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Packing Tips for Catholic Travelers: What to Take and What to Leave at Home

Travel can be exciting, rewarding and just plain fun (don’t mention educational to your kids, if you are taking them along). In order to get the most out of your travels we suggest that you spend time doing a bit of research.

The first choice (if you haven’t already made it) is whether to travel independently or with an organized tour group. But even if you travel in a group with most things planned out for you, it is still useful to do some research. There may be opportunities to break away from the group and see some things not on the itinerary.

It is often the unexpected that becomes one of your favorite memories of your travels, so don’t limit yourself.  Once you have a destination in mind, consider the many options available and how they will best serve your interests. Time spent planning will pay off in a better travel experience. There are certain things to look for and some pitfalls that can be avoided with a little advance knowledge.

Grabbing some maps and guide books can almost be as much fun as the trip itself as you plan where you want to visit and what you want to see when you are there. Although you can find a great deal of information on the internet, sometimes it is nice to have something in your hands….and you can take the books with you.

Also, prepare in advance for the possibility of lost luggage.

A useful suggestion is to take older clothing items that you can discard as you go along. This will leave extra room in your suitcase for items you purchase during the trip.

And if you are getting clothes laundered at the cleaners before leaving, we suggest you get them folded rather than on hangers. In most cases, they travel better that way with fewer wrinkles.  O, consider buying disposable underwear that you can leave behind as you travel.

What to leave at home: an old adage says to Lay out everything you plan to take, then cut it in half! You’ll be glad that you did. We cannot say it too often that most people tend to over-pack. Another suggestion that is hard to do: try to leave your portable electronic devices at home, especially if you are going on a pilgrimage. We are so plugged-in to everything anymore that most of us tend to forget how we got along before cell phones, etc. Try it for a while—you might have withdrawal pains at first but after that it can be very liberating. And, as hard to believe as this might be, the world will actually get along without you for a week or two!

Here are some suggestions. Not everything on this list will be applicable to you, so just choose the ones you think are absolutely necessary.

Camera, film (if not a digital camera), batteries. (place in carry-on, film can be damaged in checked luggage).

Chewing gum–to prevent uncomfortable ear pressure during take off and landing.

Ear-Planes to prevent painful pressure when traveling with a cold or sinus condition.

Ear-plugs to keep out noise and ensure a good night’s sleep.

Compression socks are highly recommended to help with circulation during long flights.Sweater for the flight, socks or house shoes to keep your feet warm.  Airplanes can get cold, especially on long flights.

Appropriate electrical converter and plug adapter, if you plan on using any electrical devices abroad.

Collapsible umbrella

Baggies of various sizes


Laundry Bag

Money belt.

Backpack or fanny pack

Thermal underwear (if necessary)

Sunscreen & Sun visor or brimmed hat (sunny days??) Sunglasses

Flashlight with batteries (nighttime walks)

Washcloths (if you use them)

Band-aids, Sanitized hand-wipes

Buy “sample size” toiletries, they take up less room and weigh less. (3 ounces or less may be packed in quart size bag in carry-on) or pack in checked luggage (put in plastic bag to avoid leakage).

Artificial sweeteners, Coffee Mate (if you use them). Not readily available in most countries.

Small bills or local currency for church offerings.  Check out our currency page.

Raincoat or poncho.

Travel alarm clock. (Hotels usually will provide wake-up service on request but they are not always reliable).

Pack a collapsible, lightweight tote bag in your luggage. It may come in handy for those last minute purchases you plan to bring home.

Bible or other reading materials.

Rosary:  A wooden rosary rather than metal will help get your through security a bit faster.


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