The Perfect International Travel Packing List (+ Downloadable PDF)

Creating a packing list for your first international trip depends on various factors, like your destination, the duration of your trip, the season, and personal preferences. However, there are some things you’ll always need to put on your list, especially for a first time international travel packing list.

I’ve been to over 30 countries and can say, there are items you’ll always need and some you’ll need depending on where your going. That’s why I’ve also created a downloadable PDF of this international travel packing list with the ability to check things off your list and add your own additional items.

I hope this packing list will make planning your trip just a little bit easier! I know how much planning goes into your first international trip so if this is your first international trip or tenth, I’m excited for you! Cheers to traveling more and exploring the world.

If you want to download this, I have it for free in my subscriber only resources! It’s an editable PDF perfect for helping you plan your trip.

Table of Contents

Packing Tips

International travel means longer flights and ensuring that you are comfortable during your flight. Another challenge that comes with that is how easy it is to overpack in your checked luggage. Still, another challenge is carrying your bags around if you’re staying in historic places or are taking a lot of public transit/walking everywhere. Let’s tackle these challenges with some packing tips!

    • Pack carry-on only if you can. It will save time and potentially money on bag fees. Plus, it will make packing and unpacking easier. You don’t have to worry about organizing as many things or overpacking. It helps you keep focused on what you need!
    • If you can’t pack carry-on only, bring your essentials in your carry-on. I recommend a few toiletries (toothbrush + toothpaste, hairbrush) and one set of clothes with you in your carry-on. Just in case. There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination, wanting to shower, and then your bag being lost (this happened to me in Peru). Almost every hotel has shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, so those aren’t necessary unless you’re doing carry-on only.
    • I would recommend no more than one carry-on bag that fits under your seat and one checked bag. It can be a lot to try to carry a big bag or a lot of stuff around with you!
    • Don’t overpack – instead, plan your outfits. If you plan out your outfits and only bring things for those outfits, you’ll keep yourself from bringing too much. It’s easy when you are going somewhere new or international for the first time to want to bring a lot.
    • Be aware of where you are staying when choosing a bag or bags to bring. Many historic hotels and areas do not have elevators. You may have to carry your bag up a few flights of stairs or up small side streets to reach where you are staying. A bag that you can easily carry is key! I recommend this bag from Patagonia. I love it so much, and they offer it in carry-on size!
    • Utilize packing cubes to keep your things organized and your outfits clean.

Best Bags and Organization Items for your First Time International Travel Packing List

Yes, you need a packing list, but do you have a bag that will work well on your international trip? You’ll want something durable, easy to carry, and that you can use over and over. Here are my personal favorites.

Organization Packing Items

    1. Hanging Toiletries Bag: Many parts of the world (including cruise ships on the high seas) will not come with tons of storage space or large countertops.
    2. TSA Approved Travel bottles: perfect so you don’t have to throw out your favorite self-care products at the security check.
    3. Toiletry Bag: Easy to pack and water-resistant, this is a great toiletry bag. Comes in several colors.
    4. Packing Cubes: Packing cubes are a great way to organize your bag and make the most of the space in a larger bag.
    5. Travel Compression Bags: Use these bags to save space in your bag when traveling.
    6. Pill organizer: Great option for a travel first aid kit if you don’t want to buy the travel size of each medicine you’d like to bring or have prescriptions you take.
    7. Jewelry organizer: Great for keeping all your little pieces easy to get to and organized on a trip. This is something I held off on buying for a long time but now love having on trips!

Carry On Options

    1. North Face Backpack: Plenty of pockets and room as an under-the-seat carry-on.
    2. Black Hole® Duffel Bag 55L: My personal favorite and current carry-on bag. This is a great option if you want to bring just one carry-on.
    3. Travel Vest: If you bring the duffle, a great alternative to a second bag is this travel vest.
    4. Small Duffle Bag: This bag will fit under the seat while you’re traveling and hold your essentials. You can easily put it on top of the hard case luggage linked above for easy carrying.
    5. Hard case roller bag: Durable and easy to clean, hard case luggage is another great option.
(Consider packing carry on only for your trip too – it’s a great way to save money if you’re taking multiple flights on your international trip and means less wait time at the airport!)

Checked Bags

  1. Hard case luggage set: consider getting a set with a carry-on and checked bags. Durable, easy to clean, and organization built in.

Essentials for International Travel

  1. Passport and visa: Ensure they are valid for the entire duration of your trip. Most places require your passport to be valid 6 months before the trip. Ensure you’re good to go!
  2. Travel insurance: Including health insurance, if not covered by your regular policy. Medical costs can be very different depending on the country you visit, it’s worth researching ahead of your trip what you need.
  3. Flight tickets and itinerary: Print or digital copies. I like to have a digital copy and send it to a friend/family for reference in case.
  4. Hotel reservations: Confirmation details.
  5. Money: Cash and credit/debit cards. Make sure you are aware of any foreign transaction fees. I recommend having some cash in local currency on hand before your trip (most banks will do this for you free of charge or for a small fee) and using ATMs (if they are reliable in the country you are visiting).
  6. Travel adapter and voltage converter: Ensure it’s suitable for your destination by researching the compatibility.
  7. Prescription medications: Carry enough for the entire trip. Keep these in your carry-on.


    1. Weather-appropriate clothing: Consider the climate of your destination. One outfit per day unless doing a hike or outdoor activity. Then an extra outdoor outfit for that day.
    2. Underwear and socks: One pair for each day.
    3. Pajamas: recommend one for every two to three days
    4. Comfortable walking shoes: Especially if you plan to explore on foot.
    5. Swimwear: Even if you’re not going to a warm destination, you may want one! If you are doing water activities two days in a row, pack two.
    6. Hat and sunglasses

Toiletries and Personal Care

    1. Toothbrush and toothpaste
    2. Shampoo and conditioner (in travel bottles)
    3. Soap or body wash
    4. Deodorant
    5. Razor
    6. Hairbrush/comb
    7. Straightener Curler Combo
    8. Sunscreen
    9. Lip balm with SPF
    10. Personal hygiene items
    11. Prescription glasses or contact lenses


    1. Travel-sized laundry detergent
    2. Reusable ziplock bags: Useful for various purposes
    3. Travel-size sewing kit
    4. Travel-size first aid kit: add Blister Pads, Immodium, Pepto Bismol, Benadryl , and Advil
    5. Door Stop  (for safety)
    6. Foldable Backpack (for day trips)
    7. Travel lock


    1. Phone and charger
    2. Laptop/tablet and charger
    3. Portable Charger with Fast Charging Technology:
    4. Camera for photos
    5. Adapter
    6. Noise-canceling headphones
    7. Phone

In your Carry On (beyond electronics)

    1. Travel pillow/blanket (use code megelise for 15% off!
    2. Entertainment: Books, magazines, or e-reader
    3. Snacks
    4. Notebook and pen

Here is the downloadable and editable first time international travel packing list! Remember to customize this list based on your specific destination, the duration of your trip, and any unique needs you may have. Planning ahead will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey!

Plan your adventure with this perfect International Travel Packing List! Download the customizable PDF and get ready to explore.
Plan your adventure with this perfect International Travel Packing List! Download the customizable PDF and get ready to explore.

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