Top 10 Must-Pack Items for Long Vacation Travels

So you’re packing up for a long vacation or big trip and you’re working your way through your ‘what to pack’ list and got a little lost. Some of us had to learn the hard way. Thankfully, we’ve learned from our mistakes which allows us to share our wisdom with you so that the mistake isn’t made again!

Below is my top 10 list of items you should always remember to pack in your luggage if you are going on vacation for several weeks. I tried to avoid some of the obvious items such as a camera, form of communication, etc. These is just a small list of things to pack.

What else would you recommend? Let us know by commenting below!


  1. Nail clippers – I thought I could live without them, but after 2 weeks of travel, I realized that it was more of a comfort item…it was a necessity! Nothing is worst than getting a hangnail or traveling with really long nails. It’s one of those things that you don’t think about when you’re at home. You trim when you want to trim and you keep them maintained. When traveling, this comfort may not be available. You use your hands a lot and you WILL notice when your nails are longer. It’s extremely uncomfortable. Nailclippers only take a small portion of your bag. Pack ’em.
  2. Earplugs / Earbuds + Music Player – Extremely necessary if you are staying at a hostel or sleeping next to someone who snores. Imagine staying in a hostel with 10 other people and 5 of those people snore. Yea, doesn’t look like you’re sleeping tonight! It also helps to have music when you’re bored out of your mind waiting to catch your next flight/train. Pack ’em.
  3. Laundry Detergent Packets + Drain Plug – A godsend if you travel light like I do. By packing a couple laundry detergent packets, you can pack enough clothes for a week and travel for months without needing a larger bag. You can always do your laundry in the shower or in the sink and set your clothes to dry. It also benefits from having quick-drying clothes that you can set out before you go to bed and wake up with fresh dry clothes for the next day. This is honestly a staple item! Pack it.
  4. Small First-aid kit Always keep a small first-aid kit with at least the following items: band-aids, peptmol bismol tabs (great if you get an upset stomach or drank too much the night before), allergy medicine (you’re here to explore, not tend to your sneezing nose and itchy eyes) and ibuprofen (keeps your body happy). Pack it in!
  5. Small/Thin wallet WITH coin purse –I REALLY wish I had something like this while traveling Europe. Unlike in the USA, you can buy a lot with the EURO coins as they have 2 an 1 euro coins that is actually a good amount of change. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have a coin purse section to your wallet to collect all the change you WILL be getting. Use the coins first and keep your wallet thin. A thin wallet is also less of a target for theft. Carry only the bare minimum amount of cash on you. Never carry more cash than you need in case you get robbed. Here is a list of things to keep in your wallet:
    1. Form of identification (i.e. drivers license)- A must have. You might need it when making purchases or getting into clubs/bars.
    2. Credit / Debit card – Best keep just a credit card so that if it is stolen, you can call fraud protection and dispute any fraudulent charges. Only pack the debit card when you need to withdraw cash. When you go to the ATM, withdraw a lot more than you need and store the extra in your hotel safe or in a safe location not on your person. Each time you make a withdrawal, your bank charges you a small fee. Use cash and your credit card when you can.
    3. Small amount of basic coins – Keep some on you as sometimes you’ll be asked if you have the exact change and it’s nice to have at times. Best try to get rid of your change without having to continuously break bills.
  6. Small travel notebook or note taking application on your phone – You meet someone new but you don’t have internet. You’ll need someway to write down their contact information. Or perhaps you found a really cool restaurant and you want to remember what you got and where it is. You’ll need a small notepad you can carry with you or a general note taking app on your phone. My favorites include a basic Moleskin Notepad and Evernote on my smartphone. The benefit of just using your phone is that sometimes you have wifi, need a camera, need to take some notes, etc. Evernote on the smartphone is also great because it syncs the notes with the cloud so in case your phone goes missing, you will still have those notes available to you. Get one!
  7. Brita Water Bottle – I can’t tell you how often I’ve used this. It’s so great when traveling by plane as you can empty your water bottle right before you go through security and then fill it right back up in the bathroom sink once you pass through. These water bottles are extremely cheap and come with a filter that is good for 2 months. You can also get replacement filters for a reasonable price. It’s a lot better than going thirsty because you’re unsure if the water is safe to drink or can’t find a place to buy bottled water. These things rock!
  8. Sea to Summit DryLite Towel – Love this towel because it dries quickly, helps when drying out your clothes and it packs very nicely. I can’t tell you how much space you save by packing this towel as opposed to a regular cotton towel. It’s also great if you move around a lot. This towel generally dries in a day so unlike packing a cotton towel, you won’t be packing a wet towel in your bag. Saves so much space. Buy one now!
  9. Quick Dry Travel Clothing – I bought a couple things from Exofficio because the clothing is simple and dries quickly. You can seriously travel with 3 pairs of underwear for several months if you needed to. Let me reiterate though, if you NEEDED to. The good thing is that you can get 2 pairs of underwear from them and wear one and wash one. You can just keep handwashing and swapping. They also make tshirts that other gear. The shirts run a bit big for me and they don’t shrink. Definitely will continue to pack these items because it saves a lot of space when you only need 1-3 shirts/underwear/etc. Expensive but worth the price!
  10. Face Towels – Great if you don’t have the time or opportunity to take a shower. It definitely helps and is nice to have.
  11. Bonus – Don’t bother packing the money belt – You know you won’t actually use it. Carry the bare minimum, try to blend in, don’t act like a tourist and don’t get too drunk and become a victim. Every time I pack it, I never end up using it nor feel like I need to. Do you use it back home? No. You won’t need to use it abroad either. I also packed a neck pillow for flights and trains. It was nice to have, but definitely not a MUST have. I tried a blow up neck pillow that offered little support and kept deflating. It was nice because it took little room, but I found I rarely used it because it didn’t work well. I then bought a memory foam one. It worked well and was comfortable but it also took up a lot of valuable space in my bag. I won’t pack it again.

Written by Ryan Lum

Ryan is an avid bucket lister. Travel, photography, blogging and adventure are some of his hobbies. He once went on a trip to Spain and was robbed of all his stuff except his clothes. No money, no insurance, no identification and no way to contact family and friends from back home. Did he end his trip? No way! He ended up running with the bulls in Pamplona the very next day.


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