International Travel Packing List: Your Guide for a Stress-Free Trip

Traveling internationally is such a privilege and I really encourage anyone to do it if they can. I love immersing myself in other cultures, learning history beyond that of the US, and getting out of my comfort zone in a way that just doesn’t happen as much when travelling domestically. Every time I travel to another country I get a greater appreciation for different people and values, and I’m always ready to book another trip so I can add a new stamp to my passport.

Packing for an international trip can be both exciting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be the latter as long as you plan accordingly and make sure you have the right travel essentials.

When you pack for a domestic trip, you may generally know the weather, dress code, or stores in the area if you need to pick up something you forgot to pack. There are a few more variables when it comes to packing internationally (think travel adapters and the correct currency), which is why having a well-organized international travel checklist can make all the difference to make things less stressful. You’re about to go on an international trip – you don’t need that stress in your life right now!

Read on or my international travel packing list, then get your suitcase and passport ready to go!

International Travel Packing List

What to Pack in Your Suitcase

Let’s start with your largest piece first: your checked luggage. Leave this space for clothes, shoes, larger toiletries, and non-valuable miscellaneous items like a flat iron or an umbrella. 

The clothes and shoes you pack for your trip are highly dependent on when and where you’re traveling. For example, if you’re headed to a tropical international destination in the summer, you can obviously skip any heavy coats in favor of a light sweater instead.

Regardless of where I’m going abroad, here are the basics I pack every time:


  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Pants, skirts, and/or shorts depending on season and destination
  • Basic tees
  • Tops (be sure to pack dressy options if you plan on some nice dinners)
  • Dresses, depending on the weather and/or planned activities
  • A lightweight layer in case you get cold (even in the summer, you never know!)
  • Coats or jackets, depending on the weather
  • Any activity-specific gear like workout outfits, swimsuits, etc
  • Pajamas


  • Comfortable sneakers or shoes you can walk all day in
  • Boots, depending on the weather
  • Dressy shoes for dinner
  • Any activity-specific footwear options like hiking boots, pool slides, or running shoes

What NOT to Pack in Your Checked Luggage 

You’re allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a handbag or backpack. Be sure to bring important and valuable pieces with you and do not check them in your luggage.

I typically travel with a carry-on roller suitcase or large duffle, and this travel backpack. I put my travel documents and things I’m likely to reach for the most during my flight in my backpack (my computer, a book, noise-canceling headphones, etc) and then other items in my larger carry-on bag.

Travel documents

My number one international travel packing list tip is to always keep all important documents with you. This includes your passport, ID, visas, itineraries, and any travel insurance you buy for your trip.

Electronics and In-Flight Comfort Items

Most international flights are long, and part of a successful flight means bringing the right electronics and comfort items so you can enjoy it as best as possible. Computers, cameras, iPads, and anything of that sort should always travel with you and not in your checked suitcase. 

I always pack these items with me for international flights:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Phone charger
  • Power bank external battery (I always have this in my purse so I don’t get stranded without a phone)
  • Headphones (make sure you have a corded pair that’s compatible with the in-seat TV)
  • International adapter
  • Camera, extra batteries, chargers, and memory cards (I keep everything in a cord organizer)
  • Travel pillow
  • Sweatshirt with a hood (I hate touching my head directly onto the seat back)
  • A book or magazines

It’s extremely important to stay hydrated on a long flight, and while most airlines are pretty good about providing water, you can always bring your own water bottle if you choose. Just make sure you fill it up after the TSA security checkpoint.

Medications and First Aid

I always take a small, easily accessible pouch of medication and first aid items with me on the plane. I keep vitamins and pills in these compact, magnetic capsules. You don’t have to pack a full first aid kit with you, but it’s always good to have a few essentials on hand:

  • Any prescriptions medicine
  • Advil or Tylenol
  • Tums, Immodium, or Pepto Bismol (this is especially important if you’re traveling somewhere new where you haven’t had the food yet)
  • Vitamins
  • A few band-aids in case you get blisters
  • Lip balm
  • Hand lotion
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes (I always wipe down my plane seat)
  • Melatonin or sleep gummies if you have a red-eye flight

TSA-Approved Toiletries

You can always opt to pack your toiletries and makeup in your checked suitcase, but any liquid you choose to take with you on the plane must be under 3.4 oz. This rule is international and applies everywhere. 

If you can’t find travel sizes of your favorite items, you can always decant them into TSA-friendly bottles or the magnetic leakproof capsules I mentioned earlier. (They hold more than they look like they do, I promise.)

If you’re staying at a hotel, forgo packing your own shampoo and conditioner. I know the hotel product aren’t the same as your own, but it’ll help save space to not pack them. If anything, prioritize your skin care routine so that you can keep your skin in check while traveling. The dry airplane air is terrible for your skin, so maintaining your routine is essential on vacation.

For contact lens wearers: be sure you pack enough lenses for the duration of your trip, plus a few extras in case you need to replace one or have any eye issues. Don’t forget your glasses, either!

Here’s a basic list of toiletry items:

  • Face wash
  • Moisturizers, serums, and any other products in your skincare routine
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Deodorant (I always carry this in my backpack in case I get sweaty during my travel)
  • Contacts, contact solution, and glasses if needed
  • Razor
  • Hairbrush and hair ties
  • Hair tools (be sure to check voltage)
  • Dry shampoo
  • Perfume
  • Makeup (avoid wasting space and only pack the essentials you’d use for a 5-minute everyday makeup routine)

A Spare Outfit or Two

Any time you travel and check a bag – but especially when it’s internationally – there’s a chance your luggage may end up on the wrong plane. Nowadays, there’s enough technology that a “lost bag” usually isn’t lost for good. However, if this happens it could be a few days before it shows up at your hotel or Airbnb. Apple AirTags provide great peace of mind if you want to keep tabs on where your checked bags are.

I always pack a pair of jeans and a couple of basic tees (plus extra underwear and socks) just in case this happens. 

Expensive Bags, Shoes, or Fine Jewelry

I love dressing up, so my husband Matt and I always like to plan a couple of nice dinners when we travel. If you have any expensive or designer bags or shoes, or fine jewelry, pack these items in your carry-on luggage.

9 Packing Tips for International Travel

Review Passport and Visa Requirements Before You Book Your Trip

Before you even book those plane tickets, review any requirements for your passport and visas for the places you’re visiting. Some countries require that your passport is valid for at least six months after your travel dates. Check your destination’s passport validity and special visa requirements by country here.

Keep All Important Travel Documents in One Place

The last thing you want to be doing is fumbling through your bags to find your passport, ID, local currency, or hotel information. This makes it easier for something to get lost amidst the shuffling, and it’ll make you stressed.

It’s also a good idea to make copies of important documents just in case they get lost. Snap photos of these documents and email them to yourself or make paper copies and keep these hidden somewhere safe. Never put these items in check luggage; they should always be in your purse or your carry-on bag.

Keep these important things in one place, like a section of your bag or a file folder:

  • Passport
  • Travel visas, if applicable
  • Wallet and credit cards (notify your bank and credit card companies of your international travel dates so they don’t get flagged and declined)
  • Local currency
  • Any travel insurance
  • Hotel information
  • Reservation confirmations
  • Transportation tickets
  • Emergency contacts
  • Important addresses (locate US consulates abroad in case of emergency)

For emails containing hotel confirmation or transportation tickets, move these into a dedicated folder so you can easily locate them in your inbox.

Check the Voltage on Your Electronics

Most countries outside the US have different outlets, so be sure to research the type of plug at your destination and purchase accordingly so you can plug in hair tools and charge your phone. A universal travel adapter is great if you’re traveling to multiple destinations or if you plan to travel internationally often.

The US runs on a different voltage than Europe (110v vs. 220v). Check your devices to see if they’re dual voltage. You’ll usually see “100 – 240v” or something written on the item.

This flat iron is dual voltage and perfect for international travel, as is this travel hair dryer. If any of your devices have a voltage switch, make sure to turn it to the right voltage BEFORE you arrive or plug them in to avoid ruining them.

Be Money Smart with Foreign Currency and Credit Cards

This isn’t a traditional packing tip, but you should always pack cash in the local currency of your destination(s) prior to arrival. Order currency through your local bank; exchanging money at the airport or a money exchange is fine, but they usually have worse exchange rates.

Most places that aren’t super rural do take cards these days, but having cash on hand is also smart in case somewhere doesn’t accept cards, if machines are down, or if there’s poor service. For example, the English countryside had spotty cell service, so my taxi didn’t take Venmo or PayPal.

When paying with a card, always opt to pay in the local currency. Check your credit cards to see if they charge any foreign transaction fees. Call your bank or credit card companies to notify them of your travel plans and be sure to ask about international sister banks in case you need to grab more cash.

Download a currency exchange app to help manage your spending, and so you can always know the US dollar amount of something. I use the free Xe app.

Pack An Empty Bag

If you’re planning on doing a bit of shopping, pack an empty bag with you so that you have somewhere to pack souvenirs and items if you run out of suitcase space.  

Utilize Packing Cubes

Packing cubes can be extremely helpful for a big trip. Not only do they help save space, you can organize the clothing in your packing cubes however you want. Pack outfits together, and use each cube for a different category, or even destination if you’re traveling to areas with different climates or activities. If you’re traveling with children, maximize suitcase space by packing the cubes by child.

These are the packing cubes I have, and I love them because they’re thin and don’t add any bulk.

Research the fashion and culture of your destination

I think it’s always important to know a bit about the culture and fashion of wherever you’re going internationally. After all, part of the excitement of visiting another country is learning new things and embracing new cultures. 

For example, Middle Eastern countries have stricter rules on dressing, and there are sometimes dress codes at restaurants.

I always like to do a bit of research on this before I pack so that I can pack the right things – and plan some shopping trips for once I arrive!

Bring a Crossbody Bag

An unfortunate reality of traveling internationally is that there are a lot more pickpockets than in the US. For this reason, I don’t like carrying a top handle or shoulder bag unless I’m directly going from point A to point B in a car. A cross-body bag is a safer option since it’s physically connected to you and can’t quickly be grabbed.

I’ve used this zip-top crossbody bag for the past couple of European trips I’ve taken. It’s not too big but still roomy enough to fit my camera and a thin sweater.

Take Photos of Your Items Before You Go

Taking photos of your items can be helpful for a few reasons.

For starters, if your luggage is lost or stolen, photos can help airline or hotel staff if you need to locate missing bags or file reimbursement claims. (This is obviously the worst-case scenario, and most “lost” bags are simply delayed and will turn up.)

Second, if you tend to overpack or you’re traveling for a long time, photos provide a great visual so you know exactly which outfit you have with the items in your suitcase.

International Travel Packing Checklist

Download this international packing checklist or Pin it for later!

International Travel Packing List Checklist

Packing for an international trip doesn’t need to be overwhelming, you just need to take a little extra time doing so. 

You can pack your checked luggage and carry-on bag as you usually would but be sure to pack a spare outfit or two, and most importantly – don’t forget your passport and other important travel documents.

Have anything to add to my international packing list? Leave your must-have items in the comments. Bon Voyage!

Nice to Meet You

Hi, I'm Camille! I'm a bi-coastal blogger splitting my time between LA and NYC and sharing elevated, yet relatable ideas so that you can achieve your most stylish life.

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