This is what you freak out over just before you leave on the big holiday. Did you bring enough stuff? What happens if there is an emergency? The best thing to do is write your self a travel checklist a month or two in advance and keep it on hand all the time. Ask people who have been where you are going what you might need. If you are traveling with others, split the shareable items to lighten the load. Here is a travel checklist that you might find handy.

If you want to build your own, try using the following categories. My own list is farther down.

  • Before You Leave
    Make sure everything is going to be okay at home while you are gone. Will Fido be taken care of?
  • Documentation Essentials
    These can take the longest to be ready, so start early. You cannot even get on a plane nowadays if you do not have your passport on you.
  • Clothing and Shoes
    You will not enjoy your trip if you don’t have the proper outfit. Remember, some places you can buy what you need for less money than at home, if you have the time to do so.
  • Toiletries
    Another biggie. If you need anything special and you are going somewhere it cannot be purchased, it can really ruin a trip.
  • Medical Supplies
    Some people would lump this in with toiletries, but I like it in its own section. Typically things that would go in a red emergency kit.
  • Essentials
    These are must haves that don’t really fit into the other categories. I always take flat duct tape for fixing stuff. Sunglasses fit in here as well.
  • Extras
    Same as Essentials except not as big a priority. Throw things in here that would be nice to pick up for the right price or a friend will let you borrow.
  • Food
    That is right. It is good to take along some snacks, vitamins, and protein bars to help you through some days where you do not have the time to eat or what there is to eat is not very appealing.
  • Children
    Anything specific to children.
  • Photography Equipment
    This will appeal more to the photography crowd, but everyone will still take a camera. Make sure you do not have any down time with your camera because pictures is the biggest “souvenir” from your trip.

Keep in mind that this is never complete. If you have any suggestions, email them post a comment on this article. If I like them, I will add your suggestion and your URL to the article. My checklist is for a lot of situations and you can scratch off anything you know you don’t need.

A Note on Smart Phones and the Internet

When I originally published this list, it was prior to the smart phone revolution. It is an incredibly power device to have with you. Below I talk about having documentation, backup documentation, contact information, backup camera, reading material, etc. An iPhone or Android phone can cover a lot of these for you. I keep a password keeper and document safe on my phone that has an extra password on it. It stores all of my passport info and other documents that are valuable.

If you have these stored in a cloud drive (like Google Drive), you can potentially have access to a lot of information if getting an internet connection will be simple.

Travel Checklist

Before You Go

  1. Cancel subscriptions or put on vacation stop.
  2. Redirect mail or arrange for someone to get it
  3. Leave copies of documents and itinerary with someone
  4. Arrangements for house/yard care
  5. Thermostat settings (upgrading to a “smart” thermostat is an option)
  6. Lock windows, doors, garage
  7. Turn off water to toilet tanks and washer/dryers

Documentation Essentials

  • Travel visa’s for destination countries
  • Passport
  • Drivers license
  • Health card
  • Airline tickets
  • Insurance phone numbers
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Money belt
  • American cash
  • Mastercard, Visa, American Express
  • Bank card
  • Small purse
  • Diving certification
  • Diving log book
  • Travel rewards cards (Aeroplan, Airmiles, etc)


  • Pants, zip-off
  • Belt
  • Sleeping pants/shorts
  • Long sleeve sweat shirt
  • Long sleeve t-shirt
  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Underwear
  • Black socks
  • Tall socks
  • Rain/windbreaker jacket, rollup/stuffable
  • Bathing suit
  • Knitted hat/tuque
  • Hair bandana
  • Brimmed hat
  • Fake wedding rigs (if theft is a concern)
  • Women Specific
    • Skirt thin material
    • Bras (1 sports, 1 regular)


  • Runners
  • Sandals (sport sandals/birkenstock style)
  • Flip-flops, thin


  • Toothbrush, travel size/children’s
  • Toothpaste, travel size
  • Brush ups (optional)
  • Brush/comb combination
  • Mini deodorant/antiperspirant
  • Birth control/condoms
  • Cream (face/body)
  • Nail clippers
  • Malaria pills
  • Razor
  • Q-tips
  • Dental floss, travel size. Flossing sticks are also handy.
  • Shampoo-conditioner, travel size
  • Tweezers
  • Bath gel/soap, travel size
  • Cloth detergent/dry soap packets
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Contact lenses
  • Contact lens solution, travel size
  • Glasses/case
  • Visine/eye drops
  • Afterbite
  • Mini mirror
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sani wipes
  • Women Specific
    • Tampons
    • Feminine cleaning wipes
    • Panty liners
    • Hair elastics
    • Bobby pins
    • Nail file


  • Sleeping bag, appropriate rating
  • Pillow, mini/stuffable


  • Band aids
  • Butterfly strips
  • Polysporin or equivalent
  • Penicillin
  • Tylenol 3
  • Syringes
  • Diarrhea pills
  • Pepto bismol
  • Gravol or equivalent
  • Throat lozenges
  • Dimetapp or equivalent
  • Motion sickness wrist bands


  • Flat duck tape
  • Alarm clock/watch
  • Sunscreen
  • Ear plugs
  • Safety pins
  • Lip balm (with SPF)
  • Sun glasses
  • Flashlight/LED headlamp
  • Extra batteries
  • Bug spray (deep wood brand?)
  • Power plug adapters (there are great ones with built in USB power)
  • Power converter (if 110V and 220V discrepancies)
  • Toilet paper in a zip-lock bag
  • Microfiber towel (pack towel)
  • Matches
  • Cinch cords
  • Elastic clothes line
  • Sink plug
  • Mesh travel bag or just big zip-lock bag for all clothing
  • Blue and red pens, mechanical pencil
  • Notebook


  • Mini photo album (10 pictures). Or get key personal photos on your phone.
  • Umbrella
  • Clothes pegs
  • Deck of cards
  • Tea light candle
  • Lice comb
  • Calculator
  • Reading materials (e-Reader is great for portability)
  • Handheld electronics and chargers (iPod, video games, etc)
  • USB power adapters
  • Necessary charging cords
  • e-Reader
  • Headphones

Photo Equipment

  • Camera
  • Backup camera (cell phone)
  • Memory cards
  • Spare batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Lenses
  • USB or connection cords
  • Flash
  • Tripod/beanbag
  • Digital backup device (there are adapters for cell phones that do this)


  • Vitamins, daily packs
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit bars
  • Protein bars/Vector bars (don’t have to be the expensive ones)
  • Sesame seed bars
  • Fruit snacks
  • Tea bags
  • Juice crystals (individual size for bottled water)
  • Nescafe (individual size)

Children (age dependent)

  • Diapers/pull-ups
  • Spare set of clothes for on plane
  • Favourite toys
  • Pack and play playpen
  • Car seat
  • Stroller
  • Changing pad
  • Life jacket and/or inflatable flotation toys
  • Snacks/food for plane/driving