Know What to Bring on Your First International Trip

Knowing what to bring on your first international adventure can be challenging. You're not really sure what to expect, so how can you know what to bring? Fortunately, packing smart isn't rocket science. I've made a list of several essentials that I bring with me no matter where I'm going. Just like my tips on planning and preparing for your first international trip, these travel tips are travel-tested.

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What to Bring on Your First International Trip(2)

My First International Travel Experience

I can vividly remember how nervous I was to board my first international flight. My dream destination, Paris, was my destination. For weeks before we left, I found myself wondering what I was going to do/see/experience.

Unsure of what to expect, I packed everything that came to my mind. Ten days later, I returned home with my mountain of luggage, a sore lower back, chaffed legs, and blistered feet.

Needless to say, that trip changed a lot about my life and the way I travel. I learned you don't have to bring EVERYTHING you own to enjoy your vacation.

While I still struggle with over-packing from time to time, I'm getting better with each trip. I learned the hard way that it's never fun to wrestle with bags while boarding public transportation, hustling down cobblestone streets, or squeezing into small lifts.

Learn From My Mistakes

Frequent travelers know that what you bring is less important than having a good trip. Use the following tips to prepare for your an international trip you'll never forget. Focus more on creating an experience filled with love and adventure, not luggage.Save






Don't overpack.

Find mix-and-match pieces that can work together to create multiple looks. Doing this will help cut down on the amount of clothing & shoes you need to bring. Check out my favorite styles for more travel inpsiration!

Bring multi-purpose shoes.

Shoes are heavy and bulky, so bringing multiple pairs can add to the weight and size of your luggage. Bring shoes that can work for multiple settings and environments. Here are a few of my picks for stylish & comfortable travel shoes.

Use packing cubes.

These amazing little packing tools can help you keep your suitcase organized (bonus) and save tons of room for all the amazing things you'll find abroad.

Roll your clothes.

This little tip has helped tons of travelers pack more in less space. Plus, it helps prevent creases from folds! Simply lay out your clothes and tightly roll as if you're rolling a burrito.

One Week in a Carry-on!

what to bring on your first international trip

Use a Packing List to Help Prepare

After my first international travel experience, I made a packing list that I still use today. Now you can use the same checklist to pack for your first international travel trip. This list includes basics for your checked luggage and carry-on bag. Follow this basic checklist to plan for your best trip abroad ever!

Free International Travel Packing List

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Remember to Consider Your Destination

Obviously, there are so many more things we could add to this list depending on your destination. If you're beach bound, then don't forget your snorkel gear. Bringing your own will save you the high cost of renting at the resort. Spending time in the great outdoors? Then don't forget extra wicking socks and hiking boots. And if you're city, don't forget your favorite cross-body bag!

Need help deciding where to go? Whether you're planning a trip to the US or a European adventure, I've got several travel guides specifically for new travelers! Dive deep into my archives with these links.

Plan & Prepare

By doing a little research and planning, you'll be sure to know what to bring. Just be careful not to overpack. Always consider what you can get when you arrive. For more first-time travel tips, check out the posts below!

What to Do Before a Trip Abroad | International Travel Tips | Travel Planning Tips | First-time Travel | Preparing for Vacation

What to Do Before Going Abroad for the First Time

By Carlie Dayle

Going abroad for the first time can be both exciting and frightening. Successful international travel requires that you travel smart. So, who do you trust for travel tips? Why, experienced travelers, of course. Use this guide to going abroad for the first time to prepare for your first international trip! Disclaimer: Some of the links…

Read More
How to Plan Your First Trip Abroad | International Travel Tips | Travel Planning Tips | First-time Travel | International Trip

How to Plan the Best First-Time Trip Abroad

By Carlie Dayle

  My first-time trip abroad, and I was going to Paris. Finally. It was the Spring of 2009 when I found myself first wondering how to plan for the best first-time trip abroad. I’d never left the country and had only seldom left my home state of Louisiana. Yet I was facing my first-ever international…

Read More

Let's Stay in Touch

Are there things you would add to these lists? Something you'd never leave home without not mentioned here? Comment below and let me know.

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Happy wandering!


What to Bring on Your First Trip Abroad | International Packing Tips | Europe Packing List | Printable Packing List | Travel Tips


  1. Katie on June 27, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Love the graphic! Snacks are a must. 🙂 Depending where I am going I also like to bring a headlamp. It’s good for those nights when you don’t want to disturb your bunk mates, times when the power goes out, and of course as a flashlight.

    • on June 27, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      I love the idea of the headlamp, Katie! What a great idea for folks who bunk in hostels or go camping! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders on June 27, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I’m totally saving this for later! We’re headed to Europe for the first time in September, and I don’t want to forget anything!

    • on June 27, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      Sounds great, Ashley! Europe in September (depending on where exactly you’re going) will likely still be pretty warm. Make sure you bring a shawl or scarf to cover your shoulders for the many wonderful churches you’ll be visiting as you’ll likely still be sleeveless in September.

  3. Anksuh on June 29, 2016 at 12:01 am

    Really like the idea and efforts you have put into this. This is now my go-to checklist for everything before traveling anywhere .

    • on June 30, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks so much, Anksuh, for your kind comment! I wrote this after several epic packing fails in hopes that others would benefit. Glad you found it helpful!

  4. Rob Taylor on June 30, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    That’s a wonderful infographic. It’s funny though, even on a long flight I only ever need a laptop/iPad/book and a snack. My carry-on is usually just that. And chapstick. 🙂 The plugs are for sure a must, as are extra camera batteries!

    • on July 2, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      You sure do pack light! In terms of the carry-on, I’ve not mastered that just yet. Great travel goals though.

  5. elizabeth @ Compass & Fork on July 2, 2016 at 3:35 am

    Good list a lot of those things apply for any trip. I don’t bother with foreign currency I just use my ATM card when I get here. It is helpful to notify your credit card companies you will be overseas so they allow your charges.

    • on July 2, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      I completely understand, Elizabeth. I try to bring a little currency for public transportation, but I’ve relied on ATMs, too.

  6. Shobha on July 2, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Love the infographic! So easy to use. The only thing I’d add if you are travelling with kids is to bring their sleep toy so that they can get settled into a new place easier.

    • on July 2, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks so much, Shobha, for the feedback. I don’t have kids, so I never think to add things like that to my posts. Great travel tip!

  7. Voyager on July 2, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Your post took us back to our first international trip, and we laughed together. We have indeed come a long way since that time. We have learned a lot and one thing is today we know what exactly we need. But not on our first trip when we lugged heavy luggage along and things we never used.

    • on July 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Ha! I was transported back to my first-time abroad while writing it, too. I’ll never forget trying to rush through the Paris metro during rush hour with all my luggage. Never again!

  8. Cathy on July 2, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I bring my Lifestraw water bottle on every trip, especially great when you are unsure if the water is safe to drink!

    • on July 4, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Never heard of Lifestraw, Cathy! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip.

  9. Ami on July 5, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Loved the concise manner in which you have got this list. Very useful and for most trips. Thanks for sharing these.

    • on August 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Aww, thanks Ami! I like a good list and wanted this one to be easy to use.

  10. Jamie Italiane on July 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Completely agree with the need for a book!

    • on August 17, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      They are a necessity!

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