How I Pack, In a Nutshell

My suitcase for our recent trip to the Balkans.

Over the past few years I've been working on a system to make packing as easy as possible. This isn't about how I fold my shirts, or where I stuff my socks, or the best suitcase to buy — this is just a few steps I follow every time I pack for a trip. I'm confident that others might find it helpful, so I wrote it down here:

  1. A couple weeks before I leave, I make a list of the things I think I'll need. Everything I'm going to need goes on this list: three shirts, two pairs of pants, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. As my departure gets closer and I think of more things I'll need, I add them to the list. You could use pen and paper, but I find it better to keep the note on my phone so I can find it again later.
  2. Now that I have a list, packing my bag is as simple as collecting the stuff I need and checking it off my list.
  3. When it's time to pack for another trip, I look through my old packing lists for one that matches up with my current trip in terms of climate and activities. I adapt it (if necessary), and start packing.

Anyone who knows me won't find it surprising that I prepare packing lists and then file them away to be used again for future trips. Maybe you'd find it self-evident (as I do) or on the other hand, overly anal, and maybe it is. But the key is that when you write down a list first, you pack your bag in your head before you ever have to start running around the house trying to figure out what to bring. In my experience, this makes the whole thing a lot easier.