How to pack for a trip overseas

I recently posted on social media recommending people start a packing list at least a week in advance, to which my mum responded “a week? I start well before that!”

Which got me thinking about how we pack and how we decide what to take when travelling to far away destinations with unknown climates.

Packing can be fraught with indecision and confusion. You want to look stylish, but you want to be comfortable. You don’t want to be too hot, or too cold and of course, you only have limited space, so your clothes need to work overtime.

And you don’t want to spend all your time in the Laundromat cleaning clothes when you could be out seeing amazing sites and experiencing local culture.

So how do you create a list and pack for a trip overseas?

I like to start thinking early about what I might want to take. I also have a standard packing list of all the essentials in the notes app on my phone so when it comes to packing for an upcoming tripI’ve already got a good start. I add and subtract from this list while I’m away, so it’s constantly evolving.

But as each destination is different, the actual items I take vary from trip to trip.

Here are just a few tips that may help you pack for your next trip:

  • Add your destination to your weather app a few weeks before you go so you’ll know what the weather will actually be like when you get there. I check in a few times just to see how the weather is changing.
  • Review your itinerary for the specific activities you’ll be taking part in –is there special equipment that you’ll need? Snow boots if you’re going to the snow, reef shoes if you’ll be in the water?
  • Can you group the different activities that will require similar types of outfits?
  • How many times will you be doing each activity? I.e.are there any special dinners and if so, how many? Will you be visiting farms, climbing mountains, trekking around ruins or swimming everyday? This is important because it will get you thinking about the primary activities and therefore the kinds of clothes you’ll be wearing the most.
  • I have heard of people who look at images from specific tours or destinations that they are travelling to so they can see what others are wearing. Far from being just about wanting to ‘fit in’ this can also help you know what the climate actually feels like –we all know that 25 degrees in one country can be far different in another country –or even part of the same country -depending on the intensity of the sun, altitude, climatic region etc.
  • Lay your clothes out at least a week before you go. This helps ensure none of the clothes you want to take are in the laundry basket –no one wants
    to be washing and drying clothes the night before a flight. But I also do this so I can see how well my clothes go together. I lay everything out by clothes type on the spare bed. If I’ve got a top that only goes with one other item, I remove it and add something that is more versatile.
  • I also lay out any equipment and toiletries I plan to take –camera gear, laptop, that way I can see how much I’m actually taking and can make sure I don’t forget chargers or power adapters.
  • Don’t pack too much. Don’t think you have to fill the space in your suitcase. You might want to buy items from your destination, i.e.local mementoes or even new clothes. And remember, you’ll often have to move your case around yourself –you don’t want to struggle lifting it on and off the conveyor belt at the airport. Laying it all out before you pack can help ensure you don’t just randomly throw items into your suitcase until it’s full.
  • If you’re still unsure, ask your tour operator, often they will have recommended packing lists for particular destinations. Then sit back and relax, knowing that you’ve got all the things you’ll need for your particular destination and activities.

*Diane Squires is tour host with Two’s a Crowd.

What Our Clients Say

20 out of 10!

The trip was just great - I can't really think of any negatives. Diane will back me up when I say I usually give 10/10s - I gave her 20/10. Trish, Canada/Alaska

Excellent trip

I found the overall trip excellent. I believe Diane's professionalism, inclusive personality and ability to relate to all contributed to this. She worked to ensure the group was cohesive without individuals impinging on the personal space of others etc. a good skill to have and one she applied effectively. Kate, Canada/Alaska

Fantastic value for money

Fantastic value for money paid. Russell our guide is an asset to your company... he was fantastic! Overall the trip was magical from start to finish. Well done Two's a Crowd ... the best trip ever. Barbara, Canada/Alaska

Fantastic first solo trip

I had a fantastic trip. Absolutely loved Canada and Alaska. It's the first time I have travelled solo and was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of people that all got on so well. Diane our host was great. She did a good job of getting us altogether for meals, excursions, shopping trips etc. I liked that she quietly got things done without being loud or "in-your-face". She was good at being one of us as well as our leader. Wendy, Canada/Alaska

Good balance of activities and spare time

Had a great time. Good mixture of organised activities and spare time. Diane was an excellent tour host. Russell the tour guide was great, very knowledgeable and personable with his insights into growing up and living in Canada. Sharon, Canada/Alaska

Well organised trip with an excellent host

The trip was well organised, with a good mix of activity and free time. The scenery was spectacular and fellow travellers were a great bunch. Diane is a excellent host - helpful, courteous and above all a pleasure to know. I found her bubbly personality a bonus and can only speak highly of her. Gary, Canada/Alaska

I had a fabulous time

I had a fabulous time. Lake Louise and the hotel were magnificent. The cruise was excellent. Diane made sure that she was available for group meals and sightseeing, and was alway in good humour and great fun. I would recommend your company to everyone and am very interested in the Scandinavia  tour at the end of 2017.

Cathy, Adelaide - Canada/Alaska May 2016

Great holiday

What a great trip! I experienced so much and participated in all that was offered. I had read and reviewed as much as time allowed me but was not prepared for what the trip gave me and that is a better understanding of the beautiful people of both countries. - Lesley on Vietnam/Cambodia

In good company

I thought the suggestions for optional things to do, in the "free" time were very good. So good, we really ended up with very little free time. So much to do! - Mary on Vietnam

Great time together

I found the trip interesting and eye opening with a great overview of both Vietnam and Cambodia. The other travellers on the trip were fabulous and we had a great time together. - Anonymous on Vietnam/Cambodia

Fantastic first experience!

Extremely well organised with fabulous guides throughout - especially in Vietnam! First holiday with your company and certainly not the last. - Glenys on Vietnam

Great group to travel with

Having a small group meant that the days were more relaxed and flexible and I really felt spoilt and looked after. Melinda on Borneo

Thoroughly enjoyed Uganda

Thoroughly enjoyed my trip especially Uganda. There was so much variety of things to do on this trip. Jaros & Julius were great. Thought in Kenya the Maasai Mara were beautiful people, so easy to get along with. Judy

Can’t stop talking about my experience

I just feel so privileged to have shared with the Maasai the most awe-inspiring majestic sights and sounds of Africa. The fantastic memories will be with me forever. Maureen

Absolutely enjoyable

Gillian was a fantastic host. She was there for us from the moment we reached Hotel Troy. Heather on Africa

Best holiday I’ve been on!

One of the best holidays that I have been on - really well organised. I would never have travelled to Vietnam or Cambodia on my own. Bronwyn

Well organised

Fun, well organised and a really great group. Barbara on Vietnam/Cambodia

Great time together

I found the trip interesting and eye opening with a great overview of both Vietnam and Cambodia. The other travellers on the trip were fabulous and we had a great time together.

Great value

Well done. No complaints. Very pleased with this trip. Great value for my hard earned dollars! Really enjoyed the [Vietnam/Cambodia] tour. 

Fabulous rapport filled with much humour!

A great bunch of people & I can't believe how we all had such a fabulous rapport filled with much humour!!!

I couldn’t fault anything.

The (Uniworld River) cruise was great, I met up with some wonderful people who treated me like part of the family !
The ship & crew were fantastic & the excursions were very good, I couldn't fault anything. I'd recommend this cruise to anyone.  Peter

Informative and educational

The entire trip was one of the most enjoyable and exciting. Also so informative and educational. I was so pleased to make the trip. Wish I was over there in that magical place.  Marjorie


I’ve just returned from the wonderful Kimberley trip.  It was my first experience with Two’s a Crowd and I was delighted.  Kay

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I need not have worried

Being my first tour and a senior member, I admit I was apprehensive but I need not have worried. It was great and I was very well looked after.  Can’t wait to go to Kenya with Two’s a Crowd.  Maureen

Smooth and seamless

A memorable trip of a lifetime, a wish fulfilled.  A fascinating cultural country steeped in history which I found totally enthralling.  Two’s a Crowd service was smooth and seamless.  Pam

A wonderful experience

It was a wonderful experience visiting Cambodia and Vietnam and gave me a better understanding of these countries. I had a great time with new friends, we had a good bunch and Leonie was the perfect host. Eric

Value for money

Value for money and outstanding co-operation from your staff and tour operators. Joan

Safe and secure and totally looked after

An awesome adventure for my first time overseas alone.  Leonie was excellent and both guides were also fantastic.  At all times I felt safe and secure and totally looked after.  Melinda

Well done Two’s a Crowd.

Leonie was an excellent host, the ideal person. I never felt any pressure to  be involved in every activity so I could explore alone during free time. Having 2 or 3 nights in most places was great – you could rest up or party. Well done Two’s a Crowd. Jenny

A completely different experience

It was a nice surprise holiday, a completely different experience from all my other holidays. Thanks. Piroska

I’ve had at least 10 travel agents.

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The entire 14 days ran so smoothly from Two's a Crowd booking my flights to  airport transfers and then the 12 days camping in the Kimberley. Excellent throughout. Congratulations. Marjorie

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