by Dianne Sivulka, Owner of Travel on Purpose


When it comes to international travel, there are often items that need to be included in your packing list that you don't have to include when staying closer to home. Some destinations require visas and special medications or vaccines. For some destinations you'll need power adapters. Have you ever considered what you'll pack in your carry-on for long-haul flights?


I spend a fair amount of time packing and unpacking, and over the years I've learned a lot of tricks and tips for international travel that make it almost seamless. In today's post, I'm sharing some of the helpful and important things I've learned along the way.


If you have plans to travel abroad this year, I hope you'll find it helpful. And if you'll be staying close to home, then tuck in away for the future.



For a printable copy of the following packing list, click here.



For Travel Days

Deciding what to wear on travel day is as important as what goes in your suitcase. Whether my flight is 5 hours or 15 hours, I always like to wear something stretchable and breathable. Light cotton or linen are my favorites. For really long flights I like to wear a maxi dress that acts as a nightgown; something that won't wrinkle. A cozy travel scarf is a great outfit accessory, plus a practical makeshift blanket for chilly flights. In addition, I always wear a small fanny pack with things that I want quick access to. 

  • Comfortable, loose and stretchy clothing
  • Fanny pack for quick access to passport, phone, wallet, reading glasses, pen and gum.

For Long-haul Flights

Inside my carry-on, I like to keep a zipper pouch with the following items. Compression socks really do make a difference, and once we're off the ground I slip off my shoes and put on my socks. They're comfortable and help keep the swelling down. I know people who like to pack a pair of disposable slippers to put on over their compression socks for trips to the bathroom. Inside the zipper pouch, I also keep things like an eye mask, ear plugs, a sleep-aid, Chapstick and gum. I like having all these items in one place so I don't have to dig for them in the larger bag.

  • Compression socks
  • Eye mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Cozy travel scarf
  • Neck pillow
  • Sleep aid
  • Chapstick
  • Gum

Place your items for a long-haul flight in an easily accessible zipper pouch. After a meal and a movie, you can nest down for the remainder of the flight and try to get some sleep with everything you need at your fingertips.

This and That

This is a basic check-off list of items that sometimes get forgotten, but I'm always glad to have along. The packable duffle bag has become my new best friend. These start out as small as an envelope and fit easily into your luggage, but come in very handy as you're traveling. If you're visiting a place where you're likely to do some shopping, they're essential! 

  • Umbrella
  • Chargers for electronics
  • Foreign adapters for the country you're visiting
  • Portable charger
  • Packable duffle bag -great for bringing home souvenirs
  • Journal & pen
  • Book
  • Medication - specific to your destination, such as anti-malaria and diarrhea remedy
  • Vitamins
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen & Hat
  • Laundry bag
  • Toiletries


Pro-tip: If you'll be traveling to a remote location where certain items will be difficult to obtain, then think through what you've used in the last year and bring a small supply. (Examples include Ibuprofen, allergy medication, Pepto Bismol, bandaids, and UTI relief)



Always check the requirements for the foreign country you want to visit, even before booking your flight. Some countries have no requirements other than a valid passport. Some countries require three blank pages in your passport or a certain number of days before your passport expires. In the last year, I have visited Uganda and India and both have visa requirements. Uganda requires a yellow fever vaccination and anyone arriving without proof will be turned away. It's important to know what's required in advance.

  • Passport
  • Required documents such as: Visa and a vaccination record
  • Always make a photocopy of these items


I like to pack as little as possible. If there's one thing I've learned over the years with travel it's that I don't want to drag around a suitcase of stuff I really don't need. Pants that can be worn over and over again are so helpful. Check ahead and see if laundry facilities will be available to you.

  • Plan your clothing based on the weather, what you'll be doing, and cultural appropriateness.
  • Plan to wash and wear items to cut down on what's needed.

Choose a color palette and make sure everything fits. This will make mixing and matching a lot easier.

Comfortable shoes

Travel usually means lots of walking, typically more than I do at home. When visiting a large city, I'm often amazed when at the end of the day my smart watch informs me that I've walked 10 miles! Depending on the destination, I like to pack a pair of sneakers and sandals. Of course, cold weather destinations will also require special shoe considerations. And I always have a pack of Moleskins. They have saved the day many times, either for me or a travel companion!

Pro-tip:  If you're wearing new shoes or plan to do a lot of walking, pack moleskins.


If you'd like a printable list of everything mentioned in this post, click here.


Happy travels, friend!