The worst part of a trip, for many of us? Packing, before we go.
And if we’re unpacking more than once on the journey, the initial semblance of order in our suitcase (if any) diminishes with each repack, making it increasingly harder to find things each time we re-open our bag. Either that or the time taken to pack neatly ends up taking way too much time out of what is supposed to be an enjoyable relaxing vacation.
In addition to the hassle factor, there’s also the fear factor. The two big worries many of us struggle with is not forgetting anything, and then knowing where and how to find things in our bag.
A solution for the first worry that some of us have come to adopt is to keep most of our travel essentials in our suitcase, never unpacking them, to avoid the danger of forgetting them. That doesn’t always work, because sometimes you have items that you can’t conveniently duplicate with one as an “at home” item and the other as a “travel” item. Happily, you’d be surprised at how many things, particularly of the easily forgotten variety, can be readily duplicated, but that’s only part of the problem and matching solution.
I should add a disclaimer. This article is not about clothing, and further, I’m not suggesting you keep “ready to go” clothing or shoes in your suitcase. Clothing and shoes usually benefit from open spaces and some air movement.
Apart from one time when I left a pile of socks on the bed next to my suitcase, rather than placing them in the suitcase, I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten to pack clothing. I simply do a mental exercise, running through the days I’m away and what I need to wear each day. I start off with underwear and socks and decide on the minimum quantity I need, then go through each day’s requirements for formal or casual shirts, trousers, jackets, shoes, and so on. I usually end up packing too much clothing, but that’s a topic for a different article!
Yes, after having identified the clothing I need, there’s the issue of how to organize that into one’s suitcase, too. In such cases, you can either put them in any way you like, or perhaps consider some packing cubes, and have one for each type of clothing. That helps keep things orderly, stops unwrinkled items from becoming wrinkled, and should give you a way to keep clean clothing from dirty, and potentially wet from dry.
Clothes are relatively easy (particularly for men!). For me, the hard thing to remember is “everything else”.
What is “everything else”? That’s a good question, and the answer can vary, depending on the destination, the activities there, and the duration of the travels.
Definitely, it includes electronic gadgets and their related needs for cables, chargers, and whatever else. Medicines and toiletries. Some food items (don’t buy the over-priced hotel mini-bar snacks, bring your own). Reading materials, travel guides, travel paperwork, and other leisure aids. Business supplies if a business trip. Then, increasingly vaguely, other “travel essentials”, “road warrior kit”, and “just in case” items. Plus, for women, the mysteries of cosmetics and make-up and the equipment to apply and remove it all.
I’ve come up with what I believe to be a great solution for these types of items – a great way to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, and then to keep them all ordered during your travels and always easy to find. It has saved me a lot of packing stress, and massively reduced the “pain” of realizing you forgot something. Even if the forgotten thing is an inexpensive item to buy, the hassle factor of finding a shop that sells whatever it is you need, and getting to the shop while the store is open, can be massive. You want your travel time to be relaxed and unstressed, not to be fraught with urgent shopping needs.
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It is possible to control your packing without being controlled by it. Our specific suggestions and recommended products, offered above for Travel Insider Supporters, helps to make it easier not more complicated to manage your packing.