Plan Before You Pack

During a recent appointment, my client asked me, “Do you help with packing?” I knew that she had a vacation coming up — not a relocation — so I answered, “Yes!”

She was not the first client recently to ask me for help with packing. Packing for a trip of my own is one of my least favorite activities, although it’s certainly easier for me to help someone else pack than it is for myself.

I’ve written about packing before (see Lessons in PackingPacking Light, and Simplify Your Packing). Rereading those posts, I was surprised to see that I did not mention two key habits that always help me when I am getting ready to pack:

  1. Figuring out what you are going to wear each day.
  2. Making a list to remember all the other stuff.

Figuring out what you are going to wear each day.
We can’t bring our entire wardrobes with us when we pack, although sometimes it seems easier than having to make decisions! The things to ask yourself are:

  • How many days will I be there?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • What activities will I be doing?
  • Can I dress casually all the time or will there be dressy occasions?

Pick out one outfit for each day. If you can wear something more than once (such as wearing the same pair of pants or shorts again with a different shirt), that can really cut down on what you bring. Plan to top each outfit off with a sweater or jacket that can be worn with multiple outfits.

If you need to dress up sometimes, bring along a small number of dressier outfits along with just one pair of appropriate shoes. Speaking of shoes, wear your bulkiest (but comfortable) shoes when you are traveling, and add one more pair of comfortable shoes in your suitcase. It’s nice to be able to alternate shoes if you are going to be doing a lot of walking, or in case you get caught in the rain.

Making a list to remember all the other stuff
For me, figuring out the clothes and shoes is the easy part. It’s the toiletries, medications, chargers, rain gear, etc. that really bog me down.

The key for me is to start with a checklist. I made up this checklist many years ago and I use it over and over again. It changes over time, but 90% of it is the same from trip to trip. I keep it electronically so that I can reuse it and I can modify it when necessary.

If you don’t have a checklist, go through your morning and evening routine in your head and write down whatever products you use throughout your day. Keep amending this list as you are packing. Save it and reuse it next time!

I keep a small kit always packed with travel-size toiletries. Some things (like shampoo) may need to be refilled, while others (such as things with expiration dates) may need to be replaced. But the basic structure is still there.

Do you have a section in your home where you keep anything related to travel? Keeping all that stuff in one place will make it easier for you to pull everything together for the next trip. It will also remind you of what you already have and what you still need. It’s so frustrating when you buy something because you can’t find the one you already own.

If you have travel planned this summer, bon voyage!

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