I used to travel between the Netherlands and Germany at least once a month and pretty quickly I grew tired of forgetting things. That’s why I made a list (in bold, comments added) with the things that I should take or at least consider taking. Whenever I pack my bag, I quickly scan the list and make sure I’ve covered the bases. Maybe it’ll be helpful to you as well.
This and clothes go into a Patagonia MLC bag.
Take knife off keychain
I’ve forgotten to do this more than a couple of times. What makes it weirder still is that TXL/SXF will allow me to fly out with a Swiss army knife but most other airports will not allow me to fly back with one.
These are things that are irreplaceable and without which a trip usually cannot happen.
Obvious. Macbook Pro 13″.
- Power cable
Without this the laptop is pretty worthless. Replacements if you can find them in a local store are upwards of €100.
Without this traveling isn’t really possible.
- Boarding cards / tickets
You could get these from the airport but I print out everything I can at home.
At some point it becomes silly to buy new sunblock at every sunny destination.
- Toothbrush, paste
Sometimes I don’t bother to bring any and buy them at the destination airport but it’s more reliable to pack. Often I also take the head of my electric tooth brush.
I put this on there after I once needed it and paid €11 for a stick at ZRH.
- Assorted other toiletries
This is a pain with only a carry-on. I try to usually depend as much as possible on what is available at my destination.
These are particularly essential for the Netherlands where you need to bring a card to be able to prove your identity to the various transit systems around.
- Foreign SIM
Often this means just my Dutch T-Mobile SIM. I often have SIMs for destinations outside of Europe but those are so short lived that they aren’t reusable.
- Foreign money / transit cards
I have ziploc bags per country with the currency leftovers as well as any transit card (Oyster, Suica) or SIM that may still be usable.
- Power converters
The US and the UK account for most of my trips where these are necessary. I put these in the ziploc bags with the currency.
I used to need one of these to do the SIM swap. Now I have an Apple SIM pin in the box with all my SIM cards.
Keys to my parents place in the Netherlands or any other home/office at the destination.
- Small backpack
The MLC isn’t very practical to haul around town. I have a tiny Bach day pack that is super basic but fits everything you could need during a day.
I usually don’t bother taking this because of weight and bulk, but it is useful for longer trips.
- VGA dongle
Trips usually involve some kind of public speaking and as a speaker you should be self-sufficient. Don’t leave this at the venue where you’re speaking.
I need to carry some quality pens with me. I usually have a four color box of Staedtler fineliners and a couple of Japanese gel pens.
- Index cards
Always useful but don’t bring too many because paper is heavy.
- Business cards
Trips are usually for business and people appreciate a nicely designed business card.
- Headphones with microphone
The standard Apple ones will do for most calls.
- Noise cancelling headphones
You need headphones with some noise cancelling effect for during flights. I used to travel with my Sony MDR-7506. They are bulky but if you fly an easyJet to Berlin with those on your head, everybody thinks you’re a DJ. Now I prefer to take my Sennheiser CX-300 II in-ears.
Bring if the destination is hot.
- Running shoes, pants
Nice to be able to do some sports while traveling.
- Swimming trunks
Always bring these.
I always take my Moscot Lemtosh with me.
- Hiking shoes
Whether to bring my decade old pair of Meindls is heavily dependent on the type of trip and the environment.
- Climbing shoes
If there are climbing halls nearby, I’ll take these instead of/in addition to running shoes.
Things to check at home
- Washing machine faucet shut
- Gas turned off
- Lock door
- Fridge empty, leave door open