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My All Purpose Packing List

Somebody drew their packing list – brilliant! Image via

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my packing philosophy: My Maximalist Packing Manifesto. I probably sound like I pack  1,000,000 things in my suitcase, which isn’t true. I just believe that you should pack the things you will need and will use on the trip, not skimping for the sake of traveling light. In other words, I don’t start with a small suitcase and pack things into it. I start with a pile of things I want to bring and then I decide on the bag(s) to put that stuff into. I think it lends to a more civilized way to travel.

In order to make packing less stressful it is critical to have a good packing list. Over the years I have customized a packing list for myself — see below. I update it after every trip.  I often want to skip items on the list, thinking I won’t need them, but experience has taught me to pack it all. It’s better to be prepared.

So, here is my all purpose packing list (good for work or vacation) — feel free take it and customize it for your needs!

Note: You can download the list at the bottom of the post — just scroll down.


☐  tickets
☐  cash/foreign currency
☐  passport (and photocopy of passport, kept in separate bag)
☐  immunization booklet (if needed)
☐  international drivers license (if needed)
☐  itinerary – multiple copies
☐  maps and travel books
☐  notebooks and pens
☐  tea bags and snacks
☐  emergency contact info
☐  travel pillow (this is one item I actually skip most of the time)
☐  reading material
☐  umbrella
☐  business cards
☐  extra duffel bag
☐  extra Ziplocks/dirty laundry bags
☐  luggage scale

Tip: Start packing a week ahead of a trip. This will give you enough time to make decisions about what clothing and bags you want to take and not be rushed.


☐  phone and charger
☐  ear buds and audio splitter
☐  tablet and charger
☐  laptop and charger
☐  camera, charger, mini USB cable and extra battery
☐  Flip video camera
☐  travel power strip – you won’t have to worry if your hotel room has enough outlets
☐  travel speakers (if needed, I like having them for long trips)
☐  foreign power converter (if needed)
☐  flashlight/headlamp
☐  jump drive (wiped!)
☐  travel battery (to re-charge devices on the go)


☐  make up (lipstick, concealer, blush, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, powder)
☐  contacts/saline
☐  deodorant
☐  comb/hair ties
☐  astringent/acne cream
☐  moisturizer w sunscreen
☐  hand sanitizer/handi-wipes
☐  birth control
☐  toothpaste/toothbrush
☐  shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face wash
☐  cotton balls/Q-tips (I bring 1 Q-tip for each day of the trip)
☐  nail file/scissors/polish
☐  first aid kit
☐  Woolite packets
☐  insect repellent/sunscreen
☐  tampons
☐  razor
☐  sewing kit and safety pins
☐  dry shampoo
☐  Sigg water bottle
☐  sunglasses
☐  wallet
☐  (2) large plastic envelopes for collecting receipts, postcards, misc.
☐  notebook and pens


Tip: Pick a color palette for the trip. It makes packing easier by limiting your options and insures that the things you pack mix and match well. I usually pick two neutrals and a bright. Some color palettes that I have used recently: black/white/silver, silver/black/hot pink, black/red/white, blue/black/brown, etc.

☐   pants (1pr jeans, 1pr leggings, +?)
☐   shorts (1pr for gym, 1pr for wearing out/lounging hotel room)
☐   coat/jacket/fleece/rain coat
☐   cardigan sweater(s)
☐   blazer
☐   tennis shoes/hiking boots
☐   sandals/flip-flops
☐   boots/heels/flats
☐   dresses – pack 5+ (easy to dress up/down, takes up little space, make dressing easy)
☐   bras/panties/lingerie – enough for a week
☐   socks (as needed) and 1 pr black opaque tights
☐   bikini and sarong (I always bring a bikini even if I’m not sure if I will need it)
☐   purses: black clutch and large high quality tote bag (this works well for a vacation or business trip)
☐   all purpose cotton/silk scarf (multicolored stripes go with everything)
☐   belts (I usually bring a red belt and a reversible black/gold belt)
☐   statement jewelry (x3) – a chunky necklace, cocktail ring, etc.
☐   t-shirts (neutral t-shirts and tank tops of various styles/necklines, plus some colorful ones)
☐   seasonal: hats, gloves, wool scarves

Download a copy of the list:

Download Packing List (.pdf)Download Packing List (.doc)

Have fun exploring the world!

What are your BEST packing tips?

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