The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist for Holidays (or Not)

The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist for Holidays (or Not)

In this complete guide, you'll find a comprehensive travel packing checklist, useful packing tips, and reminders of what to do before your trip!

16 min read
The ClaimCompass Blog
Thomas Busson
Thomas Busson
Tarifa, Spain

You may be taking a much deserved break in the French Alps. Or, maybe you're going for an excursion in the rain forests of St Lucia. No matter your destination, sometimes it can be hard to know what to put on your packing list.

Say you’re taking a trip to the sandy beaches of Costa Calida in Spain, there’s always a chance of rain. So you should bring a sweater.

Likewise a trip to the English countryside might mean you catch a rare glimpse of the British sun. Maybe you should whip out the shorts afterall!

You should be prepared for any surprising weather changes. But, you should also ensure that you bring the right toiletries and security essentials with you

And, make sure not to forget any of your vital travel documents. Imagine losing your passport just before the big trip! Nightmare. So, it’s best to create a packing checklist full of all the essentials.

Don’t worry, we’ve got this. Read on to discover the ultimate travel packing checklist for your holiday! We’ve a ton of useful travel tips for you.


The first thing to pack–or rather, download–is the Service app to save money on travel:

  • Get up to $700 in cash, voucher, or miles for your disrupted flight
  • Submit compensation claims automatically when your flight is disrupted
  • Rebook your hotel room at the lowest price when the rate drops, automatically

What is the best type of travel bag?

When it comes to travel bags, there's a huge variety for you to choose from. It may be tough to know where to start. They come in all shapes, sizes and patterns!

You also need to make sure that the bag isn’t a pain to pull around, and that’s it light enough so that it doesn’t make your journey difficult.

If your travel bag is a seasoned traveller and has seen its fair share of wear and tear, it might be a good idea to invest in something a little more sturdy.

A 4 wheeler

When returning to the family home for the holidays, you can be sure there’ll be A LOT to take with you. You’ll need plenty of jumpers, thermals and space to fit in your family’s presents.

Taking all of this into consideration, a 4 wheeler may be best. This way you won’t need to drag a heavy suitcase about. Instead, it will simply glide alongside you.

Travel backpack/ daypack backpack

Perhaps you’re going to visit a friend or relative for a few days. In this case you don’t need to bring a lot with you, so a travel backpack is both the perfect size and mobility level.

Carry-on bag

This travel bag will enable you to save both money and time at the airport. If you’re going for a short holiday, this is ideal. And what’s better? You can be sure that your luggage won’t go missing. It’s a win-win really.

A wheeled suitcase

If your journey will involve stairs or multiple terrains, a wheeled suitcase is great, because it gives you the opportunity to roll or carry it. Its flexibility is a winner in our eyes!

Rolling luggage

This kind of travel bag is great for sidewalks, and will make sure that your journey is as smooth as possible.

What tech equipment should I include on my packing list?

Tech is king in 2020, and regardless of the location you’re visiting, there are a few key items of tech equipment that will make your life easier.

E-reader

As you set sail for your holiday, you may wish that you could bring a big variety of books to keep you entertained and suit whatever mood you’re in. Of course this isn’t realistic, because you only have so much space inside of your suitcase.

Luckily it’s the 21st century and e-readers are a reality. This means you can bring all your favourite books along with you for the ride.

Headphones

Headphones are a good way to spice up any journey, whether you listen to a podcast or your favourite album. Similarly when you’re chilling by the pool side, you can pop your headphones in and relax to the max.

Cellphone/smartphone

Like you’d forget this one. Let’s face it, most of us are glued to our phones a lot of the time. However, if you are someone who lives a life more detached from the cyberworld, put this on the checklist.

It's a great way to ensure that you have access to some form of communication if you find yourself in a kerfuffle. Plus, you can keep a copy of your important documents in your smartphone too!

Tablet

If you want to watch a movie or your favourite TV programme, bring a tablet with you for your journey. This portable helper will make your journey a lot more entertaining, and will perhaps even help you block out the kids when they’re misbehaving!

Laptop

While you may be taking a much deserved break from the chaos of everyday life, you may STILL need to do some work on the go, or answer some work emails. Bringing a laptop with you will make sure everything doesn’t go to hell while you’re on vacation.

Charger

And what’s a phone without a charger? Make sure this is on your checklist so that your phone is fully juiced up for the journey and beyond!

What should I pack to improve comfort while travelling?

Flying is not always a relaxing or enjoyable experience. It may make you anxious, or perhaps you don’t have the legroom you need. So it’s best to bring some items with you, that will make the journey a little bit less uncomfortable.

Ear plugs

Airplane journeys can be pretty noisy. From screaming babies to chatterboxes, you may want a break from all the commotion, whether it’s to catch some zzz’s or to get on with work. Earplugs are great to block out any unwanted sound.

Travel pillow

A plane is also not the best place to sleep. And, the seats may not be all that comfortable (unless you’re in business or first class - lucky you). A travel pillow will give you the essential comfort you need when you’re resting your heavy head.

Travel blanket

To improve your sleep experience further, a travel blanket will do the job to keep you warm and comfy. Some blankets even have pockets where you can store your ear plugs and plane snacks.

Compression Socks

If you’re at high risk of DVT, compression socks will apply a light pressure to your ankles on a flight. These clever socks will help your blood flow and ensure that you don’t have to worry about a medical emergency.

Which clothes should be on my travel packing list?

It’s hard to assess the best clothes to bring with you on your travels. Weather is unpredictable, but you also want to make sure you’re looking stylish.

Summer

For a summer holiday in the Gran Canaria or Jamaica, you will want to bring light layers. Shirts, flowy blouses, summer dresses, T-Shirts skirts and flip-flops are ideal. Make sure you also bring your best swimsuit or swim shorts too.

Spring

A spring vacation can be wonderful. Blossom petals floating in the air, and a gentle breeze on your face. But, what do you bring to wear on this holiday?

Well, light layers like a maxi-dress with a cardigan on top is a good pick. Or, a T-shirt and shorts with a hoodie? Pack some jeans too, you can never fail with jeans!

Winter

For cold weather in winter, you need to make sure you pack your woolen socks, thermals, jumpers, warm coats, hats and gloves! Don’t let the cold ruin your fun!

Autumn

Autumn is a tricky month to navigate clothes wise. Woolly hats, mittens and scarves are key to for you to get the most out of your trip. And, pack some walking shoes in case you plan on doing any rambling or hiking.

More general clothing items

Underwear, bras, sleepwear, belts and jewellery (for that special evening out), should not be missed from your checklist.

What to pack in my travel toiletry bag?

Everyone’s travel toiletry bag looks different. Some people may require certain sensitive skin face creams only available in certain shops. Or you may simply want to bring your favourite perfume with you. There’s a lot to consider here...

Keep it fresh

Depending on where you’re going you may not have a chance to purchase new toothpaste, toothbrush or dental floss. So, it’s best to have these on the travel checklist.

Similarly, you don’t want to stink out the plane, or cause noses to wrinkle elsewhere. Better throw in some soap and deodorant then.

You’re probably going to want to keep those locks luscious and glossy too, so don’t forget your shampoo and conditioner.

You’ll want to style it too. So bring your hairbrush, comb and hair products!

Stay looking pretty

Makeup might be a passion of yours, or you may simply like a touch of lip balm to give your lips some colour. Either way, packing a few makeup essentials can’t hurt. (Perhaps waterproof mascara if you’re going to be swimming a lot!)

And, you’re likely to want a way to take off your warpaint. In that case, make sure to bring your makeup remover!

Likewise, nails may be a big deal for you. You like to keep them trim and looking gorgeous. So, bring your trusty nail clippers, file and polish!

And don’t forget about your eyebrows - tweezers are essential to prevent that cheeky monobrow from appearing again. However, some TSA officers can determine point-tip tweezers as too sharp for carry-on, so be careful!

Hygiene products

Periods can happen at the most inconvenient times, for example on holiday, so make sure you pack your preferred hygiene products!

Tissues or toilet paper may also be a good shout, depending on where you're travelling. Perhaps you’re visiting a remote destination in the amazon where there’s a severe lack of corner stores.

Skin products

Whether it’s face cream, an eye mask or shaving supplies like face cream, skin products are a MUST.

It’s always great to moisturise, especially in extremely cold or hot climates, so make sure you keep your skin supple and smooth.

Glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses

You don’t want to miss out on the awesome view of the Kukulkan Pyramid on your trip to Mexico, so make sure you bring the right eyewear to see properly! Travel guidance 101.

Sunglasses are also travel essentials that protect your eyesight in the blinding sun. So don’t be a fool and forget them!

What to pack in my travel health bag?

You need to make sure your health is in tiptop condition when you go on your holiday, or at least you’re prepared for any eventuality.

First Aid kit

You never know if you’re going to get a splinter, or perhaps fall over and graze your knee. You don’t want an injury to spoil your fun. For this reason a first aid kit is a great idea. Include essentials like:

  • Bandages
  • Tape
  • Gauze
  • Gloves
  • Bandage scissors (these can only be less than four inches big)

However, this can only go in your checked luggage, and you must remove any banned items.

Hand sanitiser

Airports and planes are not the cleanest places in the world, so it’s good to make sure you have a way to clean your hands when you need to. Hand sanitiser is a great option here.

Plus, it’s a great personal item to bring with you to your holiday destination too.

Pain relievers

Everyone deserves a holiday. But, sometimes those who suffer from chronic pain due to a pre-existing health condition may be worried it will sully their trip.

Pain relievers are a good way to ensure that you’re distracted from any pains that may bother you.

However, be careful, because depending on where you are travelling to, you may require a license. Or, the medication may be restricted entirely.

Insect repellent

If you’re travelling to a particularly humid destination, with lots of creepy crawlies, don’t leave your insect repellent at home. You don’t want to have your body covered in bites!

Prescription medication

If you’re on prescription medication it is essential that you bring it with you. If your medication comes in solid or pill form you can bring as much of it as you like, as long as it is screened.

If your medication is in liquid form, it is exempt from the 3-1-1 rule however it will be subjected to additional screenings.

Luckily you don’t have to fit your medication bottles into clear ziploc plastic bags either.

Antihistamines

You may be prone to allergic reactions and we all know how inconvenient streaming eyes and sniffles can be. Pop in an antihistamine and you’ll be as right as rain.

Anti-motion sickness medication

Once you land at your destination, there’s usually a bit more travel required to get you where you need to be.

You might be dreading this if you suffer from motion sickness, so make sure you pack the right medication to get you through.

Suncream

The importance of sunscreen is often overlooked, but it’s essential for keeping you safe when you’re reclining in the sun. So bring some in your luggage and slap it on everywhere, don’t miss a single spot!

Which travel documents should I bring?
Often when it comes to travel, we’re so focused on what to wear and if we’ll make it to the airport in time, travel documents slip our minds.

In reality, this is perhaps the most essential component of your checklist. Without your essential travel documents you’re not going to make it on the plane. So, don’t fall at the first hurdle.

Passport

Your passport is obviously a very important item to bring with you. It must be valid, and not damaged in order to be accepted. If you need to replace your passport, do it as soon as possible!

Tickets and boarding passes

Where it’s your plane tickets, train tickets, bus tickets, or boarding pass, don’t leave these bad boys at home if you want your trip to be hiccup free.

Proof of identification

It’s always best to bring some form of proof of identification with you on your travels. A driver’s license or provisional driving license is perfect for this.

Health insurance card

Heaven forbid something terrible happens on your holiday, or you fall ill. It's best to be prepared and ensure that you will be able to get the help you need. Bringing your health insurance card with you will keep you protected

Student card

There may be places on your trip that offer discounts for students. To be sure you don’t miss out on any sweet deals, bring your student card with you!

Debit cards and credit card or travel money

Some banks may require you to notify them about your travel before you fly. Also be sure that you keep your cards in different locations to minimise the risk of all of them being stolen.

Also, to get the best deals on money exchange, it’s always best to plan ahead. If you don’t have time, there will be facilities at the airport.

What are the travel security essentials?

While on your travels, you want to make sure that you keep as safe as possible. Visiting somewhere you’ve never been to before can be a bit daunting, so it’s always good to have some piece of mind.

Money Belt

A money belt is a great way to keep your money safe and near you at all times. It’s discrete and effective.

Headlamp

If you’re going for an exciting excursion into the caves of Punta Cana, or perhaps going to a location with little electricity, a headlamp will be needed. It will ensure that you're not left in the dark in a sticky situation.

Cable Travel Locks

Using cable travel locks is another way to make sure that your personal belongings are safe. These are especially useful if you’re staying in a hostel or you’re provided with a locker without a lock.

RFID Blocking Travel Wallet

A RFID blocking travel wallet gives you an extra layer of security. The wallet blocks scammers from reading and duplicating your card. Pretty cool right? For travel in the technological era, this is a must.

Top 4 travel packing tips

So already this travel guide has shown you the must-haves to include in your checklist. But we’re not done yet.

Below are some EXTRA travel packing tips that will make you most prepared travellers out there!

What should I pack for a 7 day trip?

It can be difficult to determine what to pack for a 7 day trip. There’s always the fear of overpacking or underpacking. Well, don’t worry, we’ll walk you through exactly what you should do.

Clothes

For a 7 day trip, you need to make sure that you bring the right amount of clothes. We recommend you bring:

  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • A couple of bras (perhaps a third if you have a strapless dress)
  • 4 pairs of socks if you have washing facilities, 7 if you don’t
  • 4 casual T-shirts
  • 2 pairs of trousers or jeans
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of nice shoes
  • 1 pair of sneakers/comfortable shoes
  • Sandals or flip flops if your in a warm climate
  • Swim shorts/swimsuit/bikini
  • 1 jacket

Toiletries

You should bring a good supply of toiletries with you, so you know you have the products you like and don’t have to spend any extra cash. Some good toiletries to bring are:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Face cream/moisturiser
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Makeup and makeup remover
  • Suncream
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Nail care materials

The technical stuff

Make sure to bring any technology that you rely on and their accompaniments. This might be a laptop, charger, smartphone, e-reader, portable gaming device, an adaptor.

Things to entertain you

If you're going on an escape to the country, you may want something to entertain you. This could include:

  • Puzzles
  • Board games
  • Sketch book
  • Books
  • Sewing kit
  • Cross-stitch materials
  • Wood carving materials
  • Puzzle books
  • Arts and craft materials

What should I not forget to pack?

It can be easy to forget essential items when packing up your suitcase for a holiday. You’d be surprised at the sort of things people forget. Below are some key items you should NOT forget to pack:

  • Passport - This one may seem like a no-brainer, but a shocking 1 in 10 Brits have admitted to forgetting their passport when they set off to jet off. Forgetting this will seriously jeopardise your chance for some fun in the sun.
  • Hairbrush/comb - This may not seem like a HUGE deal at first. But, your unbrushed hair, coupled with high levels of humidity...well, it’s not going to be a good hair day let’s put it that way.
  • An additional memory card - You’ve finally made it to Iguazu Falls. It’s an idyllic landscape with cascading waterfalls, and crisp blue skies. You want to take a picture to capture this awe-inspiring moment, but wait...what’s this? You’ve run out of memory!? Don’t let this be you. Bring an additional memory card so that you don’t miss a moment!
  • Travel adaptor - Many holidaymakers forget this essential item, and it can be a pretty tough task to find the one you need when you arrive.
  • When you purchase this item, try to find a multi-travel adapter. This will simplify any adaptor issues you have.
  • Corkscrew - What is better than reclining in the sun with a delicious glass of Syrah. Well you won’t be able to enjoy this kind of heaven if you forget your corkscrew. Especially if you’ve driven to a remote location outside of Marseilles, you may not have the chance to pick one up!
  • Snacks - In all the commotion of travel, you may forget to pick up snacks for the journey. This can be a BIG mistake. Airport and plane snacks are MASSIVELY overpriced and often underwhelming to say the least.
  • However when you bring your own snacks there will be some limitations. Head over to our blog to find out what kind of treats you are allowed to bring with you.
  • Copies of your documents - While you may think you’re covered if you have digital copies of all your documents, you never know what mishap may happen. Perhaps you drop your phone and it smashes into a million pieces, or you drop it in the sink.
  • Don’t get caught out, print out copies of all your essential documents.
  • International SIM card - Many holidaymakers end up racking up huge roaming charges. Don’t forget your international SIM card if you want to keep things affordable.

Is it better to roll or fold clothes?

To roll or not to roll, that is the question. Well the answer really depends on what the clothes are. When it comes to T-shirts, trousers, swimsuits, shirts and thin dresses, folding is your best bet.

However, this method is not without its downsides. Sure it’s quick, but it will leave some creases in your clothes. Also, it could be argued that this method doesn’t use space as effectively.

But, this can be combated by stacking your clothes side to side.

Rolling on the other hand is often favoured for its payoff. It may take a few more minutes but this method is a sure fire way to free up space in your suitcase.

It also allows you to preview the content of your suitcase without going through the often messy process of taking everything out.

This is also a better method for thicker clothes like jumpers and hoodies.

Of course an entirely different option is to use packing cubes. These allow you to effectively compartmentalise the content of your suitcase and minimise the space you use.

How do I maximize space in my luggage?

This guide has been full of helpful hints and tips, and we’re not stopping yet. There are a few steps you can follow to maximize the space in your luggage. These include:

  • Opting for a smaller suitcase will mean that you have to pack light and prioritise the things you need. Cut out all of the unnecessary stuff and focus on the essentials.
  • Wrap belts and accessories in shirts and trousers. This will free up space, and potentially provide an extra layer of protection for your personal belongings.
  • Stuff your socks into your shoes. BOOM. There’s some space you didn’t even know you had.
  • Make sure to wear anything that is particularly heavy. So, don’t pack your jumpers or coats. It might be a little hot, but it will save you some precious pennies.
  • Try to avoid using lots of different small bags. This takes up an unnecessary amount of space. Instead, pack them into a larger bag
  • Pack your shoes at the bottom of your suitcase. This means that the weight will be more evenly distributed.
  • Be inventive with your glasses case. If you’re wearing your glasses on your face, your glasses case can be filled with all sorts. Cotton buds, hair ties, tweezers, all of them can be wedged in there.

Final thoughts before you pack your things

Hopefully this travel guide has given you all the information you could ask for. You should now be fully prepared for anything a holiday may hit you with.

Any stress or concerns you had about forgetting vital items should be out the door.

You may be taking a hiking trip to the Himalayas or maybe you’re going for a poolside affair. Either way, now you shouldn't worry about forgetting your hiking boots or swimsuit.

Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong EVEN when you remember to bring everything you need.

You may be faced with a flight delay, or worse a cancellation. We know this can be hugely frustrating! But you’re not on your own.

You could be eligible for flight delay compensation or get money if your flight is canceled. This means you won’t go home empty handed and completely dejected.

Simply download the Service app and we'll automatically claim compensation on your behalf when we detect a disrupted flight in your travel reservations.

(the average traveler saves $300 per year with Service)

However, you may have had your flight canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately in this situation, you won’t be eligible for compensation.

You can find out more about your passenger rights in relation to COVID-19.