Ultimate travel packing list

Packing tips for your next trip

Packing your bags is an exciting part of the travel experience, but it can also be daunting if you don’t know where to start. Whether it’s arriving without a visa, forgetting your pyjamas or even leaving the house without your passport, small packing mistakes can quickly turn your adventure into a holiday to forget.

Thankfully, a comprehensive travel checklist can keep you on the path to packing like a pro. 

In this ultimate packing list, we cover the essential items by category so you can set off on an unforgettable and stress-free adventure. 


Luggage packing tips

You might be tempted to dust off the ancient suitcase in the garage or buy the cheapest backpack in the dollar store, especially if you’ve been saving hard for your overseas adventure. However, investing in a higher-quality bag is almost always worth the cost.


Find the right bag

Comfort, functionality and security are crucial features of any great bag. Here are six ways to ensure you find luggage you can rely on:

  1. For larger luggage, look for bags with durable materials like hardshell cases, sturdy zips and strong wheels.
  2. Lightweight, versatile and compact bags are great for carry-on luggage. Don’t forget to follow the airline’s rules on what you can pack in carry-on luggage.
  3. Bags with theft-proof features are fantastic for day packs when exploring overseas. Look for slash-proof materials, concealed and locking zips, and plenty of secret compartments.
  4. The roads less travelled aren’t always suitable for bags on wheels. If you’re heading off the beaten path, an all-in-one travel backpack could be the right choice. Ensure you choose a weather-resistant option, like one with an unfolding raincoat attached. 
  5. Keeping your bags organised is the key to saving space and finding things quickly. Packing cubes are great for dividing your luggage into smaller compartments.
  6. Quality luggage is a good start, but nothing will protect your belongings like comprehensive travel insurance. With our comprehensive travel insurance, you’ll travel with confidence knowing you’re protected if the unexpected happens.


Ultimate travel packing tips for luggage 


Carry-on versus checked luggage

Deciding what to pack in your checked luggage and what to take with you into the cabin can be stressful, especially with the number of restrictions enforced by airlines. Generally speaking, there are a few items that will never be allowed in your carry-on bags, including:

  • Sharp items (e.g. scissors, razor blades and knives)
  • Flammable materials (e.g. lighters, matches and aerosols)
  • Potential weapons (e.g. cricket bats, golf clubs and hammers)
  • Liquids exceeding a certain volume
  • Some food and drink.

The laws governing carry-on luggage can differ between airlines and whether you’re travelling internationally or domestically, so always do your research before packing your bags. 


Should you pack valuables in checked or carry-on bags?

Your travel insurance can also influence your packing decisions, especially when it comes to high-value items like jewellery and electronics. Many travel insurers won’t offer cover for your valuables if something happens to them while they’re stored in checked luggage, which is why valuables should always go in your carry-on bags.

Ultimate travel packing list

As we mentioned, following a detailed travel packing list is the best way to avoid frustrating baggage bloopers. With the right bags, the right know-how regarding carry-on versus checked bags, and a few space-saving tools like packing cubes, it’s time to get to work.

Travel packing checklist


Clothes to pack

Think about your destination’s climate and cultural norms

Throwing anything and everything into your suitcase won’t cut it. It’s important to consider the climate of your destination at the time you’ll be travelling and also any cultural norms to consider. 

For example, four pairs of jeans for a two-week Hawaiian getaway will add up to unnecessary weight, and a roster of mini-skirts may not be suitable for conservative countries. 

Day-to-day clothes and accessories <H4>

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • T-shirts
  • Button-up shirts
  • Jackets
  • Jumpers
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Belt
  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Pyjamas
  • Hat
  • Glasses and case.


Beach clothes and accessories

  • Swimwear
  • Sun hat
  • Thongs or sandals
  • Rash shirt or wetsuit
  • Beach towel
  • Beach bag
  • Wet bag
  • Reef-safe sunscreen/zinc.

Tip: Hawaii has banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are common chemicals found in sunscreens that are damaging to coral reefs. If you’re planning to snorkel or scuba and you’re unsure whether your sunscreen from home is reef-safe, check with your tour operator ahead of time or simply buy some when you arrive. 

Travel packing tips for the beach


Cold weather clothes and accessories 

  • Coat
  • Windbreaker
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Thermals
  • Travel umbrella
  • Rain jacket
  • Boots
  • Hand-warmers.

Adventure travel clothes and

  • Hiking shoes
  • Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt
  • Mosquito net
  • Quick-drying shirt and shorts
  • Waterproof socks
  • Wet bag
  • Water bottle.

Dining out clothes and accessories

  • Dress pants
  • Belt
  • Dress shoes
  • Formal shirt
  • Formal dress
  • Coat
  • Purse/wallet
  • Handbag
  • Jewellery (remember to pack in your carry-on luggage).


Toiletries to pack

Before emptying your entire bathroom cabinet into a zip lock bag and throwing it in the suitcase, keep in mind that toiletries are often the worst-offenders when it comes to taking up unnecessary space in your luggage.
Half-empty bottles of shampoo, irregular-sized packaging and unnecessarily heavy glass containers can easily take up a lot of space. Either take smaller portions of products like shampoo in travel-sized labelled bottles or pick them up when you arrive. Your hotel may even have them for free!
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Lip balm (useful on the plane)
  • Make-up
  • Aftershave/perfume
  • Cleanser, toner, moisturiser
  • Cotton wool
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Shaving gear
  • Hair styling products
  • Emergency toilet roll
  • Nail clippers, tweezers, scissors
  • Laundry kit.
Tip: It’s safest to pack clippers, tweezers and scissors in your checked luggage, in case they attract the attention of airline staff. Scissors up to a certain size are often allowed, however it can be easiest to avoid the risk entirely. 


Health & medication to pack

All travellers should prioritise staying fit and healthy overseas, which is why health products and medications should be an important part of your packing process. Whether it’s a simple first aid kit or important prescription medications, ensure you check off all of your health essentials to avoid leaving them behind.

  • Prescription medicine
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Pain relief medicine
  • Diarrhea medicine
  • Motion sickness tablets
  • First aid kit
  • Sunburn gel (e.g. aloe vera)
  • Vitamins
  • Insect repellent
  • Eye drops
  • Hand sanitiser.

Tip: Airlines often require that you carry your prescription medication in its original packaging and hold a doctor’s certificate to verify its use. Check with your airline well ahead of time.


Electronics to pack

Most of us will carry a number of devices with us when we travel, from eReaders and laptops to GoPros and digital cameras. Just don’t forget the charger!

  • Local power adaptor for your destination
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Laptop/tablet and chargers
  • Camera, memory card and charger
  • Protective cases
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • eReader and charger
  • GoPro
  • Portable phone charger
  • Travel apps on your device (e.g. translation apps).

Tip: Just like jewellery, electronics should be packed in your carry-on bags as we can’t cover them otherwise.


Travel documents

They may not be the most exciting, but travel documents are some of the most important things in your luggage. Research the requirements of your destination and prepare your documents early.

  • Passport and photocopies
  • Local currency 
  • Credit cards
  • Local and international drivers license
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Visas (if applicable - always check entry requirements on SafeTravel well before your departure date)
  • Booking confirmations and itineraries (e.g. tours, hotels, shuttles, etc.)
  • International SIM card
  • Emergency and embassy contacts list
  • COVID-19 documents (e.g. vaccination certificate and negative test results if required).

Tip: Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after your intended return date to New Zealand. Again, check the entry requirements of your destination on SafeTravel to avoid unwanted surprises when you land.


Safety and security

  • Luggage lock
  • Money belt.


COVID safety items to take overseas

COVID-19 has added a few more essentials to our overseas luggage. Stay healthy and follow local COVID restrictions with things like:

  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Rapid antigen tests
  • Negative test results if required
  • International vaccination certificate if required.

Tip: COVID-19 restrictions vary widely around the world and are frequently changing. Research your destination ahead of time to know what to expect when you land.

Carry-on luggage at the airport

More preparation before you travel

Jetting off overseas isn’t all about packing your bags. Here are a few other essential steps to get you ready for adventure.

  • Contact your bank to register your travel plans
  • Exchange currency
  • Register your travel with SafeTravel
  • Inform your friends and family of your travel plans
  • If possible, pre-pay bills that will arrive while you’re overseas
  • Secure your house and unplug appliances
  • Enlist a neighbour to collect your physical mail (uncollected packages and letters are a green light for thieves)
  • Pause any regular deliveries while you’re away (e.g. newspapers or meal kits)
  • Check-in for your flight online 
  • Double-check which terminal you’re flying from.

Tip: Natural events like hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and floods can quickly change or even cancel your travel plans. Research any significant events happening in your destination before you fly.

Finding the best travel insurance

One of the most important things to pack for your holiday is comprehensive travel insurance. Whether you’re taking a short trip with the kids or setting off on a multi-country backpacking adventure, protecting yourself from the unexpected can let you travel with confidence.