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How far in advance do you pack?

I'm sure this topic has been covered but the search was too broad. But I'm just curious how far in advance of your trip do you pack?Normally, I will do it just a few days prior, but we leave for London and Paris in two weeks and I may have a "practice pack" this weekend to check weights, to see how everything fits, make sure I'm not missing anything, etc. (And also a way of passing the time till we leave!)

Posted by
996 posts

I have a small bag of stuff that's always ready to go, stuff that goes with me on every, single trip. (Plug adaptors, reusable 4-1-1 bag, etc.) But for big stuff, I now usually pack the night before I leave.

Once upon a time, I'd pack days in advance because I wanted to make sure everything would fit. Now, unless I'm traveling in winter with bulkier items, I have it almost down to a science. Then again, maybe it's the science of being lazy. ;-)

Anyway, if you feel like doing a trial run ahead of time, go for it! You may be pleasantly surprised by what fits...or realize that you have to reevaluate your plans. Either way, have fun and hope your trip is amazing!!

Posted by
430 posts

I start planning my packing --- do my clothes fit? does the color scheme work? what's the climate like? do I need to add anything to my wardrobe? --- often months in advance of a trip. About a week before the trip, I start setting clothes and such aside and making sure that everything is clean and ready to go. I don't put anything my suitcase, however, until the day before.

When I first started traveling, I used to weigh everything. I don't do that these days. I have refined my packing list over the years, and now I have a pretty standard routine.

Posted by
3266 posts

I pack the day before we leave. But we have a large cupboard in the basement that holds all our travel stuff, and we each maintain an updated packing list on our computers. So the actual packing only takes an hour or so.

Posted by
11450 posts

I start compiling piles of clothes in the spare bedroom about two , three weeks before I pack , but I constantly edit .

Final pack is night before -

Posted by
492 posts

I've got my routine down to the point I just pack the night before - sometimes even morning of!

I'm going on a trip tomorrow, in fact, and am doing some laundry right now for it, charging my headphones, etc. Certain things I only really use for travel (a particular backpack, my travel headphones, documents, toiletries, adapters, charging cables and such) all get stashed in the same drawers/cabinets at home, so it's easy to throw them all together when the time comes. Other things I still like to use in the days before travel, or at least have the option to, so don't want to be without clothes I like for days before a trip.

Also... my dogs get stressed once the packing starts! For their sake, I tend to spring my upcoming trips on em at the last minute or else they'll be antsy. Also for my own sake, to avoid finding revenge poop in my shoes left behind by a dog who doesn't approve of my preparing to abandon them for however many days. :)

Posted by
2648 posts

I used to travel for work all the time. My bag was basically always packed. I'm practice packing now for my September Europe trip.... so that I know what travel clothes I want to replace or update this summer!

Posted by
4467 posts

I have a packing list that I use each trip with just minor adjustments. I try on all of the planned clothes at least two months before the trip in case something needs to be replaced.

I do a trial pack a few weeks before- mostly because I’m excited to go, and this just confirms everything will fit, etc. It helps with any last edits.

My actual packing is the day before the trip. I check off each item, and most importantly at this stage, if something is NOT on the list, it doesn’t get added to the suitcase. So many “what if’s “ show up the day before. Since I made rational decisions a month, and also a week ago, it’s easier to keep that empty space in the suitcase available for any souvenirs instead of more clothes, for example.

Posted by
1179 posts

I keep my stuff prepacked. That includes toiletries, electronics, makeup. I start planning my clothes almost as soon as I’ve booked my trip. The adjustments come about 1-2 weeks before. A couple of days ahead of time I’ll stack clothes and prepack. Then I go over my checklist 1-2 nights before. The final pack is the day before.

Posted by
5547 posts

I pack the day before travel, but I always take a checked in bag so I don’t have the issues that are raised daily on this forum about how to fit belongings into a small bag and stay within weight limits.

Posted by
935 posts

We pack about 3-4 weeks before a trip to make sure everything fits and we don't need anything that has to be ordered. Then 2-3 days before we leave we unpack and go over the checklist to make certain that didn't overlook something (I've taken the wrong contacts, forgot a charger, didn't take enough of a medication, etc. in the past).

Make sure you stay focused on your packing and not trying to solve other issues, it is so easy to think you did something when your distracted.

The night before we leave on our trip my wife and I have a routine where we buddy check (we"re old scuba divers) about 3-4 items that I call the "absolutes", we verify that we each have our passports, any cash we're taking, our credit cards, critcal medications, our boarding passes, glasses or contacts. Then if we forget anything else we can purchase it along the way. This probably seems like overkill but when you work hard all year to save up for a trip it pays to be prepared so the trip at least starts off smoothly.

Posted by
3789 posts

I mentally pack far in advance. As I often plan a year in advance, I check out the weather/temps for where and when I will be travelling. When I have that combination of weather at home, I trial clothing that may work for travel or make a list of what to buy or sew. Because I do sew and it tends to be seasonal, new travel clothes are often on my creative mind.
Last year I had a number of trips in a short period of time, so I had several suitcases in the spare room and filled when I either bought (rash shirt and shorter flippers for the beach trip), or came across things (fancy jewellry for a Christmas cruise). So some suitcases had stuff in them for 4 months.
However, I tend to do a list 2 weekends prior and then a trial pack the weekend before. I may leave all 'stuff' packed and hang clothes in the spare room closet so it is just a final pack the night before. I tend to fly at the end of day after work, so it always done before the day of travel.

Posted by
370 posts

I revise my basic packing list a month or so in advance to be sure I have the right sorts of items on hand. I start putting items in a designated laundry basket a week or so in advance. Then I actually make final clothing decisions based on weather forecasts and pack the day before.

Posted by
21720 posts

We have a master packing list that is reviewed and revised after every trip. It is the bible. If it is not on the list, it doesn't get packed. We pack about week out just to make sure we have everything on the list and good repair. However, we have boasted that we could pack in an hour and be at the airport in two if necessary.

Posted by
2916 posts

We normally pack the morning of our evening flight. However, a little before that we roughly plan what we're taking. Such as how many shirts, etc.

Posted by
789 posts

Mentally i start as soon as the trip is scheduled e.g. just put a deposit for a Switzerland trip for Sep 2020. Already thinking this will be a cooler trip and more casual itinerary than some we've taken so running thru ideas like which jacket, is one fleece pullover enough, etc. As I shop this winter and after winter sales I'll have in mind whether it's something I'll take for the trip.

Like many i have some things like travel toiletries already gathered. I don't refill til closer to the date especially if using silicon bottles as they dry out. I've also weighed a lot of clothes and shoes so I have a good idea what's too heavy to consider.

Then a month before I start pre-staging everything in the spare room, weed out duplicates, pick tops that work with several pants, pick pants so that I can minimize the number of shoes, etc. At least a day prior i do a test pack and weigh making sure to include everything. The final check is a 10 day weather forecast.

Final pack is the night before since where we live almost all our flights end up early morning.

Posted by
2176 posts

I’ve tried packing far in advance of a trip and it just doesn’t work. I forget what I have already packed. I keep a packing list. I pack the day before. However, I always joke I am ready to go anywhere, anytime!

Posted by
1277 posts

Last time this came up a couple of folks said their suitcase is always half packed and one woman outed her husband for just bringing his bag up from basement and discovering it full of dirty clothes from last trip.

I had a weeks vacation in may, was home for five days before leaving for a professional convention. The day bed in my office is frequently always staging for the next trip. HOWEVER, I have company coming Sunday night who need that bed
I leave town again next Sunday
I am almost in line to have my suitcase packed for my trip exactly one week ahead, when I zip it up and move to hallway to create room for houseguest

Posted by
9712 posts

Per Marie's link to that older thread, I'm sure everyone will be thrilled to know I've been able to keep my underwear drawer Marie Kondo'd so don't have to spend time on that, hahaha!! I've topped up my toiletries from my last trip (Yellowstone in June) because I realized when I was in the park I hadn't refilled the conditioner from my March/April trip! Headed to Paris the end of Sept and have things staged on the card table in the back room.

I do have packing lists (one for clothes, one for toiletries/purse/day pack and one for Things to do before you leave) and to keep myself from being confused if I pack something I line thru it with pencil. If I swap something out I make a note. I KNOW I will not remember! I have my money belt, passport, Global Entry card, cheat sheet with passwords, Euro and Navigo pass all out and ready to go.

I'll take the same basic wardrobe I took in March and in 2018. The only thing that will be iffy is whether I will need a pair of capris and I'll pack them at the least minute if it looks like it is still warm.

Since I am 13 weeks out I've got my walking plan set up too. I have slacked off the last few weeks due to travel and a hurt toe. It's better so I am ramping up my walking program again. I have more fun in Paris if I am in pretty good walking shape!

I definitely recommend a practice pack if you haven't taken this combo of clothes or if you have new packing cubes! SO much easier and then you can leave your 3-1-1, meds, etc packed (with notes to self, haha).

Posted by
8403 posts

Started packing for an August Alaska trip in early June as I was putting the rest of my winter clothes away. Just put the necessary clothes in a suitcase instead of storage bin.

My husband humored me today by agreeing to check his clothes in case anything needed updating, but he’ll pack the night before, which is earlier than it used to be.

Like the other travel obsessives, my packing begins in the mind immediately. We have master lists for packing and for tasks to prepare for a trip.

Posted by
4467 posts

"However, we have boasted that we could pack in an hour and be at the airport in two if necessary. "

Frank, your comment made me smile, remembering the time I had some ladies over to my house to talk about their plans to go visit a friend working in Naples. As we were talking, I mentioned that I just bring a carry-on suitcase. Since they wondered how I could do it, I printed out my Packing List while I grabbed my suitcase and had everything packed in 5 minutes! I laughed with them, saying if one of them had to cancel last-minute, I could be ready in 5 minutes to fly to Italy!

Posted by
5697 posts

So today is July 4 and we are leaving on December 4 -- and I have already been hitting the (thrift) shops for merino wool/ cashmere sweaters under $20. Will update my wool socks when Costco comes out with this winter's collection in September. Using my Christmas markets packing list from two years ago, adjusting for improved purchases. Toiletries, prescription medicines, to-do lists all carry forward from prior trips, updated after each trip for any items missed. Will probably start putting items in the suitcase for weight in early November.

Posted by
9712 posts

LauraB, did you see that Costco has the puffy vests again this year? They are $16.99 online and someone here yesterday said they were $15.99 in the store. They are fiber-filled this year as opposed to down but they may work. Price is great and they are light to pack!

(And I'll swear that I don't get a free one if I talk 10 of you in to buying one, hahahaha!!!)

Posted by
789 posts

Before our most recent trip - a two week river cruise plus extra days on each end - I took the time to make packing lists for my checked bag, carryon that goes in the over head and small tote with the stuff I want handy on the airplane. I took the checked bag list with me in case of lost luggage and the possibility of filing a claim. The others were to help with future trips to remember those odd ball items I'm likely to forget. I still haven't managed a perfect packout but getting better each trip.

Posted by
5697 posts

@Pam, thanks for the tip about Costco puffy vests -- I got one last year in teal. Goes well with the Costco rain jacket from a few years before.
😁

Posted by
1217 posts

The day before. The clothes I wear at home are the same I wear while on the road and I need to get everything through the wash. And it's the point where the weather forecasts start being generally accurate for my destination and I'll know if I have to factor really hot weather/heavy rain/snow into what's going into the big bag. Our big vacation window for the year is typically May-June so it's hard to predict weather-driven clothing needs that time of year in many of the places we end up going.

Posted by
126 posts

On paper about a month before, or maybe 2 weeks before. Depending of how far in advance we booked our trip.

I already have a list that I edit depending on weather, destinations, etc. Then a couple of weeks before leaving I start to put things and clothes away that I want to bring with me on the guest room. Finally a day before I pack and weight everything, this is the best time for me to edit my list once more.

I try to have decanted and ready my toiletries and makeup, this helps with the process.

Posted by
111 posts

I work on a packing list for any trip far in advance. For my trip next week, I got everything together and packed in cubes last week. The benefit......my husband and I were invited to a fun weekend away (golf, boating and wine tasting), returning the day before I am schedule to leave. I was able to say "yes" to this weekend, without worrying about getting ready.......I'm basically done.

There are sometimes advantages to packing ahead!

Posted by
3491 posts

I do a practice pack for vacation trips anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks before the trip. I use this to put together my packing list of everything I want to take, find out what I need to buy, and see where I can cut weight or volume so everything fits into the bag I am allowing myself for the trip. I have a basic standard list, but depending on where I am going, time of year, and any special activities on the specific trip it can vary. I then do a second practice pack once I have the list finalized and everything purchased.

I do my actual packing for the trip the night before I go to the airport to start the trip.

Posted by
1602 posts

I’m two years away from my next Europe trip and I’m already working on my packing list. Is that too far in advance?

Our road trip in August/September doesn’t count because we can pack as much as we want. But I’ll still have a packing list so I don’t forget the basics. We’re hauling up many of the family’s Christmas presents. Nothing like shopping early! We came home with Studebaker car parts a few years ago.

Posted by
3186 posts

I have a master packing spreadsheet and columns for different kinds of trips to note exceptions and specifics compared to the primary list. I print this out so I can check off items as I pack. I take this print-out with me to help me put things back in the right place while on the trip. I also have a repacking list of what things(primarily toiletries in 3-1-1 bag) need to be refilled immediately after I finish a trip. I prefer to pack a little at the time rather than have a marathon packing day or week immediately before my trip. This gives me plenty of time to purchase anything I need. I have separate clothes and shoes and underclothes and jackets just for trips-I get plenty of use out of them. I just got back from the beach and will now commence packing for a 2 1/2 week trip to Europe in Sept. Light packing is like any other skill-the more you practice, the better you get at doing it.

Posted by
84 posts

I agree with diveloonie. I have a list but pack the day before or even the day I leave. It's all about that list. I've packed ahead of time but it gives me a false sense of security and I forget things. Several people have mentioned a master list. It's a great idea. Mine is in my phone, so always with me. I just take a carry-on (even for a week!), so making sure I don't pack anything extra is really important.

Posted by
9712 posts

Well...I've decided I don't really like the small LiteGear DayPack I've been using for my personal item/bus bag. The backpack straps are set too far apart and it's not comfortable for any distance. It's not too heavy 1#9oz but it's a little bulky to pack in the suitcase if I'm not using it on a transfer.

So, I've been haunting TJ Maxx to see if something would turn up and found a Kipling Tote in a bright color I like which has a cross-body strap. I have an older LeSportsac but it's not got a shoulder strap so that's awkward. It's 1#3oz so a little lighter but of course it's one big open area so I'll need to figure out how to organize stuff in it. I did a trial pack yesterday with the stuff (from my master packing list) that I take on the plane with me. I put in everything except the food I carry, lol! I was not totally happy with the outcome but I will try using some packing cubes to see if that will work better.

Eleven weeks to departure!

Posted by
11832 posts

I normally have my wet and dry toiletries (one quart zip lock bag for each) ready to go all the time.

I have a packlist that is always being updated (especially right after a trip) and I buy most clothes in my closet to be good travel clothes.

I may put together my clothes a few days to a week ahead of time, just to look at them and decide if I need to change something. The most important thing is that everything mixes and matches so I have as much flexibility on the road as possible.