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How to Pack Like a Professional in 3 Easy Steps

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Your tickets are booked, and your room is reserved—the only thing left to do is pack. Packing is the least fun part of taking a trip; unfortunately, it’s also the most important part. Nothing stops you from splashing in the ocean faster than realizing you forgot your bathing suit. If you are stressed about preparing for your upcoming vacations, follow these steps and learn to pack like a pro.

Make a Checklist

It’s easy to start packing when you know what you need to bring, but how exactly do you know? Start by thinking about the destination: what will you need, starting from when you exit the plane? It’s easiest to quickly jot items down as they come to you, rather than running from room to room to haphazardly assemble items.

Save the checklists that you create on your computer for future trips. If you print them out, you can physically cross items off as you pack and avoid that inevitable feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Using a list is also a huge time-saver.

Here are some examples of different types of checklists you could keep on file and a few essentials you might bring on these types of trips:

  • Camping: Bug repellent, sleeping bag, tent, sunblock, hiking pack, map, bike, flashlight
  • Business: Suit, lint brush, travel shoe shiner, notepad, pen, passport, phone charger, earplugs
  • Beach: Swimsuit, beach towel, beach toys, sunblock, sun hat, favourite book
  • Lodge: Snow pants, winter coat, gloves, skis, thermals, extra socks, warm hat

If you have children, make a separate list for their needs. It’s easy to pack for yourself and pack for them from a different list when you are getting ready to go. Purchase extras of things they use every day, like diapers and wipes, and have them pre-packed and ready to go, along with any essentials they won’t need a day or so prior to your departure date. Cross off the main things like their toothbrush and favourite toy as you are about to set out on your vacation.

Lastly, make a separate list for your carry-on items. If you have separate list for things to pack in a “plane bag,” you can avoid having to dig through luggage or over-stuff a purse while rushing to catch your plane. This will also help you to remember the things you have a habit of forgetting, like your phone charger or toothbrush.

Plan Each Vacation Day

The best way to pack is to think about each separate day you will be at your destination and plan your outfits accordingly. This can save you a lot of extra room wasted on extra clothes, which also means you’ll have more room for souvenirs on the return flight.

It’s also helpful to save a separate space in your luggage for dirty clothes or wet bathing suits. Some travelers like taking plastic bags to keep their dirty used outfits away from the rest. This way, they can easily toss them into the dirty laundry bin when unpacking.

Ask yourself these questions before you pack to plan the clothes and items you might need to bring:

  • Am I going to dress up for a night out on the town?
  • Am I planning on exercising? Should I bring running shoes? My headphones, iPod?
  • How many days will I need undergarments, socks, and pyjamas?
  • Do I need my camera?
  • Will I need a jacket or a sweater?
  • Do I need my passport?

Planning outfits sounds tedious, but it saves time when you get to your destination, as well as when you get home. It’s more likely that you will over-pack and have more to unpack if you don’t plan ahead. This way you can use the clothes you bring and toss all of it in the washer when you return.

Think Small

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what toiletries you need for your trip: hopefully you have made a list. This is where packing can get the most stressful. How do you pack all of your grooming items and still get ready in time to make your flight?

The solution is simple: jot down items you use on a typical morning as you get ready, and, yes, add them to your checklist.

  • Face Wash
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shaving Items: Razor, Shaving Gel
  • Hair Brush
  • Blow-dryer
  • Curling Iron
  • Hairspray
  • Perfume
  • Lotion: Face and Body
  • Cosmetic Bag
  • Make-up
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
  • Jewellery, Watch
  • Prescriptions
  • Vitamins

The trick here is to buy or set aside as many of the things you use in miniature, travel-size packages. You can pre-pack almost everything you need and add the few remaining items the morning you get ready to go.

Just think, if you have checklists saved for your different trips, your kids, toiletries, and carry-on items, you will be able to quickly and easily pre-pack and pack every time you travel. When you apply these tips, your packing can run like clockwork and take all the stress out of your fun vacation.


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