Traveling internationally can be a little stressful. If you forget something, it may be difficult (or impossible!) to find a quick Wal-Mart or Target to pop into to grab the item you forgot. Because of this, it’s important that you remember to pack everything you need before you get on the plane. I’ve traveled internationally over a dozen times and I’ve forgotten my fair share of things. I’ve also learned about items that make traveling easier. All these experiences have helped shape my ultimate packing list for international travel.
This list doesn’t include the obvious things you need like shirts, pants, and underwear. Although some items noted are essentials, I include them because they are fantastic products worth noting. Basically, every item I’ve listed here is one that I’ve personally tested and have made my adventures easier.
This list is sorted by category so you can update your personal packing list a little bit easier. Happy traveling!
Some of the links below are affiliate links. What this means is, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Online Shopping Tips
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Luggage & Packing Accessories
- In terms of luggage, I think it’s important to be selective. I used to shop sales exclusively but I learned that’s not the way to go as I lugged some subpar suitcase from train station to train station. After traveling with all sorts of different pieces of luggage, I’ve fallen in love with the eBags TLS Mother Lode line. It showed me what a good luggage experience can feel like. It has fantastic construction and so many useful pockets – I was amazed at how much fits in this suitcase. It isn’t a spinner, but spinners are a pain to wheel and these wheels glide over almost any surface. Plus, the wheels are rugged – no more snapped wheels on cobblestone streets! The 25″ is perfectly sized for a 7-10 day trip, in my opinion, and that isn’t even packing all that light.
- Whenever you check luggage, I recommend some kind of bright luggage tag to make it easier to get your suitcase from baggage claim.
- It’s also valuable to get a luggage lock. If you are hosteling, I would recommend something a little bit more robust, but otherwise, any TSA-approved lock should be good for most travelers.
- Packing cubes are also a must-have for frequent travelers. They make it so you use your suitcase space more efficiently and prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled.
- And ladies, we all know packing your delicates can be a struggle in itself. I discovered this multi-purpose packing cube and I love it! It can hold bras, panties, and socks, and it helps your bras maintain their shape!
- If you’re a carry-on only traveler or want liquids on the airplane, I also recommend a TSA-approved toiletry kit. It’ll be more rugged than a ziploc bag and it takes away a lot of the hassle of figuring out how much you’re allowed to have. I really like this set!
- And, finally, a toiletry kit. I like toiletry kits that have a hook for hanging in the bathroom and with lots of pockets.
Luxuries for Your Flight
I talk about this a bit in my blog post here, but I think it’s critical to pack the right things in your carry on to make your 8+ hour flight even slightly more tolerable. And don’t forget to check out my post on snacks you need in your carry-on!
So, for my airplane luxuries list…
- Face and body wipes. There is nothing more comforting than being able to primp on a plane and wipe away the grime.
- A top-notch travel pillow. This is absolutely worth investing in. I know this one seems expensive, but it doesn’t get hot and keeps my neck supported, which makes it SO much easier to sleep in an aisle seat. And trust me, you want to sit in the aisle seat.
- Eye mask and earplugs. I like earplugs on a string because I think they’re harder to lose. I also like eye masks with concave pockets so that your eyes (and eyelashes) have space. I know that sounds weird, but it’s so much more comfortable.
- Anti-jet-lag tablets. Honestly, these may be total BS, but I feel like they work. And the placebo effect is better than nothing. Worth a try!
- Lotion, nail clippers, and a nail file. There is NOTHING WORSE than having dry hands or getting a hangnail and not being able to do anything about it.
- A travel blowdryer & flat iron. The voltage output of outlets varies by country, so having multi-voltage hair styling devices is important. Going from the US to Europe, for instance, is almost double the voltage so you’ll literally burn out your electronics if they aren’t dual-voltage capable. I really like the devices below (just remember to switch the voltage on the blowdryer!). Not gonna lie – this hair straightener is actually almost better than my ~$100 Chi straightener, for 1/4 the price AND it’s dual voltage. Win-win.
- A versatile shower caddy. I first discovered this one when I was backpacking. It makes it easy to transport from your dorm room to the community shower, so that versatility is great. Even if you aren’t hosteling, though, it’s awesome because it hangs up all your liquids in one spot and makes them easy access while you’re showering. Plus the tubes are easy to refill and easy to squeeze out, AND it’s TSA approved. It’s just easy!
- A microfiber cloth and/or makeup removing wipes. I honestly usually carry both, but the microfiber cloth is starting to come out as my favorite item. It removes makeup without chemicals and is super versatile and easy to launder. Since washcloths aren’t big in Europe, it’s nice to have.
- Anti-chafe balm. I’ve got bigger thighs and this stuff is a life saver. I apply it when I wear skirts or dresses and it lasts literally ALL. DAY. Even in the Houston heat & humidity. But people with smaller thighs – y’all, jeans can hurt if you walk in them for 5-10+ miles. I use this any day I’m doing a lot of walking.
- Blister bandaids! It’s expensive but magical. If you get a blister, these things somehow magically help it heal up quickly. I keep a box of these in every suitcase, just in case.
- OTC medicines. I ALWAYS carry pain medicine, anti-diarrheal, daytime allergy medicine, some kind of sleep aid, and cold medicine. If you need one, you’re not going to want to find a place to buy them, trust me. I keep a pack of my choices in my suitcases at all times.
- Pill tubs. I’m not sure they’re a necessity, but if you want to take up a smaller footprint with any pills they are really convenient!
- Dry shampoo! I’ve tried almost every dry shampoo on the market, and for me, the powdered ones work way better than the aerosol ones. Dry shampoo is great if you need to quickly refresh your hair, especially after a long day of travel.
- I love love love my Glocal Me and I even talk about it here. If you are traveling internationally, this is my favorite way to stay connected. I have an older model (circa 2015) that isn’t available anymore, but I’ve used it in at least 5 countries and it has been flawless every time.
- A compact power strip. If you use a power strip, then you only need one plug adapter. This is WAY more efficient than trying to get a plug adapted for every decide (smart phone, smart watch, tablet… x however many people are traveling!). Plus outlets are usually hard to find, so power strips are a more efficient use of resources. Almost all of my devices are charged with USB, so I really like this one – lots of USB ports! Pro tip: if you travel a lot, it’s worthwhile to just have a travel power strip with all your necessary cables and chargers ready to go. This way, you’ll never forget to pack one because it’s always packed!
- And speaking of plug adapters… you want at least one plug adapter per person traveling, plus probably at least one extra. I haven’t been everywhere, but I understand Europe has at least 3 kinds of outlets (the UK and Italy being different than most of Europe). Because of this, I like having a universal plug adapter.
- And while we’re talking about extras… I think it’s important to carry extra charging cables for your electronics. One time my tablet cord went bad and it was almost impossible to find a replacement. For iPhones, I LOVE the Amazon Basics braided power cables. They are durable, inexpensive, and don’t have compatibility issues.
- I also love having a power bank so I can charge my devices on the go. It’s nice for offsite meetings, airports, and long days away from a guaranteed power source. There are a lot of options, but this one is a good balance of power, size, and cost.
- I always carry a tablet so I can watch movies, read books, and do almost anything else on the go. I’m a big fan of the Kindle Fire because, in my opinion, it’s the cheapest tablet on the market for what you get. Plus you can expand the storage space with a microSD card! Pro tip: streaming won’t work when you go abroad, but anything you’ve pre-downloaded is fair game. I always recommend buying 4-5 of your favorite movies and keeping them on your tablet!
- And, of course, headphones. I recommend that you don’t use your AirPods on an airplane mostly because they’ll be impossible to retrieve if you drop them. Wired ones or over-the-ear headphones are the best.
Miscellaneous Things I Love
These are one-off things that have made traveling just a little bit easier. Like some of the other items I’ve mentioned, I just keep a little packing cube (I LOVE packing cubes!) ready to grab and go.
- Without fail, I almost always manage to spill on myself or otherwise make a mess of my clothes. That’s why I think it’s important to be able to do laundry on the go. My favorite travel laundry items include:
- You also never know when you might accidentally rip something or lose a button, so a travel sewing kit is also important.
- In my post about beating jet lag, I also rave about having a good water bottle and a good coffee thermos. Both items can keep beverages hot OR cold for a really long time, which is important to me. Also, Europeans don’t seem to drink water as much, so I like having easy access to water all the time.
- I always carry some travel cutlery with me as well. It makes street food really convenient, especially if you’re picnicking. This set is great because it’s mega compact.
- And, finally, I really love my anti-theft handbag. There are tons of options so you can filter out the options based on size, design, and features. I have a few and I always feel so much more secure when I carry it.
Do you have any other must-have items when you travel? Comment below!