Packing for travel can be a stressful experience, because you often can't be sure whether you've packed everything you need. The solution to this problem, is, fortunately, easy.
Very simply, you make a list of "Things To Pack." You keep this list in a place where you can always find it, and you keep updating it. This works because usually you have to pack the same things when you travel. It's not like each time is a major customization problem.
Where To Put the List
The list should be kept in a place where you can't lose it. If you want to keep it on paper, which I do not recommend, then the best places for the list are probably in your suitcase, or perhaps in your filing cabinet under "travel" or "packing." However, a digital list is easier to update and search for.
Keeping this list in the "cloud" is great, because it's accessible from everywhere and automatically backed up. It is one of the many lists I use googledocs for. Here is why I prefer googledocs to Word files:
If you don't want to use googledocs, you can use Dropbox (which stores the file on your computer as well as in the cloud). If you don't like using the cloud, then I'd make a folder on your hard drive called "reference material" or something, and put your important documents in there.
The file is called "Travel: Items to Bring pack" which sounds awkward, but in googledocs it's wise to put every keyword in the title you might ever use to search for it. For example, sometimes I might search for "what to bring" and other times "what to pack."
What Should Be On the ListI didn't put clothing on the list-- hopefully that's obvious enough.
The list is broken up into sections. I'll describe the sections I use and examples of what I put in those sections, but you should make your own sections and items that work for you. When you go on your first trip using a list, keep a new list of things you forgot to put on the primary list, and update it when you get home. After two or three updates, you'll feel confident that if you use the list you won't have forgotten to pack anything important. Bon voyage!
This list is for what to do just before you go on your trip, presumably because you'll need some of these things out the night before. For example:
- pills and medicine
- toothbrush (or just keep a separate toothbrush in your toiletries bag)
- Call credit card and advise them of your travel. (not something to pack, but a good place to put a reminder nonetheless)
- Chargers for everything
These are things to bring in your carry-on bag. Although it feels great sometimes to not have any carry on at all, once I got stuck in the Philadelphia airport for three days. I usually pick and choose from this list.
- shirt with pocket
- Carleton alumni jacket
- Permanent residency card
- wallet and everything in it, make sure you have enough money
- serious book or iPad or iPhone with a book
- flags (for marking books)
- Ear Plugs,
- Headphones, both big and tiny
- Microphone hook up for headphones
- Jams iPod
- charger in for phone, cord for kindle if bringing it
- Little Notebook
- Business cards
- pocket for receipts if you need to collect them (seehttp://jimdavies.blogspot.ca/2009/05/how-to-save-travel-receipts.html)
- empty keyring (if you’re staying at someone’s house)
- empty bottle of water (fill it after security)
- sunglass clips
- glasses cleaning supply (should be in toiletries kit)
- glasses case
- index cards
- handkerchief (for eye mask)
- handkerchief (nose blowing)
Long-Term Travelling around
This is for trips longer than five weeks or trips in poor countries.
- A dozen Visa-sized photos of yourself
- photocopies of passport.
- guidebook (phrasebook at www.travlang.com)
- hygiene items
- gift items
- a few changes of simple clothes
- one nice outfit for clubbing/finer dining
- pen knife (make sure it's not in your carry on when flying)
- daypack (probably your carryon)
- sturdy shoes
- power adapter
- universal stopper (for sink for washing clothes)
- bungee cord (for drying line for clothing)
- reading light (functions as flashlight)
- ziplock bags (for keeping things dry)
- Some DVDs, and CDs for car rentals (in car bag)
This list is for camping or when you'll really be out in the boonies and might be in a situation where your survival in the wilderness might become a problem.
- Baggie of cotton balls covered with Vaseline
- or baggie of cotton balls with hand sanitizer. (for starting fires)
- Flint and steel
- Hand santitzer
- Shrill Whistle
- Swiss Army Knife
For the Car
If you're taking a road trip, or will be renting a car wherever you're going, there's a list for that too.
- GPS, bag of car stuff
- connector for car/iPhone
- CDs for rental cars (not every rental has a aux input)
If I'm travelling with Mrs. Wiggles, I need to bring special stuff.
- Dirty Shirt (for comforting dog while in kennel)
- Pig Ear to chew
- arthritis medicine
- dog bowls
- flexible water bowl (there’s one in the car bag)
- File with vaccinations, etc. (in the car bag)
- nail clippers
- Baseball cap
- Serious sunglasses
- Suntan lotion
- bathing suit
Where To Keep This Stuff
You don't want to be running all over the house, frantically looking for these things. So keep them in your suitcase! When it's time for me to pack, I bring out my suitcase, which has all kinds of stuff already in it, such as a spare bathing suit, my bag of toiletries, etc. I also have in there one of those canvas grocery shopping bags. What I do is, I keep in the suitcase the things I need for the upcoming trip, and put the unneeded things in the canvas bag. This bag sits in my house until I return. After I unpack, I put the canvas bag and its contents back in the suitcase.
Pictured: My beloved in NYC. Photo credit: me.