Note: This page does contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Read the full disclosure policy here.
Because people seem to love packing lists (and since I love lists in general), you can find my travel packing lists with you here, followed by a detailed breakdown of some of my favorite gear.
I visited Iceland for less than a week in March, 2012. Here's what I took with me (and yes, I fit a winter coat AND boots into my backpack!).
This list is for a spring trip, but could easily be tweaked to apply to any time of year in New Zealand. (Hint: take lots of layers. And a rain coat.)
Southeast Asia seems like it would be easy to pack for: hot temperatures and plenty of beaches. But don't forget that many countries in this part of the world are slightly more conservative. Check out what I packed for 6 weeks in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
I headed to Europe for 8 weeks in summer 2012, hitting up Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the UK — meaning lots of different types of weather!
Going to Tromso or Alta to try to see the Northern Lights? Here's everything you'll need to stay warm and comfortable in Northern Norway in winter.
It's bound to happen eventually if you travel often — the dreaded multi-season trip, where you have to pack for more than one climate in just one bag. Here's how I fared packing for a trip to both Scotland (in winter) and tropical Belize in one go!
Headed for the Arctic tundra, or maybe the South Pole? You definitely want to pack warm, and pack smart! Here's a look at what I took with me to go chase the Northern Lights in northern Canada.
After my first river cruise down the Danube with AmaWaterways, I put together this packing list for anyone going on a similar vacation.
FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR
Here's a look at some of my favorite travel gear.
— This small, compact backpack has traveled around Europe with me for 3 months, and Asia for nearly 2. I love how small it is (it keeps me from over-packing), and love that it unzips fully to be front-loading. There are also some extra side and front pockets that make organizing easy.
— For trips when a backpack isn't necessary, I've started using a convertible Osprey pack. It has sturdy wheels on the bottom, but also comes with removable backpack straps, should you need them. I LOVE this bag — it's the best of both worlds! I've been using this 60-liter bag for 3 years straight and it's still in great shape.
— If you're looking for a backpack that's incredibly well-made but also carry-on-friendly, check out the Farpoint 40 by Osprey. I LOVE my Sojourn, but it's too big to act as a carry-on. The Farpoint doesn't have wheels, but it does have straps that zip away and plenty of interior space.
— Like to be organized? Then you HAVE to start using packing cubes. They come in multiple sizes, and usually fit together, puzzle-like, in any size bag. I use anywhere from 3-5 when I pack: one for shirts, one for shorts, one for skirts, etc.
— I love my packing cubes, but sometimes you need something with even more compartments for things like socks and underwear. I use a Hoboroll by Gobi Gear for all these miscellaneous items. It's divided up into 6 compartments and has compression straps so that you can shrink it down.
— Yes, I love anything that helps me organize a bag better – and that includes a good toiletry kit! If you're just taking the essentials (i.e. travel-sized toiletries instead of the big stuff), then this kit is perfect. It organizes your things nicely, and lays relatively flat in a suitcase or backpack.
— This little backpack really packs a punch. With anti-theft features like slash-proof material and secure zippers, this bag is perfect to carry around just about any city. It even fits a tablet, iPad, or 11-inch Macbook Air. It's a bit small to use as a carry-on if you have a bigger laptop or more electronics, but it's great to use as a secure daypack.
— The STM Haven is a great carry-on backpack. The Haven is slim and will easily fit under any airplane seat. It also has “floating” pockets for laptops and tablets, giving your devices a little extra padding. Lastly, the bag has a ridiculous amount of pockets, which is a must-have for any organizational freak.
— Now that I'm traveling with a lot more camera equipment, I've shifted over to taking a camera-focused bag as my main carry-on. Like the Slingsafe, this bag has anti-theft features like slash-proof material and secure zippers. It also has a separate compartment with dividers made for camera gear, which is perfect for photographers. (There's also a larger version of this bag .)
— A cross-body bag is a must for any traveling woman, and one that is anti-theft is even better. Made by Travelon, I really like this one. It's big enough for everything I would want to take with me for a day (my camera, wallet, Kindle, a scarf or sweater, etc.), and I also love the side pockets for water bottles or an umbrella.
— If a smaller handbag is more your style, I'll recommend another bag by Pacsafe (can you tell I love this brand??). This small handbag is made from Pacsafe's signature slashproof material and a RFID-blocking interior pocket.
— We've all experienced questionable sleeping situations on the road. A silk sleep sheet is the answer — it acts like a lightweight sleeping bag, meaning you don't have to actually touch those sketchy sheets or mattresses. These also take up virtually NO space in your bag.
— Traveling with a quick-dry towel is a must for most travelers. I never go on long trips without mine. Even if I'm staying in a hotel where towels are provided, having a micro fiber towel can be great for the beach. And, since these towels don't take up much room, packing one is a no-brainer.
— In some parts of the world, it's easy to forego the hair dryer and just let your locks dry naturally. But in other situations (I'm looking at YOU, winter), you really need a hair dryer. And, because I don't always stay in hotels that provide hair dryers (and because sometimes hotel hair dryers are AWFUL), I bring my own dual voltage dryer that folds up and packs easily.
– Especially now with the scare of Zika virus, it's more important than ever to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos when traveling. I invested in this BugsAway mosquito jacket by ExOfficio in 2016, and it actually does WORK. The mesh is light and airy, and yet the bug repellent in the material really does help keep the bugs at bay.
– Maybe it's weird to talk about underwear here, but I don't care. When you travel, a good pair of breathable, quick-drying underwear is essential. I have a week's worth of ExOfficio briefs like this, and they are my absolutely favorite. I don't have to worry about having sweaty nether-regions when I'm traveling in hot climates, and I can wash these by hand at night and know they'll be dry in the morning.
– I really hate money belts and those passport-holder necklaces. I think they just make you stand out MORE as a tourist. As an alternative, check out Speakeasy's hidden pocket travel scarves. The pocket is large enough for a passport, credit cards, and money, and yet when you're wearing the scarf you would never know it!
— For long plane rides (or really any time you're going to be sitting a lot), I recommend getting a good pair of compression socks. They help increase circulation and decrease swelling, and can also help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. I'm a fan of my Travelsox!
— For cold-weather trips, you definitely want something that will keep your toes warm and toasty. My recommendation are Heat Holders – some of the warmest socks I've ever worn! These puppies kept my feet warm while chasing the Northern Lights in Northern Norway in February.
— Going somewhere cold? Then you'll want boots that are not only nice to look at, but also warm! I bought these omni-heat boots for a trip to Iceland, and they did a great job keeping my toes toasty.
— Okay, so I hate most Crocs shoes. I think they look ugly and obnoxious. But I was convinced to try a pair with the promise of supreme comfort. I found the Adrina Flats which don't actually look like Crocs at all (and don't have the name branded on them anywhere you can see it), and they ARE, in fact, incredibly comfy. These are my go-to flats now.
— While perhaps not the cutest sandals out there, my Tevas are my most comfortable travel sandal. They're not super clunky, and don't look terrible when you're wearing them out and about – AND they provide great support, which I need when I'm on my feet a lot.
— Good for hiking or just walking around in a city, these lightweight Keens are my go-to if I don't want to take sneakers but still want to have a shoe that will keep my toes protected. They dry out really quickly if you get them wet, too!
— I'm not much of a hiker, but I still think it's good to have a solid pair of hiking boots in my arsenal. I bought these for my trip to New Zealand, and was SO glad I did. These are ankle-height, lightweight boots that actually don't look entirely hideous. And, bonus, it didn't take long at all to break them in!
— Want a pair of boots that will get you through easy hikes, keep your feet dry in the rain, yet still look cute enough to wear with normal outfits? Then these Eventyr Bluff boots are for you! I bought these for a trip to the UK, the Baltics, and Russia in autumn, and they were perfect.
— I used to be quite anti-Kindle, but now that I have one, I can't imagine traveling without it! The Paperwhite is great because it comes with a built-in backlight, making reading on planes or in bed a breeze. It's also really small, meaning it's easy to tuck away in my purse or daypack. And don't forget to sign up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited to make the most of your Kindle ().
— I love the mirrorless cameras Olympus has come out with; they are small, good-looking, and take great photos. If you're looking for an affordable intro model, the PEN series is the way to go. I also have a to go along with my Olympus camera that I highly recommend!
— This is my NEW camera; an update from the PEN series model I used to have. It's a slightly bigger, beefier camera and comes with a price tag that reflects this. I LOVE this camera, though, with its electronic viewfinder and tons of settings/options. I also love the I bought to go along with it.
— When you spend a ton of money on an unlocked iPhone like I do, you want to make sure that it's protected from dirt, spills, and drops. I've been using a waterproof LifeProof case recently, and I absolutely love it. I don't stress so much about rain or clumsily dropping it any longer. AND the Fre Power case has a built-in extra battery, too, so you can easily recharge your phone on the go.
For keeping charged up
— With 3 regular (US) outlets and 2 USB outlets, I never travel with out this surge protector. It's easy to pack, and also comes in super handy when I find myself in a hotel room or hostel with too few wall outlets.
— When you use your smartphone, video camera, and other electronics a lot, you run through a lot of battery. I've started traveling with a portable charger to make sure I don't run out of juice in the middle of the day!
— When you're traveling to multiple countries/continents in the same trip, keeping all those outlet adapters organized can be a pain. Enter this awesome little adapter from Skross. It will work in all corners of the world, AND comes with built-in USB ports.
On the Plane
– Because, I mean, really – WHO DOESN'T LOVE COLORING?!? Adult coloring books are “the thing” right now, and this is one of the first travel-related ones out there. Perfect for that long-haul flight!
– Whether it's listening to music or catching a movie on your in-flight entertainment system, you probably don't want to rely on those awful airline headphones. Investing in a decent pair is worth it. I love these Bose ones because they are super comfortable. I don't like , but many other travelers swear by those, too.
– Need a good travel read? Check out this book by my friend and fellow blogger Lauren Juliff. It's an easy, fun read that chronicles Lauren's adventures (and proves that she may indeed be disaster-prone and one of the unluckiest travelers ever).
— Sure, you can count on hotel safes and hostel lockers to keep your valuables safe. However, a laptop or DSLR camera won't always fit into those tiny hotel safes. And what happens when you stay in a room that doesn't HAVE a safe? I highly recommend the Pacsafe portable safe – it's basically a sturdy, slash-proof bag that you can secure around a sink or something else in your room that can't be removed.
— If you're traveling solo in a place where security might not be the best, it might help put your mind at ease to pack a doorstop alarm. Simply shove this under your closed door at night, and the alarm will sound if anyone tries to get in.
— I never go anywhere without one or two of these. They have come in handy in hostels, on buses, and during my overland trip in Africa. I especially like these ones because the wire loop means you can use these locks just about anywhere without having to worry about whether they'll fit.
– You'd be surprised how handy a dry bag can be on your travels. I've used mind for kayaking trips, rainy hikes, and even a boat trip where we had to swim to a beach (I was the only one able to bring a real camera with me!). I never go on a trip without my dry bag – because when you spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment, you want to make sure you can keep it dry!
– This marker-sized item is a must-have for anyone with a camera. One end has a brush to remove dirt, dust, and sand, and the other will safely clean your camera's lens to get rid of smudges and fingerprints.
TRAVEL GEAR POSTS
For further reading:
My picks for the best bags to travel with, from backpacks to rolling luggage.
A look at all my favorite travel-friendly footwear (for women).
From the packing cubes I use, to how I keep my electronics charged up, to what I put on my feet, check this post out to discover what sort of gear I travel with beyond just my backpack/suitcase.
People often ask me what kind of camera(s) I use to capture photos and video footage on the road. Check out this post to find out what I'm currently using!
Do you dread long flights? You're not alone. These items should hopefully help make your next long flight a little less awful.