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Lisa Owen


I’m the first to admit that packing is hard. Weight restrictions, how many shoes to bring, and deciding how many changes of outfit you’ll need. Even though I’ve been a regular traveler for the past six years, I can still spend hours staring at the pile of clothes I want to take, and deliberating over what to cull.

But after lots of trial and error, here are my tips on packing for your next vacation.

Backpack or suitcase

First up, what do you pack your clothes in? The luggage you take largely depends on your travel style. If you’re staying in hotels and have a budget where you can afford taxis etc, then you will be fine with a suitcase.

If you plan to catch public transport between the airport, train or bus station and your accommodation on arrival, or are staying in hostels, you will be better off with a backpack. It will make life easier negotiating things like stairs in train stations or narrow and cobblestoned streets.

Invest in good quality luggage as it will take a beating. You don’t want to buy something super cheap because straps, wheels and zips can easily break.

What To Pack

When packing your bag, a big tip is to take a look what’s in your dirty laundry basket. These are the clothes you wear most often so it makes sense to take them on your trip. Pack clothes that are easy care – don’t bring any dry clean only items. Also don’t bring anything that wrinkles easily. You’ll struggle to find an iron on the road or even if you do find one nobody wants to iron while on vacation. So you’ll never end up wearing that badly wrinkled shirt.

If you’re traveling somewhere hot and humid like South East Asia or Central America, keep in mind that your clothes will suffer a lot from sweat, wear and tear and being washed regularly, so consider packing cheap, cotton clothing that is easily replaceable.


One method I use to help me pack is lay out everything I want to take on the floor  – so all your shorts, shirts, jeans in separate piles. Then cull – at this stage I usually have multiples of everything so I’m trying to cull by at least half.

As a guide, you can make do with one pair of jeans, two or three pairs of shorts, and have about five to six tank tops and T-shirts and a long sleeved shirt. And I try to pack at least enough underwear for seven days and a few pairs of socks.

For the plane or any long transit days, wear comfortable clothes. Who cares what you look like. Comfort is more important to me on a long haul flight. These days, I wear yoga pants, a singlet and a loose long sleeved shirt and I bring a loose sweater too - I like a merino wool one because it takes a few wears before it starts to smell. I also bring socks to wear on the plane because I get cold.

looking out train window

Apart from clothes and toiletries, this is what I recommend you pack. Use this as a checklist. In the excitement of your upcoming adventure, it’s all too easy to overlook essentials.

  • Passport. Make sure you have at least six months validity on it by your last stop as this is a requirement for some countries. Also carry a couple of paper copies of your passport - I also send a copy to my email and give a copy to my family.
  • Power adaptors. If you’re going to a few continents, bring a universal adaptor. If you’re traveling with a phone, camera, and laptop or tablet – a small power board may come in handy so you can charge your electronics all at once. This is particularly useful in hostels which don’t always provide a power point for each bed.
  • Chargers. For phones, laptops, camera etc.
  • Padlock and earplugs. If you’re staying in hostels, a padlock and earplugs are essential. Try and find a medium sized padlock as lockers vary – some need a big lock, others need a small one. I like to get one that you set up a code for then you don’t have to mess around with keys. It’s also a good idea to have a TSA approved lock for your luggage.
  • First aid kit. Things like Ibuprofen, cold and flu tablets, and bandaids are a good idea to pack. Yes, you can get these things overseas but it’s best to have them on you so there’s no need to hunt down a pharmacy when you really need it.
  • Ziplock bags. These always come in handy. Sometimes for extra protection for my electronics if it’s raining – or to store food or even as laundry bags.
  • Shoes. Try to keep shoes to a minimum. Ladies – if you really need to take high heels, only one pair. I don’t carry high heels. I just have a pair of hiking boots, a pair of flip flops, nice sandals that are good for day and night wear, and then a pair of enclosed slip on casual shoes.
  • Hand sanitiser and tissues. Guard yourself against getting sick by using hand sanitiser after using public transport and scary bathrooms that’ll make you want to bathe in disinfectant. Tissues are good for when there’s no toilet paper in public bathrooms – which can happen often. 
  • Travel sized toiletries. Buy some of those travel sized bottles and fill them up with the products you have at home. Then seal them in ziplock bags in case they leak or explode during transit.
  • Snacks. Things like muesli/granola bars, dried fruit or nuts are great. It will save you from buying expensive snacks in airports or if you get stuck somewhere.

plane window view

A note about voltage

If you are planning to carry a hairdryer and straightener, it might be an idea to invest in travel sized ones. One, because they’re smaller and lighter and two, because of voltage.

If you can avoid taking a voltage converter it will save a lot of hassle. What you need to look for is what voltage the appliance accepts. I haven’t found a laptop or tablet that can’t handle multiple voltages, but it’s common with hairdryers, straighteners or hair curlers.

You want an appliance that says voltage 120V-240V. If it says just 120V or just 240V, you won’t be able to use your appliance in all electrical sockets. For example, you can’t use a 240V appliance in a 120V power point or it will overheat.

bike riding tour

Baggage allowances

Your bags are packed, and the day has finally arrived for your flight. Don’t forget that airlines have a weight limit for your check in and carry-on bags. Many airlines offer up to 50 pounds for check in bags, however some budget airlines may only offer a smaller baggage allowance. If your bag is overweight, you’ll have to pay excess baggage fees, so check the allowance before you fly. Your carry-on bag may also have a weight limit. 

Hopefully these packing tips will help you as you prepare for your upcoming journey! With a little forward planning and organization, you can eliminate some of the stress that comes with planning a vacation. 


Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.