The Ultimate Solo Travel Packing List

The Ultimate Solo Travel Packing List

Solo travel is something that I absolutely enjoy doing—from preparing a solo travel packing list up to the trip itself. A well-prepared list is the cornerstone of a hassle-free adventure, as it helps you stay organized and ready for any situation.

From must-have travel documents to versatile clothing and safety items, below is my solo travel packing list, covering everything from the basics to the essentials.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. This means I might receive a small commission when you purchase products through the links on my post. Rest assured that I always recommend products that I like and/or are best-sellers. 

Solo Travel Packing List

The Essentials

Solo travel packing list

Passport/ID & Travel Documents

Solo or not, your passport and travel documents are the most important items to pack. They serve as proof of identity to board a plane, cross borders, and book accommodations and tours, among many others. I also highly recommend carrying digital copies of your passport and other travel documents such as your visa and international driving license in case *knocks on wood* you lose your physical copies.

Wallet

Your wallet should include cash, credit/debit cards, and any necessary membership or loyalty cards. I like a small wallet when traveling because they are easy to carry. I think long wallets are more risky to have since you expose yourself every time you take something in and out of it—it’s like a pickpocket magnet.

Phone & Charger

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to travel somewhere without a phone. It’s used for almost anything from communication to navigation, so it’s essential that you carry it with you at all times (unless you purposely plan a social media detox day, in which case, please make sure you’re somewhere safe). It would also be helpful to carry a portable charger with you.

Medicine Kit

A medicine kit is necessary if you have minor health issues or pre-existing conditions that need consistent medication. I also pack antacids in case my stomach is not ready for the local cuisine of the place I’m going to.

Toiletry

Always pack a basic toiletry kit with you, even if your accommodation is providing it. Especially if you’re traveling on a budget—most cheap accommodations only provide generic branded products that are not as effective as your products back home. I’ve told myself, on multiple occasions, that “I can just buy it at some convenience store there,” but ended up spending more money because I couldn’t find travel-sized products.

Reusable Water Bottle

Carrying a reusable water bottle is a must for me. It’s a cost-effective way to stay hydrated when you’re out exploring. The good news is a lot of destinations nowadays have water refill stations. Plus, this way, you’re also keeping it eco-friendly.

If you want to be extra careful, you can also check out this Brita water bottle:

Hand Sanitizer

Keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag (or even hanging it like a keychain) is always a good idea to reduce the risk of getting sick on vacation. Of course, washing with soap and water is still the best way, but hand sanitizers provide instant peace of mind especially if you don’t have access to a proper washroom for the day (eg. when island hopping).

Clothing

Basic Outfits

I know it’s exciting to pack OOTD-worthy clothes for a vacation, but choosing basic tops and bottoms that you can easily mix and match, or dress up and down, is always the key. We tend to underestimate the weather and dress codes, so be sure to pack something comfortable and modest—something you would use for a full day outside.

Something Dressy

Just because you’re mostly packing the comfiest clothes doesn’t mean you can’t be dressy. Depending on your travel duration, plan at least 1 or 2 dressy outfits for special occasions or unexpected events. It should be something classy but won’t take too much space in your luggage. For me, it’s a black dress.

Comfortable Shoes

I wasn’t as wise during my first few solo travels—I always brought new footwear with me, which usually ended up with me breaking it in DURING travel. Pick a good pair of comfortable shoes—it can be your favorite sneakers or simple walking shoes. Comfort before style.

Outerwear

This one really depends on when and where you’re going—research your destination’s weather. If you’re traveling somewhere cold, pack something with fleece or wool lining. If you’re traveling somewhere warm, it’s still good to bring a lightweight and/or waterproof jacket in case it rains. A jacket comes in handy on the plane too.

Sleepwear

I like a good pair of breathable pajamas, but this can also be your normal tee and soft pants. To me, a pajama set makes you feel home away from home while on vacation.

Day Bag

Day bags differ from person to person—some like to bring a big backpack while some are good with their fanny packs. It all depends on your activities for the day but I highly recommend getting one with anti-theft features. If you’re going hiking, a backpack is ideal so you can put everything from extra shirts to camping gear. If you’re out exploring cities or towns, a small bag would be fine.

A zipped tote bag is always on my solo travel packing list. This is where I put my essentials (phone, camera, wallet, IDs, etc), snacks, water bottle, sanitizer, and a small makeup kit (face powder, lip balm, wet wipes, etc). I try to minimize what’s in it because I usually shop whenever I go out, so I use my tote bag for my souvenirs as well—better than carrying a bunch of shopping bags. Pick one in a neutral color, too.

Accessories

Accessories that are helpful for travel include scarves, hats, and sunglasses. Pick ones that function well but are also a little dressy so you can up your fashion. Like a day bag, it’s best to pick ones that come in neutral colors so you can easily pair them with your outfit.

Scarves, in particular, are an iconic fashion accessory, but it’s also helpful for sun protection. I’ve used it to cover my shoulders when I unexpectedly came across a temple.

Safety

Safety Whistle

This is a very helpful item for your solo travel packing list. It’ll help you in emergencies and deter potential threats. It’s also best to keep your whistle easily accessible, such as on a keychain, in your pocket, or even as a secret necklace.

Pepper Spray

A pepper spray is a useful self-defense tool for solo travelers, but make sure to check the legal regulations regarding its use in your destination. Keep it secure and readily accessible.

Locks

Locks are another good gadget to add to your solo travel packing list. You can use a lock for your luggage, and any lockers you may use at hostels or public places. It’s especially helpful for shared accommodations.

Face Masks

Face masks have been a must-pack since COVID. It helps protect you from airborne illnesses, especially in crowded places. Pack several reusable or disposable masks to ensure you have enough for your trip. I usually pack a couple of disposable masks in a lightweight case.

Other Gadgets & Electronics

Camera

Yes, it’s easier to take photos with your phone, but a camera remains a very good investment especially if you’re planning more solo trips. Choose a compact and lightweight camera that suits your needs. I like Canon’s mirrorless cameras because they are lighter than DSLR cameras. I personally use Canon EOS M50 Mark II.

Travel Adapter

Depending on where you’re going, you might need a travel adapter that is compatible with the plug types and voltage of your destination. Invest in a universal travel adapter for multiple trips.

Laptop/Tablet

I don’t think I’ve ever traveled without my MacBook Pro with me. You just don’t know when you’re going to need to check something on your desktop, so a laptop or tablet would be helpful. It’s useful for managing your travel plans, as well as entertainment (especially if you’re going somewhere remote). Ensure it’s password-protected for extra safety. Protective cases are also helpful to avoid accidentally breaking them in transit.

Earphones

Earphones are another entertainment must-have for me. I like listening to music on the plane or while relaxing on a day out. Be careful when using them while walking around, especially if you have wireless ones. You might accidentally drop them and it would be a hassle trying to search in a crowded place.

Miscellaneous

Travel Pillow & Blanket

Most airlines provide a travel pillow and blanket for long flights, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring some to stay comfortable. Choose the compact versions that won’t take up too much space in your luggage.

Notebook & Pen

This is an alternative if you’re going full electronic-free and don’t want to bring your laptop on your solo travel. A pocket notebook and a pen are helpful for taking down notes and keeping track of plans. You can even start a travel journal to record your experience every time you go on vacation. If journaling sounds like a daunting task, urban sketching is also an option.

Snacks

Non-perishable snacks like nuts, granola bars, and dried fruit are handy when you’re out exploring for the day. They can be lifesavers during long travel days or when you’re exploring remote areas.

Guidebook/Maps

This is another mistake I made during my first-ever solo travel. I told myself I didn’t need to prepare much since I had my phone anyway. A 20-year-old, petite, solo female traveler, I got lost in the middle of Bangkok’s dark and remote streets, which sounds scarier now than back then. Needless to say, print your travel plans, get some maps, and write down emergency hotlines. Think of everything you might need—especially ones you wouldn’t know what to do if you lose internet connection—then prepare physical copies.

Book

Bring your favorite book with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a self-help book or a novel you’ve been dying to read. You can also do e-books, but a single book wouldn’t hurt to bring along with you. I always seem to bring Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist with me.

Reusable Shopping Bag

A reusable shopping bag is another important item to add to your solo travel packing list. You can use it for souvenirs, groceries, extra clothes, and more. Some come in tiny pouch bags so you don’t have to worry about additional space.

Tips for Packing for Solo Travel

Solo travel packing list

Research Your Destination

Researching is the first step before you start with your solo travel packing list. Sure, there are basic things to pack, but you won’t know for sure until you do in-depth research about your destination. Learn about their culture, weather, activities, and safety.

One thing that I always highlight is that we should all respect each other’s cultures. Educate yourself about the local customs and dress codes.

Create a Packing List

Hopefully, my detailed solo travel packing list above will help guide you to create one. A general rule of thumb is to pack things that are comfortable and functional. Remember, you’re traveling by yourself. Creating a list will also help you organize things better, so you won’t forget things at the last minute.

Pack Light

You don’t need to fill up your luggage when packing. It’s best to have extra space for souvenirs and other things you’ll bring home. As for thick jackets, you can wear them on the plane to save space in your luggage. It’s also best to weigh your luggage before you go so that you won’t be charged with excess baggage.

Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes will keep your things organized, which in turn helps maximize the space within your suitcase. It’s also easier to find items quickly as you can categorize them like you would your closet.

Limit Your Items

I know it’s tempting to bring at least 20 outfits for a weeklong trip, but it’s not always a good idea. Focus on the essentials—chances are, you’re only going to wear one outfit per day. Pack what you think you’d really use. This way, you won’t get too tired carrying a ton while in transit.

Avail Travel Insurance

Travel insurance provides a safety net against unforeseen events. Depending on what yours entail, they can potentially cover a range of issues, including medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and more. Most major airlines offer travel insurance as an add-on when you book your flight, although you can still explore more options for your budget.

Sometimes, you can also avail of travel insurance through your credit card. I use my Capital One Quicksilver. I recently moved to the US with no credit history here, but one day Capital One just mailed me an offer for this card, so I jumped in.

I have zero regrets as they offer unlimited 1.5% cashback, no annual fee, fraud coverage, and the best part for travel: no foreign transaction fees. On top of that, they also offer travel accident insurance when you purchase your tickets with your Quicksilver card. The card provides 24-hour travel assistance services, which can help you with issues such as lost luggage, legal or medical emergencies, and more.

Click here to check if you’re pre-approved with no risk to your credit score.

Please note that their terms and conditions might change periodically. It’s best to check their website for updated information.

Don’t Forget the First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit is an essential item for any solo traveler. They’re not only for Girl Scouts anymore—it’s important to have basic first aid like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and more.

Invest in A Good Portable Charger

Buy a portable charger that’s at least 10,000 mAh. It’s also important to consider the weight; some of them are heavy and bulky. Choose one that’s lightweight but would still provide you with the power you need while you’re out for the day. Invest in a 20,000 mAh if you’re going somewhere remote.

Look for Multi-Purpose Travel Gadgets

People are constantly innovating—there are a lot of travel gadgets and accessories now with multiple functions. For example, there are travel blankets that can also act as a pillow, and power banks with built-in flashlights, among others.

Double-Check Before You Go

This one’s a no-brainer. You need to double-check everything before you go—this includes your solo travel packing list, flight details, activities, and more. And with your list, you can catch any overlooked items.

Leave Extra Space

Leaving extra space in your luggage is a smart strategy to accommodate any souvenirs or additional items you might buy during your trip. You wouldn’t want to get stressed out trying to fit everything in your luggage on the way back. Relax, and just pack whatever you think you’ll use.

I hope this solo travel packing list and tips will help you prepare for your journey. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them! Please use my contact form or email hello@ampersart.com.

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