International Travel Packing List

December 30, 2019 · 7 minute read

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International Travel Packing List

More Americans than ever before are taking to the skies to travel to new countries. According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office, a record 93 million Americans traveled internationally in 2018. Now it could be your turn to pack your bags and go.

But, before you go anywhere packing is a necessity. One good way to pack for an international trip is by making a list and checking it twice, then maybe a third time, to ensure you have everything you need. Here’s a quick list of things you might want to pack for international travel based on an eight-day trip.

What Clothes to Pack When Traveling

Your clothing packing list might vary depending on your destination and length of stay. But, in general, bringing layering options works well.

Not only could this help you overcome any temperature swings, it might also allow you to mix and match to create more outfits with fewer articles of clothing. For optimal flexibility, you might want to bring clothes that fit into a similar color palette.

Shirts: Four short-sleeve shirts and two long-sleeve options. You could also pack one nicer blouse if you know you’re going somewhere with a dress code.

Pants: Two—yes, just two—pairs. On an eight-day trip, you should only need one lightweight and one heavier pair of pants, like jeans, to get by.

Undergarments: A pair of undies for each day of your trip and one extra pair just in case your flight is delayed. And you might want to pack at least two pairs of socks, depending on your destination, preferably made from moisture-wicking material.

Bathing suit: You might want to throw at least one bathing suit in your bag, even if you aren’t going somewhere warm. You never know when a hotel may have one or the opportunity for swimming will arise.

Shoes: Shoes can be bulky, so you might want to minimize the number of pairs you bring. Sightseeing often requires lots of walking, so you could bring along one pair of sturdy, supportive shoes you can walk miles in.

A pair of nicer shoes, like loafers, dress shoes, boots, or heels, for dinners or evening events could come in handy as well. Ideally, these will be comfortable as well. If your suitcase is tight on space, you might want to wear the bulkiest pair on the plane.

Jacket: This, again, depends on where you’re going. But, for most destinations, you’ll likely need just one: Either a light coat for warmer destinations or a heavier coat to cooler climates. You could wear this on the plane to save room in your bag and it could double as a blanket if you get cold in-flight.

Sleepwear: A T-shirt and a pair of shorts or lounge pants can easily fold into a side pocket of your bag, saving you space.

Toiletries and Personal Health

The good part about traveling internationally is the fact that your hotels—and even most home-share rentals—likely come with toiletries included. So unless you have preferred brands, you could skip the shampoo, conditioner, or body wash. However, there are still a few things you may want to pack for yourself.

Hairbrush or comb: A small brush or comb packs away easily and might help keep you presentable.

Small plastic baggies: Many airports require travelers to take any liquids out of their bag and place them in small plastic baggies before going through security. You could save some time and pack your own.

Laundry soap: You could pop a little laundry soap into a small container and put it in your toiletry bag. Though you may not be able to find a washer and dryer everywhere you go, you could still launder your clothing in a hotel sink or shower if need be.

Diarrhea medication: There is nothing quite as bad as getting an upset stomach while traveling. But traveling means mixing up your routine and trying new foods, both of which can affect your gut health. And traveler’s diarrhea is an unfortunate reality for 30% to 70% of travelers of travelers according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Having some remedies on hand could help if you’re one of them.

Pain relievers: Headaches, muscle aches, or general pains can get you down on the road. You could bring a bottle of your preferred pain killer so minor aches and pains don’t prevent you from enjoying each day of your vacation.

Eye drops: For those with contact lenses, you might want to make sure you pack enough solution to last for your entire trip. For those who wear glasses or don’t need any corrective lenses, eye drops might come in handy if allergies act up.

Benadryl: Speaking of allergies, it could be prudent to pack some Benadryl in case of unforeseen allergic reactions.

Tech-Savvy Travelers

It’s 2019, which means you probably don’t leave home without your electronics anyway. But, there still may be a few tech-savvy items you might forget.

Smartphone: Yes, you’re likely going to bring along your phone. But, before you go, you might want to download any apps you may need in your destination. That could include offline maps, language translators, airline apps to keep all your documents in one place, and more.

GPS system: If you’re going off the beaten path, or anywhere you’re unfamiliar with, it could be smart to bring along an external GPS system, a GPS watch, or download a GPS app on your phone. That way, you’ll always know how to get to where you’re going.

Camera: Though your phone likely has a camera built in, you may want to bring a dedicated camera capable of taking higher-quality images and video, like a DSLR. With it, you might also bring along an extra battery, a charger, and at least two memory cards just to be safe.

Chargers: Before you depart, you could catalog each of your electronic items and ensure you not only have a corresponding charger but also have the corresponding adapter for the country you’re heading to.

Important Documents

On your trip, you might need a few documents. You could keep them all handy in a folder that stays in the same pocket of your bag throughout the trip.

Passport: This is a biggie. Not only will you not be able to board a plane, but you’ll likely not be able to enter many places, or return home, without it.

You might want to print out a copy of your passport and passport photo. This way, if your passport is lost or stolen, the local embassy may be able to expedite a new one.

Car rental and hotel reservation agreement: You might consider printing out your car rental agreement with all the pricing listed so you don’t need to haggle on arrival. Same goes for hotel reservations.

Money and Insurance

You won’t get very far if you forget your dollars—or pesos, or francs, or euros—or whatever other foreign currency you need.

Cash: You could bring a mix of local currency, but you might not want to bring too much on your person. That way you minimize your own security risk, but still have enough handy for a cab, a coffee, or a tip. A debit card that offers reimbursement for ATM fees worldwide could also be an asset while traveling. With SoFi Checking and Savings®, you can use any ATM that accepts Mastercard® and be reimbursed for the fee. (subject to change)

Copy of your travel insurance: While travel insurance isn’t a requirement, it could be a handy addition for longer, more expensive excursions. It could help protect you in case of emergency, evacuation, or could even help you get reimbursed if you need to cancel all or part of your trip.

The Little Extras

Here’s where you can get a little fancy-free with your luggage and pack a few items you simply must have with you. Some fun additions may include:

A journal: You could create an archive of your favorite travel experiences. It might include a record of restaurants you loved, amazing museums, and the people you met along the way. With time, little details can become fuzzy, and having a journal detailing your trips and adventures might be invaluable.

A scarf: This is a versatile item for any traveler. It can help keep you warm, add a little life to an outfit, and it can double as a blanket (or pillow) on long-haul flights.

A great book: Traveling sometimes means you’ll be sitting—a lot. Planes, trains, and automobiles take a lot of time, which you could put to good use by reading a great book along the way.

Going somewhere? Bring your SoFi Checking and Savings® card with you to always have a friend right in your pocket.

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