Thursday, June 7, 2007

Organizing for Travel: The Packing List

packing list written in spiral notebook

I have a huge travel bug, and have taken a fair number of trips to Europe and Asia. One thing that I've done for years is maintained a packing list, so I remember what worked well for me on prior trips, and don't forget as I pack for the next one. Even though I pack on the light side, it's easy to overlook something. Why rely on my memory when a list can do the job so much better?

Yes, in many (but not all) places you can buy almost anything you forgot - and if you forgot something like toothpaste, it really isn't an issue. But if I forgot my nice small binoculars that are great for seeing detail up high on churches and such, getting a replacement would either mean spending a chunk of change, or getting something nowhere as nice as what I already own. And things like prescription medicines can be time-consuming and expensive to get when abroad.

Here are some packing lists from various web sites that you might find useful as a starting point. And if you'd like me to e-mail my personal list to you, just let me know.

The Universal Packing List has you enter a bit of information (gender, whether or not you wash your own clothes, the expected temperatures where you will be traveling, etc.) and then creates the appropriate list.

Rick Steves' Packing List is a decent generic packing list for people traveling in his somewhat-budget style.

And Wikitravel has an article designed to help you create your own packing list.

[photo from Angel on Flickr]


Cliff said...

I've actually been travelling for my job for the past few years. Before that, I would travel frequently for pleasure. In that time, I don't think I've ever had a list.

That being said, it doesn't mean I don't think through the process. But my work travel bag has everything already included in it (toiletries, umbrella, swim trunks for spas, dirty laundry bag, etc.), and I have a set of "travel clothes" that are used only for that. It makes it easy for my ADD self to keep track of, and not worry that I don't have enough clothes before the trip.

For packing non-work trips, I go for the essentials. Extras such as sewing kits, spot remover, etc., are irrelevant. I'm there to enjoy myself, not tend to my clothing. If I don't have enough money in my budget to buy an extra shirt if mine gets ripped, then I shouldn't be travelling in the first place.

Binocs would seem to be an unusual enough item that I'd think of them at some point during the week-long packing process (I always take a minimum of 1 week to pack for leaving the country, for just such reasons). Packing lists tend to make me want to pack more than I really need or will use. Give me a book (or a few hundred on my Palm Treo), some music (again, on my Palm), a camera, and a notebook to journal & write down what I think/feel. Any more than that is overkill for me.

Jeri Dansky said...

Hi Cliff,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. It's interesting and useful to read how different people approach the same challenges.

Having a travel bag that stays packed with your travel needs is a great idea!

Sewing kit: I've used a sewing kit when a button came off a sweater. It's a small thing that I like to carry - but that's a very personal decision.

Here's to more wonderful travels for both of us!