Packing for international travel is arguably the most stressful part of the whole trip preparation. It is due to the many variables that continuously change over time and need constant adjustment.
The lack of knowledge about the travel destinations: from climate zones to weather conditions and their peculiarities, and local requirements and airline baggage regulations that have a considerable impact on how you will be packing your luggage for an overseas trip.
This post will help you identify all core elements for packing for a trip overseas.
The basics for packing for international travel
There are a few things that will help develop a travel packing style when travelling overseas. Here they are:
- Choosing the right type of luggage for your international trip
A wheeled suitcase is a universal piece of luggage that matches well with any travel. However, depending on the activities, a duffel bag or a travel backpack is a better choice. If you travel 80% of your time outdoors and plan to join multi-day tours, too, a duffel bag or a backpack will allow you more freedom.
Moreover, this type of luggage will comply with local tour operators’ requirements that often ask you to re-pack your stuff into a soft bag. In this post, you can read about luggage pros and cons.
- Prefer lightweight luggage
For international travel, a lightweight bag is essential. Not only it makes your luggage more handy and comfortable to carry around. With the strict airlines’ baggage allowances regulations, lightweight luggage will save space and weight. Furthermore, make sure you pack your cabin luggage to comply with the weight regulations and items restrictions of all airlines involved in your international travels.
- Learn the art of Packing Light
One good thing to do is setting a limit of weight for each international trip. By placing a limit like 20-25% below the average baggage allowances of average 20-30 kg (44-50lb) for international airlines and an average of 13-20 kg (28-44lb) for low-cost airlines, you will travel with peace of mind. It means you will never pay for baggage excess. Packing light also means careful packing by choosing lightweight clothing.
- Check local requirements and restrictions
Before packing your luggage, make sure you know the country regulations, like food, electronics, medical prescriptions and so on. From an adaptor to a phone charger to memory cards and more electronics spare parts, make a list of all you plan to pack and check your destination regulations.
Once you have the three steps set, it will be easier to start packing your luggage for all your international travel destinations.
What to do before packing your luggage for an international trip
- Research about your Travel Destination
What time of the year are you travelling? How will be the weather conditions? Which clothes are best suited for your destination and the planned activities?
- Go through your travel itinerary
Make a list of all planned activities: From outdoor, leisure, cultural, entertainment etc. Divide leisure activities into groups and allocate a percentage of time to each category. Start making a packing list according to each type. This list will help you start packing for an outdoor adventure.
- Choose wisely which clothes and shoes to pack
I prefer lightweight clothes and outdoor shoes that are light and easy-care. Multi-functional garments that can be used for different purposes and are easy to combine. Choose clothes and items that are breathable, keep you warm and have maximum protection from wind, rain, sun and dust. If you are heading down under, here is my list of what to wear when travelling to Australia.
Techniques for packing your luggage for a trip
- Use packing organisers, packing cubes or travel packing bags.
These are the most common, and I like all of them. Depending on the trip’s nature, I will try to use a combination of them or pick those that are more appropriate for your travels. Packing cubes are easy to fill but come in standard sizes, whereas zipped packing bags are not as bulky as packing cubes and quickly adjust to your own needs.
I prefer clear packing cubes or see-through bags to recognise the items packed in each bag easily. Check out these handy travel luggage organisers.
- Map out your luggage compartments and pack your suitcase accordingly
Keeping in mind your luggage map will be easy to store and locate things once you need them. There is nothing worse than having to rummage into your bag and trying to find something. A clear luggage map in mind will help you stay organised throughout your travels.
- Create your travel packing checklist
First, Finalise all the above steps. There is not a one-size packing checklist that fits all. Work out your travel packing list that fits well with your style, your needs-and-wants. Trim out things that are doubles and triplets and narrow it down to make a minimalist packing list. This is the best way to control luggage weight and develop your packing light style.
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The next step is proper learning how to prepare for the long-haul flight.
First published in 2018, last updated in April 2021
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