10 Items You Wish You Packed

packing11. Travel Alarm Clock-Talk about a bummer if you oversleep for an important event.  A lot of you may use your cell phones as alarm clocks, but when traveling abroad, this may not be so reliable.  Spend a few bucks to have an alarm clock to get you where you need to be on time.

2. Poster Tube-Souvenirs can be expensive and take up too much space.  Posters are an easy solution to capturing moments without spending too much or taking up empty space in your bag.  I constantly look at my posters and I am instantly reminded of past adventures.

3.  Audio Recorder-This item is not only good for people considering an audio journal, but also for anyone wanting to capture the audio memories.  Maybe you hear a band playing on the street or have an opportunity to talk to someone that you’d like to record.  Sometimes I feel a stronger connection listening to the tone of my voice as I describe memorable moments than any photo or journal entry.  I love looking back at my perspective during that snapshot of time.  This small, handy device can be useful in multiple situations.

4. Copy of Important Documents-Make copies of your passport, credit cards, license, and anything else that would be important to have if it was lost.  Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with losing a passport or credit card, but being prepared for it is smart.

5. Ziploc Bags-I collect odd things sometimes.  Rocks, sand, and other little trinkets.  Ziplocs take up little to no space, are cheap, and they may be useful in the future.

6. Friend/Family Addresses-Postcards mean more than you might know.  I am a teacher and anytime I travel I ask students to jot down their info if they want a postcard.  A few minutes can make a big impact.

7. Band aids-Blisters, cuts, broken nails, and more can put a little damper on your comfort.  You will probably need a band aid, so take some with you.

8. Back-up Bag-Carry-on is the way to go, but sometimes you find cool stuff along the way.  Go with just carry-on, but have a backup bag for souvenirs on the trip home.  I typically check my original carry-on bag and use a new bag for the plane ride.  Some bags only take up about one cubic inch of space.

9. Packing Cubes-If you are traveling to multiple destinations, this can be very time-saving.  I went on a 21-day trip that involved no more than two nights in each location.  I ended up repacking each time we went somewhere new.  With packing cubes, you can pack strategically and avoid repacking each time you visit a new place.

10. Swiss Army Knife (Checked Luggage)-Corkscrew, scissors, knife, nail file, the options are endless.

What do you take with you that is an essential packing element?

Want more packing advice?  Check out my packing 101 video or packing secrets post.


Packing Secrets

packing1 My travel companions were amazed at the number of items I could pack in my little bag.  On my trip I heard comments such as, “Is that another new outfit?  How did you fit so much in there?”  Yes I can stuff a bag, but planning strategic outfits before leaving is important as well.  I like to look nice when I travel (no sweat pants in my suitcase).  Packing right can greatly impact the success of your trip, especially if you are going to be visiting multiple destinations.  Here are some tricks I use to make the most out of what I pack.

Bring Versatile Clothing

When I am trying to decide what to bring, I consider the colors and types of clothes I will need.  I try to find colors that go well together so I can create a variety of outfits from the same clothes.  Perhaps I will wear a black shirt with a scarf one day, and jewelry another day.  I can wear jeans with flats when it is a little cooler and wear them rolled up with sandals when it is warmer.  Having a versatile wardrobe is crucial while traveling.  Here are some examples of ways you can alter your look with minor changes

Dress-by itself, with cardigan, with leggings, with a scarf

Shirt-by itself, with cardigan, with necklace, with dress pants, with jeans, with skirt

Look at the Label

Most likely you will be washing your clothes at some point.  Sometimes I like to go to a laundromat, but most of the time I use my bathroom sink.  Don’t worry about bringing detergent or soap, pick it up abroad.

Every piece of clothing I consider buying is carefully analyzed since I have started to travel more.  I never buy dry clean only items.  I look for materials that resist wrinkles (or look good wrinkled) and will dry fast.  I took a dress on my trip that was made of polyester and it was ideal for traveling.  It dried in a couple hours after washing, didn’t fade, and looked great even if I threw it on after it was rolled up iPacking2n my bag.

Roll it Up

I don’t know if it can be scientifically proven,  but I feel that I can fit much more in my bag if I roll up my clothing.  Look at my packing list below to see what I could fit in my carry-on bag and day pack.


Rather than taking twenty different shirts to vary your appearance, take advantage of smaller accessories to change the look of an outfit.  For the gentlemen, this could be a scarf or tie.  For the ladies this could be scarves, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc.  They take far less space and can make plain outfits look nice.

Pack Strategically

When I pack, I consider when I will be wearing something.  If I put my pajamas underneath all of my clothes, I am going to have to pack all over again when it is time to go to the next destination.  Make items like this accessible.  I also organize my clothes by category, just like I would in a drawer.  I place my pants together, my shirts are in a different area, and my dresses are in another area.  I place undergarments in the zipped areas since I will need to grab some each day.  I also like to take a plastic bag along to keep my dirty clothes in.  I don’t like to mix the clean with the dirty, and sometimes I can’t wash my clothes before the next stop.

Leave Space for Souvenirs

Sometimes we take items that are consumables and will deplete as we travel.  Consider some of this as part of your souvenir space.  Even though some space may open up, don’t over-pack your luggage.  Most likely there are some things you can leave behind, and it will save your strength for the fun activities.

Plan Your Flight Outfit

Dressing right for the flight can save you some space in your suitcase.  I layer on the plane for a couple reasons.  One, I don’t know what the temperatures will be like on there, so this provides some flexibility.  Two, I can wear the things that may not pack well.  I typically wear my larger pair of shoes/boots on the plane.  If I need to take a jacket, I carry it on the plane and wear it, or store it.  Your jacket can double as a blanket or pillow if necessary.

Packing List


  • 3 Jeans
  • 1 Dress Pant
  • 4 Dresses
  • 3 Tank Tops
  • 4 Shirts
  • 2 Cardigans
  • 1 Pair of Yoga Pants (pajamas)


  • 2 Necklaces
  • 3 Pairs of Earrings
  • 2 Scarves
  • 1 Pair of Sandals


  • 1o Pairs of Underwear
  • 2 Bras (light/dark)
  • 5 Pairs of Knee Highs
  • 2 Pairs of Socks


  • Hair Brush
  • Straightener
  • Foundation
  • Powder
  • Eye Shadow
  • Eye Liner
  • Mascara
  • Blush
  • Face Wash
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Deodorant (placed in smaller container)
  • Medicines
  • Band-aids
  • Little Shampoo
  • Little Conditioner


  • Plug in Adapter
  • Travel Alarm Clock
  • DSLR Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Audio Recorder
  • Chargers
  • Extra Batteries
  • Extra Cards
  • Guidebook

Flight Items

  • Inflatable Neck Pillow
  • Eye Mask
  • Kindle
  • Journal
  • Pen
  • Money Belt

Items I Buy Abroad

  • Detergent
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Razors
  • Perfume
  • Currency (ATM)

Have packing tricks of your own?  Left with questions?  Please share in the comments!