20 Packing Tips for International Travel

You’ve booked your flights and accommodation, planned all the cool things you are going to do and the food you want to eat, now there’s just one thing left to do. Here are packing tips for international travel.

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission. Read the full disclaimer here.

Unlocking Packing Tips for Your International Adventures

The thrill of an international adventure is a feeling like no other. The promise of new cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable experiences awaits.

However, before you can get to that, there’s a vital step that can significantly impact the smoothness of your journey: packing.

Packing for international travel is an art that seasoned travellers have mastered over time. It’s a delicate balance between being prepared for all scenarios and practicality. And ensuring you have everything you need without lugging around a suitcase that rivals the weight of an elephant.

In this guide, we’ll share tips and tricks that will transform your packing game. Whether you’re a first-time traveller or a seasoned explorer, you’ll find valuable insights to help you pack efficiently, reduce stress, and make the most of your international travels.

1. Make a Packing List

Start your travel preparations with a comprehensive packing list. This essential step helps you organise your thoughts, ensuring you don’t overlook any crucial items. A well-thought-out list is your first line of defence against overpacking and forgetting essentials.

2. Choose the Right Luggage

The choice of luggage can significantly impact your travel experience. Consider your trip’s nature – a backpack is versatile for adventurous journeys, while a rolling suitcase offers convenience in urban settings. Select the one that suits your needs best.

I love my Osprey Fairview 55L backpack, and for suitcases, I have recently been choosing Samsonite.

3. Pack Light:

Packing light is a golden rule. To achieve this, focus on packing only what’s truly necessary for your trip.

Mix and match outfits to maximise versatility and minimise the weight of your luggage, ensuring you’re prepared for various occasions. Choose neutral colours and versatile pieces to maximise outfit combinations.

4. Check the Weather:

Stay informed about the weather conditions at your destination. Knowing whether you’ll face rain, sun, or chilly evenings allows you to pack appropriate clothing and accessories. Layering is an excellent strategy for coping with variable weather.

A woman standing on a suitcase trying to close it

5. Use Packing Cubes:

Packing cubes are invaluable for keeping your clothes and belongings organised in your suitcase. They help prevent overstuffing and create neat compartments, making it easier to find what you need without disarray. They truly are a game-changer.

6. Space Bags

Along the same lines as packing cubes, vacuum-sealed space bags are fantastic for maximising space in your luggage. They compress clothing and linens, reducing bulk and allowing you to pack more efficiently. These bags are particularly useful when packing for longer trips or colder climates.

Look out for compression packing cubes (like these ones) that combine both of the above. They don’t compress quite as well as a space bag, but are a good compromise.

7. Laundry Options

If you’re embarking on an extended journey, plan for laundry. Quick-dry clothing items can be washed in a sink or a laundromat, reducing the number of clothes you need to pack. This is a practical strategy for staying fresh while travelling light.

8. Essential Documents

Safeguard your essential travel documents. Keep your passport, identification, tickets, and any required travel documents in a secure and easily accessible place, such as a travel wallet or pouch. Always keep them in your carry-on luggage.

Hands of a man placing folded clothes into a suitcase

9. Photocopies and Digital Copies

Before leaving for your international adventure, make photocopies or digital copies of important documents such as your passport, visa, driver’s license, travel insurance policy, and itinerary.

Store these copies separately from the originals and upload digital copies to a secure cloud storage service or email them to yourself.

These backups can be a lifesaver in case your documents are lost or stolen while travelling, ensuring you have a way to prove your identity and travel plans.

10. Pack Essentials in Carry-On

It’s wise to pack crucial items in your carry-on bag. This includes medications, a change of clothes, toiletries, and valuable items. In the rare event that your checked luggage goes astray, you’ll have essentials at hand.

Include all valuables or electronics in your carry-on. Batteries are not permitted in checked baggage.

11. Roll Your Clothes

A space-saving and wrinkle-reducing packing technique is rolling your clothes instead of folding them. This approach optimises space utilisation and keeps your garments looking their best.

To be honest, I tend to do this with some items of clothing and not others, so it’s likely I will have one packing cube folded flat and another rolled tight. It does help with fitting clothing into tighter spaces.

12. Travel-Sized Toiletries

To comply with airline regulations and save space, invest in travel-sized toiletries. These compact versions of your favourite products ensure you stay fresh and comfortable on your journey.

Also, consider solid toiletries instead of liquids, such as solid shampoo (I like Ethique) or toothpaste tablets (like these).

A packed, but still open, suitcase

13. Reusable Toiletry Bottles

Consider using reusable travel bottles for your preferred toiletries. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they also save you money in the long run by allowing you to refill them with your favourite products.

This is a great option if your brand doesn’t produce small bottles or if you are travelling carry-on only and must keep each one below a given size.

14. Packing Shoes

When it comes to footwear, think of versatility. Limit the number of shoes you bring to save space, as they can be quite bulky. Opt for comfortable and versatile pairs suitable for various activities. A pair of comfortable walking shoes and a dressier option for evenings can cover most situations.

I limit myself to three pairs of shoes. Usually my hiking boots, a pair of casual walking shoes (flat black boots, neat white sneakers, ballet flats, something like that depending on the weather, location and planned activities), and a pair of sandals/flip-flops.

Hint – pick up hotel shower caps during your travels and use them to store shoes in to keep your luggage clean.

15. Travel Towel

A compact and quick-drying travel towel is a lifesaver for travellers. It’s not only handy for unexpected situations but also perfect for beach days or poolside relaxation. These towels take up minimal space and dry swiftly, making them a practical addition to your packing list.

I have one like this in the 32″ x 16″ size. It is small and not great for everyday showering, but it works well in a pinch for all sorts of things. You could get larger, but then it starts to get bulkier. It’s a trade-off.

16. Travel Adapters and Chargers

Don’t forget to pack the necessary adapters and chargers for your electronic devices. These essential items ensure your gadgets stay powered up throughout your trip.

Consider bringing a power bank to keep your devices charged on the go, especially during long journeys or when outlets are scarce.

Remember that many airlines have restrictions on power banks. They need to be in carry-on luggage and usually have a limit of 100Wh, so it’s a good idea to check the requirements if you are planning to take one.

A woman sitting on the floor next to a full suitcase

17. Packing Essentials

Prepare a mini first-aid kit containing items like adhesive bandages, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes, and any prescription medications you may need. Additionally, pack earplugs and a sleep mask for a peaceful night’s rest, and a universal sink stopper, a life-saver for laundry on the go. These small items can make a big difference during your travels.

18. Check Baggage Restrictions

Before you start packing, familiarise yourself with your airline’s baggage restrictions. Pay attention to size, weight, and the number of bags allowed. This ensures you avoid excess baggage fees and complications at the airport.

Sometimes it is simply a matter of packing differently. eg: in South America, I had 15kg checked and 10kg carry-on instead of 20kg checked and 7kg carry-on. I just had to put more in my carry-on bag

19. Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a crucial aspect of trip planning. Ensure you have the right coverage for your journey, including medical and trip cancellation protection. Review your policy details and carry essential insurance documents with you during your travels for peace of mind.

I choose Cover-More for my own insurance, but if you are not in Australia, take a look at World Nomads.

20. Personal Comfort Items

Don’t forget to bring personal comfort items to enhance your travel experience. A neck pillow can provide much-needed support during long flights or road trips.

An eye mask helps you get quality sleep in bright environments, and noise-cancelling headphones offer a peaceful escape from noisy surroundings, making your journey more comfortable and enjoyable.

These detailed packing tips will help you prepare for your trip with confidence, ensuring you have all the essentials you need while keeping your luggage manageable and organised. Safe and enjoyable travels!

Before you go…read these next to help plan your perfect trip
How to get Foreign Currency for your Travels
What to Expect at the Airport
What to Do When Your Flight Gets Cancelled


Find flights – I always use Skyscanner as my starting point when searching for flights. One search will give many options including airlines I may not have thought of. This means I can find the best possible flights to suit my needs

Book accommodation – my go to is always Booking.com for the best places to stay. It’s not just hotels anymore, but hostels, apartments, B&Bs and more. I love that the bookings are usually cancellable, and that I can book now and pay later.

Hire a rental carRentalCars.com is my go to here. It allows me to do just one search and it finds cars from many of the different supplies, so no checking multiple websites to compare.

Get travel insurance – you would have heard by now that saying “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”. If we’ve learnt anything from the last couple of years it should be how essential travel insurance is. I use CoverMore for my insurance.

Pick up an eSIM – I tried an eSIM on my last trip and it was fantastic. I set it up before I went so it was ready as soon as I landed, and I still had access to my home number for emergencies. Get your own eSIM at Airalo.

Book activities, tours & attractions – I use a few different websites for this. Viator and Get Your Guide tend to be the first places I look. In Asia, Klook often has more options, and in Australia it’s Experience Oz.

Manage your money – the best way to manage your different currencies is with an account from Wise. You can hold money in many different currencies, and use them with the ATM card or from your phone.

Liked this post? Please share it with your friends and pin for later

Pinterest pin for "Packing Tips for International Travel" showing an image of an open suitcase and another image of a woman standing on a suitcase to close it
Pin Me