Holiday Packing List for 2021

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Updated on: 28 July, 2021

What should i pack? What do you need abroad, what is a “nice to have”? Are you unsure of what to put on the packing list before your vacation? Don’t worry, after many trips I have optimized my packing list and published it for you.

Here you will find an orientation on what you should take with you on your next trip.

Table of Contents

Why a packing list for the vacation?
Is there a perfect packing list?
Why should I write a packing list for the vacation?
Checklist: To be done before the trip
Full list for travel documents, money and credit card
Have you booked a parking space at the airport or a train ticket?
Checklist at home before departure
Hand luggage packing list
Technology and camera (hand luggage)
Hygiene items (hand luggage)
Other travel items (hand luggage)
Luggage: backpack or suitcase?
Tips for packing your rucksack / suitcase
clothes and shoes
Other travel items
Packing list for body care and first-aid kit
Pack a daypack for hand luggage
Security and theft protection when traveling
My tip for the packing list at the end


Why a packing list for the vacation?

There are many things to consider when packing your backpack (or suitcase). It often gets hectic shortly before departure and important items are forgotten at home. Regardless of whether it is an important charging cable, the socket adapter for the travel destination or in the worst case, your passport is no longer valid!

Don’t forget anything and save time!

This is where my checklist comes into play, which summarizes the most important points so that you don’t forget anything! I am continuously updating and optimizing this holiday packing list. Through many trips a year I am constantly gaining new insights. I am also discovering new practical accessories that could also be useful for you!

What questions do you ask yourself while packing?

Questions like “What must I have with you?”, “Which socket adapter do I need?” And “What can I buy on site if the backpack is full?” I ask myself again and again.

You can buy some travel utensils on site, some not and still others (often shampoos and shower gels) are far too expensive at the travel destination.

I’ll answer these questions about the packing list:

  • What do I have to do and check before the trip?
  • What travel insurance do I need?
  • What can I pack in my hand luggage?
  • Which credit card do I need for travel?
  • What do I pack in my toiletry bag and what belongs in the first-aid kit?
  • What clothes should I not forget in summer?
  • What clothes do I need for colder regions?
  • What should be on the list for hiking and trekking?
  • Which equipment is really useful?
  • How do I pack correctly and keep track of things in my backpack?

Is there a perfect packing list?

Do you really think there is ONE perfect packing list? Unfortunately, no. I created this packing list. There are things on it that you always need when traveling. But also travel items, which vary depending on the travel destination.

There is no such thing as the perfect holiday checklist!

Every trip is different, everyone travels differently and every country offers different climatic conditions. Summer vacation or ski vacation? Road trip or hiking?

You cannot generalize packing lists, because everyone travels differently and everyone packs different accessories.

My tip: Use my holiday checklist as a basis and let yourself be inspired to test travel-friendly products that I recommend. You can also find specific tips for checklists by travel destination in articles for travel destinations.

Nevertheless, it is always useful to have an overview of the items that you want to pack. That’s why I’ve created a travel checklist here that you can print out and tick. Save this packing list because sooner or later you will come back to it again and again.

This is how you make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything for your vacation. At the end of the article you will soon find specific packing lists for each travel destination. For trips with outdoor adventures, multi-day hikes or a beach vacation, you need different equipment and, of course, different clothing.

Different country – different packing list

For trips to Peru, Canada, Norway and Japan, I always pack a rain and wind jacket. In addition, a thin down jacket or fleece.

For trips to Australia, Thailand, Indonesia or Cuba, you need t-shirts, tops, flip flops and shorts or dresses that are airy. Right?

Generally speaking, I will always take sunglasses, passport, credit cards and a good travel guide with me when abroad. The right foreign health insurance is just as important on the checklist for us.

So I try to keep my vacation checklist as general as necessary, but as detailed as possible. I have added chapters for warmer destinations (summer vacation) and chapters for hikes and cooler destinations. I always print out the vacation checklist, because I can’t think of everything.

I travel so much that I have a lot of experience of what you should take with you and what you won’t need on the way.

Why should I write a packing list for the vacation?

Depending on the travel destination and type of travel, I have created different packing lists for printing.

On a road trip by camper or car you need different equipment than on a city trip or an adventure or active trip with a backpack.

I am often chaotic and pack at the last minute under time pressure. I have created this checklist so that you don’t forget anything and, above all, only have what you really need with you.

Checklist: To be done before the trip

In addition to planning the trip, there are other things to consider. Be it having the right travel documents with you or checking security at the travel destination. To do this, I always stop by the Foreign Office website. Many travel warnings are exaggerated, but it is never wrong to find out more.

Full list for travel documents, money and credit card

  • Passport (or identity card) – (valid for at least 6 months and two free pages; put a copy on Dropbox
  • Applying for a visa: I look at the website of the Foreign Office for  visa regulations .
  • Credit card for travel without fees – preferably credit cards without foreign fees  .
  • Cash (Euro / Dollar) – can be useful for paying visa fees or at border crossings
  • Frequent Traveler cards (e.g.  Miles and more from Lufthansa *)
  • Travel insurance: A good international health insuranc
  • Travel cancellation insurance. 
  • Confirmation of the hotel reservation, the rental car or the tour operator
  • Tickets for flight, bus or train. I use  apps on my smartphone to save paper.
  • Address of the first accommodation (you will often need it at the airport for the entry documents)
  • Important emergency addresses and telephone numbers of your bank (have credit cards blocked), contacts for relatives or for international health insurance

Optional:

  • International driving licence
  • Vignette / toll card
  • Navigation device or GPS (or download corresponding maps to your smartphone)
  • Student ID (if you are still a student)
  • Vaccination pass (in some countries proof of yellow fever vaccination is required upon entry)
  • Medication
  • Passport photo if you have to apply for a visa on site or if you want to get a diving license
  • Small additional wallet (view on Amazon) *

Be sure to check:

  • Check twice that your passports are still valid and that the passport still has at least two free pages.
  • With some banks, it makes sense to inform them about a trip abroad and, if necessary, to increase the credit limit of the credit card.
  • Scan the most important documents (passport, driver’s license, vaccination certificate, health card, …) and save them online (e.g.  Dropbox ) so that you can refer to them in an emergency.

Tip against theft of your passport and credit card details

Do you know the RFID block covers? These are ideal to protect your credit card, ID card, passport (there are also larger covers) from identity theft. Of course, you can also buy a wallet that has an integrated RFID block.

View RFID block sleeves on Amazon

Have you booked a parking space at the airport or a train ticket?

If you are traveling to the airport with your own vehicle, you should definitely reserve a parking space at the airport before you travel. If you book in good time, you can save a lot of money (eg in Frankfurt via “Holiday Parking” or Platzhirsch. There are now providers like sand am Meer).

I really enjoy traveling by train. On some trips, however, the departure is so early or the return flight is so late that there are no trains. Then I drive to the airport in my own car.

If a Rail & Fly ticket is not included in the flight, I will buy a ticket from the train in good time.

Checklist at home before departure

  • Paying open bills:  Have you transferred and paid all open bills? I keep getting reminders for transfers. Nothing is more annoying than having to make transfers via home banking while on vacation. I speak from experience …
  • Mailbox:  Do you have family, friends or neighbors who occasionally empty your mailbox? Or scan or photograph important documents in an emergency and send them to you?
  • Hiding valuables:  Do you have valuable jewelry or lots of cash at home? Then put everything in a safe. I hardly own anything of value, but all jewelry (especially heirlooms) was stolen from my parents.
  • Empty the fridge:  Have you eaten or passed on all the food that has expired? On long trips, I defrost the refrigerator and turn it off.
  • Windows:  Have you closed all windows and shutters? An absolute “must do”, especially for ground floor apartments.
  • Trash:  Did you empty your trash cans? Nothing stinks more than forgotten garbage.
  • Heating off:  You should check whether your heating is off, especially when traveling in autumn or winter. (Tip: A smart home system for remote control of your heating is ideal)
  • Turn off power outlets:  I turn off all power outlets on my computer and television. So nothing can happen and electricity is not wasted unnecessarily.

Hand luggage packing list

Before every trip, I think about which hand luggage I will take with me: outdoor backpack,  photo backpack  or a completely normal everyday backpack ? Because the daypack is the most important piece of luggage on a trip.

The most important technical and personal items for the flight must fit inside. My camera should be packed securely.

I am currently using these backpacks for hand luggage

  • Photo backpack:  WANDRD, PRVKE “Photography Bundle”  – the best photo backpack for a long time that doesn’t look like one!
    Alternative photo backpacks that I use:  Peak Design, 20 L * (waterproof) EVOC camera backpack
  • Daypack for hiking: Tatonka Kings Peak or Skill 30 Recco
  • Daypack for city trips:  WANDRD, PRVKE “Photography Bundle”

Make sure your carry-on bag doesn’t consist of just one main compartment. Nothing more annoying than constantly having to clear everything out when looking for something. That’s why I often pack a small sports bag / jute bag with all the important things I need during the flight (headphones, iPad, laptop, Kindle, travel guide, …).

Then I save myself searching in the often crammed overhead locker.

My tip for hand luggage:

Before you leave, check what is allowed in hand luggage. How many kilograms the hand luggage can weigh. Meanwhile – depending on the airline and airport – hand luggage is being weighed more and more often! Even on long-haul flights, renowned airlines check how much your hand luggage weighs.

That’s why I always put my laptop, headphones, iPad and other things that I need during the flight in a gym bag. Laptop bags are allowed and have never been weighed for me. During the trip I can use it as a laundry bag.

I therefore recommend that you take a small daypack with you on the plane. I will take the following accessories on board.

Note: is it going to the sea? Since my luggage did not arrive on a trip to Aruba (1 day later), I always pack fresh clothes and bikini for a day. So in the worst case, I have the most important things with me.

Technology and camera (hand luggage)

  • iPhone XS Max and charging cable
  • iPad (If you don’t have a tablet, then the e-book reader. In my case:  Kindle Paperwhite,  which I now leave at home when I have the iPad with me.)
  • Noise-canceling headphones  (MDR-1000X noise canceling and wireless from Sony *
  • Camera, action cam, drone, lenses, chargers, tripod
  • Travel adapter with 2 USB ports * (The new version now comes with a replacement fuse. It has often blown me with many others)
  • Powerbank charger * – charge several devices at the same time if there is no socket nearby.
  • MacBook Pro and charging cable.
  • External hard drive – robust, fast and extremely small external hard drive: Samsung Portable SSD

Hygiene items (hand luggage)

  • Glasses , sunglasses , contact lenses and liquid
  • Wet wipes or hand sanitiser when no water is around
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • brush
  • Transparent pocket for liquids in hand luggage . It is not uncommon for friends to have to leave liquids behind at the airport security check. Put all, really all liquids in transparent bags. Since zip bags have broken too often (and also generate plastic waste), I use this robust bag .

Note:  I had my eyes lasered in 2018 and I am totally happy. No more glasses, no replacement contact lenses and no more fluids!

Other travel items (hand luggage)

  • Travel pillow or neck pillow
  •  Sleep mask and ear plugs (I can’t sleep with it, but all my friends travel with it and swear by it)
  • Pen and the travel diary I produced myself  
  • On the iPad: travel guides , maps (especially for road  trips, I love printed maps) or phrasebook (if you need them when you arrive at your destination, put them in your hand luggage)
  • Spare clothes for at least one day (in case the luggage is lost!)

Luggage: backpack or suitcase?

No matter which trip you are planning: I recommend a piece of luggage that is versatile, light and large enough to accommodate the most important travel essentials. This is the hardest task: finding the best piece of luggage that is good, comfortable to carry and that fits your trip. I often prefer a backpack.

Why? I often have to travel short or long distances to buses, boats or in cities. The roads are often bumpy, littered with potholes or lead through nature. A suitcase with wheels is totally impractical.

I am currently using these pieces of luggage (03/2021)

  • Backpack: Tatonka Yukon 50 + 10 L (women) *  | Male version: Tatonka Yukon 60 L *
  • Barrel L bag by Tatonka (85 liters) made of tarpaulin for road trips with campers or expedition trips. Reason: Can be stowed away small.
  • Barrel M trolley with wheels by Tatonka (60 liters) for shorter road trips and city trips

Note: When choosing a backpack, be sure to buy one with a good back system. I always advise buying the rucksack in a specialist shop and carrying it on for a sample there.

Tips for packing your rucksack/suitcase

Different equipment is required for different activities. Organizing all of these in a suitcase or backpack is often a major challenge. Every time I grin when I see what friends are stuffing into my backpack. They then wonder why they cannot find anything. Or in more humid travel destinations, all of the laundry is suddenly damp or even wet.

My advice? Packing bags or “packing cubes” .

I put all my trousers in one large pannier, and my tops in another. Socks and underwear come separately in small packing bags. So you can quickly find the item of clothing you want. You could also sort the bags by activity (e.g. hiking gear in one, beach equipment in another pack bag).

Since then, I’ve been traveling much less stressful because I packed my backpack within a few minutes when I often have to change accommodations on road trips.

Waterproof packsacks help against moisture . They not only protect against moisture but also against dust and dirt. I use panniers for clothes and the smaller version for documents and cables .

Sorted out and tip:  Forget the vacuum bags for the trip that are mentioned again and again. You have to roll them up and unpack them all the time. The above mentioned panniers or packing systems are much more practical. They are available in different sizes. I own five of them.

Clothes and shoes

The more I travel, the more I value good functional clothing that is light and dries quickly. In addition, items of clothing should be robust. I’m tired of replacing holed t-shirts and ripped pants after every trip. I prefer to  buy these clothes at Globetrotter *  . I can find everything here.

Before you travel, think about:

  • How many t-shirts or socks do you really use on vacation?
  • How many pairs of shoes are enough?

Packing list clothes and shoes:

  • 1-2 long pants
  • 2-3 shorts
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 5 tops (total t-shirts & tops for 1 week – 10 days) e
  • 1 sweatshirt or hoodie
  • 2-3 longsleeves for evenings and air-conditioned buses
  • Underwear and bras (for about 1 week)
  • 3 pairs of short and 2-3 pairs of long socks (depending on the travel destination) are also suitable for hiding money
  • Bikini (men swim trunks)
  • Sarong, can also be used as a bath towel or blanket in air-conditioned buses
  • 1 microfiber travel towel * (space-saving, light and dries quickly). Towels are less and less needed for travel. But when I always have my fluffy microfiber towel with me. Attention: The cheaper the “stickier” when drying.
  • Multifunctional scarf or tube scarf * serves as a scarf, headgear and sweatband.
  • 1 pair of light sneakers, sufficient for easy hikes (e.g. Adidas Ultraboost or Nike Free)
  • 1 pair of flip flops or Birkenstock
  • 1 pair of trekking shoes (flat, depending on the destination)
  • 1 thin wind / rain jacket
  • 1 softshell jacket (depending on travel destination)
  • 1 thin down jacket

I am relatively sure that after the trip you will still have some clothes left over. Humans tend to pack for all options. Especially when you travel to unknown countries.

I advise you: pack smartly and don’t overload your backpack just because there is still space. Try to pack clothes that you can combine with each other.

A pink T-shirt that only fits certain pants has no space in your luggage. How do i do it? I have many shirts and tops in similar colors that I can combine with my pants.

A pink T-shirt that only fits certain pants has no space in your luggage. How do i do it? I have many shirts and tops in similar colors that I can combine with my pants.

Vacation checklist for colder regions and travel in the rainy season

  • Jacket (wind and waterproof outer shell combined with a warm inner jacket – I use for my soft shell, sometimes the fleece jacket)
  • Cap
  • 2-3 long-sleeved shirts (e.g. Patagonia, merino wool has little odor)
  • 1-2 pairs of warm socks
  • (Thin) sleeping bag – makes sense in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan at almost 4,000 meters

Other travel items

  • Headlamp with battery.  The minimalists say away with it. I say: clean it up! It is your own fault if you travel without a headlamp. Because: power outages or no power are often enough when traveling. When hiking (sunrise in Tikal in the dark) you are happy to have both hands free. Just like staying overnight in the bush of Africa, in the Tatacoa desert of Colombia or on the beautiful San Blas Islands in Panama . Also been useful in Costa Rica, Mexico, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and many other countries.
  • Leatherman – THE multi-tool par excellence and much more than a pocket knife. Whenever I forget the Leatherman on a trip, I miss him sorely.
  • Binoculars: Indispensable when there is an opportunity to sight animals. Whether in Costa Rica, a safari in Africa, Peru or Sri Lanka. My robust  adventure D 10 x 25 active binoculars  always come with me .
    →  You can find my Safari packing list here .
  • Travel diary to write yourself  (designed by myself. You can also buy it in the shop )

My tip: write a travel diary during your trip! The memories in it are the best souvenirs from your trip! That’s why I designed my own travel diaries and had them printed. In these notebooks you can enter costs, weather, impressions, highlights and travel experiences. There is also space to paste pictures. Ideal as travel memories.

Packing list for body care and first-aid kit

Personal hygiene items are the most important items besides clothing. Avoid large packaging and use travel sizes.

Currently I am traveling with a  soap made from shower blocks . I use this for my hair and body. Perfect and without plastic! It is sufficient for 2 people for at least 3 weeks.

If you don’t want to do without your shampoo, use silicone bottles  that you can fill. These containers also have suction cups and can be pinned to the wall anywhere.

You often need medication when you don’t have it with you. They are important when traveling! You can buy medicines in many tourist places (Thailand, South Africa, …), but not everything is always in stock. Or you’re in the bush in Africa. Then there is no pharmacy far and wide and you are happy to have medicine in your luggage.

I always have the most important things with me. If you have (chronic) illnesses, you know which medicine you need regularly. For example, I always have Sinupret and nasal spray in my hand luggage.

Packing list toiletry bag:

First of all, you need a good, robust toilet bag that can also get damp. When traveling I use one to hang up, as there is often no shelf space. I can hang the bag almost anywhere. In addition, the bag is robust and has been on many trips, got wet on the outside and always stayed dry on the inside.

  • Toiletry bag to hang up
  • Laundry bags , practical for dirty laundry or for transporting when you bring your laundry to the laundry – I also use it for trips when I don’t want to carry a backpack around.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • deodorant
  • Shampoo and shower gel
  • Sun cream ( I use unperfumed Ladival products because as a child I was often allergic to the sun. Since then, no other sun cream has come on my skin)
  • Face cream, lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Personal care items
  • Hygiene products for women ( menstrual cup , tampons, …)
  • Replacement contact lenses

Additional things:

  • Small mirror
  • Perfume (I rarely have it with me when I travel)
  • Hair care products
  • Clothesline and detergent
  • Shaving kit and extra blades
  • Sewing kit
  • Scissors, nail clippers and tweezers (must be in checked baggage)
  • Small travel hairdryer (especially useful for longer, thick hair in colder regions)

Checklist travel pharmacy – health while traveling:

  • First aid kit or a small first aid kit (there are even waterproof kits)
  • Pain relievers and fever relievers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin complex
  • Nasal spray
  • Charcoal tablets
  • Vitamin tablets against sun allergies, e.g. Calcium Sandoz Sun
  • Hand disinfectant gel  (especially in countries like Mexico, Cuba, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan – where there is not always a tap nearby)
  • Wound ointment, e.g. B. Bepanthen
  • Medicines for diarrhea and nausea, e.g. Imodium acute
  • Plaster (waterproof)
  • Malaria prophylaxis (depending on the travel destination and only after consultation with your family doctor)
  • Sun cream, fragrance-free e.g. Ladival
  • Mosquito spray, e.g. B. Autan Tropical (now I swear by local mosquito balm)

Pack a daypack for hand luggage

You can use a light and versatile bag or backpack in many ways. See point 2.

  1. My tips for the best smartphone apps when traveling
  2. List of my  camera (s) and photo accessories when traveling 

Security and theft protection when traveling

Pickpockets are everywhere. The only option is often a hotel safe. These are usually so small that no laptop or camera can fit in. That’s why there is the practical TravelSafe from Packsafe .

The 12 L version fits a laptop, iPad and my camera equipment (although I always have the latter with me). You can then connect the TravelSafe in the room with a lock. Thanks to the steel mesh, this is a better safe replacement.

My final tips for the packing list

If you still have space in your luggage, you don’t have to clutter it up. Be glad that you still have space for small gifts and souvenirs.

Depending on the travel destination, you can also buy many things on the go. In many countries you can have your clothes washed cheaply (or do it yourself). So you can save clothes and have to take less with you. I know that sometimes there is not enough time. Often there are dryers (or it is hot anyway) that the laundry dries quickly!

Always think about:

Do you need a rain jacket in  Mexico ,  Thailand  or  Cuba ? Of course, the monsoons are heavy, but often very short-lived. Getting wet at 30 degrees is not bad. Everything will be dry again in an hour at the latest. Freeze? Nothing. My tip for these countries: cross them off the packing list.

The rain jacket was very useful in Costa Rica, Uganda or Rwanda. I was there in the rainy season and knew that it would definitely rain. The rain showers were very heavy and often lasted longer. In the higher elevations it was cold in all of these countries. When it’s wet and cold and I’m freezing, I can’t really enjoy the trip.

So think about exactly what you really need. In this way you can reduce your packing lists and save a lot of equipment and unnecessary kilos of accessories in your backpack.

Do you have any other things to put on your vacation packing list? What’s your vacation checklist like?

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