Packing for an Overseas Trip

Sep 12, 2008Updated 7 months ago

Choose Bags Carefully
Overseas trips can be ruined by lack of preparation or arriving with inappropriate or out of season clothing. A little research and planning will go a long way towards having a pleasurable time away.

What Bags to Take

There is a huge array of bags and suitcases on the market these days. Choose something that fits with the type of trip being planned. A backpacker won’t want a firm-sided suitcase and a businessman would look ridiculous with a backpack. Families may do better with two smaller cases instead of one large one that is heavy and cumbersome. Hand luggage on wheels is ideal for storing a day’s worth of clothes and easy to wheel around airports.

What Quality

The cheapest bags are not normally a good idea. Weaknesses to look for are inferior quality wheels, flimsy catches or locks and poor stitching. Luggage gets very rough handling at most airports and many cheap bags will not survive their first trip.

Research the Location

Research the destination before making any decisions. What is the weather like in the month of travel? What is the average temperature? Are there any clothing restrictions? In certain countries, it is not appropriate for women to wear short skirts or expose their shoulders.

What to Pack

Take as little as possible. Airlines have weight restrictions and most travellers come home with souvenirs and extra stuff. Pack clothes that mix and match well and dry easily. If cold weather is expected, take one lightweight jacket and light clothes that can be layered.

How to pack

Knits and T-shirts can be rolled to prevent creasing. Fold dresses in half at the waist and lay flat on the bottom of the case. Long pants can be folded at the knee and packed in a similar fashion. Use side pockets for underwear and smalls and place shoes, facing toe to heel in plastic bags. Search for more packing advice at

Hand Luggage

Airlines are known to lose and misdirect baggage so it is best to keep a day’s worth of supplies in a carry-on bag. Pack a change of underwear and clothes as well as a basic toiletries bag.

What about Liquids

Rules concerning liquids are still being defined and vary from country to country. It is best to check with local airports and destination airports what is allowed. In general it seems that baby foods and milk and certain medicines are allowed on board. Alcohol and perfumes bought from duty-free shops may need to be delivered directly to the plane. An article by Brian Bennett in Time , August 18th has more details about the liquid situation.


All travellers should keep a basic first aid kit with them. Stock it with pain killers, remedies for upset tummies and antihistamine cream. A few band aids are also a good idea. Also consider sunscreen and tablets for sterilizing water.

There is nothing worse than being ill-prepared on arriving in a foreign country. Language barriers can cause problems and many familiar items are not available in other lands. An hour of research at home can save hours of distress later. Be prepared.