Packing List 101 – Roxie’s Do’s and a few Don’ts

Think Layers – you can always add or remove as/when needed

If it’s “Hot Outside” remember that…

  • The bus or restaurant might be overly chilled
  • Airplanes can run hot or cold
  • Temperature drops significantly at night – especially in the desert
  • If you’re going to be in the sun for long periods of time, you may still want a long sleeve shirt with built in sunscreen protection – but throw it over a t-shirt or top so it can be removed when having lunch under a nice shady tree.

If it’s “Cold Out Baby” remember that…

  • It could be warm and toasty inside by the fire
  • Heavy sweaters are hard to pack, don’t fit easily under a coat, and can’t be taken off midday without revealing too much
  • Layers provide better insulation; and long underwear if it’s really cold underneath as well (they make thin versions now days that also keep you warm).
  • Only 1 coat and you’ll need to wear it onto the plane and then smush it in the overhead – so keep that in mind too!  Gloves and hat too if needed.

Be Color Conscious

It’s easier to pack if you have 2 basic color themes – think 1) blue and black, 2) brown and black or 3) tan and black

As an example, it’s easy to add tops that go with both blue and black jeans so they can be mixed up.  Also, dark color jeans or shorts – don’t tend to show “dirt” as quickly.

Throw in a bright accent color – so it doesn’t get too boring!!

  • Red is my favorite accent.  And it goes with just about everything, photographs well, and cheers up people (including me)!!
  • A bright yellow is also cheery!
  • Orange is another good option.
  • And some girls just can’t live without their PURPLE or PINK!

Dress for the Day’s Activities – for example

SAFARI:  If you’re going on safari, don’t wear bright colors because it can affect the animals.  Oh – and you don’t need to spend tons buying safari-style clothes.  A pair of jeans, tops, and sneakers are just fine.

HIKING:  If you’re climbing or hiking today, make sure you wear appropriate shoes and when you’re peeling those layers off as the day warms up, you have a place – like a small backpack – to put them.  BTW – unless you’re on a major hike like Kilimanjaro – your sneakers or a good pair of Skechers work just fine.  Please don’t lug heavy hiking boots for a 2-mile jaunt!  Not only do they add excess weight (cost) to your luggage – they are uncomfortable to wear during an 8+ hour flight!

WATER SPORTS:  If you’re going white water rafting, or long walks along the beach, think about what kind of shoes you’ll need to handle he sand and/or you don’t mind getting wet and preferably are quick dry.  Or you may want to also pack a dry pair to put on after all the fun!  Think swimsuit, coverup, towel (if needed), etc.  And don’t forget that sunscreen or bug spray!

Speaking of Shoes

How few can you get by with….challenge yourself to 2 or 3 at the most?!?

You need a pair of all purpose, comfortable walking shoes.  I prefer a pair of light weight Skechers in a color that goes with my bottoms – like blue or black.

Depending on the weather and time of year, you might need:  a pair of snow boots or flip flops/sandals.

If there is an evening out where you’ll be wearing a cocktail or sundress, then you might want an appropriate shoe to match.  And if that’s the case – don’t forget what kind of purse you’ll need – a backup just won’t do.  But then it still needs to be big enough for your cell phone, money and passport (if you’d rather not leave it in the hotel safe).

Personal Accessories – what’s important or not

Scarf – whether it’s a pashmina or a large scarf, it will come in handy.  To enter some religious sites, you need to cover your head, arms, or legs.  No one wants to be denied access after you’ve traveled so far.  You can also use it to throw over your shoulders when the restaurant, theatre or your name it is colder inside than outside.

Sunglasses – always protect your eyes – and not just from the sun!  You’ll also need it for wind and sand depending on your location or activity.

Hat – while I’m not big on hats all the time – when I do wear one, I try to make it memorable.  At the Arctic Circle, I found a big white fluffy one to keep my ears warm.  In Antarctica, it was a faux black fur headband, and I have the canvas ones for safari (with chin strap) or walking in the desert sun.  I’m not much for sun bonnets and who wants to try and squish one of those into a suitcase anyway.  And you might want to throw in a baseball cap for the trip home…. yes you’ll be identified as an American…. but you’re on the way home and the hair gets back on those long flights!

Other Accessories – yep electronics for today’s connected work

Camera – also think charging cord, backup batteries (already fully charged), SD cards, converter (or cord) to phone, iPad or computer if you like to share your travels along the way.

iPhones, iPads or Computers

  • Remember to check to see whether you’re covered by an international call/text plan or not.  While my plan isn’t international, it is unlimited, so they only bill me $5 a day for each country.  But not all work that way – and there are too many variables to cover – so CHECK!
  • If not, you’ll want to turn most of your auto updates off, so you don’t pay for roaming – even if you’re not “using your phone.” 

Internet Access Only – So you think you’ll just use WIFI when its available, but keep in mind that not all WIFI is secure and it’s easy for someone to hack into your phone in an unsecured environment like the local coffee shop, restaurant, or the airport!  Remember how much valuable info you carry on your phone now days…. if its unsecured…. please DON’T!

What’s App or Skype – are great apps for saving money!  When traveling, make sure you’re already entered their phone number or account name so you can reach loved ones at home or a local guide you’ve hired without the use of a data plan/cost.  Best to test the numbers with a quick text to make sure they work before leaving home.

Portable Chargers – the more dependent we are on technology, the more we’re going to need a backup charger that’s also portable.  Not all plane seats have outlets (not if you ride in economy with me) or the USB might not charge (if it’s not a newer plane).  Also – you use your phone as your camera – you don’t want to miss the amazing shot due to a low battery.

Backup USBs – you’ll want to back up your photos whether you’re loading them onto an SD Card (need a backup thee too) or you need to make space on your phone so you can take more.  Now days you can buy a lightening to USB connector to make it easy to backup and/or transfer photos and files – and some even come with “touch ID” or passwords/codes in case they get lost and you need that added protection.


Now I don’t want to get into your personal makeup or hygiene too much but there are a few items I should mention.

Remember – only small bottles can be carried on and each country isn’t the same.  I’ve had items confiscated in the UK that were perfectly fine in the US.  You just never know – so don’t take anything expensive and if you don’t need to carry it on – then don’t.

Travel toilet paper, Kleenex, hand wipes, Purell…. because you just never know where/when you’re going to need it.  On Safari, at that gas station, etc.

Be Medically Covered – day-to-day and worst case

Medication – always put in your carry-on!  Take enough of your day-to-day medications to last the trip and a couple of extra days just in case a flight gets cancelled or you’re delayed for another reason.  You don’t need to travel with all your pill bottles but do take photos of the labels and store on your phone in case it’s needed.  I use the small plastic pill bags (available on Amazon) so the day’s dose is already sorted, and I can slip it into my jeans to take when I go down for breakfast (especially if clean water isn’t easily available).   If you need to carry liquids or syringes, make sure you have medical documentation from your doctor to indicate why.

Travel related but may not be needed – sea sickness meds, antibiotics, moleskin, Band-Aids, cough drops, etc.

Travel Insurance – by trip or annually.  No, it may not be needed but when it is…. it’s worth it!!  I’ve had friends on trips that have sprained their ankles, broken their arms, and unfortunately even a heart attack.  You don’t want to pay for these services out of your pocket on site….and if traveling in a 3rd world country…. you might want to have your flight home covered if it means better medical treatment or surgery.

Other items – like CPAP machines, ear plugs (for yourself or your roommate), compression socks for swelling and/or to prevent DVT, etc.


Carry-on and medium sized bags only.  Anything 30 inches or larger, will trick you into overpacking and you’ll end up paying extra luggage fees.  A luggage scale does provide you a bit of comfort – especially on the return trip.  And I hope you never have to open your bags and repack in front of everyone like I did at LAX.  Never again!!

Rolling, Packing Cubes or compression bags – they all work to save space – you decide which one works best for your style of packing.

Lightweight luggage – I have always searched for the “perfect” suitcase and still do.  The polycarbonate ones are the lights but there’s no outside pocket and they take more floor space when opened due to the clam-shell design.  You can buy expensive name-brand bags if you want – but I don’t think they last longer than a reasonably priced bag.  However – a cheap bag is a cheap bag – and if it breaks during the trip, you’ll regret it!!

A file with all your travel details

  • Hard copy adds weight, but some prefer it.
  • You can also scan it all in and save on your phone.
  • At a minimum, make sure you have….
  • Flight information / tickets
  • Hotel information – you may get separated from your group, flight delays, etc.
  • Point of contact – for your group leader or others you’re traveling with
  • Photocopy of your passport and any visa (originals too – these are just a backup in case they are lost or stolen.
  • Day-to-day activity list

That’s it for now – and I hope you benefit from all my years of packing to travel – including 30+ trips internationally to all 7 continents. 

Now don’t forget anything….

Under Construction

  • 10 days list – Hot Weather
  • 10 days list- Cold Weather
  • Where to buy Roxie’s proven packing items….yep – her favs…