How to pack for an international trip
I have had my fair share of international trips and have come a long way from the old days of overpacking. Over the last 5 years, I have compiled a list of anything and everything I could possibly need on a trip, ensuring I won’t forget the most important items while also not overpacking.
I find most international trips are around 10 to 12 days, which is enough time to really dive into a city’s culture as well as city or country hop. I have compiled this list of the essentials for nearly any international trip of this length and have included a pdf link to download and print the checklist here. A lot of you simply didn’t know even where to begin when it comes to packing, so this checklist is a great place to start!
I have provided a specific amount of clothes in the list, but of course it is up to your discretion. I have found this to be a good amount of clothing for trips of this length, but you may have noticed there are less clothing items than the amount of days you will be gone. I tend to pack for half the trip and book an airbnb with a washer or spend one morning at a laundromat. If you haven’t booked through airbnb yet, feel free to use my link here for $40 off your first stay!
Make sure to pack a specific color scheme with patterns you can mix and match and different style bottoms to go with most of your tops. Your ultimate goal is to create an entire wardrobe that can style a variety of outfits from each piece you pack. For my upcoming trip, I have packed a pair of overalls, jeans, a denim skirt, and a pair of houndstooth patterned pants as well as an assortment of shirts that match almost each pair of bottoms.
If you find that you have extra room in your bag, then pack a few more things, but don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs! If you adjust the amount of clothes, this list can also apply to most other trips of varying lengths, so feel free to use it for either shorter or longer vacations.
ACCESSORIES & ELECTRONICS
The main point I want to discuss here is adapters versus converters, which can get very confusing, Not understanding the difference may result in shorting out your electronics since each country uses a different size plug and push out a larger amount of power.
A travel adapter simply adapts the plug in your country to the country you are visiting since plugs look different in each part of the world.. Adapters tend to be smaller, lighter, and much, much cheaper than a converter ($25 or less). They do not adjust for power and if you use one of these on a curling iron or blow dryer, there is a pretty good chance you will fry your electronic and short out the outlet. Thankfully, if you are using Apple products, you will only need an adapter. You know that annoying, heavy white box on your Macbook charger and the little box you plug your iPhone usb cord into? It is actually a power converter, which means these two items will only need an adapter to fit the plug into the outlet. Woohoo! Try this adapter here!
A converter actually converts the power coming from the outlet into your device, which is quite important in places like Europe where their outlets produce double the voltage American outlets produce. You will find converters are bigger, heavier, and much more expensive in comparison to an adapter ($30 or more). These are most commonly used for blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, etc. Try this converter here!
If in doubt, just buy a converter and use it for all your electronics since it won’t hurt them — better to be safe, than sorry! When I travel, I usually book an airbnb, hotel, or hostel that provides a blow dryer to keep it easy and makes it is one less thing to pack.
The most important item on the list of essentials is you passport — don’t forget your passport!!!
If you are in another country, there is almost a guarantee they will not have the medication you are used to, so I always pack a few that I may need in a pill box. Some of my go-to’s s are ibuprofen, I prefer Motrin, allergy, Tums, anti-diarrhea, papaya enzymes for upset stomachs, and migraine medication. As you can probably tell, I get upset stomachs all too often and I want to be prepared!
I do laundry about halfway through every trip and I like to pack some laundry detergent or pods. I also pack a sleeping mask, small blanket, and sleeping medicine for the flight, which can also be handy at your destination.
Last but not least, toiletries! Out of everything in this section, tampons and pads are the most important. If you expect for it to be “that time of the month” during your trip, pack enough tampons and pads to last the entirety of your period. It sounds crazy, but you most likely won’t be able to find the brand your prefer in a foreign country and I have found theirs aren’t as good as the ones here in the states. There also is nothing worse than finding out it’s that time in the middle of the night, completely unprepared in a foreign place. Plus it’s one less thing to worry about!
Anyway, if you are a frequent traveler like me, I recommend reusing your travel size toiletry bottles from previous trips and filling them with your favorite products. I eventually learned that buying travel size bottles every trip really adds up and it is better for the environment.
If you are planning on bringing a flat iron AND a curling iron, then make sure to coordinate with friends first. It can save a bit of space and weight if one of you packs a curling iron and the other a flat iron. Also, don’t forget to pack a pair of shower sandals and a towel if staying at a hostel or even an airbnb. I always try to book a place that provides towels, but sometimes it is impossible to find one. If you are stressed about a towel taking up a ton of room, here’s a backpacker’s insider tip: car wash terry cloth towels. Sounds crazy, right? They are incredibly absorbent, sold in extra large sizes, and super thin. Just trust me on this one!
PACKING IT ALL
You have probably heard this over and over, but always roll your clothes. minus your pants, rather than folding. It saves a ton of space and as for the pants, I lay them out on the bottom of my suitcase, then place everything else on top and fold the remaining pant legs over those items. Always put any and every kind of liquid in a Ziplock bag. Even if you think there is no way it will break open, it probably will — I have learned the hard way one too many times.
On most trips I pack a carry on and a small backpack or a backpacking backpack and a purse since I don’t like hauling around a huge bag from the airport and city to city, but this trip will be my first time willingly checking a bag in over 5 years. Crazy! I figured I would want to bring back souvenirs and it was free. With that said, everything on this list should fit in a carry one if organized properly.
If you are interested in learning how to pack just a backpack for a 10 day trip, check out my blog post from Paris here or a weekend trip with a carry on here. If you have any questions regarding packing, feel free to ask below and I will try my best to answer them all!