What to pack for international travel

Guesthouse in Havana, Cuba

This is the travel packing list that I have optimised over time to keep it simple and comprehensive. My travel style is usually mid-range in clearn but simple hotels or guest houses. For some of the more remote places like the Pantanal, Brazil I have roughed it in the wilderness and camped with minimal electricity and water.

  • Passport (funny story about why this is first on my list…)
  • Visa if you need one for your destination
  • Driver’s license
  • Mobile phone
  • Headphones
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Portable battery pack
  • Converter for the country you will visit
  • Cash for your own country
  • Cash for the country you are going to, if it’s possible to have some in advance
  • Debit card – check the fees for foreign withdrawals
  • Credit card(s)
  • Insurance card or info
  • Travel itinerary including flights, hotels and any tours- check if you need to have paper copies otherwise you can save them offline in google docs or an app on your phone
  • A pen
  • Flight socks – cannot express how much these can help with leg fatigue and circulation
  • Ziplock bags
  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Any necessary medication – but check that nothing is illegal in countries you will be visiting
  • Snacks – granola bars, nuts, etc.
  • Toiletries (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, contacts, contact solution, razor, hairbrush)
  • Optional toiletries (e.g. shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, insect repellent, deodorant, hair gel)
  • Glasses (even if you wear contacts it’s good to have these as back-up)
  • A good book or kindle (I usually donate my books along the journey)
  • Eye mask
  • Earplugs
  • Clothes – my rule for trips longer than 10 days is to pack for 7 days and assume I can do some laundry even if it is in the sink. Of course this depends how often you’ll be changing locations. Also, it is helpful to pack clothes that you can layer, and mix and match for different looks.
  • Microfibre towel (really useful if you are going to the beach at all)
  • Two swimsuits if you will be in the water as it’s good to be able to rotate
  • Flip flops- good for the beach, showers etc
  • At least two good pairs of walking shoes and other shoes if you can fit them in or have a need for a fancier pair

Items to add for basic accommodation or camping, though remember that you can often find some of these items when you arrive at your destination. You can then donate any extras back to your guide.

  • Small lock for your suitcase or bag
  • Flashlight
  • Spare batteries
  • Small first aid kit with band-aids and disinfectant
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Tissue packets
  • A few extra snacks
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Small container of liquid handwashing soap
  • Clothes that can dry quickly after washing
  • Sleeping mat if it won’t be provided at your destination

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