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Packing Checklist for Travel, Camping and Hiking

(Use our list as a guide, and adapt it for your own use)

Tips for Packing:

Use our list as a guide, and adapt it for your own use. You won’t need everything on your list for every trip. Print up a complete list on your computer (or photocopy it), and then just cross off anything you don’t need.

With your list in hand, compile everything and put it in appropriate piles on the floor. Then pack it. That way, you won’t forget what you’ve grabbed — or how much of it you’ve grabbed — after it disappears into your bags.

A suggestion if you’re making a long road trip and staying in several hotels: Consider packing three suitcases: one that will hold exactly what you’ll need for the hotel stops, a second suitcase that will hold all of the changes of clothes for the hotel stops, and a third suitcase to hold the rest of the clothes, shoes, gifts, etc. When you’re packing clothes, pack the second suitcases with stuff sacks — each of which hold a complete change of clothes for everyone. Each morning, switch out a change of clothes. This way, you’ll only be carting into the hotel exactly what you’ll need for the one night. For babies and young children, it might be helpful to pack an extra change of clothes or two.

It’s easy to over-pack. Think through where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, and pack for it. Add a few extras — just in case. Then stop.

When packing suitcases, backpacks and cars, think through the order in which you’ll need things — and try to arrange items accordingly. Emergency items (booster cables, medicine, extra diapers), the hotel bag, food and drinks should always be close at hand.

As much as you can, pack small. Certain food items, shampoo, skin lotions and hair gel all can be put into smaller (and lighter) containers.

Put anything liquid in sealed plastic bags. That way, if they leak, they won’t destroy everything else in the bag.

Save room by packing socks inside of shoes. Rolling clothes can help prevent wrinkles. Try to avoid packing things that stain or wrinkle easily.

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Medical/First Aid:

First aid kit that includes adhesive bandages in various sizes, sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, a tool for splinter removal, instant ice pack, heating pad, first aid manual, thermometer (for baby and/or adults), syrup of ipecac, headache relief, small flashlight with batteries, Vaseline petroleum jelly, soap, antiseptic solution (such as hydrogen peroxide), necessary medications, antihistamine, aspirin, and antibiotic ointment. Also be sure to carry vitamins,fluoride if necessary, sunscreen and sunburn lotion, insect repellant and itch relief, nail file, and birth control items if necessary.

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Tissues, toilet paper, nightlights, diapers, wet wipes, potty, shampoo, bubble bath, soap, washcloth, bath toys, nail clippers (for baby and/or for adults), toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup and makeup remover, towels and facecloths, gel,deodorant, hairspray, razor, razorblades, skin lotion for face and body, hair dryer, brush, comb, hair fasteners, tooth floss, mouthwash, feminine protection items, glasses, sunglasses (and repair kit), ear plugs, gum, breath mints, clothes detergent (and fabric softener or sheets, if you use them)

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Clothing Items:

Nightclothes, extra nightclothes, bed toys, pants, shorts, socks, shirts and T-shirts, dress clothing and shoes (plus stockings, tights, ties, etc.), underwear (plus bras, girdles, etc.), bathing suit (and goggles, cap, nose plug, if used), swim shoes, sweaters, coats, hats, mittens, scarf, shoes, extra shoes, boots, slippers, sandals, workout clothes, running shoes, watch, jewelry (and cufflinks, etc.), hiking boots (and hiking socks), rain gear

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General Items:

Plastic bags (for carrying out garbage), car seat (if flying) and head or chin brace, blankets (for bed, comforting and car), stroller, camera, film, extra batteries for camera and toys, binoculars, cell phone and chargers, umbrellas

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Eating Items:

Spoons, forks, knives, juice bottles, straws & caps, milk cups and lids, plates, bowls & lids, storage containers, ice packs, cooler (with ice), snacks, food and drinks that travel well, plastic wrap and/or bags, basic cutlery & plates & bowls, storage containers, lunch bag (for carrying food while walking, hiking or touring)

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Ideas for Entertainment:

Stickers, scissors, writing pads, crayons, pencils, pens, coloring books, Magna Doodle or Etch-a-sketch, tape recorder (for younger or older child), favorite music and CD player or tape player (with headphones!!), electronic games, musical keyboard, books (for children and adults), alphabet game, stuffed toys, finger puppets, sandbox toys, play dough, workbooks, magnifying glass, deck of cards, cribbage board, games or toys specially formulated for traveling (such as chess, Scrabble, checkers, etc.), and magazines. Some people find that installing a VCR and video player in their vehicle helps immensely with that last hour when everyone really wants to just get out.

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Plane tickets, all pertinent maps, passports, birth certificates, driver’s license, military ID, shot records, medical records (if traveling overseas), notarized letter from spouse (if traveling alone with child), checkbook, traveler’s checks, extra cash (not too much in case it gets lost), separate list of what’s in your purse and belongings (in case something gets lost), emergency phone numbers (including the financial numbers you need to call if your wallet is stolen, such as bank, financial accounts and credit card companies, etc.)

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In the Car:

Umbrella (s), extra oil, ax, saw, rope, basic tool set, small shovel, windshield wiper fluid, ice scraper and snow brush, booster cables, spare tire & jack, mace/gun/whistle, extra key, pen & paper, quarters for toll booths, survival kit, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, blankets, pillows, LOTS of extra water (and juice, sports drinks, etc.), mirror for signaling, fire starter, matches, lighter, high-energy snacks, extra food, space blanket, extra change of clothing, flashlight, toilet paper, tissues, batteries, garbage bags, snacks, bottles/cups, cell phone and vehicle charger, tapes or CDs, emergency information and phone numbers, change for a phone call, and paper and pencil for writing instructions or directions.

A package of baby wipes can be helpful for cleaning off faces and hands, and for cleaning up small spills. You should have a good-quality first-aid kit that includes items such as chemical ice packs, antiseptic ointment and wipes, gauze pads,sterile eye wash, hydrogen peroxide, rubber gloves, a thermometer, safety pins, sterile cotton, scissors, non-allergenic adhesive tape, adhesive bandages, tweezers and acetaminophen or ibuprofen. And even if your child is potty-trained, consider bringing a potty. When you’re stuck in 8 lanes of traffic, nobody’s moving and a little voice pipes up from the backseat: “I have to go!” — or even if you’re able to pull over, but are reluctant or unable to leave the vehicle — a potty can be very helpful. Just make sure that if the traffic starts moving again, everyone is buckled in before your vehicle moves.

If you’re traveling in the winter, consider also bringing chains, rope and other items for pulling yourself out of a ditch. See our Winter section for other tips for preparing your vehicle for winter.

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Additional Items for Hiking, Camping:

Tent, poles and stakes, mosquito net, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, space blankets, backpacks, hiking boots, socks and thermals, first-aid kits, applicable repair kits, insect repellant, sunscreen and sunburn lotion, skin lotion, blister protection, knife sharpener, lighter and matches, fire starter, pocket knife and/or multi-tool, water purifying tablets, stove and fuel, food that travels well (such as beef jerky, high energy bars, peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, dehydrated food, biscuit mix, fruit, bagels, boxes of macaroni/cheese, trail mix); cook kit and utensils, water containers and bottles, headlamp, flashlights with extra batteries, lantern, long-burning candles, signal mirror, compass or GPS, maps, soaped sponge, garbage bags, biodegradable soap, disposable camera, poncho, extra batteries, good sunglasses, hat with a brim

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One Comment

  1. Very useful post! Everything that have to be packed is mentioned. I really like doing a packing checklist. It keeps me organized and know whether I missed to pack something. Greetings

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