As a self-professed lover of lists, you might be surprised to hear I don’t generally use a packing list when I get ready for vacation.
Why? Because the trips I take vary a LOT in what I actually need to have with me; I’ll go camping one weekend and bring everything but the kitchen sink, then go visit my sister, where I can borrow her clothes and shampoo and even shoes. (And she doesn’t get mad at me for doing it! So, everybody wins. And I have a really nice sister.)
I have another little trick up my sleeve, though, that keeps me from forgetting things while I’m packing. The last time I forgot underwear on a trip was over a decade ago. So, I’d say this method works pretty well.
While you’re packing, take two minutes to visualize the things you’ll do while you’re away.
The beauty of this method, for me, is twofold:
1. The anticipation of mentally reviewing what’s coming up gets me even more excited for the trip I’m about to take.
2. The quick mental exercise allows me to pack better—and more concisely—because each thing I put in my suitcase is based on my actual plans, not a generic travel list.
I typically do this after I’m about halfway packed, and I think I’ve covered all the basics. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Picture yourself in transit; do you need a book? Do you have your iPhone charger and headphones? If you’re taking a plane, walk through what time you need to arrive, and check yourself for your credit card, ID and a sweater (if you get cold on airplanes like I do).
- You’ve arrived at your destination, and will be meeting friends for dinner and drinks. Fancy outfit, shoes and accessories? Check. ID? Check.
- Are you attending a wedding or a conference? Close your eyes, and picture what you want to be wearing the minute you leave the hotel for the event, from head to toe.
- Will you be staying with someone? Do you want to bring a hostess gift, or a card to leave them a thank-you note when you leave?
The whole thing takes a remarkably short period of time, but you’ll feel better prepared the moment you hit the road. My dear friend Meg has tried this too, and she said it works especially well now that she’s packing for her two little boys in addition to herself.
What about you, what’s your best packing trip? Leave a note in the comments below.