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  • Documents
    • Tickets Book well in advance for better deals.
    • Passports / visas This should also be done well ahead of time.
    • Medical and vaccination records Check with your doctor for needed shots in some foreign countries.
    • Confirmations For hotels, car rentals or anything else that you have planned or prepaid that provided an invoice.
    • Identification Carry your driver’s license (or other ID).
    • Membership cards If you plan to use AARP or AAA for discounts, you must show your card at check-in.
    • Money Just enough cash for small transactions, only one or two credit cards, and Traveler’s Checks.
    • Guidebook(s) When traveling to new locations, familiarize yourself before you leave home and bring a good guidebook and map with you.
    • Copies Have duplicates of all important documents you will be taking.
    • Important phone numbers Put these into your cell phone for easy access.
  • Personal/Hygiene
    • Bottles Make sure you get only travel approved portions of body lotion, face wash, eye drops, shaving cream, lip balm, cologne/perfume, cosmetics, deodorant, hand sanitizer, and mouthwash.
    • Hair Care Includes shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, and any hair care appliances.
    • Kits Shaving kit and nail care kit should be packed in checked luggage.
    • Oral care Don’t forget dentures/denture adhesive, toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.
    • Feminine hygiene products If needed, pack maxi pads, tampons or pantiliners.
  • Clothing/Accessories
    • Underthings Pack a pair of underwear for each day plus one extra.
    • Travel clothes Wear comfortable clothing in layers to adjust for temperature changes.
    • Footwear Easy to remove, comfortable and adaptable walking shoes will work for every situation except dress wear.
    • Timekeeping Always wear a dependable but not too expensive watch.
    • Swimwear If you plan to hang out on the beach or by the pool. Also pack sunscreen and other items.
    • Coat/ jacket Plan for the unexpected, even if you only might need a windbreaker.
    • Sleepwear Pajamas are one of the most forgotten items.
    • Dress up For formal occasions pack one good dress or other outfit including belt, shoes and jewelry.
    • Sports Whatever your sport, be sure to pack what you need to do it in order to avoid expensive last minute purchases at your destination.
  • Medications
    • Original bottles or paperwork Even if you have a week’s supply in a portioned container, bring proof that the prescriptions are legal.
    • Contraceptives Another oft forgotten item that is a must-have.
    • Motion sickness meds If you have trouble flying or with high altitudes, these are very important.
    • Children’s meds Kids need different doses than adults, so pack appropriately.
    • Sleeping pills If you are going across multiple time zones, you may need help adjusting your sleeping patterns.
  • Miscellaneous items
    • Wipes Including tissues, antibacterial moist towelettes, paper towels and travel toilet paper rolls.
    • Gadgets Cell phone or blackberry, iPod or mp3 player, and netbook or laptop.
    • Comfort items An inflatable pillow, earplugs, eye mask, and a travel blanket can make coach more comfortable.

Everyone who travels has, at one time or another, forgotten to pack an important item.  Because of our busy lives, the process of packing often ends up last on our priority list.  When this happens, we have a tendency to either under-pack or over-pack when a perfect balance would make traveling much easier. With pre-planning, and careful consideration of what you really need to pack, you will never leave your toothbrush at home again. The list can be amended depending upon how much luggage you want to take or are allowed.  If traveling by air internationally, the list would add passports, immunization records (if applicable), and any other required documentation.


Because many hotels now provide hair dryers, if you check ahead and confirm what amenities they offer, you will have fewer items to pack.  Many provide daily shampoo, conditioner and soaps.  Unless you are married to your own brand, you do not need to pack these items.   Even if you intend to stay with family or friends, ask them if they have an extra personal appliance you can borrow during your visit.  Many people accumulate travel sized samples that they pick-up in hotels and save them for their guests to use. Just as annoying as forgetting to pack something you need is over-packing.  The easy fix for this bad habit is to color coordinate what you plan to wear.  Savvy travelers never pack more than two pairs of shoes.  One casual pair for travel and walking and another pair the same color for dress.  A special sports shoe would be the only third pair, if needed.  Packing too many shoes adds weight to your luggage and takes up valuable space for other more important items. Below is a basic packing checklist that will help you get organized whether you travel by air, car, bus or train.

Packing Checklist
  Fae Graham

on January 2, 2012

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