Although what you ultimately pack depends on your style of travel, destination, and length of stay, here are some general guidelines for the solo traveler:
- Carry On: For trips up to eight days, get a suitcase suitable for carry-on (e.g., 21inch or less). You want to be as light as possible. As a smaller overall package, you will be afforded more opportunities.
- Personal Item: A personal item is considered to be a small bag, purse, backpack, laptop bag, etc. Size restrictions vary – research the baggage limits of the airlines you’re using beforehand.
Get a four-wheeled spinner suitcase to help make your travels as smooth as possible. These cost a little bit more but are worth it. Dragging your suitcase around can become gruesome in some situations, like running to catch your flight or train.
- Hot Weather Locations: shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, sandals, sneakers, sunglasses, hats, swimsuits, underwear, pajamas, pants, light jacket and/or sweatshirt, hiking boots
- Cold Weather Locations (dress in layers): pants, shirts, sweaters, sweats, sneakers, boots, sunglasses, hat, swimsuit, thermal underwear, pajamas, coat, gloves, scarves, wool socks, hiking boots
Wear your heaviest items on the plane to make more space in your bag. And, unless there is a specific formal event that you’re going to, leave the heels at home. Every time I brought them, I didn’t wear them.
- Bring only what you need. These items include: face and body soap, shampoo/ conditioner, lotion/oils, sunscreen, toothpaste, make-up, medications, etc.
If you’re using a carry-on bag, make sure your combined liquids can fit in a 1 liter plastic bag. While in some countries there is only a limit on the amount of liquid in one individual container, in others there is a limit on the total amount you can bring.
- Keep this on you at all times. There are a few exceptions where you’d want to bring an ID card and leave your passport securely in your room or vehicle (e.g., water-related activities, places where you can’t keep track of it, etc.).
Print out 2 copies of your passport and ID card – keep one copy on you and leave the other in your baggage. In an emergency situation, having this information handy will be useful.
Documents, Passes, and Guides
- Print out all confirmations (hotel, car rental, tours, etc.) and passes. Don’t rely on having Internet service to pull these things up on your mobile device.
Bring your health insurance card. Look into travel insurance if you are traveling internationally. If you have any serious allergies or medical conditions keep a record of that for emergency personnel if need be.
- Going skiing, hiking, or to the beach? Make sure you bring any special gear you might need (e.g., ski goggles, tent, backpack, snorkel mask, hiking boots, etc.).
Consider renting some of these items if space is an issue.
- Headphones, chargers, etc.
- Camera, memory cards, batteries
Download movies and music – you won’t have Internet service everywhere and some airlines don’t have good entertainment options.
- Bring a little cash for general use
- Bring a debit and/or credit card – credit cards are widely used for most goods and services around the world. Watch out for foreign transaction fees!
Take cash out the ATM when you get to your destination airport.
AVOID using Currency Exchanges. You’ll get the worst exchange rate.