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Packing for an International Trip

While planning my trip to the United Kingdom to visit my friends, I've been compiling a list of must-haves while travelling on an international flight.

I'm a sucker for luggage with cute patterns!

A lot of this post will be similar to my article on packing for a domestic trip, which I wrote back in June prior to my trip to Edmonton, Alberta. Shortly before I even went on my trip to Edmonton, I experienced a mixture of suddenly cheap airfare to Manchester (I'll be flying with Icelandair) + a drop in the British pound + a reminder of how much I wanted to visit my friend Amy in England + the anxiety (not even an exaggeration) of not having a trip to look for after I returned from my cross-Canada adventure. This resulted in my slightly impulsive booking for a ticket to England, where I'll be staying with my friends for the duration of the trip.

It'll be my first time in the U.K. and I could not be any more excited to have a taste of English culture.

It has been more or less since I've booked the flight, that I have been compiling a list of must-haves for my international travel. I've done this several times already, so I've kind of gotten the hang of it, but I still have an unfortunate problem of over-packing and figuring out a way to condense my wardrobe into just a personal item, a carry-on bag, and a single luggage; in fact, as I mentioned in my post on domestic travel, I'm notorious for going over the weight limit. This will be my first European trip where I refuse to pay $300+ in overweight baggage charges. Again, I've limited the number of things that I'm allowing myself to bring by making a list that I cannot exceed.

That being said, this task will be quite a bit more difficult from my summer excursion, as cool to cold weather travelling means slightly heavier clothing, a need for jackets, and warmer pyjamas; it's a lot more material taking up space in your luggage. Accessories and makeup can be kept to a minimum.

I figure the gifts that I'm bringing along with me will roughly be about the weight of souvenirs that I'll be bringing back with me, so hopefully that evens itself out. It's not impossible!

If I could do it with my domestic travel, I'm determined to do it again now for this flight to England!

**Remember, you can find FREE downloadable templates for my domestic packing list by clicking here**

Personal Item

Icelandair's size regulation: "small personal item, such as small hand bag or laptop"

Maximum weight allowed: Unspecified

My weigh-in: N/A

Your personal item is typically a purse or a bag, but I've found that the ideal personal item is a backpack or giant purse. Because Icelandair has been so specific with what constitutes a "small" personal item, I figured going too much larger than that wasn't a risk that I was willing to take. Generally, I prefer using my backpack because it has a padded section for my laptop, which I prefer to keep on me (so I can be sure that it doesn't get crushed or banged around), as well as adding in a few other items. I've opted to bring this again, but to not pack it full with as many things as possible. These are the only things I'll be packing in my bag:

  • Laptop and external hard drive. Necessary to upload my many photos taken during this trip. The external hard drive is crucial to move the photos onto, so that my (pretty old) laptop doesn't lag too much.

  • Your wallet with ID in it. Especially your driver’s licence, health card, and student ID if you have one.

  • Also keep any cash, debit, and credit cards in the wallet. You want to have this on you in case you need to buy anything at the airport, and especially want to keep on your person in case your luggage gets lost.

  • Plane tickets (to and from your destination). This is a given, no?

  • Passport. No explanation needed.

  • Your cell phone, as well as your phone's charger. You may want to charge your phone either on the plane or in the airport, and you can kill time on the fight by playing games on it. Also, perhaps more importantly (ha ha), someone important may try to get in touch with you while you're in the airport, either before you take off, or once you've landed.

  • iPod and headphones/earbuds. I don't think I could get through a flight without my iPod. Especially a trip that's going to exceed 7 hours.

  • Sunglasses and case. It's always good to keep a pair of sunglasses in your personal item, in case you're not in a window seat and the person beside you wants to keep their window's blinds wide open.

  • Lip balm. For one, you don't want it to melt or get gross in your luggage. Also, it's just important to keep lip balm on you, so you can moisturize your lips as needed...that should be at least once or twice during your flight, if not more; airplanes can get pretty dry and no one wants crusty lips.

  • Electric outlet convertor. Just in case my Canadian plugs don't work on the plane.


Carry-On Item

Icelandair's size regulation: 115 cm/45 in (total for length, width, and height)

Maximum weight allowed: 10 kgs/22 lbs

My weigh-in: 10.6 lbs

When I flew to Paris last October, there were very strict weight guidelines for my carry-on, so I had to be careful in packing for that. Turns out that Icelandair has some strict guidelines as well, so it's a good thing that I had some practice last autumn. This means I can put some of my heavier non-liquid items in my carry-on with me. Though I listed my camera as being in my luggage (as you'll see in the subsequent section), I will try to often fut it into my carry on, due to its weight. Your carry-on should also include any essentials that you didn't pack in your personal item.

Be sure to include:

  • All your medication. Like I mentioned before, if your luggage gets lost in transit, it's super important that you have your prescription medication with you in your carry-on, so that you don't go without. Bring them in their original bottles, so that security can cross-check what the medication is with the bottle itself

  • Glasses and case. When my contacts aren't in, I would be pretty much blind without my glasses on. Forgetting these would be an absolute disaster.

  • Pair of sunglasses. I keep them in my carry-on so that they don't get crushed in my suitcase.

  • Toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste. In case I need to freshen up while on the plane/getting off of the plane. My plan is to buy a full tube of toothpaste once I arrive in Edmonton, or to share my cousins'.

  • Deodorant. Is this not a given? I really hope that it is. I need to keep this on me in case I feel the need to reapply, because there is nothing worse than smelling other people's BO in a tight, confined area that only uses recycled air...that is, nothing worse than being the cause of the smell.

  • If needed, some feminine hygiene products. I use the DivaCup, which when not in use, is in it's little pouch in my purse at all times (just in case of emergency). You should also pack some panty liners as well, to be safe.

  • Hair brush. In case of unkempt plane hair, the nearly unavoidable result of passing out of fatigue during the flight. Because my flight leaves at 6.30am and I'll be at the airport by 4:30am...I'll have to be awake by 3:30 in the morning and will definitely not be able to stay awake for the duration of my 4 hour flight.

  • Hair ties. Can be easily stashed in your carry on and takes up very little space. It can help controlling the catastrophe of sleepy plane hair, but also is necessary for the duration of the trip. There's no way my hair is staying down for my entire vacation.



Icelandair's size regulation (maximum linear dimensions): 158cm, calculated by adding together its

greatest outside height, width and length – wheels and handles included

Maximum weight allowed: 23kg/50lbs

My weigh-in: 30.4 lbs

  • Empty purse. I try to fold it up as much as possible (on top of collapsing it). I only bring one purse with me on my trips, and try to make it take up as little space as possible in my luggage. The contents of my purse will all be in my in-flight personal item.

  • Camera. Would I be able to go on any trip without my camera? The answer is a definite "no".

  • Camera case. To hold my camera and protect it, of course. I'll be putting the camera as well as all of its accessories in the case to save as much luggage space as possible.

  • Camera batteries and battery charger. 100% a necessity, if I plan on turning my camera on.

  • Camera lenses and lens hood. Depending on what I'm photographing, I like to be able to switch between my lenses. Also, the lens hood is important in case it decides to rain.

  • Extra memory cards for camera. I may not always be able to get my pictures and video on my laptop straight away, so it's good to have back-up memory cards to continually capture my trip.

  • eReader (or 2 books). I like to read before bed, and might want to read on my flight back home, since it will be in the evening. About two average-sized novels (or maybe one longer novel) should be good enough to last the three week trip.

  • Hand sanitizer (refill bottle before leaving). Maybe it's the fact that I've spent the vast majority of my time downtown and taking public transit, but I couldn't go anywhere without my hand sanitizer.

  • Hand cream. Of course it's stressful that you can't keep a big tub of lotion in your carry on due to restrictions on liquid, but at least it'll be waiting for you in your luggage when you land. It might be wise to bring just enough lotion to last the duration of your trip, so that you don't feel so bad about leaving it behind when you go back home (thus emptying up space and weight from your return flight's luggage)

  • Cards Against Humanity. I feel the need to bring this game everywhere because it's hilarious and so much fun to play. Maybe that makes me a bad person (it probably does). You can buy it or download it for free by clicking here.

  • Contacts and solution. Since I preferably like to wear contact -- they don't fall off your face, can't get broken while you're gallivanting about the town, make you look better, etc. -- remembering to pack these is crucial.

  • Makeup. As I mentioned in a previous post on my everyday makeup routine, I don't use that much makeup. This is easily stashed in the center of my luggage, so as not to be effected (potentially) by the fluctuating temperature changes of being at such a high altitude.

  • Makeup removing wipes. I often switch between using baby wipes and feeling like I'm scrubbing my eyes off, and proper makeup removing wipes, which make the whole thing a lot easier. I've decided to just pack the proper ones to avoid the hassle and make sure that everything is cleaned off of my face before I go to bed.

  • DivaCup wash. As I mentioned before, I use the DivaCup instead of pads or tampons because it's easy to use, lasts up to 12 hours, is cost-efficient, and most importantly, because it's environmentally friendly. With the DivaCup however, it's important to make sure you use the proper soap to clean it/ Though there are other products that I can use, I just use the DivaCup brand to wash mine in between each use.

  • Bobby pins. Sometimes necessary. Even though I'll probably lose some, if not all, of them by the end of my trip.

  • Body mist/perfume. I'm still obsessed with using the Vitabath grapefruit vanilla mist that I get for only $10 at Shoppers Drug Mart. People are always telling me how nice I smell, so I make sure to always stay well stocked with the product.

  • Razor. Do not want there to be Bigfoot sightings in Edmonton that coincide with my visit.

  • Jewelry. I have some jewelry that I use near-daily. I go between two chokers and my silver heart locket that I've had since I was five, four Pandora rings that one of my best friends bought me for Christmas, a Pandora charm bracelet he got me for Valentine's Day, and a little thin infinity ring my mom got me for my birthday last year. I also have several watches that I like to switch between, my three favourites being this Michael Kors one (it's been discontinued on their actual website and isn't available on Amazon), this Kate Spade one, and this Anne Klein one (I'll be bringing the three with me).

  • Clothing. A given, obviously. Here is a list of what I'm planning on bringing (my winter coat I'll be wearing into the airport). I really tried for minimalist packing here.

    • 2 long-sleeved shirts

    • 1 blouse

    • 1 sweater

    • 2 camisoles (white and black)

    • 1 pair of jeans

    • 2 skirts

    • 4 dresses

    • 3 pairs of leggings

    • 3 pairs of tights

    • 10 pairs underwear

    • 10 pairs ankle socks

    • 3 pairs higher socks

    • 2 pairs of pajamas

    • Shoes: Running shoes, flats, boots (one of which I'll be wearing to the airport)


Everything packed up nicely in my main luggage, ready to go.

And there you have it -- I'm all packed up and ready to go this Sunday, and waaaay under the designated weight limit! It's like I get better at this packing thing with each trip I take. I better keep practising. ;-)

What are your packing musts while travelling international? Let me know in the comments!



*Originally posted on Emulating Emily


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