I think there are very few people who do not stress when packing their suitcase. I am doing quite well I must say, but I always manage to forget something. Now I can give you a list of what you should bring, but there is a list for every kind of trip. Each trip is different and that means you need to bring different things. But there are some things I always bring with me, they are essentials on my travel packing list:
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Well… you cannot go anywhere without your passport (or within the EU your ID card). And make sure you have your flight info with you, train tickets, car rental voucher, hotel booking confirmations, etc. It is not always necessary to print vouchers, just check when you make a booking.
WALLET/CREDIT CARD/CASH: make sure you have enough limit on your credit card and always bring some cash. You can change the money into local currency upon arrival or draw some cash from an ATM if available (and nowadays on most airports this is not a problem).
UNIVERSAL ADAPTER/PHONE CHARGER: Imagine not being able to charge your phone, tablet, laptop or batteries of your camera. A universal adaparter is a must. Nowadays you have chargers with USB plugs. For you camera you bring an extra battery (see also photography tips).
TOILETRIES: I have a little bag full of stuff in my suitcase (shampoo, in conditioner, etc.). But I always have my toothbrush in my hand luggage, as well as liquid for my contacts (I also bring my glasses, because many times the air onboard is so dry and I prefer to wear them instead of my contacts).
MEDICATION: if you are using medication, do not forget to bring enough for your trip and make sure you have a medical passport with you (sometimes an explanation from you doctor is needed as well).
WATER BOTTLE: Stay hydrated! I never buy water in plastic bottles anymore, unless I am at a destination where you simply cannot drink the tap water. But I always bring my own refillable water bottle with me. Even at airports, after customs I go somewhere to fill them. In some countries it is also ridiculelously expensive to buy bottled water, but more important is that most of the times you really do not have to! Nowadays you have refillable water bottles that you can fold. There are many bottles to choose from.
TRAVEL PILLOW: I have had various travel pillows. I love the ones with memory foam, I still have one with microbeads which is comfortable as well. But I went back to taking an inflatable one with me. It takes up less space when travelling! I also take a good sleep mask with me: a big one, to make sure no light is getting in 😉
EAR PLUGS: I cannot do without them! You might need them while travelling on the airplane. If you have a traveller companion with you who snores (and you share a room) for sure you will need them. Buy good ones!
GOOD SHOES AND CLOTHING: depending on the kind of trip you are making, wherever you go: bring good shoes and appropriate clothing. Bad shoes can definately ruin your holiday; especially if you want to go for a walk or hike. But hey… if you have a relaxing holiday on the beach: do not forget your flip flops. Being cold is also horrible, especially at night. So bring a jacket, coat or sweater and if you are staying at a fancy hotel, you will need to dress up (meaning: no shorts). I can name many examples; just think smart when packing. Read about your holiday destination, about the climate, etc. so you will know what you are likely to wear.
TOWEL: wherever I go, I always have a towel with me. In the old days I would have a big fluffy beach towel with, but this uses a lot of space in my suitcase. For beach holidays I use a hammam towel. They take up little space and dry quickly. Recently I bought a microfiber towel for my upcoming trip; they are super absorbent and hardly take up any space at all!
WATERPROOF BAGS: they come in all shapes and sizes. I am talking about the little ones for your mobile phone and/or tablet. I also have a capsule for small items like keys.
FIRST AID KIT: I am clumsey, so I cannot do without a first aid kit. I take band-aids, antibacterial cream or lotion, tweezers, etc. Of course the content of your first aid kit depends on your destination and the kind of trip you are going to make. But be prepared! In my first aid kit I also have simple medical supplies like something for diarrea, headache and ORS tablets.
TORCH: I carry a small one with me, no matter what kind of holiday I am having. When you go on a big adventure like a hiking trip or safari, bring a good one. But a small torch always comes in handy!
WASHING POWDER OR LIQUID: I also take some washing liquid with me in a small refillable bottle. Especially on round trips I use it for a quick wash or if I get an ugly stain somewhere.
SUNSCREEN: if you go on holiday where the sun is shining, you bring sunscreen. Even if I am not going on a typical beach holiday, I have some with me. Especially for my face. And in case I go somewhere really warm, I also wear a cap.
And I can keep on going, but above mentioned items I always have with me. Like I said: think smart about what to pack for your holiday, prepare well for your destination. Is it summer or winter, are you going to relax or will you go for a sporty adventure?! Are there any clothing rules, will I go to a party, etc.
In case you do know what to bring, but you have trouble getting it all in your suitcase or backpack… I came across this video on YouTube by Nifty; watching this one may help and they have some great other tips and tricks as well. I absolutely love these travel hacks!