I have packed so many times in my life, I could do it blindfolded. However, that sometimes results in navy blue socks matched up with black ones. Or the wrong color belt. But only on a few occasions, two as I recall, have I forgotten the most obvious items needed on a trip. And I am referring to airline and train travel, not a car trip.
TSA has actually helped me, since I have and keep small-sized toiletries in a zip lock bag permanently. I also pick one color scheme for the trip, choosing among black, navy, or brown/tan. In addition, I always use a carry on bag for domestic trips. This limits the items I bring to about three to four outfits or changes of clothing per domestic trip.
Foreign trips are a little more involved, since more activities are planned, and the weather requires different types of clothing. On golf trips, golf clothing and casual clothing are needed. On foreign trips, the heat and humidity factors into my packing process, along with the possibility of rain. Likewise, my recent trip to Chicago and Ann Arbor required warm clothing, gloves, and a hat.
So, here are some tricks to packing, also known as the lazy person packing method. I use some variation of most of them.
1. Never unpack. It sounds simple, but some basics never need to leave your carry on bag. These would be TSA sized toiletries, a sturdy umbrella, plastic utensils (chopsticks too), and slippers. My little computer bag holds my Samsung tablet, iPhone charger, Bose headphones and music player, camera, sunglasses, and dry coffee (regular and instant).
2. Wear a travel “uniform”. I just always choose something that is comfortable, usually nice jeans, long sleeve shirt, and a light or medium weight jacket. The long sleeve shirt helps me deal with the temperature on the plane. Unless you are headed to Hawaii, then go with all short sleeve shirts and polos.
3. Keep a box or basket handy. Always have one place to keep the items you know you will need for your trip. I used a large box to gather everything I need for my big trip in May. This includes mostly travel related items, not clothing. These included: combination locks, passport holder, gifts, food, insect repellant, sunscreen, duck tape, first aid kit, traveler medications, insulated coffee mug, utensils, a sharp knife, batteries, electrical plug adapter, travel soap*, face cloth, squash ball, decks of cards, easy to read book or novel (Grisham or Theroux), and bug zapper.
4. Wrinkle free clothing. I owe it all to Under Armour, the company that made polyester breathable and totally wrinkle free. Travelsmith and Ex Officio also make good, sturdy, no wrinkle clothing, though more expensive. First, these items tend to take up less space, and second, no ironing needed upon arrival. I rarely take cotton or silk unless I know I will use the valet laundry service. Wrinkle free can be easily laundered in your sink or shower.
5. Maintain a packing list. You should be able to use the same one again and again. Or have one for warm weather destinations, and one for cold. Many travel items are needed regardless of weather conditions, like underwear, socks, routine medications, and toiletries.
6. Pre-packed toiletries. This one is a no brainer, though I am guilty of switching things around, based on the trip I am taking. Just keep it basic and don’t sweat the small stuff.
7. Schedule packing time or have a routine. I try to pack the night before on most short trips. Same routine. Start with shoes, followed by underwear and socks. Then pants or jeans, and lastly, the shirts, sweater, and jacket. Generally, everything else is pre-packed, or ready to throw into the carry on bag.
8. Buy things when you arrive. This can be a mixed bag, depending on your destination. Certainly, you would not want to make a major purchase in New York City, unless you have time to be a smart shopper. But certainly, in places like Hawaii, T-shirts, shorts, and aloha shirts are plentiful and cheap. Flea markets are great for this. This also adds to the fun and adventure of your trip.
9. Ditch or donate. On many foreign trips, we end up donating many of the clothing items that we packed. Shoes seem to be the most universally welcome, in places like SE Asia, South and Central America, and Africa. It also pays to know what the people in the country you are visiting will enjoy. Some like Nike shoes and clothing, some like anything denim, and some like socks. I noticed on my trip to Africa that anything with the “GAP” name or logo was most popular. Who would have guessed? And best of all, it frees up space for your purchases!
10. Gifts. These can be anything from home-made treats (cookies are best), chocolate, logo golf balls from Pebble Beach, scarves, candy, hair clips, chewing gum, pens, pencils, and special edition coins. In the past, I have even given my watch to special people I met along the journey.
Well, are you ready to go now? I am. See you soon!!