The Ultimate Packing List: Essential items to pack first according to Travel Bloggers!

Most people loathe packing… the stress of trying to remember everything you need to take on your trip can quickly eliminate all excitement you had been feeling!

That’s where packing lists can come in helpful.

But there are hundreds of packing lists around, so how do you know which one will suit you and the destination of your trip? And how do you know it’s got all your bases covered?

Well, the best thing to do is to speak to the experts – and who is more likely to be a travel expert than someone whose job it is to travel, the travel bloggers!

Travel Bloggers travel so often that many don’t even unpack their bag unless it’s to wash the laundry or charge the electronics!

What is on the Travel Bloggers ultimate packing list?

To find out what the MOST ESSENTIAL item in their luggage is I asked a selection of the top travel bloggers around the world to share with me the first item they pack – the Packed First essential item that they don’t want to leave home without, ever!


Packed Fist: The Ultimate Packing List according to Travel Bloggers

These are the Essential Items that Travel Bloggers never leave home without…


Underwear and Socks

Packed first by James Cave from Portugalist

Packing lists always encourage you to pack light but, if there’s one thing I always wish I’d overpacked, it’s socks and underwear. No matter how many pairs I pack, I always wish I’d included a few more. Assume that you’ll get through 2 pairs of each a day (although you won’t need socks as much if you’re wearing flip flops). That means that if you pack 6 pairs, you’ll need to do laundry every 3 days. That’s fine if you have access to a washing machine (in an Airbnb, for example) but not always ideal if you’re staying in hotels and hostels. Remember: pack light with everything else, but the more the merrier applies when it comes to socks and underwear.



Packed first by Brett from Gluten Free Traveller

I am a fair-skinned girl and the first thing that I pack when I travel is sunscreen. People usually look at my fair complexion and wonder where I have been hiding all summer. Well, I don’t hide. I am outside all the time and ALWAYS lather up with sunscreen. Since I get a nasty burn without it, I put it on right in the morning and of course throughout the day. At least I will age gracefully, and wrinkles won’t come too early!


Water Bottle

Packed first by: Becky Angell from Becky the Traveller

The first thing I pack for a trip is my water bottle, whether it’s a hiking trip, a European city break or even a local holiday in the UK. I’ve been travelling with a water bottle for years. Firstly, it’s great for the environment it saves buying plastic bottles and creating waste. Secondly, it saves me money, most places you can get free tap water or a purification tablet gives you drinkable water. Lastly, keeping hydrated is important on long flights, city walking tours or hikes in the hills. So as you can see a water bottle is something you shouldn’t leave home without!


Cell Phone

Packed first by Mayuri Kashyap from To Some Place New

My cell-phone is the first thing I pack when I travel. This device, aka my iPhone is loaded with applications that I need when I’m out and about exploring. I have apps for offline maps, budgets, screenshots of addresses and places to see, my boarding pass and vouchers. I also download some e-books and music so that I can kill time during layovers.
My iPhone 8 Plus comes with a great camera as well, which is a bonus! I take most of my pictures on my iPhone and they always come out in great quality. Lightroom is downloaded on my iPhone as well so that I can edit on the go. So you see, I never part ways with my phone and it is the first thing I pack!


Guide Book

Packed first by: Ben Reeve from The Sabbatical Guide

The first thing in my case when we pack two go away is a Lonely Planet Guide. Despite the rise of travel blogging, and endless pieces of advice on the internet, there is something quite reassuring about taking a guidebook with you on a trip. They teach you a lot about the country in general, and flicking through will inspire you to visit places you’d not thought of. Adding your own notes also turns them into a great memory of your trip, ready to use the next time you go.


Bubble wrap

Packed first by: Mary Chong from Calculated Traveller

The first thing I pack in my suitcase for every trip is a sheet of bubble wrap. An unusual choice but an incredibly useful and handy item to have with you when you are travelling. It’s lightweight, and it doesn’t take up any extra space. Bring it once, and you’ll never go without bubble wrap again. Here are three ways that I use bubble wrap:
– Bubble wrap tucked inside the top flap of your suitcase adds some extra protection to the contents inside.
– You can use bubble wrap when folding up a delicate blouse, dress or jacket and it will help prevent wrinkles.
– When coming home, it’s perfect to wrap up that fragile souvenir and provides more protection than using a t-shirt.



Packed first by: Bradley from Dream Big Travel Far

Ever since we bought our DJI Mavic Pro, we simply have to take it everywhere we go! As my partner has type 1 diabetes, we have a lot of added supplies anyway. But the drone has become a child of ours. It allows us to capture breathtaking shots everywhere we go. Most recently, on our 4 week backpacking trip around Sri Lanka.


Walking shoes

Packed first by: Pari Alva

When I travel, the number one item I pack is my comfy sneakers. My travels usually involve a lot of walking. I am not talking about hiking in the woods only, but also generally walking around a city. One of the best travel shoes in my collection is Nike Air Max 270. These shoes are incredibly light, springy and have good ventilation due to the mesh area in the front. They don’t occupy much space in the luggage and can be comfortably worn on an airplane. The cherry on top is that they also look great.


Tiger Balm

Packed first by Jackie Szeto & Justin Huynh from Life Of Doing

Tiger Balm is a necessity whenever we travel. It’s our miracle ointment that is in a small and portable container and smells good (if you like the camphor and menthol smell). Whenever we go to tropical and humid locations, mosquitoes love us thus we get a lot of bites. A small dab of Tiger Balm helps relieve the itchiness and swelling. We also use Tiger Balm for muscle relief for the back and shoulder area, especially after a long hike. You can choose either a red or white version depending on your needs. Both work great!


Head lamp

Packed first by: Jenny Lynn from Travelynn Family

A good head torch is essential for any intrepid traveller and is always the first thing I pack. Whether it’s for nights camping under a blanket of stars, late evenings strolling through bustling cities during a power cut, or a dawn hike to a summit for sunrise; a good quality head torch with excellent range and reliable batteries is a must. It also means I don’t waste phone battery by using my phone’s torch, and hands are free. In fact, this item was absolutely essential on our recent adventures overlanding Africa in a Land Rover.


Power Strip

Packed first by: Roobens from Been Around the Globe

Something people tend to forget to pack is often what I pack first: a power strip! When you’re in hotel room, you quickly realize there are never enough outlets to charge your smartphone, your laptop and sometimes your camera at the same time! It’s even worse when you sleep in dorms in a hostel, people fight over who’s gonna use the very few outlets available. Problem solved with a power strip and if you stay in a hostel, you’re also helping out the other ones!


Birth Control Pills

Packed first by Cris Puscas from LooknWalk

The first thing I always pack first (and triple check I have with me) is the birth-control pills pack (or multiple packs if I travel for longer than a month). We all know what birth control is used for (I travel with my husband). But aside from the obvious, it also allows me to skip my period if I am in transit, if I go to a dance event, or just don’t want the hassle that month. Along with the pack, in goes the prescription as well (never been asked when going through security check in Europe, though).


Travel Phrase Book

Packed first by Michele from The Intrepid Guide

I pack my travel phrase guide first because it’s so important that I treat the locals with respect. At the very least I will learn how to greet and thank them in their language. Knowing some of the local lingo can be a great ice-breaker for getting to know the locals as well as asking for directions and ordering a meal. People will show you more respect when you’ve made an effort to learn their language. For more complex situations, a great backup tool is the Google Translate app. Download the language you need so it’s available offline. I used it whilst I was in the middle of the Czech countryside and it was a real lifesaver.


Contact Lenses & Glasses

Packed first by Daniella Flores from I like to dabble

What I pack first for a trip, before any other item, are my contact lenses and glasses. I was once on a trip where I had forgotten extra contacts and my glasses. All I had were the contacts in my eyes and when one of those contacts ripped while rubbing my eyes, I had no options and went around half blind most of the trip. It was horrible and I will never forget to pack them again. I not only pack an extra pair of contacts, I pack two extra pairs if I have enough and always pack my glasses for when allergies can set in (and I need to remove my contacts) due to changes in air and altitude.


Extension Cable with surge protector

Packed first by Jill at Reading the Book Travel

The item I pack first for any trip is my power strip with surge protection. It gets packed first to keep it at the bottom of the case with the bulkier items, but also because it’s one of the most essential items on any trip. With multiple electronics to charge, I can’t always rely on having enough outlets in my hotel room; taking the power strip also means I only need one travel adapter! But the most important practical reason is the surge protection, especially in countries where the electrical network isn’t as stable as at home. The power strip is convenient, but it also keeps expensive items safe – so it’s just a no-brainer for me.


Camera and Power bank

Packed first by Sandy & Vyjay from I’m Voyager

Travel is all about experiencing the precious moments, but it is also about freezing those special moments. Thus, as travel bloggers, our camera is one of our most important items that is laid out first when we pack our bags. The other important and in fact vital item for us that goes in first is a Powerbank. We need to stay connected as much as possible while traveling and hence must ensure that we have the means to charge our gadgets like smartphones, etc., on the go.


Multifunctional sandals

Packed first by Bistra and Nace from The Magic of Traveling

The most important thing we pack in our backpacks or suitcases while traveling are the comfortable multifunctional sandals. We use them for walking, as well as for hiking (we did Camino de Santiago mostly in sandals). When we hike or walk for a longer time, we put some socks to protect our feet from calluses (not a very aesthetic outlook though). Sandals are nice for just going out with friends, for going to the beach or just taking showers. We love how many purposes they serve and how good our feet feel in sandals!


Camera Battery & Charger

Packed first by Claire from Claire Imaginarium

My camera’s charger and spare battery are always the first two items on my packing pile. I have always loved taking a lot of pictures and filming during my trips so the spare battery is very much needed as I easily blast through one and a half battery throughout the day. My husband and I are also guilty to have forgotten the camera charger a couple of times before, which was really not fun, so now we make sure that it is the first thing in the bag for peace of mind.


Flip Flops

Packed first by Mario Migliore from Human Italian

The first thing I pack when leaving for on a holiday or for field missions are my flip-flops. It can be a day of museum hopping in London, hiking a volcano in Kenya, or working for hours in a monsoon-hit refugee camp, there is nothing better than arriving home or to the hotel, taking off your shoes, and walking in flip-flops. Funnily enough, I have only forgotten them behind once: exactly now while I am writing!


Eye Mask

Packed first by Linda Ghio from lindaghio

You know when you’re snoring in some hostel dorm after a long day of travel and too many margaritas at the bar… and someone walks in at 3 a.m., flips on the light, and a 3000-watt light bulb nearly incinerates your eyelids? Some travellers are blessed with the kind of deep sleep that allows them to doze off unperturbed in bright dorms, sun-lit hammocks between palm trees, or sprawled on the beach. I’m not one of them. Since starting my days bleary-eyed and murderous from sleep deprivation isn’t that fun, I’m proud to present the very first item I religiously pack – my trusty, beloved, sanity-saving sleeping mask!


Vitamin C

Packed first by Cory Varga from You Could Travel

When we travel anywhere we always pack vitamin C first. Whether we fly or drive, we know that travelling can be exhausting and our immune systems are weakened. So we take a vitamin C before we travel, and then top on every single day as we go along. Since we’ve been doing this, we rarely get ill and we feel better than ever. Such a small thing to pack which can make a lot of difference to someone’s holiday.


Cabin Bag

Packed first by Inma Gregorio from A World to Travel

Let’s get this started stating that I hate checking in bags at the airport. Hence, unless it is strictly needed, I try to avoid it and always pack as minimal as I can. Hence, the first thing I always take with me is a cabin bag. After trying many, I found Cabinzero to be extremely reliable as their measures are optimal for this, they are lightweight, have a tracking number and instructions to use in case they get lost (very rare, as you don’t need to check them in) and are as comfy as they get. Plus, they fit LOTS inside. Highly recommended.

(Ed note: I’ve also reviewed the Cabinzero bag on this blog before and can echo Inma’s sentiment – this bag is also my first choice whenever I’m packing hand luggage only!)


Bodum Travel Press coffee and tea maker

Packed first by Markus Kampl from The Roaming Fork

The first item I pack when I travel is my trusty Bodum Travel Press coffee and tea maker. Not only am I caffeine addict, but I need a quality cup of coffee for a perfect start to the day. Having access to ground beans, hot water, and my Bodum press, ensures that I don’t need to compromise on my morning ritual, no matter where in the world I find myself waking up. Made from stainless steel, the Bodum press is extremely sturdy, which makes it perfect to throw in my travel bag.


Period Panties

Packed first by Cait from Back Again Cait

I’ve always packed my underwear first! Even more now that I use ‘period panties’ during menstruation. Sustainable, comfortable, and downright magical, this invention makes having your period while traveling so much easier. No cleaning a menstrual cup in a squatty potty or hunting down tampons. There are plenty of options out there as this is definitely the period management of the future. You can check out my review of the Thinx brand here.


Anti-pick pocket bags

Packed first by Tracy from Tracys Travels in Time

The first things I sort when I am travelling are my anti-pickpocket bags by Travelon, I have 3 of these bags ranging in size from a backpack to a handbag to a small cross body bag. Using these bags has enabled me to relax and enjoy travelling without the worry that someone will be able to gain access to my bag and take money or valuable documents. After a particularly scary encounter on the Paris Metro when I was surrounded by a gang of people who opened my backpack and attempted to steal my belongings I purchased my Travelog bags and now do not ever travel without them.


Travel Wallet

Packed first by Delahaye from Hues of Delahaye

My Tuscall passport and document holder is not one of my most fashionable travel item but it is one of my most treasured travel items. It’s the first thing I pack when I’m travelling, and here’s why. This travel wallet has 4 large slots for my documents and passport, 4 credit card slots. A full length zippered money compartment for all my foreign currency and a pen-holder. So, that I always have a pen ready to fill in those pesky immigration forms. It is makes going through immigration a breeze as I have all my documents ready and organised in one place.



Packed first by Sinead from Map Made Memories

I never travel without my old batik sarong from Thailand, purchased on my first round the world trip in 1995. These days, my threadbare, ripped and patched sarong is a beloved comfort item rather than a functional piece! Due to its varied practical uses, it evokes memories from good times and bad; a beach blanket in Bali, a towel in Australia, a skirt in Fiji, a pillow in Mongolia and a blanket for warmth from the feverish chills of malaria in Zambia. Now coveted by my teenage daughter, it is my only travel item that has endured over the years and is always the first thing to be packed into my travel bag for new adventures.


Travel Laundry Bag

Packed first by Gabrielle Soria  from Up and Gone

Though I bought a travel laundry bag a few years ago on a whim, it’s since become my go-to travel accessory. When packing for departure, I use it to separate clean clothes from any dirty shoes as well as my bag of liquids in case something spills. Coming home, I fill it with all my worn clothes (and shoes if necessary) to keep any unworn clothes unsullied. To unpack, I just grab the bag and empty it straight into the washer! As a simple and eco-friendly alternate, you can also use thicker shopping bags. Works like a charm!


My daughter

Packed first by Jessy Lipperts from Planet Pilgrims

My daughter (6 yrs) and I are a great travel team so whenever I make plans for a getaway or an international trip, she will be the first one I think about. Of course I don’t REALLY pack her but it wouldn’t cross my mind to not take her with me like I see other parents take trips without their kids. One of our recent city trips to Paris was because of she wanted to see the Eiffel Tower! She is a great travel companion and I’d never leave home without her.



Packed first by Liz Findeisen from Sun Style Files

The first thing that goes into our luggage is swimwear – no matter where our destination is! There’s always a swimming pool, beach or lake somewhere along the way and you’ll never know where and when you’ll need one. As an added bonus, a one piece can be worn as a top, boardshorts can be worn as casual shorts and if you ever run short of clean underwear, remember that swimwear is usually made out of quick dry fabrics!

(Ed Note: This is the first thing I pack first too – I’ve been caught out too many times with gorgeous swimming spots, saunas or swimming pools without my swimming costume packed and I’m past the age of skinny dipping!!)



Packed first by Natasha von Geldern from World Wandering Kiwi

I always pack a large cotton scarf or sarong when I travel. Apart from its most obvious uses as a decorative accessory and an extra layer of warmth, this has all sorts of practical applications. From a towel or washcloth to a picnic blanket, from a sleeping cover in hot climates to a sunshade or head scarf to disguise bad hair days, I use my scarf regularly on trips of all kinds. It also comes in handy as a covering when visiting sacred cultural sites – in some countries it is necessary to cover your head or just your shoulders, in other places it has been culturally sensitive to cover my legs to the ankles.



Packed first by Manon from Visiting the Dutch Countryside

A lock is one of the things someone should take when they are traveling. When traveling you want to know that your luggage is as safe as it can be. You can never trust everyone, that’s why I always decide to take matters in my own hands and use locks. I use non- TSA locks in a hostel for lockers and on my luggage as an extra safety measure. If a thief wants to get into my luggage, then they’ll have to cut the lock. That’s why I always pack locks first.


Fleece Pull-over

Packed first by Suzanne Wolko from

I’m constantly cold especially on long haul planes and my fleece pullover is packed first in my carry-on bag along with a cashmere scarf no matter what destination I’m traveling to.  I’ve found even at the beach, there are chilly nights so layers are great and the pullover is easy to wear, carry and provide warmth. The photo is the (very) rare selfie of me onboard with all three of my must pack every trip items – my fleece pullover, a cashmere scarf and Bose noise cancelling headsets.



Packed first by Constance Panda from The Adventures of Panda Bear

My toothbrush is definitely my first packed item! I like to make sure my pearly whites are clean during my trip and it’s such an easy thing to forget so I try to pack it first thing. Even though it’s not the worst thing to forget since many hotels have them at the front desk or you can drop by any local pharmacy at your destination it’s best to use what you’re used to, it’s never quite the same when you’re not using *your* toothbrush!


Passport and Travel Documents

Packed first by Anjali Chawla from Travel Melodies

How your trip will go largely depends upon how you’ve packed for your trip. Seriously! You risk ruining your whole trip if you forget to pack the essentials. Now, what do you think these travel essentials include? Of course, travel documents and credit cards/cash are the most important things that you should always pack first. You can buy or arrange anything from clothes, rain gear to a mobile charger but you can’t do without travel documents and money. Imagine you are at the airport heading towards the check-in line and you reach into your bag to realize that you have forgotten to carry your passport or flight tickets. Uh-oh! First and foremost, I pack a small backpack or cross body/sling bag to put everything essential there. It contains passport, driver’s license, airline tickets, reservation or any other tour confirmations (hotels or rental cars or cruise tickets etc.), travel insurance, credit cards/debit cards/cash, and my mobile phone. I make digital copies of all the travel documents to keep them in a folder in my phone so that I could access them in a no Wi-Fi zone too.



Packed first by Karen Dawkins of Family Travels on a Budget

The first thing I pack for travel is my medication. I have several allergies, so I always carry my epipen and allergy meds. It’s a good thing, too! One time, on a trip to the gulf coast, I took a Zydeco dance lesson. My dance partner had eaten crawfish beforehand. Just holding his hands for the lesson made me break out from head to toe! I can replace clothes, a computer cord or even my phone, but in an emergency, my meds are the thing I need most when traveling!



Packed first by Esra Alhamal from Arabian Wanderess

Tea is one of the first items I pack when I am off on a trip. I love tea so much and it’s the first thing I drink in the morning. I am not a coffee drinker, so tea is essential and I don’t want to risk it. I learnt the hard way that some destinations don’t have proper tea! Only tea dust… I love high quality loose tea leaves for my mornings and rooibos for my evenings.

Packing Cubes

Packed first by Clare Dewey from Epic Road Rides

Discovering packing cubes has been a game changer for me! These super strong, lightweight zipped bags allow you to easily organise your packing. They come in a range of colours (so for example you could have one colour and your partner could have another colour) and generally have a mesh top so you can see what’s inside the bags without opening them. The bags come in different sizes, so for example large bags for bulky clothing and small bags for underwear. Using packing cubes means unpacking takes about 3 minutes; ideal if you’re only going to be in accommodation for a night or two. Once you’ve found packing cubes, there’s no going back!


Wool Hat

Packed first by Olivia from Illustrious by Olivia

I always take with me my wool hat! Even if I’m headed to warm places, islands, Europe or other destination. If my travel plans don’t include hiking, cold weather, I always, however, end up needing it, so I always make sure it’s packed. Most of the times, I wear it in between trips, for example when I’m in the UK or just come across cold weather, I just love feeling warm and being prepared for the cold. I didn’t use to pack it before, but after going on a lot of trips where I was freezing and ended up going around to look for shops to buy a hat, I think it comes in handy to always have one.


Power Bank

Packed first by Mohit from Jaunting Journeys 

What if you are on your first solo trip in a completely new city, stranded on the dark streets and while you are trying to figure out the way to your hotel…… Its DEAD. It happened with me not once but twice on the same trip. Thanks to the technology addicted era of humans, we are so dependent on it that we always rely on Google Maps to find are way out. Since then I have made a rule of First Thing First and at the top of the list is the God of Power Bank, a 10000 mAH battery backup so that me and my phone can survive for at least 3-4 days even in a no electricity area. Next, goes into my bag is something that’s close to every photographer; a mini tripod since I am a mobile photographer and an external storage (usually a 64GB pen drive) to create a backup if needed and stay away from the fear of losing those hard clicked frames.


Small wallet and bra-wallet

Packed first by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

Whenever I’m getting ready for a trip there are 2 things I pack first: a small wallet for my cards and a tiny bra-wallet for a backup bank card and some emergency cash. I never carry around a large wallet when I’m traveling because these take up too much space and are much easier to get stolen. Also, I usually only use 1 or 2 bank cards on a trip (unlike at home, where my wallet is filled with loyalty cards and other non-essential travel cards). Besides this small wallet that I usually carry in my purse, I always attach a tiny wallet to my bra. In this wallet I carry a credit card and some emergency cash in the currency of the country I’m in (and usually some US dollars as well, since these can be used pretty much everywhere in the world). So even when I lose my purse, or if it were to get stolen, I have some cash to get a cab back to my hotel or wherever I need to be!


Bank Card (with no charges!)

Packed first by Nancy Roberts of MapandFamily

I used to find it really annoying to look at my bank statement when I came home from a trip and see the list of non-sterling transaction fees or charges for cash withdrawals.  They really add up and some bank cards can add spending fees or interest too.  Nowadays I’ve got two specialist cards to help avoid these extra charges when I’m travelling. It’s really worth doing the research to find the bank credit or debit cards that’ll work best for you when you’re travelling in Europe or worldwide.


Cash in my Wallet

Packed first by Mitali Deshmukh from Mitalis Travel Diary

After traveling for so many years, packing my stuff for my travels is no more big deal. However, there are certain things which I never wish to forget before leaving my house even in my worst nightmares. One of the most important being my wallet. Yes!!! my physical wallet and the hard cash in it are as important as my passport. Although the world has moved towards digital payment, and everything can be paid online, I am still a little over obsessed with carrying hard cash with me for emergency purpose. And it also is the first thing which I require to pay for my cab fare to the airport. And this wallet also contains all of my credit cards, debit cards, my own visiting card. So, for me my cash and wallet top the list of packing for my travels.


There you have it! The Ultimate Travel Bloggers Packing List – the essential items Travel Bloggers never leave home without!

Do you agree with the items listed here? Which item do you PACK FIRST when preparing to go on a trip? Do you have an item you never take out of your suitcase??

I’d love to hear your comments on this topic so please do share your thoughts below…

And if you enjoyed this post please consider pinning it to share with others using one of the graphics below


Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. Thanks for this list, I guess travel bloggers are specialists when it comes minimalistic packing. The sunscreen is a really good idea, I was taken by surprise how hard it was to get in some of the Asian countries. Sometimes you are more likely to find a whitening product rather than a sunscreen:)

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