When you’re going on vacation, deciding what to pack depends on many different factors. How long will you be gone? What’s the weather forecast for your destination? What activities do you have planned? When you’re traveling within your home country, it can be easy enough to pick up certain items you may have forgotten; within the U.S., for example, you know that whatever city you’re in, you can go to Walmart to pick up something like an umbrella or a pair of flip-flops. Other items, however—driver’s license, prescription medication—can be a little more difficult to replace on the go. This article provides a comprehensive list of necessities to pack for your domestic travel experience.
Make sure to bring and wear a mask in any and all public areas to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Keep a travel-size container of hand sanitizer with you, as well. Try not to touch your face, wash your hands frequently, and be sure to comply with all social distancing and public safety policies at the airport and at your destination.
Travel Documents and Information
Most travel documents are replaceable, but the process takes time and money. Plan ahead, find out what you’ll need, and make sure to keep the following items organized and immediately available while you’re traveling to and from your destination.
Valid photo identification
Within the U.S., acceptable forms of a photo ID include a driver’s license, state photo identity card, U.S. passport or U.S. passport card, a permanent resident card, a border crossing card, a foreign government-issued passport, and more. You’ll need an ID for essential activities like passing through airport security, renting a car, checking in to your hotel, etc. Passengers with an expired driver’s license or passport may still be allowed to fly if the ID is less than 12 months out of date.
- Travel tickets (plane, train, bus; can be paper or electronic copies)
- Boarding passes
- Reservation confirmations (rental car, hotel, pre-paid tickets for events; can be paper or electronic copies)
Credit and debit cards
Make sure to notify your bank and other financial institutions about your travel plans before you leave so they don’t decline legitimate charges for suspicion of fraudulent transactions
- Emergency contact list
- Medical insurance card
- Important addresses, guides, maps, and directions
Again, the clothing you need to pack depends largely on your destination’s climate and weather conditions, as well as the time of year. Be sure to research the 10-day forecast before you put your bags together. Some hotels have laundry facilities for guests, but if they don’t, you can always look up the closest laundromat.
- Bottoms (jeans, dress pants, shorts, skirts, etc.)
- Tops (T-shirts, polo shirts, button-up shirts, blouses, dresses, etc.)
- Sweaters, sweatshirts, and jackets
- Shoes (walking / tennis shoes, dress shoes, sandals)
- Belts (casual and special occasion)
- Special-occasion attire (suit jacket, blazer, tie, slacks, cuff links, formal dress)
- Sweatpants or gym shorts during leisure time
- Workout clothes
- Flip flops
- Cold-weather attire:
- Outer, heavier coat
- Gloves / mittens
- Rain boots or snow boots
If you’re flying to and from your destination, you’re only allowed to bring travel-size toiletries on the airplane. Be aware that in the U.S., the TSA limits passengers to liquid, gel, aerosol, cream, and paste containers of 100 mL or less, and all containers must fit into one quart-size bag.
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Washcloth or loofah
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash
- Hairbrush or comb
- Shaving razor and shaving cream / electric razor
- Hair styling products
- Contact lenses, case, and saline solution
- Nail manicure kit
- First-aid kit (bandages, pain relievers, antiseptic ointment)
- Perfume or cologne
- Hand sanitizer
- Over-the-counter medication for headache / pain relief, colds, or allergies
- Moisturizer or lotion
- Lip balm
- Prescription medication (make sure to bring a sufficient quantity for the duration of your trip) Make sure to keep prescription medication either on your person or in your carry-on bag rather than in checked luggage. That way, you’ll still have it with you if your baggage gets lost. Prescription medication still needs to meet TSA requirements and restrictions.
- Feminine products for monthly use
- Hair styling tools and accessories
Electronics and leisure items
- Laptop and charger
- Cell phone and charger
- Portable power bank
- Spare memory card
- Batteries or charger
- Headphones (preferably noise-cancelling)
- eReading device (Kindle, Nook, etc.) and charger
- Book, magazine, crossword puzzle book, newspaper, or something similar
In addition to items in the above categories, you might also want to bring:
- Reusable water bottle
- Overnight bag or smaller satchel-type bag for daily use
- Baseball cap
- Lint roller
- Prescription glasses (at least two pairs, if possible)
Planning out your packing list in advance will give you time to remember items that might have slipped your mind and will make the days leading up to your trip less stressful. Most basic items can be found anywhere in the country, but pay particular attention to making sure you have all personal items and documents that would take time and effort away from your vacation to replace.