The Ultimate Guide to Packing for Vacation: Tips for a Stress-Free Experience

Packing for vacation can be stressful, especially if you’re anything like me. Concerns about forgetting something or underpacking are always at the forefront of my mind. You want to be prepared for every activity you intend to partake in on vacation as well as have those emergency items on hand so you’re not setting yourself up for an anxiety-ridden experience.

After several mishaps and a learning curve over my last couple of vacations, I put together this guide to help you pack for your latest vacation in a way that you won’t be stressed and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.

Choose the Right Bag or Bags for your Journey:

Depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there, you have some choices when it comes to the bag you choose. Let’s take a look at some of those options:

Luggage with Wheels: This is going to be your best bet if you plan to make your journey via airplane. Carrying around heavy bags just isn’t practical, plus – it’s vacation! It’s time to chill. While I used to use the kind of rolling luggage that you pull behind you, I’ve found that the spinners are superior. Below are some great options for carry-ons and sets if you’re looking to upgrade your luggage.

Rockland Hardside Carry-on Spinner

I love the Rockland brand and they haven’t let me down yet. This is the carry-on spinner that comes in a ton of colors, (I, personally, love the silver). At the time of this post, it’s $64 and well worth it.

Rockland Hardside Spinner 3-piece Set

This is very similar to the set that I have in silver and it has many colors to choose from. At $169 for the set, it’s a steal.

A Duffle Bag: These can be nice if you’re taking a weekend trip and aren’t going to need a ton of stuff. Just remember that where you have to go, it has to go, meaning you’re going to be carrying it so watch its weight especially if you’re not used to lifting things.

The Good old Backpack: No matter where you’re going or how you’re getting there, it can always be a good idea to bring along a backpack. They’re easy to carry and can usually fit a lot of necessities. In addition to other bags, this one can just be the cherry on top. It’s great for your laptop, kindle, a change of clothes, and anything else you might need on the go.

Travel Backpack with USB Charging Port 

This is a great backpack to travel with and it even has a USB charging port and a separate compartment for your shoes. It’s only $39.99.

It’s important to choose the right combination of bags to be able to store all of your stuff, (and extra room if you plan to buy any souvenirs, of course). Once you have chosen your bag or bags, it’s time to fill them up.

Nordstrom also frequently has luggage and bags available to fit every style. Via Capital One Shopping always has a ton of coupons so you can usually find something to fit any budget!

Decide What You’ll Need Each Day on Your Vacation:

What you will need on vacation is going to depend on where you’re vacationing, how you’re getting there, how long you’ll be there, and which activities you intend to do while you’re there. There are all different types of vacation destinations and, of course, lots of different activities to choose from. Obviously, you’ll need to plan clothing for each day that you’ll be gone and how many outfits you’ll need for each day. For example, if you’re planning a long hike one day and a nice dinner that night, you’ll need two different types of attire for one day. Also, don’t neglect the type of footwear you’ll be needing for those two, very different activities.

Here are some Basic Clothing Items to Consider Packing: (To help you get your list started):

  • Tank Tops, T-Shirts (Warm-weather tops – Casual)
  • Long-sleeved shirts, Sweaters, Hoodies (Cool to Cold-weather Tops – Casual)
  • Shorts
  • Dress Clothes (for dinners, shows, certain tours, etc.)
  • Dresses
  • Comfortable Shoes (typically always needed no matter the travel destination)
  • Underwear & Bras
  • Swimsuit (If applicable)
  • Sleepwear
  • Jackets (heavy or light, depending on the weather where you’re going)
  • Socks
  • Sunglasses + Case (Bring an extra pair if you’re like me and are prone to breaking them)
  • Hat/Hats
  • Shoes (Flip flops, boots, dress shoes)
  • Pants (Sweatpants, dress pants, jeans)
  • Belts, Jewelry, Accessories
  • Workout Clothing

It’s also important to remember that you’ll need more than just clothing, obviously. If you’re going somewhere the sun is intense, you’ll likely need sunscreen, and, as I found, buying some at home is typically less expensive than purchasing some when you get to your destination, (it does depend on where you’re going but keep that in mind).

Other Items to Consider Packing:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Makeup (Anything you’ll use – concealer, foundation, eye shadow, blush, etc.)
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Toothpaste & Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Makeup Remover
  • Advil, Ibuprofen
  • Any Medications You need*
  • Hair Brush, Hairspray, and Other Hair Products
  • Hair Styling Tools, (Hair Dryer, curling iron, hair straightener)
  • Razors
  • Lotion
  • Perfume
  • Passport**
  • ID
  • Cash, Debit Card, Credit Cards
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Laptop
  • Kindle or Book
  • Watch
  • Umbrella or Poncho
  • Towels, washcloths, loofa
  • Tickets, Reservations
  • Snacks

Other Quick Tips to Make Traveling Less Stressful:

  • Pack a few days before you leave so you won’t feel rushed.
  • Always wear comfy clothes while traveling.
  • Travel insurance IS worth it. Things can happen and it’s just better if you have it.
  • Always research your destination.
  • Always allow for extra time before your flight. It’s better to not feel rushed.

And, Always Remember to Have Fun! It is a Vacation, after all!

Vacation is supposed to be a time to unwind. Don’t stress too much about travel. Prepare days in advance and always double-check to make sure you have all that you’ll need! Happy travels!


Krissy October is a professional freelance writer, aspiring novelist and knowledge nerd who is dedicated to consistent self-improvement and finding clever ways to solve everyday problems.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the ultimate guide to packing for vacation! These tips are so helpful for ensuring a stress-free travel experience. Can’t wait to put them into practice on my next trip!

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