If you’re new to traveling like a student going on spring break or school vacation, or if it’s your first time traveling on your own, there are a few basic things you should make sure to pack. In addition, however, some items are unwise to transport, which new travelers often forget to leave at home.
From avoiding bulky luggage and unnecessary weight to knowing what items are legal or not, here is what to pack and not pack for your spring break or school break trip. These are important tips to remember whether you are headed out on a spring break vacation to the beach or a Thanksgiving break trip to see family.
By the way, before we get to these travel packing tips, for anyone that is still conflicted on where to travel to for school and spring break vacation, the Discoverybit travel directory could get you started on finding great tourist attractions near you. Watch the video below to see how it works
And now that is out of the way, here are great packing tips for school break or spring break vacations.
Don’t Pack: Recreational Drugs
While most airlines and travel locations are OK with medication, if you self-medicate with cannabis or use any sort of recreational drugs, you may run into legal problems if you are charged with possession of drugs. Even if you are traveling, for example on a spring break, to a place that has a bit more leeway where drugs are concerned, it can be dangerous to travel with them.
Bringing any form of cannabis onto a plane is illegal. While weed is legal in California, the TSA will confiscate it, as it operates at the federal and not state level.
Even if you are driving to your spring break location, carrying any kind of recreational drugs can be dangerous, especially if you are going to an unfamiliar location. If you’re pulled over with an illegal substance in your vehicle, you could be charged with possession or even distribution.
If you do get in trouble for recreational drug use, be sure to contact a lawyer before talking to law enforcement. You do have rights, and you should avoid saying anything that may incriminate yourself.
Do Pack: Prescription and Pain Medication
Drugs, in general, are dangerous to pack, but there are obvious exceptions. In general, you do need to be careful when flying with medication, as they can cause some problems when traveling by air to your spring break location.
If you have a medical condition or are prone to migraines or travel headaches, having all necessary medications in an easy-to-access location is essential. You are allowed to travel with medicines on planes, although you will need to follow the 3.4 ounces rule for liquid medications. Be sure to inform the TSA officer that you have medically necessary liquids.
If for whatever reason, you are not able to bring your medications onto the plane due to interference by the TSA, you have the right to potentially bring legal action against them, especially if your medication has life-or-death significance.
Do what you can to make sure liquid medications are in small amounts and be as forthright as possible so you can keep any necessary medicine with you. However, be firm but polite about your rights to keep important medications with you. The TSA may inspect prescription medications visually rather than X-ray them if you would prefer them not to be X-rayed.
If you do not inform the TSA that you are traveling with medication, they may confiscate it. So be open and honest about it. Most people do not have trouble traveling with most standard pills and drops.
Have pain and headache pills in an outside pocket where you can get them easily throughout your journey, whether flying, driving, or taking the train. Bring a very small medical kit that includes nausea or headache pills and bandaids. Make sure you pack inhalers, EpiPens, or any other potentially life-saving medical aids and that you make room for them in your day pack.
Don’t Pack: Too Many Clothes
School breaks, like spring breaks, are often associated with nights on the town, partying, and getting dressed up. However, you don’t actually need a distinct outfit for each day.
Often people pack far more clothes than they actually need for vacations like spring break. School breaks fly by, you won’t have spare time to be weighed down by too much stuff. Think about how you can layer clothes and mix and match to create new outfits.
For example, you likely won’t need a full raincoat for your mini-vacation unless you are going to a very rainy area. Don’t feel pressured to bring emergency gear; cold-weather clothing, umbrellas, and other inclement weather clothes can be bought on location usually. It’s better to have the means to buy unexpected items at your location than to lug them around unnecessarily.
As a general rule, you should only really need one or two pairs of pants, a single hoodie or sweater, and about three to five shirts plus a few nicer outfits for fancier situations for a trip that is about one week long. Bring a few long-sleeved shirts as well, and about five or six pairs of socks and underwear.
Wash what you need to reuse or buy new clothes at your spring break location instead of bringing extra clothes you may not need.
Do Pack: Extra Cash
The cardinal rule is to pack half the clothes you expect you’ll need and twice the cash. Cash is useful; you can use it almost anywhere, even if they don’t accept cards, and it can be useful for buying souvenirs or visiting local marketplaces.
You will want to pack your cash securely and keep different amounts of it in different places in your luggage. Don’t put it all in one location, and only take a certain amount with you each day.
Packing cash also helps you naturally budget more. It can be easy to lose track of your spending on spring break or any other vacation when using credit or debit cards. If you have a set amount of money you take with you each day, you’ll be forced to stick to a better budget.
Some people may be nervous about traveling with cash, but when you think about it, cash is safer than a credit card or debit card, which, if stolen, can wreak havoc on your finances.
Cash is much less dangerous to lose than a whole wallet. You can often buy a small disposable wallet just to hold cash so you don’t have to worry about your credit cards or more important things. Try to keep a mix of coins and large and small bills. Think about what you are likely to spend money on, and remember that not every place will be able to give you exact change.
Don’t Pack: Extra Books and Magazines
Avoid bringing extra reading material. It’s fine to bring something to read or entertain yourself with while you are traveling in between locations, but you may want to buy a small copy from a newsstand or carry a Kindle instead of weighing yourself down with bulky items like novels or magazines. Remember that everything you bring is going to weigh you down, especially if you have a lot of walking to do between destinations.
Depending on how much of a reader you are, you may decide to disregard this advice. But voracious readers will likely need more than one novel to keep them satisfied in between spring break or any or school break destinations. That will quickly add to their total luggage weight, while less intense readers likely don’t need very much in the first place.
Either traveler will likely benefit from more compact reading devices or lighter, cheap reading material purchases that can be discarded later. Avoid lining suitcases with extra books, as they are very dense and heavy for their size. Even magazines have a lot of weight for their mass, though they are light on their own.
Consider packing a Kindle or downloading audiobooks on your phone instead, or bring only one or two cheap paperback books. Some travelers even purchase cheap books and throw them away once they are done with them.
Remember to always think about how much weight you are adding to your luggage. Every little thing stacks up after a while. Limit the number of electronic devices you bring with you to just two at maximum. Remember: You can always find some reading material on location to entertain you.
Do Pack: Copies of Important Travel Documents
While excess reading material can weigh you down, some important documents are essential to have physical copies of. Take a picture of your itinerary and passport, as well as your travel insurance and any other documents you may need in a pinch.
While digital pictures can be helpful, be sure you have physical copies. This will let you have something you can access if you lose an important document such as a passport or ticket. It also would allow authorities and friends to know about your route and who to contact in the event of an emergency where you cannot give information.
Make sure copies of sensitive documents are also stowed away in safe locations where they can’t be easily lost or stolen.
There are a few documents that most travelers should be sure to keep on hand, including emergency contacts, travel medical insurance, and lists of allergies or medications. Think about both what you need on hand and what others will need to have access to if you get into an accident or are injured.
Don’t Pack: Excess Food
Many people do want to watch their weight and their budget on spring break or any other school vacation. Pack healthy snacks and plenty of water so you don’t fill up on junk food or expensive meals on vacation.
However, you don’t want to weigh yourself down with too much food, and a big part of the vacation experience is the cuisine.
Limit yourself to a few important snacks and things that will be easy to take with you during the day, such as energy bars and trail mix. You could always buy some milk and cereal or peanut butter for easy-to-prepare meals at your hotel.
Don’t bring meal prep or large amounts of food as you travel between destinations, especially if you are traveling by plane, train, or bus. It will only add to your load and make it harder for you to get through security. You can always buy food on location.
If you are headed on a road trip for your spring break or any other school break, then by all means, bring along a cooler filled with fruits, cheeses, and sandwich fixings. The general rule for packing, though, is not to bring anything that would be easier to obtain at your spring break or any other school vacation destination.
Do Pack: Sunscreen
While you can easily get sunscreen at your spring break or any other school vacation destination, this is still one of the most important things to pack yourself. Lots of sunscreens may be uncomfortable or even ineffective, for starters, and you should find out what sunscreen works best for your skin and comfort level.
Sunscreen is also important to wear even before you reach your spring break or any other school vacation destination. Any time you are out in the sun, you should be wearing sunscreen, even if it isn’t that hot. Yes, even on cloudy days and even during the winter months, you can still get a sunburn.
Sunscreen will protect your skin and face from the sun’s rays and can keep your skin hydrated as well. You should also pack lip balm and hand sanitizer for similar reasons.
Just like medication, make sure your sunscreen is in small enough quantities to get through airport security if you’re flying.
Don’t Pack: Jeans and Towels
If you are going to the beach, you may think you want to pack a towel, but think again. Towels are incredibly bulky and will take up a lot of space in your luggage. And if you are going to a beach or lake spring break location, chances are you can get a towel there.
A small microfiber or travel towel is usually fine to pack, but if you want a big towel to sit on at the beach, just buy one there.
Similarly, though jeans are incredibly sturdy and popular, they also are very dense and heavy and will add a lot to the weight of your luggage. It’s usually a good idea to just wear the jeans you want to bring, and add at most a single, lighter pair if you insist on wearing denim.
However, if you can, pack lighter pairs of pants, khakis, shorts, and non-denim capris are all great options for the beach. If you are worried about being cold at night, then add some warm pajamas or sweatpants that are still thin.
Remember: it’s easier to add layers than remove them. You can also bring leggings or long socks.
Do Pack: Portable Chargers
While you generally want to cut down on excess or duplicate travel items, it is a good idea to have a portable charger or two. Something that can be carried with you to recharge key items like your phone or tablet can be incredibly helpful and even lifesaving.
While you often can buy batteries at most urban locations, have whatever extras you may need, especially if you have medical devices that need to be in good condition.
You can usually get portable chargers that are built for travel and that can easily slip into a pocket or even go on a keychain. Try to keep them charged up so you can use them while traveling.
At the same time, you don’t want to load up on electronics or always have them with you. While most people carry around a phone for communication purposes, make sure that you are packing lightly for the day so you can focus on your surroundings.
Remember, social media and the internet will always be there after your spring break or school vacation. Take some time to unplug so you can really enjoy your travels.
Tips for Safe Travels
As a general rule, cutting down on the number of items you pack on spring break or school vacation will simplify your travel, whether you are flying or going by land. Do what you can to bring necessities, but remember that if you’re flying, things like pocket knives or multitools may be a no-go. However, if you are road-tripping, then feel free to pack a toolbox or some emergency gear in your trunk.
In the end, how much you pack depends on how you are traveling and how far. All these tips do depend on your method of travel and your goals.
Someone flying to a beach resort should avoid packing heavy clothes and excess food, while someone going on a mountain trip in a truck may want sturdy boots, changes of clothes, and a good amount of grub.
When determining what you need to pack and not pack, think about how much walking you will have to do alone with your luggage, how much you will be switching locations, and how much time will be spent in a hotel room or on the road.
You also need to know whether you will be traveling in a large, crowded vehicle like a bus to get between destinations within a city or whether you will be using a taxi service.
Finally, while you want to make sure you have what you need to stay safe, remember that generally, people do not need as much for travel as they think, especially for a short spring break or school break.
It may be better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. But think carefully about what “need’” really means. Medication, travel documents, and sturdy shoes may be needed, but an extra heavy coat when one can easily be bought or obtained otherwise is not.Tags: How do I pack for spring break how to pack for school vacation School spring break how to pack for spring break School break spring break