Tired of Packing Anxiety? Here’s a Simple Solution

Do you suffer from packing anxiety?

Join the club!

I always found packing a stressful activity. I wondered what to bring, what to leave if it was too much or too little, and so on.  

My perfectionism sometimes gets the better of me, and what could be 30 minutes of packing becomes 2 hours of stress. That’s why I decided to create a travel checklist.

This list contains everything I need for each trip and helps me outsource my decision-making. I simply follow the items on the list and am quickly done packing, entirely stress-free. 

In this post, I’ll share my template and the most valuable items to end your packing anxiety once and for all finally.

Some Generic Tips For Starters

Before I share more details about the packing list, let’s start with some crucial tips to avoid packing anxiety.

  1. Copy-paste my template and tweak the list to your own needs.


  2. Adjust the list after each trip. You should add things you needed during the trip and drop the ones you didn’t use.


  3. Put simple items first on the list. You will always have some internal discussions about whether to bring specific items. To avoid this happening 2 minutes into packing, start with the easy things and leave the difficult decisions for last.


  4. Consider buying cheap things like toothpaste and soap when you arrive at your destination. You’ll realize you can find most items locally if you forget something.
Packing Anxiety

What Bags to Bring!

Before we start on the extensive checklist to avoid packing anxiety, let’s begin with what bags to bring. 

Over time, I learned to travel relatively light, but that’s up to you.

The Northface Duffle Bag (M)

I went backpacking for the first time in 2015 and bought an expensive Deuter bag. After three weeks with 18 kilos on my back, I realized I had made the biggest beginner’s mistake in the book: bringing too much. Funnily enough, the solution followed soon after.

After reviewing the backpack, I won a voucher for the same store. With that money, I decided to buy a smaller carry-on luggage and agreed on a medium-sized Northface base camp bag. It is the best bag I’ve ever purchased. An upside is that airlines will never ask you to check this bag in (they only do that with suitcases), and it also has sufficient space for longer trips. The only downside is a lack of compartments. 

Ten years later, I have used the Deuter only once and carry the Northface bag around everywhere.

Waterproof Vacuum Bag

When I lived in Ecuador, I went on a 5-day jungle tour. Since the jungle is very humid and we spend most of our time on the river, a friend recommended I take a waterproof bag to keep my clothes dry.  

This travel tip was honestly one of the best I ever received. It kept my clothes dry and kept insects out. 

It’s also a vacuum bag, which helps save lots of space. It was so good that I directly bought one after coming back.

Tote Bag

I usually see two problems when traveling only with a carry-on. First, I don’t want to take my big backpack into the city when I just want to bring a water bottle, camera, and sunglasses. Second, I always have to search where I keep small gadgets like my book and headphones when on the plane. 

Luckily, there is an easy and cheap solution: tote bags. These bags take very little space, are foldable, and are ideal for several small items. The best ones are light with big handles.

Shoe bag

I don’t think this bag will need a long explanation.

Use a separate bag to keep your shoes in if your backpack doesn’t have many compartments. 

You can simply use a plastic bag or buy a cheap shoe bag as long as you keep those dirty sneakers from getting too intimate with your t-shirts.

Packing Anxiety


Although I like to buy some things at my destination, some items are difficult to find.

Below is a list of some of my favorite toiletry products with links to where to find them. 

  • Hair Gel: I like Davine’s playable paste, which my hairdresser in Rotterdam recommended. 
  • Deodorant: the best one I’ve found is Calvin Klein One. The smell is relatively neutral, and you’ll find good deals if you do some research.
  • Cologne: buy a 30ml bottle like Acqua di Gio to avoid carrying around too much weight or bringing some testers. Airports often have good perfume deals. 
  • Shaver: my favorite is the Philips Multigroom 7000. It contains many different blades and works excellent for rugged beards.
  • Toothbrush: I usually bring a non-electric one to save space and weight.
  • Floss: my favorite is the dentotape.
  • Toothpaste: the 10ml toothpaste usually last a week.
  • Tweezers
  • Small Siccors: with blunt pointers  so airport security won’t confiscate it.
  • Nail Clipper: careful with sharp ones, though. 
  • Paracetamol
  • Sunblock: if it’s sunny where you go.
  • Face Cream: Babor has excellent travel sets. It is instrumental on dry airplanes or in very hot or cold weather. 
  • Nose Spray: there is nothing worse than getting a cold on holiday. That’s why I usually take a nose spray without medicine but with menthol to help me breathe better.
Packing Anxiety

Important Documents

It’s always good to put your most important documents on the list. Doing so will serve as an extra check.  Remember to bring these items and avoid the ultimate packing anxiety.

  • Passport + ID: I usually bring both in case I lose one. If you travel a lot, consider getting two passports.
  • Bank Cards: besides debit and credit cards, Wise and Revolut are handy for using multiple currencies with low exchange rates. 
  • Vaccination Card
  • Cash: it’s always good to bring some emergency euros and dollars. Sometimes, one has a better rate than the other. I would avoid getting too much, though.
  • Passport Photograph: in some countries, you need a passport photo for your visa or other documentation. It’s easiest if you carry a few with you.
Packing Anxiety

Tools & Electronics

  • Air Pressure Earplugs: I once had a terrible flight with a constant stinging pain in my ears. Ever since, I’ve used pressure earplugs, which work like a charm.  
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones Bose 35ii: these headphones are the best. I had to save up for them, but never looked back. What’s so great is that they fit over the air-pressure earplugs. I also featured it in my post about my favorite items and best souvenirs.
  • Laptop + charger: I leave my mouse and keyboard at home and just a lot of shortcuts
  • Phone + charger: get a local SIM card at the airport.
  • Mini-USB charger
  • Travel Adapter: I have a world adaptor that works in most countries. Always check the type before.
  • Travel Towel: I’d 100% recommend the more rugged microfiber ones over the soft wash-leather types.
  • Footlocker Shoe Freshener: these fresheners weigh nothing, can be carried in your shoes, and take out smells and moist from your shoes, clothes, and bag. 
  • Ereader: although I prefer physical books, my Kindle is much lighter and easier to carry around. 
  • Luggage lock + cable: aside from the standard luggage locks, you might want to buy a luggage cable. These cables are handy if there’s a risk of people taking your bag in a bus or shared dorm. 
  • Sunglasses: because sunglasses are easy to break and lose, I don’t want costly ones. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to have the proper protection. That’s why I like the Polaroid glasses. They’re stylish but not crazy expensive.
  • Power bank: although heavier, I prefer the 10k-20k mAh power banks that charge your phone 2-4 times. I would recommend one that clearly indicates how much battery it has left and preferably one that’s not too heavy.
  • Airplane pillow: an airplane pillow is indispensable on long flights and bus rides. To avoid carrying it around the entire trip though, I would recommend an inflatable pillow
  • Phone holder: this item is optional, but very handy. The Clampy phone holder allows you to watch Netflix on your phone without having to hold it. The holder also works in cars, transforming it into a GPS holder. 
  • Sleeping Mask + Earplugs: I always carry around very simple foam earplugs and a light sleeping mask. It takes no space but will protect your sleep in noisy hotels. 
  • SIM card remover: These two items are easy to carry around and can be very useful. Since you often have to change SIM cards, you may as well carry the little remover tool with you. 


Of course, clothing depends on the weather and the formality of your trip. Usually, this list works quite well. It includes the outfit I’m wearing on the flight.

  • Pants: I usually wear one pair of jeans and bring one formal one. Especially in hot countries, it’s nice to have beige or blue linen pants. These trousers are light, easy to combine, comfortable, and still formal. 
  • Shorts: I usually bring one pair of shorts and one pair of swimming shorts. This typically suffices for formal and informal trips. 
  • Underwear: Bring underwear for the number of days + 3, with a maximum of 8. You don’t want to run out of underwear and can use laundry services if you’re there for more than a week.
  • Socks: I usually bring the same amount as my underwear. If it’s hot, I’ll take more short socks, which also take up less space.
  • Sweaters: My favorite is to bring a Merino wool sweater.  These are light, formal enough, easy to air out, and warm enough. If it’s colder, it’s easy to combine with a jacket.
  • Jacket: I’m a big fan of a down jacket. Northface, Patagonia, Columbia, and Uniqlo are the most famous ones. It’s light, warm, easy to fold, and formal enough for work inside and outside of the office.  
  • Shoes: I usually take one pair of (semi-)formal shoes and one pair of sneakers. You can wear one and put the other in your lugage. I don’t take flipflops because they take up space and I’d only use them on the beach. 
  • T-shirts/polos: I’d usually take shirts for the number of days I’m there and max 6, because I will also bring two dress shirts and can wash if it’s more than 8 days. 
  • Dress shirts: Depending on the trip, 2-3 dress shirts should be sufficient. 
  • Sports clothes:  I usually bring a sports shirt and a pair of shorts. The shorts are okay to wear as regular shorts, and the shirt is also comfy on the plane. Sports shoes take up much space, so I’d use no shoes or my regular sneakers. It’s a trade-off.
  • Suit: only if necessary.
  • Rain jacket: depending on the weather. You can buy an umbrella almost everywhere, but if you’re already sure it’ll rain, it makes sense to bring it. 

Get The List Here! No More Packing Anxiety

Here’s the editable travel packlist

You can make a copy and tweak it to your needs. 

After each trip, remove the things you didn’t use and add the items you missed.

After a few trips you’ll have the perfect list.

Knowing you have a checklist, will remove almost all packing anxiety. It worked for me!

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