Guide to Traveling - Packing and Planning

Welcome to the last installment of our series, The Twenty-Something’s Guide to Traveling. Previously we have discussed making the commitment to travel,  choosing the perfect destination, and creating a travel budget and funding your trip. Today, the final post in our series will cover what to pack and how to prepare your home, finances, and prepare for emergencies while you’re gone.

We have all heard our fair share of travel horror stories: stolen passports, expired visas, rejected credit cards, trapped in an airport overnight. While some of these things might be minor considered inconveniences in your book, there is no doubt that they could have been avoided.


People tend to fall into one of two camps when it comes to packing: Are you a chronic over-packer or under-packer? Have you ever met someone who packs the exact amount of things they need? Personally, I’d rather not lug around extra luggage if I don’t have to, but with that said, I’d rather have more than I need than less.

The first step to packing is understanding your destination. What is the climate like? What activities will you be doing? Her Packing List is the perfect resource for knowing exactly what you’ll need!

Otherwise, you probably already have a good idea what you’ll need to bring. To narrow it down further, lay out everything you want to bring and then cut it down to half that. You probably don’t need to bring as much as you think you do, and you should be able to re-wear a few of your outfits

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When packing, don’t forget:

  • Your passport and another form of identification.
  • The Two V’s: Check to make sure you have the appropriate visas and vaccines before you go.
  • A paper map. We tend to rely heavily on our phones for GPS and maps, but when abroad, you may not have this luxury. Galileo Offline Maps is a great option that makes use of your phone’s GPS without using data.
  • An international phone plan (for emergencies, directions, or information). Additionally, you could consider purchasing a pre-paid phone in your destination or switching out your sim card. You may need to call your service provider before doing so.
  • Cash in your destination’s currency. A minor inconvenience to get before you leave, but having that cash on hand could get you out of a few sticky situations if necessary.
  • Copies of all of your travel documents (passport, driver’s license, travel itinerary, etc). Keep an envelope with these copies in each of your bags. If something happens to your original documents, the copies will help you prove your identity.
  • Any medicine you need or don’t know if you’ll be able to get abroad.

{Know something we missed? Leave it in the comments!}

Before You Leave Home

Just as you’ve prepared to go to your destination, you need to prepare to leave home. To make sure you don’t come home to wilted plants or an obscene electric bill, go through this checklist before you leave home:

  • Contact your bank and let them know your travel plans. Since traveling is so common these days, most credit card companies and banks have an online form for you to fill out, making notifying them quick and painless.
  • Make sure you turn off your lights, unplug your electronics, and turn off your air conditioner or heat. There is no need to be paying for utilities you won’t be using!
  • Suspend your paid services like Netfilx, Hulu, your cable subscription, your cell phone, internet service, etc. Again, there’s no need to pay for things you won’t be using and many services allow you to temporarily suspend your service without penalty (and without payment while the service is suspended).
  • Boarding your pets or arranging a pet sitter is an obvious one. Pets need the interaction they are used to and won’t just be okay if you leave out food and water. Offer to pay a friend to stop by while you’re gone if a kennel is not in the budget.
  • Make sure you’ve prepared entertainment for yourself, especially if you have a long travel day ahead of you. Load up your e-reader with new books or download a few movies to your iPad.
  • And while you’re at it, make sure you have your electronics charged and store your chargers in your carry on luggage.
  • Be sure to check with the U.S. Department of State (or similar for other countries) for travel advisories and notify the proper authorities of your travel plans if necessary.
  • Write down the locations and phone numbers of your home country’s consulate, just in case of emergency.
  • Depending on how long you will be gone, you may need the post office to hold your mail. Stop by to let them know when to begin holding your mail and when you’ll return to pick it up.
  • Lock the door (and/or set your alarm).
  • Leave a key with someone you trust just in case something happens to your copy while you’re away or something happens to your home.
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Want to remember everything on these lists? Pin it:

Guide to Travel- Pack & Plan

What tips do you have for packing and planning for traveling?