Does the thought of packing make you almost want to skip your trip? Follow these packing tips and you'll always have exactly what you need, whether you're the type who tends to pack more changes of clothes than Lady Gaga needs for a long tour or someone who packs so little that you forget your toothbrush.
Determine your essentials
Whether you're going away for one night or one month, to Boston or Bali, there are certain things you need for every trip. Make a list of your must-have items, from toiletries to basic clothing pieces. Some suggestions:
- Hair brush and comb
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Lotions and potions - from soap to your favorite face cream and make-up essentials
- Implements you don't want to be without - tweezers, razor, etc.
- Beauty tools - blow dryer, flat iron, etc.
- Prescription medicines and vitamins
- Underwear and bras
- Tops - blouses, t-shirts, sweaters
- Bottoms - pants, skirts, shorts, depending on the trip
- Cellphone charger
- Travel documents - passport, plane ticket, driving directions, etc.
- Eye shades and ear plugs
- First aid basics - Band Aids, aspirin, etc.
- Camera and charger
- Laundry bag
- Snacks and reading material for the journey
Create separate sections of your list if you frequently go on trips that require special clothing or equipment, such as trips to the beach or ski vacations.
Type this up to create your master packing list. The next time you need to pack for a trip, all you need to do is gather these key items and plan your wardrobe (see below).
If you have to pack for kids and/or a spouse, make separate lists for each person.
To speed your packing time, purchase travel sizes and duplicates of your essentials. Make sure containers are TSA-approved for plane travel.
Keep a travel kit stocked with these items so you can just grab and go. The small added expense of having an extra toothbrush and tweezers is well worth the time saved every time you pack plus the peace of mind knowing that you'll always have your key items.
Get a head start
At least a few days before you leave, print out your master packing list and start making notes on what you'll need for your trip. Don't wait until the last minute, when the stress of your trip will make it more difficult to think clearly.
Plan your wardrobe
Consider your itinerary and plan outfits for each day and evening. Choose pieces that you can wear repeatedly; you don't need a different sweater for every day. Take half as many bottoms as tops - they don't get as dirty and no one will notice if you wear the same pants a few times. Pick a coordinated color scheme and consistent style so you can mix and match pieces. Refer to your master list so you don't forget the basics like socks and underwear.
Don't forget special items
Heading to a wedding and need to bring the gift? Going on a business trip and have to bring presentation materials? Make sure you add trip-specific items to your list.
Stick to your list
Cross of each item as you add it to your suitcase. This will ensure that you don't forget what you really need - and that you don't take more than you need.
Lighten your load
Will any of your standard items be available at your destination? If your hotel provides a hair dryer, leave yours at home. Visiting mom? You can use her toothpaste. Aim to leave some extra space in your bag so you'll have room for souvenirs.
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