Category: Travel hacks & tips
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Updated

9 Must Have Items for the Best Vacation Packing List [2023]

#6 on the list is a fun one!
A woman stands in an airport with her suitcase.


A version of this article currently is my most well-liked and commented-on article on Medium. Due to its popularity, I knew it was time I delivered to my readers the ULTIMATE and BEST list of things to pack for any vacation in 2023!

For some people, packing is one of the stressful episodes in preparation for an overdue vacation. The primary reason why is not knowing what to bring with you This is where I'm here to help!

For starters, here are things you straight-up can't afford to not bring...

  • Credit/debit cards and/or cash
  • Driver's license/state ID
  • Passport (if traveling abroad)
  • Boarding pass (if flying)
  • Smartphone
  • Plug-in phone charger
  • Daily meds (if applicable)

This next section includes 9 essential items I've learned to bring from experience. They may not be necessary but can easily end your trip being disastrous!

**All images in this article courtesy of Unsplash**


9 must-have items for the best vacation packing list...

01 // Extra-strength painkillers

Carrying some painkillers like Tylenol or Advil is one of the 9 must have items for the best vacation packing list.
I get headaches more than anything else on this list.

Headaches are the #1 ailment I've had to treat while traveling. Heck, when I was in Savannah, Georgia last weekend, I developed a headache in the afternoon and needed to treat it.

It's difficult to enjoy a safari, amusement park, city, or even a nice dinner with your head suddenly pounding. Carry a few extra strength tablets of whichever over-the-counter medication you're most comfortable taking in your pocket or bag so you can get back to enjoying your vacation!

As someone who loves flying, I can attest that people are more prone to get headaches on airplanes. Some reasons include: stress, dehydration, and air pressure imbalances. Having some painkillers on-hand will make your flight far more bearable.

02 // Pepto-Bismol

Pepto Bismol is great at treating stomachaches, in addition to many other ailments. Pepto Bismol is one of the 9 must have items for the best vacation packing list.
Stomachaches are no fun... especially on vacation!

Just this last weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, I discovered that I seemed to have developed a slight degree of lactose intolerance. I rarely drink cow's milk anymore and, instead, stick to soy or almond milk. At the complementary breakfast at our Hilton hotel, I had cow's milk with my cereal.

Two hours following the consumption of the cow's milk, I had the worst stomach ache of my life. Fortunately, I had Pepto Bismol in pill form in my bag. I treated the intense pain with four tablets of the medicine, in combination with drinking water and leaning back in a chair until the discomfort faded.

I share this cautionairy tale because of how unexpected it was! Like me, you may discover something new about your body when it comes to food and suddenly experience a nasty stomach ache, heartburn, or nausea. Pepto Bismol will clear all these up!

I carry this miracle medicine in pill form since it's easier to transport. If you hate swallowing pills, you can also get this stuff in chewable form.

03 // Digital or paper copies of all identifying documents

Paper copies of a passport and boarding pass.
Or why not both?

Our smartphones are so integral to modern travel. We can store boarding passes, tickets for events, and confirmation numbers on our phones. For hotels, we can even check-in, check-out, and get digital keys. Take a picture of your driver's license/ID and passport in the rare and unfortunate event you lose your wallet due to negligence or theft.

Speaking of storing copies, you may want to store digital copies of your credit cards on your phone too. Apple users can place digital copies of their payment instrument(s) on the Wallet app and Android users can perform the same function with Google Wallet.

If you're concerned about misplacing your phone, then I would suggest carrying paper copies. Heck, if you're really risk averse, you can keep digital and paper copies of your documents on hand.

04 // Portable phone charger

A portable phone charger is great to have on you.
So you never have to stop your travel photography!

As I mentioned earlier, travel in the 21st century is so reliant on our phones. From taking photos, uploading those photos to Instagram, storing our boarding passes, looking up addresses, calling Uber/Lyft, all these activities can deplete our batteries faster than we think!

Save yourself from having to stop inside a cafe to charge your phone and carry a portable charger on you in addition to the charger you plug into the wall. Portable phone chargers are not expensive and many decent models will run you under $40.

Just be sure you charge your portable charger the night before your trip! Otherwise, carrying this device would defeat the purpose.

05 // A swimsuit

People on a beach in swmisuits.
Even though I don't swim much, I still bring one!

This is the item I have forgotten to pack the most! I rarely visit tropical destinations or beaches but the hotels I stay in often have pools. After walking around outside on a hot day, a brief plunge in a swimming pool is a fun way to cool off and with no swimsuit, you can't do that!

06 // Contraception

A man and woman in bed together in their underwear.
Wishing it was me in that picture!

We don't beat around the bush here at Michael Visits All!

Vacation spots are prime settings to have some amazing sex! Whether you're single and hooking up with a local or a couple on a romantic retreat, getting laid is oftentimes part of the travel experience.

Since vacations allow us to take breaks from the concerns of everyday life, it's natural to throw caution to the wind on vacation. One context this arises is having unprotected sex.

Listen, I get that unprotected sex feels the best. My dudes, please... listen to me: wrap it up. Do you want a girl you hooked up with finding you on Instagram two months later and telling you she's pregnant? No.

My gals, unless you're on the pill or have an IUD, make your partners wrap it up.

As for couples, if you're looking to travel more and not in the mindset to start a family, a baby is going to suspend those plans for a few years.

I recommend Trojan Bareskin condoms. They're durable enough that they won't break and light enough so you can feel more. The sensation is fairly close to doing the deed unprotected.

07 // Extra socks & underwear

People sitting down with their colorful socks clearly visible.
Though not me in the picture, colorful socks are a staple of my wardrobe anywhere I go!

It's common we walk far more on vacation than we do at home. This means we may sweat more than we think we will. After a day of walking around a city or hiking, dining at a restaurant in extra-sweaty socks and drawers makes us feel gross.

To avoid this problem, I advise you bring a few extra pairs of socks and underwear.

08 // Pens

A collection of pens.
For signing receipts on the go!

After an amazing meal in a busy downtown restaurant, a waitor will hand you the check and unknowingly a pen whose ink is all dried up. To save yourself time, it's handy to carry a couple pens on in your bag so you can sign and go!

Most times you use a credit card to pay for things such as event passes, you'll have to sign. While it's likely the clerk will have some spare pens, I still suggest having a few of your own in your bag so you can be on your way!

09 // A water bottle

A man filling his water bottle.
Stay hydrated!

Due to all the additional walking and movement on your trip, you need to stay hydrated. Hydration will up your chances of developing a headache and, in the event you get a stomach ache from something you eat, water will help treat the ailment.

If you fly, you'll have to purchase a water bottle after going through security since you are not allowed to bring bottles with liquid in them through airport security. Alternatively, you can purchase a refillable water bottle (be sure it's empty when you go through security) and fill up for free at a drinking fountain.

You never know when you'll be thirsty on your trip. Being unable to quench your thirst can be irritating-- especially if you're out in the wilderness! Carry some water on you at all times.


The thing I like most about these 9 must-have items is that none of them will take up much space in your suitcase or bag at all! Such little items will save you from big problems!

I hope you enjoyed my list of the 9 must-have items for the best vacation packing list in 2022! As the years progress, I'll update this list if need be!

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