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Permanent packing list

For many years I have kept packing lists on my computer in a folder named \travel\packinglists. Each is titled with the year and month and the general destination of the trip. Example: 2019-3-EasternDanube. The items on the list are grouped into 3 categories: Clothing, Toilitries/Medicines, and Etc. I also note the items that go into my daypack with a (C) (for carry-on).
When I am planning a new trip I select a previous list that is similar in time of year and destination and print it. If the new trip requires some changes to the packing list, I save it with the appropriate name. This has really simplified planning.

Posted by
557 posts

Great idea, I do something similar. I have basic packing lists for domestic and European travel. I tweak it as needed for length of trip, destination, and season. I use spreadsheets for my lists so I can easily sort them.

Posted by
4182 posts

I have a spreadsheet that is continually being modified. Just this morning I removed the line for vaccine passport (I hope I didn't jinx it). I considered also eliminating the line for plane tickets as all of that is on my phone now, but decided it's still a reminder to make sure I know how to access them on my phone.

I'm not as concerned with my clothing list except for things like a jacket which I've forgotten before and had to buy once I got to my destination. I first starting using a list for accessories such as cords for electronics and my laptop. Each of these has a subcategory listing cord, charger, etc.

Posted by
4393 posts

I make sure that I have a copy of my packing list with me on the trip so that I know what was packed in each cube.

Posted by
6698 posts

I do the same thing. I keep a permanent packing list in Google Sheets, then make a copy for each trip and edit as needed. For example, I'm adding a lightweight puffer coat to my upcoming March/April trip in the UK as it will be colder (maybe).

My categories are Clothing, Electronics, Toiletries/Rx, Documents/Cards, and Miscellaneous.

Allan, I have also eliminated the vaccine cards as well. And I second the wish that we didn't jinx it, lol!

Posted by
80 posts

Me too! I have a master list (main tab) and then for each trip I create a new tab which is modified as needed. I also write up trip notes as to what worked well and what didn't - so I don't repeat mistakes.

What I need to do is create a master list of document back-ups - I have been dragging my feet on that.

Posted by
4744 posts

I recently refined my master packing list by "container" (mesh bag, small packing cube, etc) that things go into, rather than by precise category.

That made a difference with things like deodorant, which is a toiletry, but doesn't go in my 3-1-1 bag with most of the toiletries. Now it's in a category with hairbrush.... toiletry type items that go in my suitcase.

In my little packing routine, the subtle difference is that I can pack a "container" and be done with it. All of a sudden, my packing seemed less chaotic.

Probably similar to your C for carry on designation, johannaj.

Posted by
10 posts

One more thought: I keep a small printout in my billfold that has:
Contacts in emergency (2 people with phone numbers)
Medical provider in USA (my doctor's name, clinic name, phone number)
Lodging in Europe (list of hotels, cruise line, etc with dates I will be at each)
US embassies - for each country I will visit with address and phone number
This all fits on a piece of paper about 3 inches by 5 inches.

Posted by
7365 posts

If there’s a use for a spreadsheet for traveling, I probably have and use one - LOL! I like your designation for items you want in your carry on, too, Johanna.

I certainly found the detailed packing list useful when I took my first international trip again after Covid 2020-2021. I think there were three items as I glanced at the list that I would have forgotten.

I have five columns in my packing list:

  1. The first column that I’ve merged several rows for each has two large cells - Cotopaxi (backpack) & Sherpani (tote)
  2. The second column in the Cotopaxi section has four medium size merged cells - Left clamshell, Right clamshell, Front pocket & Laptop folder. The Sherpani is just one large cell.
  3. The third column lists the individual items that go into each of the locations which goes into the two items I bring.
  4. The fourth column is the checkbox cells for each item as it is packed.
  5. The fifth column is for making comments after I return from the trip. What I didn’t use, amount of a product I might want to alter, etc.
Posted by
7365 posts

It simplifies planning & it sure helps so much with not overpacking! It’s amazing how many things that weren’t on the list years ago tried to jump into my suitcase those last weeks! ; )

Posted by
5609 posts

I agree. It sounds like many of us have similar strategies.

My list is very similar to Jean’s format with columns showing what the item was packed in (e.g., suitcase, daypack) and then where it is within that item (e.g., blue packing cube) and a column to check when it was packed. I also use categories (e.g., clothes, meds, toiletries, electronics)

I also never remove anything from the list unless I no longer own it or decide I won’t ever need it on a trip. I have a “NA” column that I go through first. I mark anything I don’t plan to bring on the trip. For example, swimsuit is marked NA if I know there won’t be an opportunity to swim; however, it stays on the spreadsheet in case I need it for the next trip.

Posted by
2613 posts

My permanent list has gotten me through various types of trips--business, car trips, and vacations both domestic and international. It lists specific items I absolutely must have with me that applies to any trip, then other things that are specific. I have a heading for suitcase, carryon tote and purse. The goal is to make me think about the type of item a month, then 2 weeks, ahead of packing, in case I need to purchase something new. It gets double-checked on the day of departure just before I zip my cases and I must say proudly that I have never forgotten anything! As I buy new luggage I also note the empty weight of them, and jot down my typical filled weight.

Posted by
2814 posts

Similar to everyone, I have a master packing list. It’s updated as clothes, etc wear out or I don’t want to look at them again. From my master list I make a detailed trip list which lists literally everything. I use Word Docs because I’m not tech savvy. Each list is filed with that trip’s itinerary and eventually trip report.

I keep a packing schematic on my packing list so I know what and where everything fits in the Rolling Carry-On and tote. I do a test pack two weeks before leaving. That gives me time to revamp and/or buy anything I want to change. Since I tend to overpack, it also gives me a chance to weed out all unnecessary things to keep weight and bulk manageable.

Posted by
347 posts

Ah...but do you include the weight of each item, including the weight of the items you will consume on the trip so you know how much weight you can bring back and still have a relatively light bag?

I weigh my toiletry bag as a single item.

I do.
Outbound rollerbag is usually 17 pounds.

Posted by
10 posts

I am old and small, so I do not worry about overweight - if I cannot lift it into the truck it's too heavy and something has to go!

Posted by
10 posts

I am old and small, so I do not worry about overweight - if I cannot lift it into the truck it's too heavy and something has to go! Packing light is the only option.

Posted by
11406 posts

Yup, me too! Very similar but my packing page is part of my Excel workbook for the trip. One notable difference for me is that I list clothing in 4 columns: Pants, Tops, Layers, Accessories. Layers included cardigans, fleece, and out wear as required for the season and destination. I list right down to numbers of underthings based on how many days I will go without a washing machine.

A change I made starting 3 years ago is to cross-pack with my husband on the way to Europe. We check bags but I put a change of clothes for me in his bag and vice versa, just-in-case. (We also each put a t-shirt and undies in our backpacks. So far, haven’t needed them.)

Posted by
2814 posts

Becky, as to weigh each item, yes and no. Clothes I weigh but once I get a general idea that leggings weigh 7 1/2oz I don’t need to weigh them again. I don’t weigh supplies unless it’s something I might cut and buy in Europe. Optional item or anything new I always weigh to decide if it’s worth packing.
What is helpful is a luggage scale and a small cloth tape measurer so I don’t overpack or overstuff my bags.

Posted by
7365 posts

Becky, yes, I have a second spreadsheet for each trip (didn’t know if I wanted to admit I go into this much detail - LOL!) that listed every potential travel item - the navy dress, the black one, the flowered one I bought in Hawaii, etc. and the weight of each one, so I could choose the best ones that are the lightest weight.

Horsewoofie, if I had the luggage scale, then I wouldn’t be incentivized that last month (I do a trial pack) to lose a few pounds from my body, too, when I step on the scale with my pack and subtract the weight without it! ; )

Posted by
2344 posts

I do something similar. A note on my phone broken down by category:

dry toiletries bag
liquids bag
nightstand bag
medications/first aid
plane essentials kit
misc (ziplocks, laundry sheets, sharp knife, clothes line, etc)

There’s a little bubble next to each item and I click the bubble when I’ve packed the item.

It works for a trip of any duration. For my clothing, I’ve started putting an “x” next to the item each time I wear it. At the end of the trip I decide whether that item was worth it, or could I have worn something else.

Posted by
1407 posts

Although I use spreadsheets for work and my husband uses a Google Sheet for our trips, I maintain two Google Docs for trips --- I'm not sure why two or why not a spreadsheet, but I always have liked to do it this way (originally in Word). One is for packing and things to do before the trip and the other is for things to do and where we are staying while on the trip. The packing list gets copied and pasted into a new doc, re-titled with the new trip name and date, then revised as needed (less and less revision needed every year!).

I do print it up and cross things off as I collect them on the guestroom bed or on the project table --- somehow physically crossing off items on a list is more satisfying. When everything is collected, I sort them into what goes into the suitcase and personal in-flight bag, and I photograph what goes into each bag. Not entirely sure why I started doing the photography, but it's been helpful several times, as in "Which cardigan did I actually take on our spring trip six years ago?"

I have a bad habit of writing stern notes to my future self on the packing list ("Do not wear that flowered shirt on the airplane!"), seeing the note the next year and thinking, well that's obvious and the reason for it is obvious, deleting the note, and then two years on wondering if I should wear that flowered shirt on the airplane. I should write myself a note to stop doing that.

Posted by
162 posts

I too like a paper copy of my packing and "to do" lists to write on. I now have just one document that sits next to my opened bags along with a pen and colored highlighters as I begin packing a few days before departure. The list begins with my "to do" list of tasks such as hold mail, thermostat, windows shades, water plants. The pack list has a separate section labeled "liquids in 3-1-1". The remainder of the list is roughly grouped by items intended for "carry-on tote", "roll aboard" and "checked". Although the items are roughly grouped as mentioned, they are no longer labeled as I had in the past under one of the 3 categories. Lately I've been taking only a rollaboard and tote without any checked luggage. In that case, what had been "checked" is now in my roll aboard or tote. As an item is packed, I highlight it... blue if in my tote, yellow if in the roll aboard, and orange if in the checked luggage. Items that end up not getting packed, such as a snorkel mask, get a line drawn through. I pack differently if on a direct flight rather than if I have a connection that increases the possibility of a checked piece being delayed. My tote items list then becomes longer. Another variable that changes how I pack is if I am arriving early in the day and needing the hotel to store my bags while I enjoy a walking tour or museum before afternoon check in. In that case, my cross body purse is packed in my tote rather than in my checked bag. So I now have just one document that I print for each trip and use the colored highlighter coding to change where items get packed.

Posted by
26 posts

I really like the app AnyList. I use it primarily for grocery shopping, meal planning and recipes but the list function is fantastic. I have a master packing list and copy that to a new list by trip then add or subtract from it.

I can create categories, add notes, and check off items as I pack or do them (I have a category of things to do). When I return home, I can uncheck all the items and check them off again. It is easy to read on my phone.

There is a really good free version but I like it so much, this is the only App that I pay for a premium version.


Posted by
350 posts

Hi All!

Would those of you that use Excel or Google Sheets be willing to share your file as a starting point for me? (Private message me your shareable links!)

Cerastez - I checked yours out and maybe it's my past life in finance (over 20 years ago), but I'm wanting a more database use of Excel so I can filter on different columns for focused planning/packing.

I created a packing list for a family trip to Disneyland like 10 years ago that had the following Column Headers:

  • Item
  • Category (clothes, toiletries, personal, tools, travel docs)
  • Luggage (Personal, Carry On, Check, Wear)
  • Who (I was packing for kids)
  • How many (# each or # set or blank)
  • Packed indicator (X or blank)

Thank you all!!

Posted by
6 posts

I started keeping a packing list in about 2003. I note the destination, date and then list the things I'm wearing and taking. Mine is mostly clothing and shoes. When I get back I make note of what I didn't wear or should bring next time. It's great to look back and be able ot know what one can take for similar weather without agonizing. My lists have been infinitely helpful. I live in S. FL, so without these lists, packing for colder weather would be difficult if I had to do it from scratch each time. But even warmer weather packing is streamlined. I'm so grateful I thought of this way back!

My lists are on paper, in a spiral notebook.

Posted by
7365 posts

@melT, I have an Excel file I can share with you.

Posted by
10 posts

I recently started using a packing app called Packr. You add a trip and start with your master list. Then you can tweak the list for that specific trip depending on activities. I have one for camping, one for fancy trips, one for winter trips, one for international, etc. I really like it. When I pack something early, I can check it off on my phone.

Posted by
8 posts

Searchability is king. I’m too tired to rummage sometimes, or even to scan my list. But I’ve learned to use the find function. I’ve also learned how to devise some handy keywords.