Deciding what items to bring during an overnight stay depends on the type of travel and destination. For instance, packing for a short beach stay, overnight camping, a sleepover at a friend’s house or an out-of-town business meeting each requires different items. Whatever the travel purpose, it is best to pack light while still making sure you have the essentials.
An ideal overnight bag must be flexible and reliable. A bag with secure yet easily accessible pockets also makes it convenient for you to store travel documents and access often-used items. Depending on your more specific needs, a good overnight bag can be a duffel, small piece of luggage, beach bag, folding bag or backpack. Take into account any requirements or restrictions, such as having to comply with an airline baggage size limit or fitting it a locker, or durability needs, such as for a hiking trip.
If traveling internationally, you need your passport. You can use your cellphone, laptop or another storage device for encrypted (password-protected) copies of your travel documents -- including your passport, e-tickets or paper tickets, passport photos, health insurance, driver’s license and other ID -- and a list of phone numbers for your hotels or hosts or for lost credit cards and health insurance information. Emailing copies to yourself serves as a good backup. You may also prefer having photocopies with you for the most important documents you might need. A physical map of your destination is helpful even if you are bringing a GPS unit, to avoid problems with a low battery.
Clothes, Toiletries and Sleeping Items
Bring more clothes than you typically need overnight in case your clothes are stained or you need an extra shirt to play basketball with old pals. Pack basic toiletries in small containers, and store them in a bag to protect the other items you have packed. Consider also bringing your own pillow.
Snacks, Electronics and Emergency Items
Food items like nutrition bars, chips, sandwiches, fruits, cheese and bottled water or canned drinks are handy during travel. Be sure they are portable, properly packed and do not spoil easily. For your gadgets, always bring your chargers and extra batteries, especially for your cellphone and GPS unit. Bring prescribed and over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers or antacids. Have a watch, flashlight, all-purpose knife and first aid kit with you. Extra pairs of glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses may also come in handy.