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Adventure Traveler's Checklist

Traveling to foreign countries or new destinations requires a fair bit of planning and having an organized checklist of things you need to make your trip successful will save you a lot of time and stress in the end. Even if you are not traveling by plane, the easiest way to organize your packing is to think about “checked luggage” and “carry on items.” Some items will always be in your carry on, such as a wallet, cell phone, and travel documents, however, other items might vary depending on where you are traveling. For instance, if you are heading to Washington State, you might consider putting a rain coat in your carry on items. The following lists are general guidelines that obviously need to be altered depending on where you plan to travel, how long your trip is, how many bags you bring, and what type of trip you are packing for.




- Backpack or suitcase - Backpacks or roller suitcases are the easiest bags to use for travel because they are easy to carry. Some backpacks have a detachable daybag which can be extremely handy for day excursions. Make sure when you purchase a backpack that it fits you comfortably and has enough space to carry all of your gear.

- Day Bag - if your backpack doesn’t have a detachable backpack, it’s nice to have a smaller backpack that zips. Fanny/ waist packs work as well, but check that you have enough room for your essentials. It’s always a good idea to carry a small collapsible bag (think re-usable grocery bag) that you can bring out for extra space if necessary.

- Purse or Money Pouch - purses say money and are easy targets for thievery. Money pouches or travel purses that can be worn under your clothing are a great idea.


Travel Documents and Medical Information (most of these should be in your carry on luggage)



- Passport (make sure it’s current through the end of your trip!)

- Visa

- Tickets (although most airlines keep all ticketing information online, it’s still a good idea to have copies and confirmation numbers)



It’s always good to keep a currency converter charter or device on hand to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.

- Credit Card

- Currency for where you are traveling. While exchange rates are often better once you get there, it’s always a good idea to have some money on you when you arrive.  An easy way to carry extra cash if you are not going to be near an ATM is to make a belt out of 1” tubular webbing. Cut it open and put cash into it, then melt the end with a candle and seal it off. When you need more money, take off the belt and cut open the webbing. Seal it back up when you are done.

- US Dollars

- Traveler’s Checks - while they are not used too much anymore, it’s a good idea to have a couple traveler’s checks with you just in case.



- Trip cancellation insurance

- Medical Insurance card

- Travel insurance card (if you medical insurance does not cover you outside of your country, it’s best to invest in travel insurance. Travel insurance typically covers lost or stolen gear as well).



- Copies of all shots/ immunizations you are required to have where you plan to travel

- Emergency information


Tip: Make 2 copies of travel documents and keep one copy in your checked luggage. Another easy thing to do is scan copies and keep them in your email inbox. That way, as long as you can access internet, you will be able to print off a copy of your documents.



Camera, cell phone, ipod, ipad, laptop - these are all easy and popular items to steal, so be conscious of what you are bringing and keep them near you at all times. Insuring your camera and other expensive electronics is a very good idea.


- Camera - depending on where you are traveling, it might be wise to invest in a new camera. If you’re going on a safari in Africa, you may want a high-quality camera with a strong zoom. If you are heading to Bali, you may want a waterproof camera so that you can take pictures of sea life underwater. Either way, consider what you have and what you will need well in advance of your trip so that you can learn how to properly use it.


- Extra memory cards

- Extra batteries

- Rechargeable battery? Make sure to bring not only the charger, but the proper power adapter so that you can plug it in.


Tip: Whatever electronic devices you decide to bring, make sure you have the proper chargers and adapters, or plenty of extra batteries.


Sleep Essentials

While these are not all essential items, determine what sorts of amenities you will have where you are going and plan accordingly.


- Travel Pillow - for buses, planes, trains. Get a small, compact one that will easily fit in your purse or day bag

- Top Sheet - depending on where you are traveling, or where you plan to stay, it’s always nice to have your own clean sheet for the bed. If you are going to a tropical location, it is also just about all need as far a nighttime warmth.

- Towel - a sarong can also work, or a travel towel that wrings out easily and dries quickly

- Alarm Clock - or some way to wake you up and keep you from missing your train, tour, or plane ride

- Sound Machine (small travel version) - if you are a light sleeper, a sound machine will make your travel experience much more enjoyable

- Ear Plugs - good for city sleeping, planes, bus rides, etc.


First Aid/ Toiletries:

If there are first aid or toiletries that you anticipate wanting, bring them. Oftentimes the things that are available at home are not easy to find abroad, or even in small towns in your own country. Pack things into bottles that will be enough to last, but not so much that you are carrying extra weight. Also standard air travel restrictions require that your carry on liquids and gels be in closed containers smaller than 3 oz.


- Prescriptions and antibiotics with enough to last the duration of your trip

- Band Aids/ bandages

- Antiseptic wipes

- Soap

- Shampoo & Conditioner & hair products

- Razors (if necessary)

- Toothbrush/ toothpaste/ floss

- Chapstick with sunscreen

- Make-up (if necessary)

- Nail clippers, tweezers, file, small scissors

- Hair drier (if your hotel doesn’t have one)

- Lotion

- Deodorant

- Baby wipes

- Feminine products (if necessary)


First Aid: If you are traveling somewhere remote, it is a good idea to put together a first aid kit before you go. See our first aid kit guidelines for what items you will want to consider.

Additional items to consider depending on where you are traveling: anti-diarrhea medication, malaria pills, motion sickness medication, aloe/ after-sun lotion.



- Guide books - a great resource for starting points, ideas of where to go, places to stay, restaurants, and things to do.

- Books, or a Kindle-type reading device - many hotels and most hostels have book exchanges, so if you bring a few, you can often trade them and pick up other great reads. Literary magazines are good too because you can toss them when you’re through reading.

- Journal



- Water bottle

- Water purification (Aquamira is a great one for tap water or freshwater streams)

- Sunglasses and a spare pair if you’re going somewhere for a long time

- Sunscreen

- Bandana

- Hat/ Visor

- Flashlight or headlamp - nice both for reading at night and useful if you ever are traveling at night

- Locks for your bags and locker if you’re planning to stay in a hostel or dorm-style room

- Knife or multi-tool

- Travel Hammock - can be great to hang up outside a hotel room

- Cards and travel games

- Instruments if you have travel versions

- Binoculars



- Pack clothing that can be used for your adventure, but can also be worn to a nicer restaurant. A synthetic skirt or dress and button shirts go a long way.

- Shoes are bulky, so if you can find some that can be worn to a restaurant or worn riverside it will help keep your pack more streamlined.

- Rainwear

- Don’t forget underwear and socks!

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