some personal packing tips...

I don't travel as much as some people, but often enough that I've definitely got my packing down to a planned routine. I keep a master packing checklist on my iPhone so I can run through it to make sure I don't forget anything. At the top of the list are things I need to do more than one day out ("do laundry!"), and as I reach the bottom, it's things like "wallet, keys, phone" that I'll grab right as I'm leaving.

My list isn't just about what to put in my bag, it's also life reminders for being gone (e.g., who's picking up the mail?, water the plants, take out the trash, clean out the fridge, put a good movie onto your phone, etc).

Keep a master packing list on your phone

There are tons of great resources for packing out on the net, but here's a few of my own packing tips:

First off: Netflix now lets you download shows for offline viewing, so queue up some plane watching while you pack! Maybe also install Duolingo.

If you have to check a bag, only put clothes in there. Do not put any kind of electronics, jewelry, or other small, high-value items in a checked bag. Bring one change of socks/underwear/shirt in your carry-on in case your bag gets lost.

Everyone tells you to take a layering approach to travel clothes and they're right, but furthermore, I think it's important that you pick things that are thin, light, non-bulky, and won't look terrible if they're rolled in your bag for 12 hours. For example, I'm a big fan of this stretchy hoodie from Alternative Earth. Also, stretchy V-neck sweaters can cover up 90% of the wrinkly parts of a dress shirt underneath it and save you from having to iron or send out for pressing.

While I appreciate all of the recent innovation in packing supplies and luggage, I usually stick with Ziploc bags as my organizational tool of choice -- they're cheap, they're see-thru (so it's easier to spot what you need without digging around), and you can squeeze the air out before you seal them so it doesn't take up more space than necessary.
  • DAILY BAG: toiletries and meds I use every day (including any bottles of liquid or gel). This is the ONE bag I take out of my carry-on for the X-ray machine. I keep it near the top.
  • FIRST AID: (i.e., things I don't use every day): ibuprofen, band-aids, blister pads, chap stick, antacid, etc. that can be buried a bit deeper in the bag
  • SEX: One for condoms, lube, and anything else you might need when using those two things :)
  • TECH: iPhone charger, plugs, cables, outlet adapters, headphones, and a small microfiber towel. It cleans glasses and iPhone screens and it even removed a bunch of stubborn adhesive glue from my Nikon body once. 

Use an old contact lens case to bring gels and lotions you don't need a lot of on your trip (make sure you label them!)

In addition to your regular prescriptions, Benadryl is a great double-duty pill to have around because it's both an antihistamine and a sleep aid. Xanax (chased with one and only one cocktail) is the only thing that can silence a crying baby in the next row – works great regardless whether you or the baby takes it :P A couple of really strong Sudafed (straight pseudoephedrine not mixed with anything else) are good in case you end up congested before a flight (I normally hate cold medicine, but flying with your ears fully plugged is an extremely painful experience that can last DAYS after your flight ends!)

It's never a good idea to bring new shoes on a trip, but if you end up with blisters anyway (people tend to just walk a lot more than normal on vacation), having these Band-Aid blister foot pads in your bag is a life saver.

Always have a small gift or two in my bag to give to people I'm planning to meet (and a few extras for new or unexpected people I might meet...). Ideally it's something from your hometown or country, something unique they couldn't get at their own corner store. As you give them away, you make room for souvenirs. The flatter the gifts are, the better. 

If you have elite status with an airline, bring that silly card they mail you. Sometimes the lounge dragon attendant won't let you in unless you have your physical card with you. (This happened to me in Munich when the Lufthansa employee said, "we can't look up your elite status but I can let you in if you have your United Gold status card...")

I've found single-use packets of lube to be really useful when traveling. I used to carry around a small, 30ml bottle of it in my bag and it leaked once... worst. cleanup. EVER. Plus those small bottles are really easy to forget (I've forgotten at least 2 of them in the bedsheets). With single-use packets you don't carry around more than you need or, more importantly, less than you need. Condom depot sells various kinds of single-use packs.

Speaking of single-use, you can also get neosporin in that format as well.

I'm also a big fan of Preparation H Totables wipes for when you're going someplace without Toto Washlets (i.e., nearly everywhere but Japan!) These are just witch hazel wipes (no scent, no medicine, just clean!) in individual foil packets so you can always have one with you.

If you have a favorite brand of condoms, you might want to bring those along as well, condom shopping abroad can be an adventure sometimes...

The elephant makes me feel like I'm in a Miss Elliott song!
And if all responsible sex measures fail you (or worse…), it's a good idea to have a single course of PEP in your bag (if you're not already on PrEP). Gals might also want a morning after pill in addition to the PEP. No one wants to think about this before they go, but trust me, it's absolutely no fun to spend an entire (and likely hungover) day of your vacation at a clinic in a country where you don't speak the language trying to explain what PEP is to a very conservative, religious doctor who might just want to call the authorities when you explain that you had unprotected, extramarital/gay sex the night before.


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