suggested packing list to follow as you prepare for your next trip:


Here are our recommended clothing and apparel items to pack.

T-ShirtsCasual shirtsDress shirts
PantsJeansFancy shorts
DressesSkirtsFormal wear (if necessary)
PajamasAthletic wearSwimsuits
CoatsGym shorts

Shoes and Accessories

Here are our recommended shoes and accessories to pack.

Athletic ShoesBootsDress shoes


Here are our recommended toiletries to pack.

ToothbrushToothpasteDental Floss
Nail toolsTweezersQ-Tips
Skincare productsDeodorantShaving supplies
SunscreenInsect repellentSunglasses
Contact lenses / glassesContact solutionMakeup
Makeup removerCologne/perfumeHairbrush
Hair accessoriesHair toolsFeminine-hygiene products
MedicineFirst aid productsPain reliever
VitaminsDental retainerEarplugs


Here are our recommended miscellaneous items to pack.

CameraLaptopCharging cords for tech items
AdaptersCash and debit cardsCredit cards
KeysPassportCopy of passport
Driver’s license or other IDEmergency documentsVisas (if applicable)
Printed event passesPrinted hotel receiptPrinted rental car receipt

Comforts for travel (suggested to pack in personal item)

Here are our recommended comfort items to pack.

HeadphonesCell phoneLip balm
GumEmpty water bottle

Tips for success

With proper planning and good organization, you can ensure that you pack everything that you need for your upcoming trip. The following tips can help you have more success:

  • Make a packing list and check each item off as you pack. It may seem silly, but this practice can help you avoid forgetting must-have items. You’ll be glad that you have what you need.
  • Start with your must-have items. As you begin to pack, start with essential items. This way, you don’t forget to bring what you truly need.
  • Keep items packed up. Once you check an item off your list, ensure it stays in your packed bag. If you remove something and forget to make a note, you may end up leaving without it.
  • Don’t forget masks. When traveling during the pandemic, you’ll want to bring plenty of masks. Mask requirements vary by destination, and you want to make sure that you have what you need before you arrive.
  • Know your airline’s baggage rules. If you bring an overweight or too-large bag, you may get stuck paying extra fees. Check your airline’s sizing and weight rules before you begin packing, and double-check the weight once your bag is all packed up.
  • Consider wrinkles when choosing clothing items. Some fabrics are more wrinkle-resistant than others. If you don’t have access to an iron or a dryer, (I’m not the only one that de-wrinkles my clothes this way, right?!) try to pick materials that are less likely to get wrinkled.
  • Wear bulky items. Bulky items take up a lot of space and weight. If you plan to bring a bulky winter jacket or boots, for example, wear them on the plane. You’ll have what you need without taking up space and weight in your bag.
  • Do laundry while traveling. If at all possible, do laundry while traveling. Whether you stay in a home rental with laundry facilities or stop at a laundromat, this can help reduce the number of clothes you need to pack.
  • Don’t overpack. It can be easy to overpack accidentally. Focus on what you truly need instead of bringing “maybe” items.
  • Ensure your house is in order. Before leaving, make sure all of your lights are off and your alarm system is set if you have one. Other things to do include watering your plants, taking out the trash, setting automatic pet feeders, and notifying your credit card companies of your travel.


Can I bring liquids in my carry-on bag?

Yes, you can travel with liquids. Liquid containers must be no larger than 3.4 ounces, and all liquid containers must fit in one resealable quart-sized bag. If you want to bring larger liquid items, they must be packed in checked baggage.

How can I maximize space when packing?

Experiment with different methods of packing. Some travelers find success using packing cubes, while others find better success rolling their clothes. The more you experiment, the better you’ll get at maximizing space.

How can I avoid forgetting essential items when packing for a trip?

Make a packing list and check each item off as you put it in your bag.

What items should I keep with me when traveling?

Consider keeping electronics, valuables, money, your passport, essential medicine, and a change of clothes with you. If your checked baggage gets lost or is delayed, you’ll have what you need with you.

Can I pack valuables in my suitcase?

While you can do this, it’s recommended that you don’t put valuables in your checked baggage. Instead, place them in your carry-on bag or personal item. Putting valuables in a purse or backpack under the seat in front of you is best because it will be near you. If you place valuables in a checked bag, they could be stolen.

The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

Don’t leave your packing until the very last moment. If you do this, you may be unprepared once you arrive at your destination. With proper planning, packing can be easy and quick. Follow the tips above for the best success as you begin to pack for your trip. See our beach vacation packing list for more specifics if you will be vacationing near the ocean or a lake.

The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist for 2024 and the Best Vacation Packing Tips (Printable) - The Vacationer (1)

By Natasha Gabrielle

Natasha has been a freelance writer since 2015. She specializes in writing travel and credit card rewards content. When not busy writing, she’s either dreaming up her next credit card rewards redemption or traveling the globe. Her goal is to encourage more people to experience the world around them while making smart money choices.

The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist for 2024 and the Best Vacation Packing Tips (Printable) - The Vacationer (2024)


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