Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway, or a month-long escape near or far, don't leave home without the essentials. From vacation packing lists, to area-specific travel information, this American Express Travel checklist will help you get ready for your trip.
What to Pack in Carry-On
As mentioned above, there are critical things to keep in your carry-on luggage in the event of delays, or lost luggage. But there are a few non-essentials items to include in your carry-on bag that can make your flight much more comfortable.
Toiletry bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, hand lotions, hair brush/ties, eye drops (see “Tips for Packing Toiletries & Medication” below)
First aid pack, nail repair and sewing kits
Earbuds or headphones
Books or e-reader
A change of clothes
Special dietary snacks (e.g. gluten-, diary-, peanut-free items, vegetarian or kosher snacks) in case of long gate delays.
Toys, books, gaming devices, extra diapers/wipes, formula, baby food, lollipop/pacifier to soothe clogged ears (if traveling with kids)
How to Pack & Store Electronics
Because our electronic devices have so much valuable information on them, it’s a good idea to pack them in your carry-on luggage, rather than a checked bag, which could end up lost or in the wrong hands. Tips on how to pack and store cell phones, laptops, keeping digital information secure:
Invest in a waterproof, lightweight, durable tech-organizer bag. These have plenty of extra pockets and compartments designed especially for organizing tablets, chargers, hard drives, batteries, USB cords, power banks, SD cards, power adapters and other electronic accessories.
Keep wires under control. If you’re stuck using a backpack, duffle bag, or other type of bag without many organization features, be sure to tie up wires using Velcro cable ties, rubber bands, hair bands, zip ties, tape—anything you have laying around. Now those stray wires stay easily accessible and organized.
Leave e-cigarettes or vaping items out of your carry-on bag. They can only travel in checked baggage.
If any electronics utilize a lithium metal or lithium ion battery, keep it in your carry-on bag, as they are banned in the aircraft cabin due to potential fire incidents. If there’s an incident in the cabin, at least it can be mitigated by the crew and passengers.
Check the latest travel advisories
Regardless of where you travel, whether it's domestically or internationally, it’s important to stay safe. Check current advisories and sign up to receive up-to-the-minute alerts about your destination in areas across the globe. In addition, before you travel, be sure to:
Again, not all locations require this. But before you book your trip, it's critical that you know the rules in order to make the most of your getaway. You can check your particular state's COVID-19 travel rules here, as well as country-specific requirements outside the U.S
The Essential Travel Packing List
While forgetting items such as socks or pants can be an inconvenience, they're generally easy to replace. Aside from the usual packing necessities like clothes, underwear, toothbrushes and other items, there are some essential items to keep in mind that aren't so easily replaceable—especially if you're faced with an unexpected delay or change of plans. Make sure you add these to your vacation packing list and, before you travel, do a last-minute check to make sure all of them are present and accounted for. In addition, if flying, consider putting them in a carry-on bag in case your luggage is lost:
Travel adapters (if traveling internationally)
Eyeglasses/contact lenses and solution
Extra masks/hand sanitizer (COVID-19 or compromised immune system)
Wallet/purse (with emergency cash, credit cards)
Essential medications (see “Tips for packing Toiletries & Medication” below.)
Order currency online (if traveling internationally)
Official Travel documents (driver's license/ID, visa, passport, boarding passes, tickets)
House/car keys (for your return home)
What to Pack in Checked Luggage
Everything you can’t fit or bring in your carry-on bag, will go in your checked luggage. Here are a few examples:
Clothing, shoes and accessories
Toiletries that were too big for carry-on luggage, as well as items that were too sharp like razors, scissors, etc.
Electronic items that are too bulky to carry on, like large cameras and audio/video equipment
Oversized sporting equipment like tennis racquets, golf clubs, snowboards/skis, surfboards, unloaded firearms in secured cases (check with your airline for requirements)
If you want to bring a specific item in your checked luggage but aren’t sure if it’s allowed, you can check here. As always, just because it’s permitted on a particular airline, doesn’t mean it’s allowed on flights into certain countries. Check your destination country’s rules ahead of tim
Tips for Packing Toiletries & Medication
When it comes to toiletries, the TSA allows only a single, one-quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes etc. in your carry-on and through the checkpoint—anything bigger has to go in checked luggage. Each travel-sized container in that bag must be in 3.4 ounce or smaller containers (100 milliliters). The only exceptions to that rule is for infant/baby nourishment (e.g. formula, breast milk, baby food, toddler drinks/pouches, etc.) and medications.
Here are some tips for getting those medications through the screening process quickly and easily:
Keep medicines in their original, labeled containers
If traveling internationally, check with the foreign embassy of that country to make sure your medications are permitted. Some countries require an import license or permit for certain meds.
Medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols are allowed. Be sure to declare them at the TSA checkpoint.
Ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories needed to keep medications cool are permitted, as long as they’re frozen or partially frozen.
Supplies associated with medically necessary liquids like IV bags and pumps, are also allowed, but must be screened. You can learn more about traveling with medically necessary items here.