How to Pack for International Travel

By Christine Bartsch

Packing tips from international jet-setters

How to Pack for International Travel

Packing for an extended trip becomes a tad trickier when you’re traveling internationally. Since forgotten items may not be readily available at your exotic destination, less-seasoned jet-setters often pack with an “everything and the kitchen sink” mentality. Lighten your bag and your worries with this comprehensive guide of insider tips on how to pack like a seasoned traveler.

The pre-packing plan

Before you start stuffing your suitcase with everything you want to bring along, take time to evaluate what you’ll actually need on the trip. Take a look at your destination’s 10-day forecast to help you decide on the best weather-appropriate clothes. Also check out the dress codes for the sights you’ll be visiting, as some might require head coverings or closed-toed shoes.

Once you know the type of items you’ll need, travel experts recommend laying out everything you’re thinking of packing to evaluate if it’s an essential. The question to ask is if you’ll use each item enough to make it worth carrying. When in doubt, leave it out.

Lighten your load

Savvy travelers avoid airline fees for overweight luggage or checked bags by bringing less along on their travels. Travel experts advise packing a wrinkle-free mix and match wardrobe so that each piece can be worn more than once in varying combinations. Footwear racks up the pounds, so limit yourself to two or three pairs. Choose neutral-hued walking and dress shoes that complement all of your clothing.

Trim back on your toiletries by purchasing travel-sized containers to pack small amounts of your favorite products. Save even more space by purchasing products that can pull double-duty, too, such as a combination shampoo and conditioner. Just remember, if you’re traveling with only carry-on luggage, make sure to follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for all liquid toiletries.The truly adventurous might even want to leave most toiletries to discover exotic alternatives at their destination. Experts recommend bringing along just enough toiletries for the beginning of your trip, then buying supplies on the road.

As you pack, savvy jet-setters recommend making a list of all your items. Not only will you remember to pack everything, you’ll have a list of all of your possessions ready if your bag gets lost or stolen. That list will also be a big help at the end of the trip, to ensure you bring all belongings back home. Running out of space? Transform your body into a luggage alternative by wearing your heaviest shoes and bulkiest clothing on the plane.

Check your tech

Tablets, cellphones, smart watches, laptops – while it’s tempting to travel with all your tech toys, savvy travelers limit themselves to one or two. Fewer devices means fewer chargers and cords to keep track of, and less money at risk if your tech gets lost, stolen or broken. Don’t forget that international electricity has different outlets and voltage, so you need an outlet adapter/wattage converter for each device too. International accommodations may also have fewer outlets than you’re used to, so you may also not have enough places to plug in if you pack too many devices.

Security: Locks and travel docs

Staying safe is a top priority when traveling, and not just for your person. Take precautions that ensure the security of your possessions, money and identification documents, too. Keep your passport, ID, tickets and some emergency money secure in your carry-on bag in a pocket that’s sealed yet accessible. During the trip, travel experts recommend a money belt, which can protect you from pickpockets that target tourists. If you plan on securing your luggage with a lock, make sure to purchase TSA-recognized locks.

A trip to remember

Ever scroll through your travel photos from trips gone by and wonder, “Where did I take this photo?” A travel diary or a small notebook won’t take up much space and serves as a reminder to jot down sights, restaurant names and a few memories. Photos aren’t the only way to remember your vacation. Chances are you’ll pick up one, two or a dozen souvenirs at your destination and you’ll need a way to get them back home. As you pack, remember to leave a little extra space for those mementos.

About the Author

A former art instructor, high school counselor and party planner, Christine Bartsch writes fashion, travel, interior design, education and entertainment content. Bartsch earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in communications/psychology/fine arts from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a creative writing Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University. She's written scripts for film/television productions and worked as the senior writer at a video game company.