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New strategy for packing

Every time I go on a trip, it seems to go the same way. The day before departure, I run around my house, up and down several flights of stairs, gathering up the items I will be packing. Often, I even have to run to the store for last minute toiletries or over the counter meds. All of this, leads me to be exhausted the day before departure.

I did some re-organizing and now have a space in my bedroom to store items that I will be packing. So countdown 10 days before travel, I am gathering my items together and this will hopefully, lead me to feel rested and relaxed the day before departure!
Curious if others have a similar strategy? Or how do you prepare for a big trip?

Posted by
3487 posts

I know what I will be taking on my trips. Making sure I have documentation already ready far in advance (passport and so on). I go around gathering the stuff I need for a couple days before the trip and make sure I have any major items ready (coats, jackets, and so on) a few days before I get started on the actual packing. But yeah, the final day is always a mad dash around the house and hoping I haven't forgot anything. If I do forget anything, it just gives ma an opportunity at buy interesting things to add to my collection of odds and ends :-)

Posted by
1100 posts

I have an ongoing international packing list in a "note" on my phone. Several weeks before a trip I review the list and bracket anything that I won't need for the upcoming trip (ie: won't need gloves in Italy in May) and add any extra items specific for this trip. WIthin the next week, I prepare my "liquids" 3-1-1 baggie, and my meds baggie, as the items in those have to be carefully measured and counted. At least three days before departure, I start packing clothes and other items (ie: granola bars, passport) into my rolling carry-on bag and big purse "personal item" which are laid out in my spare bedroom. By the day beforehand, all that's left are a few final essentials like my nightgown and cell phone. I, too, don't want to rush/panic in the last day or two before departure. Voila! And we're off!

Posted by
9993 posts

We each have “travel drawers” where we keep items we only use for travel whether foreign or domestic. I also make up a packing list (basically cop from the last trip and start to edit) as soon as I have my basic itinerary fleshed out. A month before the trip I take out all the clothes, try them on, and reassess my plan. I might do a “practice pack” for a long European trip to ensure it will all fit. Five days before we travel (international) I do my final pack to make sure I have everything,I need.

Hubby is a little less obsessive.

Posted by
811 posts

I’m a compulsive planner, so I have a packing list on my phone. I have a bin in my closet of travel related items: money belt, pill box, foldable duffle bag, clothes line, packing cubes, travel umbrella, etc. A couple weeks before the trip I pull out my suitcase and do a trial pack. I go through my meds and see if I need refills before the trip. I pack OTC meds into my travel pill boxes. I stock my travel first aid kit. I take pictures of critical items (passport, credit card, vaccine cards) and keep them on my phone. I print out confirmations for rental cars, hotels, etc and out them in a colorful plastic envelope.

A week before the trip I have everything ready to go. Clothes are not in packing cubes yet, but they are ready to go. Passports are added to my colorful envelope. My packing list is checked off.

Then the night before our trip my husband runs around like a chicken with his head cut off, doing laundry and packing. Drives me crazy!

Posted by
1892 posts

My last mode consisted of having the carry-on suitcase and backpack completely packed by 7:00pm the night before, house organized for the house sitter, and then having the CDC put my country on the "Do not Fly" list /recommendations.
We went to Switzerland anyway, and it was fabulous!

Posted by
781 posts

My travel setup, almost all of it, is totally separate from my regular stuff. The only things that I will need to move into the traveling bag are shoes, meds, and anything that has changed from the the last time I checked my obsessively comprehensive packing list. My clothing and toiletries are all travel-specific so they live in a bin (marked TRAVEL). I may need to launder something that is horribly wrinkled or musty and refill some bottles.

Wishing you safe and good times. Relax! Be sure to publish your report upon return--most of us are only traveling through the eyes of others these days.

Posted by
3051 posts

These accommodations help us:

  • Most of our clothes are purchased with ability to pack, wash and travel in mind.
  • We have a travel drawer (now two…) with passports, money belts, adaptors, etc always ready.
  • ***We have an empty plastic crate (2’x1’x6”) on an easy to reach closet shelf that we start throwing things into a week or two before the trip that are specific for that trip
  • We have a bottom bathroom drawer that holds our toiletry kits always packed and replenished for an overnight or month long trip.
  • We have a colored plastic folder with paper items we’re taking for the trip, the planning folder has been in progress for weeks or months.

***This is one of our newest strategies.

Posted by
1746 posts

Another compulsive planner/packer/list maker here.
I have an old soft bag that has everything travel related stored in it.
About 3 weeks before a big overseas trip, I make a list.
Clothes, shoes, toiletries, extras such as electronics.
I fill up all my tiny saved containers with shampoo, face cream, sunscreen etc.
Last time, I did this four weeks in advance, and used up what I'd filled up, to see exactly how long every container would actually last.
It was surprising, and there was some left over after 3 weeks use, even from really tiny containers.
That way then I know how much I'll need for a trip.
I start putting things in the case I'm taking with me, in a corner of the bedroom, at that time; and as I remember about them.
A couple of days before leaving , I do a test pack, and weed out stuff I won't really need.
My rule is that if I won't use an item three times or more, I leave it at home.
I also have a colour scheme for clothes, so I can mix stuff up, and use every item more than three times.
Before the final pack, I lay it all out on the bed, and photograph it, and photograph the bag too.
This in case of loss of bag, for insurance claims.
I also have all my paperwork in a light plastic folder, as well as stored in two places on my phone and my Ipad; and copies of every last ticket and itinerary left at home on my desk.

Planning and packing is fun for me, and I see I'm not the only one!

Posted by
6238 posts

Have a travel drawer.

Have a packing list.

A week before departure make a run to the local CVS pharmacy for any small travel items I don’t already have: mouthwash; deodorant, dental floss, etc. Also make certain travel clothes still fit, buttons are secure, zippers work.

72 hours before leaving call my credit card companies to notify of travel. If any bills need to be paid I do so and drop them off inside the post office.

24 hours before departure I charge the iPhone and charger the mini travel charger that goes in the carry on. I also pack my carry on.

Passport and travel wallet are set atop clothes I’m wearing on the plane.

Morning of departure use the check off list to be certain I haven’t forgotten anything. Print out 2 paper copies of passport and global entry card. One copy goes into my leather travel wallet. Same wallet I’ve had for over 30 years. The other goes into my money belt. Also have photo saved on iPhone.

Use a small packing cube to place my prescription meds in the original bottles. I also carry a list of my meds on my iPhone. A week prior I make certain have enough to cover my trip. If I don’t I email the MD. Refills are done quickly.

Morning of departure, up early to enjoy my coffee and to double check if I've forgotten anything. If per chance I have it’s a short 5 block stroll to my CVS which opens at 7am.

All travel documents are in an iPhone folder as well as in a flexible binder that goes in the carry on. Of the generation that still believes in an actual paper trail. Especially if tickets were pre ordered, say for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

By nature I’m a very organized individual and been a list maker since grade school. Have always traveled with a carry on and small back pack that goes under the seat in front of me. I pack light.

In all my years of travel have not forgotten to bring anything on the list.

Posted by
1443 posts

I use my spare bedroom as my staging area. When I have a trip coming up, anytime I think of something I don't want to forget, I throw it on the bed. I don't worry about organizing stuff until it's actually time to pack.

Posted by
3140 posts

I replenish my toiletries and medicine containers when I first get back from a trip. I start packing 3 weeks before my trip so I can do a little at the time, and yes I have lists for each suitcase and personal item. Of course this backfired on me in March 2020 when I was mostly packed for a trip that never happened.

Posted by
448 posts

I don't have enough space for any kind of semi-permanent or permanent staging area (hello, small NYC apartments!) but electronically, I do keep a Google Sheet with individual packing lists (on each tab) for different trips.

Within each individual packing list, I separate my items as follows:

  • Clothing
  • Accessories (e.g. sunglasses, headphones, now masks!)
  • Toiletries and medicine
  • Electronics and cables
  • Documents and entertainment

I've kept this document long enough that I now have past lists for several "types" of trips, e.g. "outdoors/hiking getaway", "European vacation", "holidays with family", "city weekend", etc. So when I am getting ready for a new trip I just copy and paste the packing list from the most similar trip and modify for trip length, weather/season, location, etc. as appropriate.

When I am actually packing, I have a column for each item and mark with an X in that column if that item is packed. I haven't (yet! crossing my finger) forgotten anything that was on my packing list (if I forgot to add it to the list, that's another story...)

Posted by
2180 posts

Well, my wife starts packing 1-2 months in advance; I don't know if that's considered organized or OCD. Finding clean underwear for daily life becomes a challenge leading up to a trip...

I do have a checklist that includes subcategories. For example, laptop would have a sublist that includes power cord, mouse and thumb drive; same idea for camera and phone. I'm a guy, so toiletries are easy, but I keep a toiletries bag within my gym bag so it's easy just to grab it and transfer it to the suitcase.

There are clothes I'll stop wearing a week in advance so there is time for laundry.

Posted by
1515 posts

I agree with what most have said; see how much I've learned from you all over the last several years! Tammy, I don't see how you can pack last minute. It would drive my crazy.

Learning to pack light has been my challenge. I started weighing everything. Organized I am and probably those who know me would say I'm a little compulsive -- lists and then revised lists. I didn't keep a packing list from the 2017 trip that didn't happen. Probably a good thing because by my 2019 Italy trip my wants and needs had changed. For that trip I made a word doc packing list (can't figure out excel), test packed a month before, revised some things and did a final pack a week before. As soon as I got home, I revised that packing list, made notes as to what worked and what didn't, made a suitcase schematic so everything would fit so I don't need to reinvent that, and labeled it "2022 France packing list" word doc. Now I'm already test packing for next year, thanks to a couple weeklong unplanned trips and an overnight. Oh, I also keep a partial packing list on my phone along with document copies and itinerary.

My packing list is broken down by category, then type of clothing (ie leggings, shirts, underwear, outerwear) or items (ie bath bag, electronics bag, drug bag, etc.), and finally what goes into each. I add notes if I need to buy things, like a new phone, color code those in purple and check when off when it's bought. Items I think I may cut for weight, volume or style are highlighted in turquoise and the list will be updated on the final pack. I try to keep the color-coordinated clothes I bought for travel separate than my everyday clothes in the closet but they are not just for travel.

As for storage, I have an old plastic dresser we used to take van camping that's stored on my top shelf of my closet. One drawer is labeled "camping", another "travel, ready to pack" and the last "bottles & bags". I don't fill my bottles, tubs and pill bags until I do my last test pack. Passport, CDC card, etc are in the safe. Suitcase is stuffed with packing cubes and tote bags and the ones I plan to use are on my packing list.

Adding: It's wonderful to be talking about packing again. So much more positive than all the covid related posts. Thanks Tammy for starting it.

Posted by
191 posts

I used to be a last minute packer until I read RS guidance somewhere about being completely packed [exactly] one week before departure. I say ‘exactly’ as I see that as a final deadline. I’ve employed that approach for every international trip since and it has saved me a ton of stress.

I also do similar to what others have mentioned; lists, travel specific items stored in travel specific area and staging area pre packing.

Having travel specific clothing has made a huge difference. No last minute laundry!

Posted by
2396 posts

I also use a spare bedroom and toss stuff on the bed as I either clean it or buy it or remember it. I can start up to 6 weeks in advance. Then I decide on a color scheme and make outfits, then decide on footwear. If I have purchased any new items for my husband they go in there. Otherwise they would be stained before we even leave. We are in Dubrovnik now and he had on a new polo shirt yesterday. It now has a big olive oil spot right in the middle, first day wearing it. I treated it with dishwashing soap and hope it comes clean when I do laundry again. I had finished doing a load of laundry the afternoon before dinner. Oh well, know your travel partner they say, lol.

Posted by
2069 posts

A travel wardrobe, nice thought, but. We live in Alaska ( a cold place where it just snowed, in September)! We are going to Egypt ( a hot place, in the desert), so I had to go shopping for lightweight t-shirts and some lyocell pants. I just did not have enough of hot weather clothes for a 2 week trip. Also, I usually plan to have laundry done (um, no not sink washing anything) and not sure if that will be possible this trip. I also usually wear an item of clothing more than once on a trip before washing, but I think in Egypt this will not be possible because I am sure I will be sweating everyday. Packing light is going to be a real challenge! Also, gotta bring a bottle or 2 of wine, as I have read wine in Egypt is terrible😆

Posted by
1838 posts

We also used to keep a Florida Drawer full for our annual Christmas vacation trip to Florida. On our first trip to Europe decades ago we even had a “List of lists” list scrawled college style on the backs of envelopes. Like others have noted, we keep a well seasoned printable list that’s been adjusted over the years. It includes Prepped and Completed columns, Things to Pack and Things to do, divided among clothes, toiletries, electronics ( a fairly recent addition ) etc. Though he’s been gone for many years, I won’t remove Call Dad from it. I also do laundry far in advance and sympathize with Allan 🙂. However, I no longer pack too soon before leaving as the year that I did, I got the nerves ( and much grief ) when I unpacked everything and repacked again because I forgot what I had packed. All this may explain the addition of the last line many years ago under the Things to do section: Get neurotic. ( I did not add that ). Fun reading others’ strategies…stay healthy and safe travels all.

Posted by
440 posts

I keep all of my travel items in one place, which helps in gathering the things I need for a particular trip. I try to have everything packed three days before leaving. This gives me time to remember anything I might have forgotten. My wife, on the other hand, packs right before we walk out the door. She usually forgets something and has to try to find it in another country.

Posted by
53 posts

Denny, "Call Dad" is so sweet. That made me tear up a bit because my Dad is not well at the moment. I don't have special travel clothes, so if I packed too far in advance I would run out of things to wear very quickly. I take all my favorites, and it makes me feel weird going through my undie drawer saying, you are my favorite...you are going on a trip!

Posted by
2058 posts

A few years ago, I was packing at the last minute before going on a trip. I was so stressed out that I vowed not to do that again.

I use many of the same tactics as others use. I keep luggage, packing cubes, toiletries in a special place in my master closet. Packing lists for trips are written up in the last month or two before departure as I begin to plan in a more focused way. When I return from a trip, I unpack right away so I can do laundry. I put away many clothes that I usually take with me in that special place with luggage, etc.

Something new I tried this latest trip to Venice: I started packing my crossbody bag that goes with me on every trip 2 or 3 weeks before departure. I then use it as my purse around town so I can make sure I have everything I need. In the secret zipper compartment, passport and credit card copies, CDC card copy are filed away. I wait until a few days before departure to put my passport there. But it is on top of my dresser along with chargers and other things so I do not forget it.

During all these preparations I think of my mother who passed away 4 years ago as I used to always call her before I left town. I reassured her I would call her from other there. And send her postcards. The thing is, she kept all my postcards so now I have all the ones I sent her over the years. I enjoy reading them for the memories.

Posted by
1892 posts

I actually inventory everything as I unpack, and makes notes regarding future travel use.

Posted by
298 posts

We are travelling in 48 hours - just had to do a load of washing. The hardest packing is when you're travelling locally to the same climate zone as the one you live in. Plus its spring - so we could be hiking in shorts or skiing - quite possibly both.

For overseas trips we are almost always going into a totally different climate - I will normally toss the clothes in the bag a week before because its nothing I'd be wearing at home.

For local trips I need t o juggle what to wear and not take and what I'd rather take with me.

I'd be much happier packing for the tropical beach break we had planned and had to cancel when the NZ closed the border to Australia.

Posted by
152 posts

I am usually packed at least a week in advance of a trip. Like many of you I refill my travel bottles as soon as I return from a trip and I make notes of what worked and what didn't. I shop end-of-season sales year-round for items that will be good for traveling and keep them in the closet near my carry-on. I make lists--"to do/not to do," to pack/not to pack," "where the new things are," etc.

My husband, however, is a last-minute packer which means there will always be last-minute laundry, which I look upon as job security.

I spend the day before we leave cleaning. I hate to come home to a dirty house.

Posted by
667 posts

Like several other posters, I make lists and more lists, and also have a lot of dedicated travel stuff that stays in one place. To the above suggestions and strategies I can add that I use packing cubes, that always go into the carry-on in the same arrangement, and I have a packing list (usually quite short) for each packing cube. The basic idea is to make packing as mechanical or routine as possible, since my chances of forgetting something increase to the extent that I have to actually think about what I'm doing. I have hard copies of the lists, and literally cross items out as they are packed. I also begin packing a few weeks before leaving on a big trip, and check and double-check my packing against the lists.

Posted by
781 posts

A travel wardrobe, nice thought, but. ... I had to go shopping for lightweight t-shirts and some lyocell pants. I just did not have enough of hot weather clothes for a 2 week trip ... (um, no not sink washing anything) ... Packing light is going to be a real challenge! Also, gotta bring a bottle or 2 of wine, as I have read wine in Egypt is terrible😆

Ah, I'd be buying specialized clothing locally that I'd probably never wear again. I pack for carry-on-only: three days and I wash my stuff in the shower. Carrying wine is just, umm, heavy. Two bottles of wine is, what, two evenings? Not worth the hassle or mass. Local wine is an integral part of an adventure. Plus, the region has one of the olden viniculture traditions on the planet. You should be able to find wines from several countries in any boozeria but Egypt itself has a small and vital wine industry. Easily researched.

Posted by
4341 posts

I’ve been traveling to Europe each September for several years until 2020. I was two weeks from my Italy trip this year and decided to cancel. By that time, I had all of my clothes for the trip set aside in the closet, and items like outlet adapters, money belt, etc. and my toiletry kit packed and sitting next to my suitcase on the guest bedroom bed.

I don’t pack items into the suitcase until the day before the trip. As I pack items, I mark them off on the packing list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go - helps keep the suitcase light!

The packing list that I have on my computer was so helpful! Since it had been two years, there were a couple of items I would have forgotten to pack.

If my husband is also going on a trip, he likes to start gathering things the day before. Yep, opposites attract! 😉

Posted by
2069 posts

Thank you for all the great replies!
JudyB-I call my mom too! I also try to send postcards (still) to a few select friends and they always tell me how much they appreciate that and how rare that is.
Pat-making notes as you unpack? For a future trip? Yes, you are more organized than me!

Posted by
306 posts

It's September. I plan to travel in March. Already I am working on what I may need to buy because I am first-time traveling to the UK for part of this trip. Not unreasonable, considering supply-chain issues at the moment.

Aside from a lot of what others do, including a post-trip debrief (yes, I sit down with myself and note on my travel list what I would do differently for the next trip).

What i've found very helpful is to create a pre-trip list of things TO DO BEFORE THE TRIP, ASIDE FROM PACKING. I have a standard list which I copy for each upcoming trip and then edit for the new event...maybe this time I need a haircut Typical for me transferring money to my account I use to draw cash, ordering prescription meds, updating and printing my password hints list, setting up credit card prepays, cancelling any excess hotel reservations, printing any documents I need, ripping up my guide books, etc...down to the last items before I step out the door...l getting the garbage out and shutting the water off at the main. (which also requires a note on the bathroom counter). I'm in prep mode with this list starting a month of 2 before I leave. I don't like last-minute tasks before a long trip.

Of course, it's on a spreasheet.

Posted by
480 posts

Ahhh.... my people!

I do all the same list-making, liquids-preparing, pre-laundering, sorting, house and pet preparation steps that all of us slightly compulsive packers do.

But the thing that really relieved my stress was to decide a few trips ago that I was going to pretend we were leaving a day earlier than we actually were. So I ran around like a crazy person two days before our departure, doing all the last-minute things, checking and re-checking everything, that exhaust me right before leave for vacation. The day before we left, I read a book on the couch. And slept well that night. And departed rested and relaxed. Been doing it ever since.

Posted by
5697 posts

Actually, I start my to-do/to-pack list while still on the previous trip:
• Note places we had to miss but should see sometime in the future. And places recommended by Forum members.
•Check off clothing items as worn (to see what I could have left behind.) And note what I had to buy for unexpected weather.

Posted by
470 posts

I've been enjoying reading these responses. I do many of the same things already posted here. Lists are my go-to organizing strategy. Packing list, revised after each trip. To Do Before Trip, ie, prepay utilities and credit cards, contact bank and cc company, etc. Thing to Buy, in case I need anything replenished. Info for Family, ie, itinerary, contacts, etc. Etc etc. I still like to print out hotel confirmations, train tickets, other reservations. Pack the night before departure, checking off items on my packing list. Haven't forgotten anything yet. Looking forward to future travel.

Posted by
2069 posts

Ah, I'd be buying specialized clothing locally that I'd probably never wear again. I pack for carry-on-only: three days and I wash my stuff in the shower. Carrying wine is just, umm, heavy. Two bottles of wine is, what, two evenings? Not worth the hassle or mass. Local wine is an integral part of an adventure. Plus, the region has one of the olden viniculture traditions on the planet. You should be able to find wines from several countries in any boozeria but Egypt itself has a small and vital wine industry. Easily researched

To respond to Bogiesan; I hate shopping and definitely do not want to shop for clothes locally. Really? You would spend your limited vacation in a foreign country shopping for an entire 2 week wardrobe?? 😮
I did do my research on local red wine. Without fail, most everyone says it is awful. Wine is important and I know adds much weight, but I have brought wine before on trips (Norway-so happy we brought our own wine which is ridiculously expensive and not very good) and always been happy that I did. Husband sorta thinks I am nuts to do it, but he has never refused to share the bottle with me😆.

Posted by
191 posts

Great fun to read these! And JudyB and diveloonie, I’d like to expand on your thoughts about postcards to elderly parents. My mom just passed away at 100, and for the last fifteen years or so, I’ve sent postcards to her…one each day..while traveling. She absolutely loved it and like your mom, Judy, saved them all. Easy to buy a few at a time, pop one in a mailbox each day…most of them arrived in order, which amazed me. A few, lost in space, arrived a month or two later…but all good.

Posted by
31 posts

I have so enjoyed reading posts on this thread. Thank you everyone. I started traveling internationally in 1982. After a few years I read a book which included extensive preparation/packing lists. I modified this list to suit my needs. I continue to modify it as technology and my needs change. I use a five stage system.
I start packing at least a month in advance. My travel cubes and miscellaneous Ziploc bags live in my big LL Bean backpack all the time. I start throwing items in and checking them off my list as I do so. Then about a week before leaving I pull everything out and start organizing on my king-size bed. I also take a Swiss gear backpack and a purse which fits into the backpack onboard the aircraft. I always check my big backpack. I am not a minimalist packer. The rule my husband and I have is you pack it you carry it. However, he has been known to help me out from time-to-time. But I am able to carry it all.
The first stage is Advance Preparation which includes ensuring my passport is not expiring soon., arranging for medical/dental care, checking public transport schedules (we no longer rent a vehicle), exploring things we'd like to see and checking for opening times, etc.
Stage 2 is a list of clothing. I typically bring a set of clothes to wear home that are not worn on the trip. I pack two sweaters, two pair of slacks, 2 scarves, etc. I also select my day of travel clothes.
Stage 3 is the toiletries/cosmetics list. I usually have all these items on hand, it's just getting them into the proper backpack or purse. This list also contains "general options" such as few envelopes of various sizes, a mini sewing kit, reading materials (I read books on downloaded on my phone but also pack two paperbacks for the trip over and three for the trip back. I would be lost without something to read during delays.)
Stage 4 is the "Away from Home Mechanics" - listing such things as emergency contacts, sending itinerary to family members, pre-addressed labels for postcards, holding mail, etc.
The Stage 5 list is entitled "Pre-Take Off". This includes tasks such as turning down the thermostat, disconnecting small appliances, etc.
I also have a last minute checklist and a Last Minute Quick Check.
I developed the last minute quick check after once waiting for the car service to take us to the airport 45 minutes away I discovered I had an old expired passport and had to quickly scramble to get the new one! Yikes.
The first few years I traveled I was known to stop in the middle of a concourse and say "I don't know where my passport is!" My husband called them "Lori" alerts. Since I developed the above strategy these stops are few and far between.
Anyway, this system works for me. When I print out my master list the trip excitement really ratchets up.

Happy Travels everyone!

Posted by
81 posts

What fun to read this thread, such a refreshing change of pace from Covid related posts, almost like the "old" days!
I do many of the same things all of the above have mentioned. I always replenish my toiletries when I return from a trip so that is always ready to go. Things start to accumulate on the bed in the spare bedroom a week or so before departure date. As someone mentioned, I clean the house a couple of days before. I also hate coming home to a messy house. The other things I always do is change the sheets on the bed. No matter what time I have to get up to make an early flight, the sheets get changed. I love getting home to a clean house and crawling into my bed with clean sheets. I always say that the first night back in your own bed is the best way to end a vacation.

Posted by
9493 posts

I’m currently lying in bed in my Paris hotel room! I have usually been a fairly quick packer but this time I realized I’d really lost the skill for packing after the 2-year hiatus.

I recommend a complete trial pack for your suitcase and personal item at least a week ahead of your flight.

-In packing my OTC meds, I realized they were all expired. They were probably OK but wanted to make sure I had dependable stuff in case I had to deal with an isolation situation at the end of my trip.

-My first pack of both my suitcase and personal item just did not work. I had to expand my suitcase and I hate starting a trip that way. The tote I used the last couple of prepandemic trips just was not working. I did wind up taking stuff out of boxes and extra wrapping and trying to squish things down in Ziplocks. I did wind up with a fully packed suitcase 2 days before travel and got it down to it’s unexpanded state. I had my personal item packed the day before except for my chargers and the electronics.

-I wound up with a lot of extra pandemic supplies. I’ve got 30 N95 masks plus some other ones, a Binax now kit (OTC not the proctored one), more hand wipes and sanitizing gel than I’d ever considered packing. My N95s were overwrapped in plastic so it saved space to open them and move to a couple of big ziplocks. Since my Binax are non-proctored and just for unofficial use I unboxed them and moved them to ziplocks. No idea if they will still be good as they were in checked luggage and probably were below the suggested temperature range.

-At the last minute I read Cameron Hewitt’s blog where he suggested taking a thermometer and a pulse oximeter to monitor your health if you do test positive. Well, it turned out that the batteries were dead in both my thermometers and I did not have a pulse oximeter. I literally went out to Walgreens at 6A on a Sunday 2 days before my flight to try and locate a pulse ox ( clerk told me they’d sold over one hundred in the last few weeks as N Idaho has been in a huge spike of cases) and no the online inventory system is not always accurate.

-I needed a different organization strategy to have my passport/CDC card/printed copy of my Pass Sanitaire available through the day instead of keeping my passport in my money belt. It turns out that I have not actually had to show any ID along with the Pass Sanitaire for daily functioning in Paris but I’ll still keep it available. This did require a different wallet set up.

-I think even if countries lift various masking restrictions I will still pack with an eye to possibly quickly needing mask and hand sanitizer options.

-Final words….Pack early, pack often!

Posted by
31 posts

Thank You for your post, Pam. Right after I read it, I added masks, pulse ox, thermometer, CDC card, and other documents related to Covid which may be required for travel to my packing list. Now I need to decide to travel again.
Enjoy your stay in Paris!

Posted by
1667 posts

Love all this.

I have lists depending on where I am going, so really I don’t have to worry about it too much. However this was a strange summer for me (gone more than at home, with 2 international trips and home @ 2 night before each). So I ended up packing way in advance for both Greece and Croatia. I essentially packed twice for 2 trips at the same time to 2 different destinations. Potentially confusing! For the first go round to Greece, I absolutely knew I packed my travel adaptors. Never found them - until 5 weeks later when I started packing for Croatia. They were in my bag right where they should have been and I just couldn’t find them. Sigh. For this 4 week trip, there are several small things I always take that just didn’t wind up here in Croatia with me. Nothing essential - and they are probably at home in the bag that went on the trip I got home from 2 days before I left on this one.

*Edit: Also I apologize. My iPad is doing weird things tonight and posting whenever it feels like it…..

Posted by
1630 posts

Great thread, so hopeful! I also keep a packing list that gets revised after each trip as I am unpacking. I just pulled it up to evaluate it based on these posts and have added my vaccine card, COVID tests, hand sanitizer, and masks. At the top of my packing list I also note specifics about what worked/didn't work on the prior few trips. The notes for my 2019 trip to Iceland say I didn't need an international phone plan (wifi worked fine), the Trtl neck pillow was a flop, and that I need to pack more durable ziplocks and cortisone cream. The notes from a 2018 South America trip say that wool socks worked great for multiple days without smelling and that I should have packed Benefiber (lol). The last items on my check list are day of departure things like clean the house (I love a clean house and fresh sheets) and things like turning off hot water heater and putting out the garbage (both hard lessons learned). All of my gear is stored in a plastic bin in a closet so it's easy to pull out for packing. I also replenish toiletries when coming home so they're always ready.

I try to have 98% of packing done the week before leaving so there's no mad rush on departure day. Since I am still working full time I also make sure to take off at least one day before departure so that I can ease into vacation mode. It's really hard (on me) to rush at work and then immediately rush to head out of town.

Now I'm really looking forward to going somewhere. Cross fingers for 2022.

Posted by
9493 posts

Travlergirl, I always have fun in Paris!

I think some of the value of threads like these, in addition to helping Tammy get organized, lol, is having aha moments!! Months ago I meant to get a pulse oximeter then things got better and I forgot about it. Reading Cameron’s blog reminded me and made total sense. The one I got has biofeedback modes so I can use to do relaxation as well.

PS I had to leave my Benefiber at home, lol as there was literally no space. I decided if I need it surely I can find something here.

Posted by
2 posts

I used to start a list of everything I think of that I would need to pack for my trip months out and start slowly packing my suitcase or backpack that I plan to use and scratching those items off the list.

But, I have two carry-on suitcases. One max carry-on size I usually carry on my international trips and one a little smaller I usually use on domestic trips.

My suitcase for international trips, I now have a capsule wardrobe with lightweight Eddie Bauer pants and capris that can be dressed up or down. Combo of 4-6 T-shirts and dressy tops. Flip flops and swimsuit. You can add thermals under the lightweight pants for cold weather. I keep these items in packing cubes in the suitcase with an international charger, clothesline and travel umbrella. Before my trips all I have to add is travel docs, toiletries, charging cables and any other accessories.

I took international trips yearly, sometimes twice a year and I got tired trying to remember everything I travel with for international trips (it was driving me crazy) and the clothes I take for travel now are different than what I wear day to day.

Posted by
106 posts

So my husband and I have different methods:

We keep a drawer for money belts, packing cubes, adaptors and other gadgets we bought but have NEVER used. (mental note to clean those out.) Hubby does a list of what he will wear each day and packs accordingly. I put a folding table in our room and start laying out my clothing about 10 days ahead of time. This gives me time to sort and pare down. I am no fashion maven so as long as things go together (matching is for unimaginative folks) I pare down to what I really need. And everyone else is wearing their clothes over and over so I don't worry about that! I do try to buy clothes that are light, packable and sink washable AND will dry quickly.

My biggest problem is shoes--I really want to take ONE pair but worry about shoes getting wet. I hate wearing wet shoes. But shoes are heavy and take up alot of room. I have bought some 'fitkicks' to wear around after a day of heavy walking but they are not practical for long walks. I did do Scotland in May with just my walking shoes--a destination to Rome next year will require somethng a bit nicer to wear with skirts. For me that means Keen Newport H2's which fir my wide feet.

I had a good friend who traveled extensively and she used the 'drop your drawers' method. She took undies that were no longer in peak condition and simply tossed them after she wore them. Makes room for purchases if you do the same with less than fashionable clothes too! Just folded them up and left a note that they are for the taking when she left.

Posted by
781 posts

To respond to Bogiesan; I hate shopping and definitely do not want to shop for clothes locally. Really? You would spend your limited vacation in a foreign country shopping for an entire 2 week wardrobe??

Heck no. I pack light after decades of backpacking and bicycle touring. A versatile 3-day wardrobe is all I need so, no, I am not shopping locally for a two-week stay. However, from what I have heard, traveling without a full wardrobe to know destinations is liberating, easy to do, and is an enjoyable experience. One drops into a department store, picks up a few things (one trousers/skirt, two shorts, four underwear/sox cycles, a long sleeve shirt, two short sleeves, a sweater) and you're out the door. Takes all of 60 minutes.

There are innumerable approaches to reducing one's out-bound load and there are some folks who enjoy filling the hours when they're not on a coach or in a museum by dropping into the local shops and leaving a tiny bit of money in the local economy. In Scotland, I knew I'd want to pick up some artisan woolen sox so I did not take my usual supply.

Time is a resource that is consumed in roughly the same amount by anyone who travels internationally. People spend many hours at home fretting over their packing lists, pre-trip packing, repacking, shopping. Some of us have completely separate travel rigs and can hit the road to the airport in 10 minutes, confident we will pass effortlessly through security, arrive prepared for any eventuality, and ready to spend those same hours on a bit of cultural immersion by visiting random local establishments to pick up unusual wines and liquors, curiously shaped breads and pastries, weirdly portable foods, toiletries with indecipherable labels, or whatever else might be needed or enjoyed.

Posted by
2069 posts

Hey Bogiesan, have you shopped with your wife before? I have never been able to be in and out of a store in a short period of time, especially when shopping for clothes. Many items need to be tried on before I find the "perfect" fit! It is different for most men I think. So, I am still going to say that I am not spending my limited vacation time shopping for clothes, food items etc. I would much rather be in a cathedral, walking the streets, eating good food. To each his own........

Posted by
117 posts

I trial pack a few weeks ahead of my trip and write a list of everything, including cosmetics and toiletries, as well as take a picture of all the packed up stuff. The cube organization within the luggage makes a big difference for me as far as space efficiency goes. I am using the rectangular cubes more than the square ones for better fit in the roller bag. Often, I leave some things out and then add in other pieces based on the weather forecast. If weight is an issue with the airlines I weigh everything too. We almost always travel with carryon only but check our luggage on the return. On the next European trip I’m taking hiking poles so I will absolutely check those as required by TSA.

Posted by
13 posts

It is so refreshing to read about travel and packing! I really needed this! A note to the person travelling to Egypt. We drank French wine while there (pricey but good) and available. I would buy something called a galabaya (spelling?) when there. Way cooler than anything you would already own. Just rinse it out, and you can wear it every day. I wore the same sundress most of the time, a long one, and had a long sleeved shirt I could throw on top when I needed to cover up. Bring a scarf, a long one. Lots of sunscreen (get the stick kind). If you wear sandals, don't forget to put sunscreen on your feet. I also brought some peppermint lotion for my feet. Walking on all those stones is brutal. Also bring a small flashlight. It was my "security blanket" when scrambling under pyramids. Have a great trip! I did.

Posted by
90 posts

I had a good friend who traveled extensively and she used the 'drop
your drawers' method. She took undies that were no longer in peak
condition and simply tossed them after she wore them. Makes room for
purchases if you do the same with less than fashionable clothes too!
Just folded them up and left a note that they are for the taking when
she left.

I do this with running clothes as well. I'll bring the ones that are on their last legs and after my run I just throw them away. No hauling around sweaty clothes. I have a space in my closet, and as I realize a piece of running clothing needs to be replaced, I replace it and set the old one aside for my next trip. Also, this is very motivating for getting a run in, as I do NOT want to bring those old clothes home!

Posted by
1892 posts

Before each trip, I go through my clothing that is being retired to the "Good Will" stack. I select items that I'll wear on the trip and then discard, making room for purchases in my carry-on. I usually ditch all my underwear, sleep wear, [old yoga outfits], and at least one top and sweater; if my timing is right, I leave a pair of walking shoes that have seen better days. And- now in the era of covid, I can ditch the used Abbott covid self -test.
Safe travels!