Ukraine Packing List: What to Pack for Ukraine for Women and Men

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When I started traveling full-time, I had to have absolutely everything I owned with me on every trip. Now that I am based out of Sofia, Bulgaria, I have the luxury of tweaking my packing lists down to exactly what I need for each place I’m going, and I absolutely love it! Here’s my Ukraine packing list, which I used for two weeks backpacking Ukraine and Moldova, but I also have options here for people who aren’t backpacking and have a little more room to work with. This is a tried-and-true overview for what to pack for Ukraine.

 

 

Backpacks and Suitcases

Only you can know whether you need to backpack through Ukraine or if you want to take a larger suitcase. I travel both ways, and so I know there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Things to consider for Ukraine specifically:

 

  • Are you staying in a shared room at a hostel? If so, backpack.
  • Do you have your own private room or are you staying in hotels or an apartment rental? Then a suitcase would work.
  • Do you need to move around from place to place often? I went to Bucharest, Romania, to Chisinau, Moldova, through Transnistria to Odessa to Kiev in Ukraine. Moving around that much, I would have found a suitcase cumbersome.
  • Are you trying to save money? Is checked luggage included in your flights?
  • Are you wanting to stock up on souvenirs or gifts to bring back? Do you have a lot of technical equipment with you? (Whenever I have to take my microphone to record podcast episodes, I tend to need a full suitcase).

 

These are just a few things you might want to consider before deciding which bag to take. Here are the bags I personally use:

 

Backpacks

I use a Bergans Skarstind 48 similar to this Bergans backpack. I absolutely love it, and it’s served me well traveling through six countries so far. For those who are Osprey diehards (and I get it) then I would choose something similar to this Osprey Women’s pack.

 

During my own trip to Ukraine, I backpacked with a standard daypack-type backpack that wasn’t designed for backpacking, and I would not recommend this option. Once I switched to an actual backpacking pack, I fell in love. The straps are what make them so amazing because they distribute the weight of the pack across your whole torso. I also would not recommend a woman get a man’s pack, because our hip belts are designed for our specific hip-needs. If you do choose a man’s backpack, get one that has interchangeable hip belts and swap out for a woman’s hip belt.

 

Azerbaijan - Border Control
My beloved backpack.

 

Roller Bags

If you want to use a roller bag instead of a backpack, I highly recommend an Osprey Sojourn. I have been using mine for over two years for big trips where I need a suitcase, and I lived out of just this bag and a day pack for eight months. I absolutely love this bag. Its soft core makes it easy to pack, even when I have strange dimensions (like lugging around a podcasting microphone). And whenever I do want to shop somewhere, it always seems to stretch just a bit more to add what I’ve bought.

 

Lucy's Not Having It
My dog chilling in my rollerbag

 

 

Day Bags and Daypacks

If you’re flying and you’re taking a full roller bag as your main suitcase, then you can take a backpack as your carryon. Otherwise, you’ll want something smaller that can fit under the seat in front of you. These are the two main bags I use as a daypack.

 

I use a large Longchamp as a purse/daypack for trips where I’m backpacking. If I take a suitcase and a carryon backpack, then I will roll this bag up and put it in my backpack so that I still have it. I absolutely love that it can roll up but still handle a lot. And even though it was one of my splurges (I bought it full price at the Vienna airport), I still use it almost every single day two years later.

 

Azerbaijan - Ganja - The Bottle House
Rocking my Longchamp out and about

 

For a larger day pack, I use this SwissGear Travel Laptop Backpack. It’s a great travel daypack because it has a laptop slot (crucial for days digital nomading in coffee shops, but also just important for getting my laptop with me to my destination), but the middle pocket is large enough to fit my camera and work as a camera bag. I have backpacked out of this bag, and while I was able to do it successfully (through Spain, Hungary, Romania, Jordan, Israel, Moldova, and Ukraine) I am much happier now with a true backpacking pack and using this as a day bag whenever I travel with a suitcase.

 

Wizz Air Carry On Only Airport Mirror Selfie
Absolutely love using this backpack as a day bag.

 

Organization

The key to successful packing, whether backpacking or traveling with a roller bag, is to make sure your bag is organized. I always have my stuff divided up into smaller pouches like this:

  • 1-2 large packing cubes for clothes
  • 1 medium packing cube for underwear, socks, pajamas, and an optional swimsuit
  • 5 small bag cosmetic-style bags. One for wet toiletries, one for dry toiletries, one for prescriptions and medications, one for cords, chargers, and converters, and one for makeup. I have a random collection of bags bought at various H&Ms across Europe, but they are all similar to this one. 
  • 1 laundry bag (comes with the packing cubes)
  • Coin Purse (whenever I’m in Europe, I’m always shocked how fast the coins add up in my pack)
  • Canvas Tote Bag for groceries or for days when you need something lightweight
  • 1-2 empty gallon ziplock bags and 3-5 empty small ziplock bags which end up becoming necessary on the road.

 

 

What to Wear in Ukraine for Women

Here’s what women should pack. This list assumes you will be traveling for more than a week, but if you’ll be away from home for less than that, then obviously adjust the list down. I like to have a few more clothing options than some traditional backpackers, but if you want to pack less, then take off one or two items from categories with multiple options.

 

Clothes

  • 3-4 shirts and blouses
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 tee shirt
  • 2-3 dresses
  • 2-3 pairs of leggings (optional, but great for layers)
  • 1 pair of shorts (summer only)
  • 1 pair of jeans that go past the ankle (required for Chernobyl tours)
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (required for Chernobyl)
  • 1 skirt (optional)
  • 1 sweater, cardigan, or kimono for light layering
  • 1 rain jacket or a jean jacket and travel umbrella
  • 1 pajama top
  • 1 pajama bottoms (or use one of the leggings)
  • 1 swimsuit (optional depending on weather and plans)

Shoes

  • Comfortable Closed-Toed Walking Shoes (I use boots like these or like these. Pack hiking shoes if you’re planning on hiking. Otherwise, any closed-toed shoes will work for Chernobyl).
  • Comfortable day shoes (I have had a pair of these Tevas for the last two years, and I’ve worn them so much they have a hole in the right sole. When I buy a new pair,  it will be the exact same kind because that is just how much I love them. For cold weather months, I opt for a second pair of boots. Both the sandals and the boots are perfect for travel because the rubber souls make them extra durable and comfortable at the same time).
  • Extra Easy Slip-on Sandal or Flip-Flops (I use these Croc Jellies because they work for hostel showers but are also wearable outside. My current pair is blue, but I think next time I might get a couple pair.  I actually bought my first pair in Odessa, and I’m hooked).

 

Underwear & Socks

  • 7-8 pairs of underwear
  • 1-2 bras
  • 1-2 pairs of socks (summer) or 5-7 pairs of socks (winter)

 

Jewelry & Accessories

  • 1-2 pairs of earrings
  • 1-2 necklaces
  • 1-2 rings
  • Sunglasses (regular or prescription if required)
  • Hairpins, Bobby Pins, or Barretts (1-3 styles depending on your hair needs)
  • Headbands or Hair Wraps (1-4 depending on your needs)
  • A fashion scarf for layers and potentially for going into smaller, less touristy churches
  • A hat (required for anyone going to Chernobyl)
  • Watch (optional)

 

Winter Clothing

  • Winter Coat
  • Gloves
  • Upgrade your socks to thick, warm socks
  • Winter Scarf
  • If you’re going to be hiking, make sure to bring winter thermal layers.

 

Hanging out on the bus from Odessa to Kiev

 

 

What to Wear in Ukraine for Men

Here’s what men should bring with them.

 

Clothes

  • 4-5 everyday shirts
  • 1 collared shirt
  • 3 undershirts
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer only and avoid overly touristy looking khaki shorts or cargo shorts).
  • 2 pairs of jeans (required for Chernobyl tours)
  • 1 pair of wrinkle-free dress pants
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (required for Chernobyl)
  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 tee shirt and shorts for sleeping
  • 1 pair of swim trunks (optional depending on weather and plans)

Shoes

  • Comfortable Closed-Toed Walking Shoes (Sneakers, hiking shoes, or boots, depending on your preference. Required for Chernobyl).
  • Comfortable day sandals. If you are the kind of guy who doesn’t wear sandals, bring a second pair of walking shoes.
  • Extra Easy Slip-on Sandal or Flip-Flops

 

Underwear & Socks

  • 4-5 pairs of underwear
  • 3-4 pairs of socks (summer) or 5-7 pairs of socks (winter)

 

Jewelry & Accessories

  • Sunglasses (regular or prescription if required)
  • A hat (required for anyone going to Chernobyl)
  • Watch (optional)
  • Any personal jewelry

 

Winter Clothing

  • Winter Coat
  • Gloves
  • Upgrade your socks to thick, warm socks
  • Winter Scarf
  • If you’re going to be hiking, make sure to bring winter thermal layers.

 

Ukraine - Chernobyl - Radiation Detectors

 

The Chernobyl Dress Code

Planning on visiting Chernobyl as part of your trip to Ukraine? You’ll want to book your tour at least ten business days ahead of time and bring clothes with you that will follow Chernobyl’s strict dress code. I have an in-depth overview of how to plan for a tour to Chernobyl, but here are some basics.

 

Planning Your Tour

This organized Chernobyl and Pripyat tour covers the exact itinerary I went on and they specifically outline that they use the drive from Kiev to Chernobyl to play documentaries about the disaster so you’ll be able to get context ahead of time. I also recommend listening to my interview about what happened at Chernobyl which goes over what happened before and how the site turned into a tourist destination.

 

What to Wear to Chernobyl

  • Pants Only (no skirts, leggings, or shorts).
  • Long sleeve shirt (no tank tops or short sleeve shirts).
  • Closed-toed shoes (no sandals or flip-flops).
  • A hat (I had one with me but wasn’t required to show it).

 

Read: 10 Things to Know Before You Tour Pripyat and Chernobyl with a Suggested Chernobyl Packing List

 

Ukraine - Chernobyl - Feeding the Fox
Feeding Simeon the Fox at Chernobyl in close-toed shoes.

 

 

Toiletries & Skincare

  • Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner. Some people swear by solid shampoo, but I just refill the same travel size bottles.
  • Small hairbrush
  • Travel-sized hair dryer with European plugs (I’ve blown multiple hair dryers trying to use voltage converters. I’ve given up and only travel with a hairdryer with European plugs while in Europe).
  • Full Sized Travel Towel. Most bloggers I know hate their microfibre travel towels, but I opted for a big, beautiful microfibre towel that’s perfect for the beach or a hostel. Seriously, no one loves their travel towel as much as I do.
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Hair products specific to your hair type
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues, Toilet Paper, or Kleenex
  • Travel Sized Hand Sanitizer
  • Moisturizer and Night Cream (travel is brutal on your skin)
  • Makeup
  • Makeup removing towelettes
  • Mosquito Spray
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Eye Care (contacts, glasses, prescription sunglasses if needed)
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Shaving Cream (optional)
  • Nair or Veet (for when I get lazy)
  • Nail File
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers (2 pairs. One for my makeup kit and one for my toiletries kit).
  • Laundry Detergent Powder (I like to have enough for 3-4 loads of laundry. If I’m traveling longer than this, I can always get more on the road).
  • Something to deal with that special time of the month. If you have to deal with a period on the road, pack whatever you need depending on your preferences.

 

 

Medicine Kit

Over the counter medication from pharmacies is pretty easy to find and inexpensive, so you don’t need a huge, all-disasters-covered style medicine kit. A basic kit will include:

 

  • Your personal prescriptions, medications, contraception needs, and regular vitamins.
  • Anything you take weekly (for me this would be things like antacids).
  • Your OTC Painkiller of choice.
  • Bandaids (After accidentally stabbing my thumb with my own razor in the Lisbon airport and having to pretend like I wasn’t bleeding to death while eating a steak, I vow to never leave home without band-aids).
  • Travel-sized Vaseline (Vaseline should be in every single person’s luggage for every single trip. Period).
  • If you’re flying transatlantic or anticipate jetlag or sleep issues, I love having melatonin with me on every trip.

 

Anything else that comes up, you can easily get at a pharmacy in Ukraine. Just have Google Translate available for times when you run into a pharmacist who doesn’t speak English. Explaining my ringworm in Russian to an Armenian pharmacist was a trip, but without Google Translate, I would probably still be explaining it to her.

 

Always pack vaseline

 

Technology and Accessories

As a full-time travel blogger who also has a podcast, my tech needs are out of control. Here’s the technology that I traveled with to Ukraine.

 

 

Ukraine - Chernobyl - In front of Reactor 4
When your Nikon matches your shades.

 

Important Documentation

  • Your Passport & either quick access to a soft copy or a couple of hard copies.
  • Passport Holder (especially important for anyone visiting Chernobyl)
  • Your Driver’s License (If you plan on renting a car in Ukraine)
  • Your Travel Insurance Policy Information:  I never leave home without travel insurance. You just never know what kind of trouble you’ll run into on the road. I’ve had several broken phones, a nearly stolen wallet, car rental accidents, etc. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. I always get the higher level so that I have coverage for more of my technology in case anything gets lost or stolen. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any urban exploration or touring Chernobyl. Have your travel insurance available in a soft copy, and forward your policy info to your primary emergency contact.
  • Credit & ATM Cards (make sure to call your banks to let them know you’re traveling if they require it).  Have either quick access to a soft copy or a couple of hard copies. Never travel with only one card or access to one account. I have two checking accounts and four credit card accounts. This way when things happen on the road (and they do), I don’t get stuck. You never know when your credit card company is going to flag your ATM withdrawal in a foreign country as suspicious and block your cards.

 

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them.  It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any urban exploration or touring Chernobyl.

 

 

Books

 

Apps

  • Google Translate
  • Google Maps (Download the maps for the cities you’ll be visiting so they’re available offline).
  • Skype (Great for calling to get your bank cards unblocked)
  • Facebook Messenger (This is ninety percent of how I communicate these days).
  • Instagram (Because aren’t we all basic at heart?)
  • Adobe Lightroom for Desktop & Lightroom Mobile for your Smart Phone for photo editing
  • Snapseed for the photo editing features that Lightroom doesn’t have when on mobile
  • Podcast Addict or other Podcatcher (Check out these travel podcasts I use for inspiration, plus my podcast episodes about Ukraine:  What Happened at Chernobyl? and The History of Kiev)
  • Dropbox Mobile for backing up cell phone photos
  • Uber for getting around in Kiev
  • The mobile apps for any airlines you’re using
  • TripIt for organizing flights, hotel accommodations, and tickets.

 

Using Facebook Messenger to stay connected.

 

 

What to Pack for Staying in Hostels

A few things to pack if you’re staying in hostels in Ukraine like I did.

 

 

What to Pack for Studying Abroad, Working Abroad, and Homestays

If you are going to be staying with someone or interacting with anyone in Ukraine who could be considered as “hosting you,” it’s polite to bring a small present from home to give to as a gift to your hosts. Popular items for this type of gift would be something you can only get in your home country, for example, something with your home country’s flag on it or something made there.

 

 

More about Traveling Ukraine

 

 

Have you been to Ukraine or are you planning an upcoming trip? Leave your best tips for a Ukraine packing list and any questions about what to pack for Ukraine below!

 

 

Pin this Article for Your Trip to Ukraine

Ukraine Packing List: What to Pack for Ukraine for Women and Men
Ukraine Packing List: What to Pack for Ukraine for Women and Men

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