life travel

Travel Packing List

Traveling by Hot Air
Credit: Joe Thomissen

I’ve flitted about a lot this year, and last, and as a result I’ve accumulated some things and strategies for packing, including outfits that I designate at “plane outfits”. A sign I’m over-thinking things? Possibly. But in case it’s useful, I’m sharing it here (most links Amazon).


  • iPad – no need to fear misjudging the timing and landing in the middle of watching something! Also, better battery life than a laptop.
  • Travel blanket – they don’t give these out on shorter flights, and even when they do, it’s nice to have two! Planes often vary in temperatures, so I find a blankets are better than sweaters.
  • Eye mask – they have fun ones at Flight 001, in NYC, SF or Sydney (plus some other locations).
  • Ear plugs
  • Noise cancelling headphones – these Bose ones are pricy but incredible.
  • Facial wipes
  • Hand sanitising wipes
  • Small cloth bag – this is useful for assembling immediate flight needs into just before boarding, then I can stow my main bag above for extra legroom, or if I’m in an emergency exit row seat because I have to. This will be small enough that I can slide it down the side of the seat (usually I get a window seat).
  • For a short flights and trips, I pack this into a small backpack that can double for going hiking etc. I have a Dakine one with an elastic thing on the front that is handy, because I can strap things (jacket/blanket) to the front of it. Pockets for water bottle are good for putting in cellphone/passport when going through the security scanner.

For longer haul add (in case of delay):

  • Clean set of clothes to change into
  • Sports cropped top, more comfortable than under-wiring.
  • Go to plane outfit (good for sleeping in) – leggings and a dress, hoodie. Although, beware London Heathrow airport where leggings are considered to be pants and they want to search you accordingly.
  • Chargers and power cables (otherwise I pack these in my checked bag).
  • Snacks! In case of sleeping through the meal. Be careful with some countries where it’s necessary to throw out anything uneaten on arrival (Australia and NZ for example).

Buy at airport:

  • Water!


  • Same outfit for every day, inspired by this article – for 20+ degrees – leggings and dresses, hoodie, for < 20 degrees, 2x jeans, tshirts, hoodies. Everything has to go with everything else, so I don’t need to worry about assembling things.
  • If I’m dressing smarter, I take more variety, but pack outfits rather than items, and everything has to go with the same accessories (accessorising well takes up the most space) – one nice handbag, one casual, one pair of nice shoes, one pair of sneakers or at least flats I can walk longer distances in.
  • If I’m going for 5 days, I pack enough clothes for 6. This allows for one untoward event. Always always have an extra pair of pants, as one of my friends learned when we got on the boat and he threw up on himself.
  • Lightweight down jacketUniqlo had a great deal for <10 degrees. For really cold weather, I have a North Face 800 down jacket which is amazing. These fold up to nothing, and are easy to carry with me in case it gets chilly (in Ontario, for example, after dark the temperature drops very quickly).
  • A hat – if it’s sunny, a baseball cap. If it’s cool, a beanie. Great for hiding plane-hair, and also for keeping my ears warm if it’s windy.
  •  Swim suit – pain of working out when travelling is how much stuff you need. If the hotel has a pool, swimming solves that issue. I love swimming last thing before bed, I find it very relaxing.
  • Sneakers I can walk 10k+ in.
  • Small bag – I have a black Crumpler and a Roots beige leather. I pick one.
  • Sweatpants – nice for lounging around in, or putting on just to go for breakfast.
  • All of my luggage is – deliberately – easy to pick out on the carousel. For shorter trips, I have a pink North Face duffel (up to around a week), for longer trips I love Eastpack suitcases (I have 3), they are super sturdy. For multiple stops, I use the different sides to pack separately, e.g. this is my Minnesota section, and this is my San Francisco section. I’ve found this makes packing for multiple different weathers and kind of events (e.g. conference and retreat in the countryside) less overwhelming.

Meds and Toiletries

  • Handwash liquid – I’m experimenting with washing clothes as I go to pack lighter. Especially good if doing sports, lightweight running leggings are so quick to wash and dry.
  • Conditioner (small) – sucks to get in late to a poor selection of hotel toiletries and discover I have a choice between dry/unmanageable and dirty hair.
  • Plain, soothing moisturiser (I like Aveeno).
  • Anti-histamines
  • Basic painkillers
  • Post-plane facial necessitiesClinique Moisture Surge mask for overnight, Clinique Turnaround mask for morning.
  • Stuff to help me sleep – useful more for long haul flights (in economy).
  • Anxiety meds, in case of inappropriate touching at the airport or during the flight (at 2x this year, it’s best to be prepared – this is the difference between 80k and 115k, apparently).
  • Sunscreen. For city breaks or winter, SPF in my face moisturiser (Clinique super defence day) and Clinique city block is fine, otherwise I love biotherm.


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