How not to overpack - Travel Checklist

Short trips have many challenges, and the ongoing pandemic is not making things easier. First of all, it’s the lack of time in general that makes us plan much more thoroughly than usual so that we can enjoy our trip to the fullest. Packing for a short trip (let’s say this kind of trip lasts no more than 3 days) as well as packing for a day trip is also among those challenges.

First-time travelers may think it’s a hard task, but it’s definitely something you should practice over time. Getting ready like this is difficult because you need to pack all the necessities and travel items you usually bring on your trip without overpacking and bringing loads of extra clothes and stuff.

And then there are also new additions that have to be included to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, plus the documents you need to have to show that you’ve been vaccinated, don’t have the virus, or have already beaten the disease.

To help you with your packing for a short trip, we came up with four categories that you should always pack and have around. Let’s go through them, one category at a time.


Hygiene is the most important category because it contains the most personal items, items associated with your everyday rituals and practices. Also, most of the items from the list you won’t be able to borrow from the people you’re traveling with, since people mostly don’t share them.

And since the coronavirus is still out there, you will need to also pack some items that will keep you healthy no matter where you go.

In case your hotel provides something from the list above, you can cross it off, but if you can’t count on them waiting for you in your room these are the essentials you should always pack.

The items from this category include:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (travel size)
  • Floss and mouthwash
  • – Deodorant and perfume (if you’re traveling with hand luggage, make sure the type and the size of the deodorant pass the airport’s guidelines)
  • – Gel lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body milk (the best option is to use silicone travel bottles and bring only a small amount of your home products)
  • – Packed-in makeup and makeup remover wipes
  • Hairbrush
  • Shaving kit
  • – Panties (number of days + 1)
  • – Other underwear (this includes also a swimming suit)
  • – Pajamas or sleepwear
  • – Socks (number of days + 2)
  • Slippers (instead of packing your home slippers, you can buy a pack of thin and foldable slippers so that you have them for other travels)
  • Towel (compressed towels take up less space in your luggage)
  • – Labeled prescription medication and some pain relievers
  • Band-aids (pack a few band-aids of different sizes)
  • – Eyewear and lenses

Obviously, since COVID-19 is still out there, you need to think about staying safe from the coronavirus during your trip, too. Don’t worry, it can be done, just make sure you pack the following:

  • Face masks for adults (preferably face masks with removable filters)
  • Face masks for children if any are coming along with you
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • Smartphone sanitizer

There are also several other things that may not be absolutely necessary but can make your life easier, such as a face shield, for example.


The second category of things to pack for a short trip is accessories. Now, this includes everything from your shoes to your phone. We have simply divided it into four main sub-categories so that it’s easier for you to follow. Most of the things from this category are not essential but can help you a lot. However, think twice before packing anything from the list.


  • – Shoes – always make sure to check the weather forecast before packing your shoes. If there’s even a slight possibility of rain, make sure to pack some waterproof shoes. In case you plan to walk 5+ hours a day, forget about heels and uncomfortable shoes or sandals, since blisters can really ruin the whole trip.
  • Scarf – scarf is one of the most useful travel items. It can serve as a fashion accessory, as a blanket, as a cover when visiting a religious site or as a hidden pocket for money and travel documents.
  • – Belt



Watches, rings, earrings and necklaces you usually wear and don’t feel uncomfortable wearing

Entertainment and Comfort

  • – Books and magazines (books can really be lifesavers on a bus or plane or while you’re waiting between flights; however, they can take up a lot of space, so many people use Kindle instead of packing real books when traveling.)
  • Travel games or cards – there are some great travel-sized board games at Amazon, so you won’t need to carry your Monopoly with you.
  • Travel pillow, blanket, eye mask, earplugs

Weather and climate supplies

  • Umbrella – if there’s even a slight possibility of rain, packing an umbrella is advised. Luckily, there are many light and compact umbrellas that don’t take require space in your luggage.
  • Raincoat – most raincoats don’t take up much space, so they can be an even better option than an umbrella.
  • – Windbreaker
  • Hat – weather it’s the woolen cap that keeps you warm during winter or a baseball cap, most of the time you’ll need some kind of hat.
  • – Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Mosquito repellent


Clothes is the trickiest category, and it should come last when packing your luggage so that you can see how much space you have left. The first thing you should do is to check the weather forecast.

Since you only have a few days on your trip, make sure to plan out what you’re going to wear depending on the weather conditions. On top of that, you can pack one extra shirt, but nothing more than that. Don’t pack shorts if it’s going to snow. Don’t wear black long jeans if it’s going to be hot. In the shoulder season, always pack more layers instead of one heavy piece of clothes. Pick cotton and natural fabrics so that you don’t sweat much. After you’re done with packing, review once more the clothes you’re going to wear. If you don’t have any doubts, you’re ready to go.


After you’re done with your clothes, you’re actually done with the luggage. In case you’re still searching for the right suitcase, check out the bestsellers on Amazon.

This last category actually fits in most small bags you can find, but it includes the most important stuff that should be kept in a safe place, apart from your other luggage.

  • – Money
  • – Credit cards
  • – Travel Insurance
  • – Passport or ID – make sure to keep your passport protected in a passport holder
  • – Important Travel Documents (such as a boarding pass and hotel information)

However, COVID-19 has had a major impact in this aspect of trip planning too, so now you will have to show documents related to the virus when you cross pretty much any border in the world. 

These depend on whether or not you’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from the disease, but no matter your status, you will have to have one of the following:

  • a COVID passport: depending on where you’re from, you may have to have your EU Digital COVID Certificate, your NHS Covid Pass, your ArriveCAN app, or some other digital proof of vaccination. The US currently doesn’t have such an app on the federal level, but there are some in individual states.
  • If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you will have to show that you took a PCR test no more than three days before your trip and that you tested negative. If you’re visiting the US, however, you MUST be fully vaccinated in order to be allowed to enter.
  • If you’ve recovered from COVID-19 recently, you can use the documentation proving that to get around. For example, you may need to show a positive COVID-19 and a confirmation from your doctor saying that you’ve recovered. Keep in mind, though, that you can only use this method for several months, depending on the country.


As you can see, there is a lot to consider. Still, there are some things that are widely regarded as top travel items, so maybe you should focus on them first. 

Either way, dividing your luggage like this can make your life (and your suitcase) a whole lot easier. 

Just don’t forget to pack things that help keep you and the others safe from COVID-19. At a time like this, travelers have a big responsibility to stay safe because they can help the virus spread much faster.

Oh, and always take the weather conditions into consideration and pack accordingly. With just a little bit of planning, you can have a great trip every single time!

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip?

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

Anca One Day Itinerary
Anca B.
Travel writer at One Day Itinerary

Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

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