How does the smart, independent traveller organise his luggage?
And what things to pack for a trip?
That’s the question I’d like to answer here. Over the last three years, I have spent more than half my time travelling, which means I have developed quite a routine when it comes to packing a suitcase.
In the past, I used to get stressed, but now it takes me hardly ten minutes until all my things have found their places and are ready for the next destination. The packing for vacation at the beginning of a trip takes me half an hour max.
By the way, I’d love to hear your comments and questions about this! Please write a comment (even if it is your first one!).Travel Tips Packing List & Tricks, Part One
My pieces of luggage
- My travel luggage is a holdall on wheels, which is reinforced at the bottom and at the back, but soft on top. I really appreciate that it hinders me less than a hard shell suitcase or a backpack. Since the whole side of it opens up, it allows me to put everything inside it comfortably. Should you need to carry the bag for a short while, it has a strap that can be attached, so you can wear it over your shoulder. No one carries his or her travel luggage over long distances anyway, which is my second reason for never having travelled with a backpack.
- My hand luggage on longer trips is a small hard shell trolley, and for the shorter ones, a rucksack. Since I always have a laptop with me, the hard shell case is a sensible option, because it offers protection en route.
- My Small Travel Shoulder Bag contains my most important documents, for example the ones I might need to check in at the airport. Sometimes, when I am not travelling by plane, I place those in my hand luggage.
Things to pack for a trip – My Concept
I am following a pouch in a bag concept. My motto is that every pouch should only contain one category of items. This way, there is always order, even in the smallest space in a dorm.
Things to pack for a vacation – My travel Luggage
- 7 pairs of socks in a pouch
- 5 underpants in a pouch
- 5 polo shirts or T-shirts in a pouch
- One pair of long trousers, maybe a small towel, a pair of shorts, swimming trunks, maybe a pair of long johns, maybe a jumper, an all-weather jacket, an umbrella, maybe a pair of gloves in a duffel bag
- One pouch for dirty laundry
- One pouch each for hiking shoes, athletic shoes, outdoor flip-flops and indoor flip-flops. It is possible to reduce this down to two pairs of shoes (hiking shoes and one pair of flip-flops).
- Maybe a sleeping bag liner with its own pouch.
- Washbag for toiletries
- Pouch for additional supplies like sun cream, mosquito repellent, medication, condoms, etc.
- One or two bags for additional stuff and technical gear with the following contents: Waterproof reserve bag for swimming on your own in places without secured facilities, normal reserve bag, a few 35 litre plastic bags for emergencies of all kinds, travel adapter, maybe spare rechargeable batteries, maybe a mobile phone charger (if you don’t just want to charge via USB on the laptop), cables for the camera and mobile phone, USB flash drive for data exchange, sunglasses in protective case, maybe a shower cap (available in good hotels), maybe an emergency sewing kit (available in good hotels), torch, spare earplugs, small padlock with keys, whistle, etc.
- Using reinforced shirt carriers (pack-it-folder) for the transport of necessary travel document copies is one of my favourite vacation packing tips:
Like this a copy of the personal information page of the passport, a copy of the front and back of all payment and ID cards, copies of all travel insurance policies (illness, transport to country of residence in an emergency, maybe an emergency assistance, maybe a travel legal expense insurance), passport pictures for visa en route, maybe a notepad, maybe any documentation of medical treatments (for insurance claims or to inform your doctor at home about the treatment during the trip), copy of the immunisation passport, copy of blood type identification, etc. will be properly protected from wrinkling.
- In the side pocket: Two protective covers in a pouch for boat transport and rain, one for travel luggage, one for hand luggage and a strap for the travel luggage bag.
Carry on packing list for my carry on suitcase
(It is a hard suitcase in my case.)
- Laptop or tablet, headset and matching cables in a fitted and robust bag.
- Regarding carry on packing tips the pouch in bag concept is also useful: Put your camera – if you still have one – and rechargeable batteries plus the charger in a fitted and robust shoulder bag that can be used on any “outdoor missions” without the hand luggage.
- The book you are currently reading. If you really want to lug around heavy travel guidebooks, instead of saving them onto your laptop, tablet or Ebook reader, you are better off putting them into your checked travel luggage, otherwise your carry on suitcase may exceed the weight limit. Budget airlines, in particular, often check the weight of your rolling hand suitcase.
- Travel pillow in a pouch
- Maybe a pair of travel socks, because it can get chilly on the plane or the bus.
- Maybe a linen sheet with its own bag to protect you from the chill on the plane or bus
- Maybe a second set of photocopies as described above under travel luggage
Packing list for a vacation – Small Travel Shoulder Bag
- International driving license
- Original national and international immunisation passport during longer trips in order to document repeat vaccinations and when travelling in the tropics as proof of immunisation
- Original blood type identification, if immunisation passport does not carry this information already
- Accessories for internet banking access during longer trip
- Maybe a USB flash drive with large data capacity to back up data
- Two pens, maybe a pencil
- Business cards and addresses of travel acquaintances
- Headset or headphones with cables for listening to music on your phone
- Eyemask for relaxation while travelling
- Spare credit card and debit cards (Plus, Maestro, Visa Electron, etc.)
- Pouch for receipts you need to keep
Tips and tricks for things to pack on a trip
- For a long time, I used to take seven sets of clothes with me. But that just takes up too much space. I prefer to wash them, or get them washed at every stop and have it take up less space in my luggage.
- I always take two extra pairs of socks, because socks are always the first to disintegrate. Especially when you are travelling, since you walk more the socks wear out more easily.
- I no longer take towels with me, since those can be purchased everywhere if necessary and most hotels and hostels provide some anyway.
- A pair of good quality shoes for hiking is an indispensable component in any travel luggage!
- My rucksack has two outer pockets, which can be opened up to place small water bottles inside them. I prefer this solution to water bags, which rely on suction, because those get contaminated with bacteria over time. I would also recommend, when hiking, to buy water en route, if at all possible, and to consume it as you go, even if that is a more expensive. To me that’s better than carrying a load all the time.
- Don’t take a sleeping bag, unless you are just going camping. A sleeping bag liner is sufficient. Should you need a sleeping bag, you can always buy or rent one locally.
- Reinforced shirt carriers (pack-it-folder): The idea behind those is actually the crease-free transport of shirts, but they are also very useful for transporting documents without causing damage.
- Why a copy of the payment and ID cards when packing for international travel? Simple. The numbers you need to call to cancel the cards are often on the back of the card that you no longer have, because it has just been stolen together with the rest of your wallet, for example.
- To be on the safe side, you can make a note of your blood type and put it in your wallet. You can also add an ICE plus telephone number. ICE stands for “in case of emergency” and designates your person of contact in such an event and their mobile phone number. Additionally, you should make a note of all intolerances of medication, allergies and chronic diseases. In the event of an emergency, the medical staff will search your personal belongings for exactly this type of information.
- Photos for visas: For every month that you are travelling you should have two pictures with you. Especially when travelling through a lot of countries in Asia.
- My packing list is centred around the male traveller. Women need to make adjustments. I’d happily publish apacking list for women, if one of my female readers sends me such an adjusted list.
- In my wallet and in my trouser pockets, I usually carry the following travel-related accessories: credit card, debit card, cash, ID card, driving license, health insurance card, passport copy in A6 format and earplugs.
- For longer trips I empty the rucksack, which I use on short trips as hand luggage, and put it in my checked luggage for day trips.
- If you want this article as a printable vacation packing list just click on the printer icon on the left or at the top or bottom of this article.