Basic Vacation Essentials Packing Checklist

Even the best-laid vacation plans can be easily dashed by something as simple as forgetting to pack the creature comforts and small necessities that you, well, need. Frustratingly, it always seems to be the obvious, everyday things that you use all the time (your glasses, for example, or your toothbrush—doh!) that get left out of the suitcase, and consequently left behind. But fear not—we’ve come up with this handy list to ensure that exact scenario never happens again, and that you can confidently head off on your next trip sans that nagging “I think I’m forgetting something” feeling. Conveniently broken down into categories that include everything from health and beauty items to “equipment” like batteries and phone chargers, and structured in interactive, checklist form, tick each box as you pack each essential away, and you’ll be prepared for stress-free fun, wherever you’re headed. (We intentionally left out clothing since that varies so widely, but try our Beach Vacation Packing List for a comprehensive review of what you’ll need if you’re heading somewhere warm, or our Ski Trip Packing Checklist if you’re bound for colder climes). Bon voyage!

Organized packed suitcase


  • Contact lenses and/or glasses, if necessary (consider packing extra pairs, too)

  • Slippers

  • Sunglasses


  • Alarm clock

  • Batteries for small electronics and cameras

  • Camera (and film, if needed)

  • Chargers for your cell phone, camera, video camera, and laptop

  • Hair dryer (if your hotel doesn't supply one)

  • Headphones for watching in-flight movies

  • iPod and iPod dock

  • Tripod

  • Video camera

Health and Beauty Items

  • Antibacterial wipes

  • Body lotion

  • Comb and brush

  • Contact lens solution (if needed)

  • Deodorant

  • Face cleanser

  • First aid kit, including gas-relief tablets, antacid, antidiarrheal medicine, antihistamine for allergies, bandages, candied ginger for motion sickness, mild laxative, non-aspirin pain reliever, and a thermometer in a hard case

  • Floss

  • Insect repellent

  • Lip balm (choose one with SPF 15)

  • Makeup

  • Personal-hygiene items

  • Prescriptions

  • Razors

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Shaving gel

  • Sunscreen (pack at least one all-purpose sunscreen with SPF 15)

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Travel-sized detergent


  • Addresses of friends and family for postcards

  • Healthy snacks, such as chewy granola bars, dried fruit, mini bagels, nuts, and pretzels

  • Cash, ATM cards, and traveler's checks

  • Maps and directions, if driving (try for maps, directions, and traffic information)

  • Photograph of luggage contents in case of loss

  • Printouts of reservations

  • Sealable plastic bags for stowing small liquid containers

  • Travel journal

  • Travel pillow and blanket

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