Traveling can be stressful, especially if it is your first time! If you have never been on an airplane before, it might be tricky figuring out your packing situation. There are so many things all first time travelers forget!
It is easy to get caught up in all the factors that traveling brings: packing the family’s bags, checking into your flight, making sure the dog gets to the kennel, keeping the kids occupied, and the list goes on and on!
There are so many things you need to do, important things can easily slip your mind.
We want you to have a stress free and enjoyable vacation, so this list will help remind you of important things you might need to pack, that you otherwise would have forgotten!
Some things all first time travelers forget are specific tasks you should always do before leaving for your vacation. Others are items you definitely should pack!
For a more in-depth packing list, refer to our ultimate packing checklist for any vacation, so you don’t forget a thing!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Things all First Time Travelers Forget to Pack
In the first section of this post, we will discuss things all first time travelers forget to pack. This list will refrain from discussing obvious items like clothes and your toothbrush because you already know that!
Instead, we will focus on items you might not typically think to bring on vacation but will be extremely helpful during your travels.
One thing I see a lot of travelers forgetting to pack is a collapsible water bottle. Because typical reusable water bottles are bulky, I recommend getting a foldable one, so you can easily pack it in your carry on bag or day bag.
Having a collapsible water bottle will save you a ton of money on your trip. Instead of buying overpriced water from the airport terminal, simply fill yours up at the drinking fountain and save 5 bucks!
When walking around sightseeing, fill your water bottle up at the hotel prior to going out for the day. If you ever come across a drinking fountain, stop and fill up! Additionally, use the free tap water from restaurants to fill your bottle up before leaving.
Staying hydrated is extremely important while traveling, especially because you are typically walking a lot and spending time in the hot sun!
For more ways to save money, check out our budget travel hacks to save you hundreds!
This is one of the most overlooked items that travelers forget to pack, or even buy! This portable charging bank has been a huge lifesaver for us during our travels. There have been times we were lost at night time with 2 dead phones- and our charging bank came to the rescue!
When traveling, you will use up a lot of your battery taking pictures, getting direction, and searching on your phone. Don’t get caught with a dead phone right before that iconic picture you wanted to take!
We suggest carrying this charging bank in your day bag or purse while out sightseeing for the day. You can even keep it in your bag during everyday life as a backup. You never know when you might need it!
For more items to carry with you during your travels, check out our guide of how to pack a vacation day bag!
Bring a Pen
More things all first time travelers forget to pack is writing utensils. This tip is geared towards those passengers on international flights, though having a pen in your bag can always come in handy!
Towards the end of your international flight, the flight crew will pass out immigration forms. You must fill these out for customs, so it is a good idea to get a head start while on the plane doing nothing!
However, the flight crew does not pass out pens, so you will need to use your own or hope your neighbor will share. If not, you will have to wait until you land.
The problem with this is that while you are filling out your immigration forms, mass amounts of people are getting ahead of you in the customs line. You can save yourself an hour of time, just from having a silly pen with you!
This is something most people don’t think about when traveling, but it can be a huge time saver and will relieve some of your stress. Here are some more travel hacks to help you out!
Having a travel plug power adapter is extremely important when traveling to different countries. Before traveling, make sure to research what kind of power adapter the country uses, so you can buy the correct adapter!
This is one of those things all first time travelers forget because when you are going somewhere amazing for the first time, you probably aren’t thinking about the outlets!
The good news is, they are super cheap. This 3 pack is only about $10 on Amazon, making it very affordable. However, if you wait to buy one once you are there, you might have to spend $10 on just one. So, be prepared, and buy them in advance!
Another item on our list of things all first time travelers forget is headphones! This one might seem obvious, but your trip can be really altered without them.
If you’ve ever forgotten headphones on an airplane, you know what I mean. Especially nowadays where many planes have screens on the back of each seat. If you forget your headphones, most flights don’t give you a pair!
You will be left trying to get a peek of your neighbors movie, and you will be forced to play 100 levels of Angry Birds to keep yourself occupied.
Additionally, check your airline to see what kind of headphone jack is on the plane- if you bring the wrong kind, you are out of luck too! You can always bring an adapter if you have one!
If you are left with no way to watch the airplane movie, here are some other ways to kill time on a flight!
So you’ve checked the forecast for your trip, and looks like all sunshine! You won’t need an umbrella, right?
Well, maybe. Depending on your destination, the weather can be quite unpredictable. Think of random Florida or Caribbean rainstorms, or the occasional drizzle in France. It definitely does not hurt to have one of these mini umbrellas in your day bag!
Even if it doesn’t end up raining, your skin will thank you for having one! Think about it- maybe you are standing in a line in the hot summer sun, just waiting and burning your skin. Ouch. Pull out your umbrella and save your skin!
Or, maybe you are at the beach and need a little shade to cool off. If you are anything like me, you burn easily. An umbrella is an easy way to get protection from the sun!
You made it to your summer destination, and immediately put that brand new bathing suit on you’ve been waiting to wear. You get your flip flops, sunscreen, sunglasses, towel, water bottle, phone, snacks, radio, and floppy hat out and you’re ready to go!
Wait a minute. How are you going to carry all this to the beach or pool?! A beach bag is something many travelers forget to pack, even on beach vacations! It seems silly, but it really is something travelers forget to think about!
You don’t want to end up trying to find a plastic bag to hold your stuff in, or using your carry on bag! Get a cute beach bag that is sand and waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about losing your stuff!
Don’t forget these items for what to bring on a beach day!
Things all First Time Travelers Forget to Do
Not only do first time travelers forget to pack certain items, but they forget to do many things before leaving!
There are many things to remember before going on a trip, that it is expected you might forget a thing or two. We don’t want that to happen, though! This list will remind you of what to do before you leave for a vacation so you don’t add on any extra stress!
Read more about this in our ultimate pre travel checklist!
Pay your bills!
When your exciting vacation is quickly approaching, it is understandable why you might forget about your bills. However, this could cause a huge problem if you forget to account for them ahead of time!
Think about it- you’re laying on the beach with a cold drink in your hand, then it dawns on you: I forgot to pay my car bill!
Talk about a mood killer! If you don’t have your bills on auto payment already, this might be a good time to do that. If not, make sure you pay them early so you don’t have to worry about it!
However, maybe money is an issue, and you need to wait to pay your bill until you get your paycheck. If this is the case, set a reminder on your phone, preferably in the morning when you will be in the hotel room anyway, so you don’t forget and run into late fees!
If you are anything like me, you know how quickly your house can get messy when you are trying to pack and prepare for a vacation. Bits and pieces of things are all over, on top of the daily chores.
Try to clean your home before going on vacation. Even if you are running late and don’t have much time, at LEAST take the garbage out and do the dishes.
You will not want to come home from a relaxing trip to the smell of something rotting in your garbage or sink! Put the trash by the door so you don’t forget on your way out!
It is also a good idea to do a deep clean of your home if you have the time. Wash your sheets so you can come home to a fresh and clean bed. Vacuum, dust, and clean up the bathroom. When you come home from your trip, you will feel much better about being home if it is clean!
Plus, you definitely won’t want to do any chores when you get home from vacation, so think of your future self and clean before you leave!
Check in online
It always surprises me how many travelers I see using the check-in machines at the airport. Then I remember, this might not be something new travelers think about!
Typically around 24-48 hours before your flight (sometimes earlier), you will receive an email reminding you to check into your flight. By doing this online ahead of time, you will save yourself the stress of needing to think about it the day of.
Checking in early will give you better chances of getting airplane seats together with your partner or family. Additionally, some airlines make you pay to get paper copies at the airport, so you will save yourself some money too!
When you learn how early you can check-in, set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget when you are busy packing and getting everything ready!
Buy tickets/make reservations
This one is SO IMPORTANT.
If you are planning to go to any popular tourist attractions, restaurants, or museums, buy your tickets early!
Many travelers think, ‘I can just buy tickets at the door when we get there, no big deal’. While you can do this, prepare to stand in hour-long lines in the hot sun (especially in Europe!)
When we were in Europe, we were able to “cut” hundreds of people, simply because we had bought our ticket online in advance! This will save you potentially hours of your precious vacation time.
Additionally, make sure to buy your tickets way ahead of time. Think months ahead. Especially for popular places, reservations fill up quickly! Make your itinerary early, and confirm your plans knowing you have a ticket or reservation already.
Prepare your phone
If you aren’t traveling out of your country, or already have an international data plan, ignore this one!
If not, call or go to your phone service provider and see what options you have for international data plans. You won’t want to come home with any unexpected bills!
We have found it is cheaper to buy daily data plans rather than monthly. However, this is only up to about 10 days of travel. So, depending on how long you are traveling, the monthly plan might end up being cheaper.
Make sure one of your phones in your party has data, just in case you get lost and need to use the GPS or make a call!
Arrange airport parking
A surprisingly large amount of people still park directly at the airport, and I am always curious why. Parking at the airport is expensive. You can end up paying hundreds once you get back just for having your car sit there!
Check surrounding areas, as there are typically a handful of parking companies that offer parking and shuttle services for a fraction of the cost!
Additionally, consider parking at a nearby hotel. Book a night with them so you can use their parking lot, then use their free shuttle service to get to the airport!
You might also want to consider just taking an Uber if you are near the airport.
Without a plan in place, you might end up frantically trying to find a place to park your car, and no one wants to do that right before vacation!
The last thing on our list of things all first time travelers forget is to figure out your finances for the trip. If you are traveling in your own country, you won’t need to worry about this step.
If you are traveling internationally, think about how you will exchange your money, or use a card. It might be a good option to get an international credit card, as there won’t be any foreign transaction fees. Talk with your bank to see what options you have!
Additionally, make a plan for exchanging money. Are you going to exchange before you leave at your local bank, or wait until you get there? See what the exchange rates are and determine what the best deal is!
What to do when you get home from vacation
When you get home from vacation, you will most likely want to relax and get back into the swing of things. Consider reading our post travel checklist so you don’t forget anything!
Additionally, coming home from a vacation can make you feel unexpectedly sad. It is hard coming back from an amazing trip and having to get back to work and the daily grind! Read our guide on how to combat the post trip slump!