The Best Vacation Packing List You'll Come Across—for Every Type of Romantic Getaway

Find out what The Knot's travel editor packs in her carry-on bag.
woman carry on luggage vacation packing list as she makes her way to taxi
Getty | Design by Tiana Crispino
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Deputy Editor
  • Esther is the Deputy Editor of The Knot. She currently leads all content on The Knot Wellness, focusing on financial, relationship, and mental wellbeing.
  • She oversees The Knot's travel vertical (honeymoons, destination weddings, bach parties), as well as overarching features and trends.
  • She proudly serves on the Advisory Council of VOW For Girls, focusing on ending the injustice of child marriage around the world.
Updated Apr 30, 2023
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Pulling together a comprehensive vacation packing list is challenging enough as it is, but imagine preparing for prewedding and postwedding events (like the honeymoon or a destination bach party)—I can hear your sighs already. It's why I consulted Craig Zapatka, the co-founder of travel-planning company Elsewhere to combine his best tips with mine (of course) for a travel packing list that's fail-proof and a repeat resource for everything from engagement to anniversary trips.

There's a specific art to the packing list as each traveler and vacation scenario comes with unique needs. "Everyone does it a little bit differently," Zapatka affirms. "I feel like the packing list is such a funny thing, there should be a Seinfeld episode about it." To avoid the dilemma of over- and under-packing–something you've likely witnessed with a friend or a ​​fiancé–the art of the vacation packing list comes into play. "The best thing to do is first create three buckets of all your things," Zapatka says, identifying these categories as the essentials or must-haves, the need-to-haves, and the nice-to-haves.

"First, my essentials are in one bucket: that includes my chargers, underwear, socks, sunglasses and sunscreen. The things that are gonna keep me alive, including a water bottle and my passport," says Zapatka. "And then I go into the need-to-haves: if it's warm, that includes shorts, a swimsuit and T-shirts. My third bucket is the things that are the nice-to-haves that I'll throw in there, like a hairbrush and other little items like that. I typically find that only buckets one and two really make it."

In This Article:

Vacation Packing List Essentials

Some folks believe in carry-on luggage only (like this editor) while others prefer to check bags with a well-prepared tote to bring on board. The essentials of the vacation packing list are items you'd typically use repeatedly across trips. "I like to think of the essentials (the must-haves) as what I use on a daily basis," Zapatka explains. "It's almost a scientific approach: I plug my [tech items] in so I need my chargers. I put on sunscreen before I go out. I brush my teeth every night. That's everything that I need." Once you've nailed this formula down, consider it your skeletal travel checklist.

pill prescription box for travel vacation packing list
Port and Polish
  • Passport or ID Holder
  • Credit Card Holder

  • Prescription Medicine Case

  • Packing Cubes

  • Sunscreen

  • Breathable Laundry Bag

  • Detergent

  • A Self-Cleaning Water Bottle

  • Baseball Cap

  • A Warm Wrap

Technology Essentials

  • Tech Cord Bag

  • Travel Converter

  • Wireless Charger Tray

Toiletry Essentials

mark and graham clear pouch for tsa travel
Mark and Graham
  • Hanging Toiletry Bag

  • Clear Pouch for Toiletries

What to Pack for an Engagement Proposal Trip

A proposal moment during a romantic getaway means a fail-proof packing list is essential for pulling it off impeccably. If you're proposing, you'll want to document the experience and conceal the ring in a clever way. (A well-padded decoy does the trick or read on for more tips.) If you think your significant other is proposing, well, come ready with your cutest outfits and brightest smile.

lavender capsules for travel pills creams and all things including engagement rings
Cadence Capsules
  • Waterproof Camera

  • Inconspicuous Storage Capsules

What to Pack for a Destination Bach Party

Party's here. If you're heading out for a destination bachelorette or bachelor party, the best way to be prepared is with a bulk supply of certain items (sunscreen for day pool or beach parties, toiletry items in case the others forgot, and recovery goods to combat hangovers and skincare). Not to forget: a cute bag that's hard to lose, as well as fun pair of shades, will do the trick.

  • Electrolyte Packets

  • Sunscreen

  • Spray Deodorant

  • Fanny Pack

  • Sunglasses

  • Mini Hair Straightener

  • Sheet Masks

What to Pack for a Honeymoon

The honeymoon is one of those trips where you'll want to be prepared to simply relax and unwind. It's why this list will come in especially handy, in addition to our full honeymoon packing list.

sun bum aftercare cool down
Sun Bum
  • Portable & Waterproof Speaker
  • Jewelry Holder
  • Aftersun Care
  • Kindle or Portable e-Reader
  • Massage Oil Pods
  • A Honeymoon Journal

What to Pack for an Anniversary Trip

Happy Anniversary. Since you're taking a trip with your spouse, you'll want to document the special moments ahead in style and with ease. Along with essentials, this vacation packing list should be slightly more elevated than your usual romantic weekend getaway, especially if you plan to stay at a resort.

  • Travel Journal

  • Backpack

What to Pack for a Beach Vacation

A beach vacation comes with glorious benefits, but finding the exact items to ward off the elements with preparation requires some planning. Not to worry though—purchase our picks below for a stylish and consistently pleasant dose of surf, sand and sun.

ll bean bote and tote
L.L. Bean
  • Canvas Beach Tote

  • Wide-Brimmed Hat

What to Pack for a Cruise

Before you embark on a cruise, you'll want to be ready for the high seas. A cruise packing list obviously includes Dramamine, but there are plenty of other items to consider as you bask in the oceanic breeze.

  • Motion Sickness Medicine

  • Nightlight for the Cabin

What to Pack for a Safari

Arguably the toughest trip to prep for, a safari vacation packing list requires meticulous planning and minimalism. The standard rule for safari is that all items must fit into a soft luggage duffel bag that falls under a certain weight limit. In other words, light linens, sweat-wicking pieces, and functional clothing are encouraged.

  • A Sturdy Duffel Bag

  • Wide Bucket Hat

  • Functional Safari Vest

What to Pack for an Urban Adventure

Heading into a big city or any type of adventure means you'll want to be prepared for the unexpected—in style and comfort. The following picks were vetted by a New Yorker who knows exactly what it takes to thrive in just about any concrete jungle.

  • Shoe Inserts

  • Windbreaker

  • Apple Watch

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