Travel tips

The ultimate guide to packing for each day on tour

Sadiya, an ET Traveler Support Specialist

Getting ready to head out on your EF tour but not quite sure what you’re going to need each day? You’re in the right place.

Hi, I’m Sadiya, an ET Traveler Support Specialist. I work full-time to help Group Leaders, students, and families prepare to travel (and have even gone on a few EF tours myself), so I’ve seen it all. Here’s an insider’s guide on how to set yourself up for success for each day on an EF tour.

Packing for airplaine travel days

Ahh, the start of it all! You have your carry-on packed, your comfiest outfit on, and you’ve arrived at the airport—you’re almost good to go! So, what should you have on-hand after you board the plane?

As someone who has experienced very busy travel seasons, I do not recommend checking a suitcase at the airport. That way, you can avoid unnecessary lines and the off-chance that it could get lost! A carry-on bag and a personal item—we recommend your EF backpack for the latter—are included with your plane ticket. You’ll stow your carry-on in the aircraft’s overhead storage bin, so make sure your personal item (which needs to fit under the seat in front of you) is stocked with these must-haves for easy access:

  • Your passport
  • Money for snacks or meals at the airport
  • Any necessary medications
  • Reusable water bottle that you can fill up after you go through airport security
  • Extra entertainment for your flight, like headphones, a travel journal, and a new book
  • Your phone charger
  • Adapters that comply with the outlets in your destination(s)
  • A change of clothes in case your luggage is delayed if you do check a bag
  • Toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste so you can freshen up and be ready to hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination
  • Layers, because airplane temperatures can vary

One of my favorite reminders when I’m giving parents packing advice over the phone is to wear your bulkiest sweatshirt and shoes on the plane to save room in your bag. I did this on my first staff tour to Italy and I was able to pack for a 10-day trip with just a carry-on!

Packing for tour days

Congratulations! You’ve landed in your first destination 🥳 Now the fun really starts. Get ready for days filled with lots of adventures and activities, which usually means quite a bit of walking, as well. Along with wearing your most comfortable pair of shoes, we recommend carrying your EF backpack with you for many reasons. First, who doesn’t love some new travel merch? You’ll also be able to spot members from your group or even other EF travelers on the road wearing the same backpack. Remember, you’ll be carrying it around all day, so keep it as light as possible. Here’s what I recommend you bring:

  • Wallet with money or credit cards for lunch and souvenirs
  • Reusable water bottle (Bring it with you to breakfast so you can fill it up before you head out for the day!)
  • Weather-related accessories, as needed. Think: Layers or rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a wireless face fan
  • Phone with relevant emergency numbers saved and the Emergency Calling Instructions card you received from your Group Leader
  • Portable phone charger so you can make sure you have enough juice to snap all your pictures and videos
illustration of a passport

Keeping track of your passport

I talk to a lot of parents on the phone who call to ask how to store passports on tour. It’s ultimately up to your Group Leader—some choose to hold onto all their students’ passports themselves, while others prefer travelers keep track of their own passports individually. If you’re managing your own, we recommend locking it in your hotel room safe during tour days unless your Tour Director tells you otherwise—there may be some museums or other attractions that require you to show it for proof of age. If your hotel room doesn’t have a safe or you need to take it with you, keep it in a travel pouch that’s within your sight or hidden under your clothes.

Packing for bus travel days

Depending on your itinerary, these are the days where you might be traveling between cities or countries by bus with your group. Consider what you brought with you on your airplane travel day, and what you want immediate access to on the bus. You might want to talk about all the amazing sights you’ve seen so far, or play card games with your peers! Remember, your carry-on luggage will be stored underneath the bus while you’re on the road, so make sure you have the essentials with you. I recommend packing:

  • Wallet, for periodic stops for snacks
  • Light layers—like an airplane, buses can tend to run cool or warm (You might also want to use those extra layers as a pillow if you’re catching some extra zzz’s)
  • Headphones for music and/or downloaded movies and TV shows, plus a portable phone charger
  • Card games to play with friends
  • That new book you started on the plane
  • Your travel journal, if you feel inspired to reflect on all the experiences you’ve had so far

If you hop off the bus to explore for a while before continuing to your next destination, do not leave any valuables behind, unless they’re stored in the bus’s lockable compartment.

Illustration of a plane flying around the world

From busy, adventure-packed days to downtime between destinations, we want to make sure you’re ready for every part of your tour. That way, you can spend less time worrying about what to pack and more time getting excited for all the fun ahead. Remember, Traveler Support Specialists (like me!) are here to help you with anything else you need before you go.

Need some extra support?

The EF Help Center is full of detailed, destination-specific packing guidelines.

Check it out

Sadiya Croshaw

Sadiya is a Traveler Support Specialist at EF. When she’s not helping you with your next trip, she loves trying new food, staying active, and listening to international music. Her next trip goal is the south of France! Fun fact: She is also in Yoga Teacher Training!