Everyone has their own method of packing. After so many years of constant travel, unpacking and packing regularly, I have found a system that works for me. While my method varies occasionally, dependent on my mode of transportation and my destination, here are 5 tips that I always use to be organized while packing.
Number 1 of My 5 Tips to Be Organized While Packing
Make a List
Make a list in advance that you always have with you. Alternately, you can use this Free Downloadable Packing List now. This sounds so simple, but as the days near to your departure, your head will likely be preoccupied with many details. Personally, I like to keep my packing list on my phone. I always have my phone with me, and every time an item that needs to be packed pops into my head, I immediately add it to my list. I have found that it is very important to add items to my packing list as I think of them. If not, I find myself later trying to remember what it was I needed to add.
If I am sharing a packing list with a fellow traveler or group of travelers, I like to use google drive to create my list. The cool things about storing my list in drive are that I can access my list from any device that has internet, and I can share the list interactively with the other travelers.
I like to place a box for check marks next to each item. When I physically place an item on my packing list into my luggage, I then, and only then, make a check. This helps to ensure that nothing important is left behind. If other travelers are sharing the list, check marks allow you to see what they have packed, so you do not double up.
Number 2 of My 5 Tips to Be Organized While Packing
Create a Staging Area
Ideally, a week or two, prior to leaving to travel, I create a space in my home. It may be on a spare bed or table, but I find somewhere, to lay out the items I will be packing. The process of placing the items that you know that you want to bring, in neat piles together, allows you to see the quantity and bulk of what you are actually going to need to fit in a bag.
By laying out your items, this will help you select which luggage will be appropriate for your travel. This process is an opportunity to realize that you have too much, or that you are missing something. It is much easier to see the reality of your packing situation when everything is in front of you.
Also See Jenny In Wanderland article, How to Choose Your Carry On Luggage.
By laying items out gradually, rather than frantically packing at last minute, it does not feel as overwhelming. By giving yourself ample time, the packing process can be fun and aid in building excitement for your upcoming trip.
Number 3 of My 5 Tips to Be Organized While Packing
I started using packing cubes a few years ago, and now I have no idea how I ever traveled without them! It is extremely easy to pack in them, but more importantly to stay organized while traveling. I am not a person who usually unpacks during my trip, and many times, I am moving accommodations frequently. Therefore, the cubes offer an easy way to pull things in and out of my bag, without creating that disastrous pile, with which most of us are probably familiar.
I like to have a variety of sizes and shapes of packing cubes. A narrow cube works well for underwear and socks, and I use larger rectangles for pants and dresses. I find it easiest to put my pants in one, daytime shirts in another, and then my dresses or evening clothes in one. By separating apparel, I know exactly where to locate each item. Then all I have to do, after pulling out what I need, is just place the cubes back in my luggage. There’s no refolding, repacking, or searching through stacks.
Number 4 of My Tips to Be Organized While Packing
Another container I find extremely useful is Ziploc gallon and quart bags. What I love about these is the ability to keep pieces together and labeled. For example, I can place my camera, batteries, charger, cords, and chip in a sealed bag. These bags are plastic and tend to protect things from any liquid that could potentially spill. It is easy to write on the bags with a sharpie, so I even label what is in each bag. I also use them for toiletries to organize and prevent spillage. These bags also work out great for a back pack or carry on. It is the same idea as the cubes. I can pull out several bags and see what is inside. Then, I choose the one I need, and place the rest, still sealed, back in my luggage.
This also helps to avoid losing things. In the past, I have emptied my carry-on bag, looking for something, and then left something on the carpet when I repacked it. It is more difficult to lose a whole bag than a small item. If you really want to get fancy, you can number your bags, 1 of 5, 2 of 5, etc. I often use this process when I am filming and have many small electronic parts with me. However, it is a great way for anyone to be sure they do not leave something behind. You just need to be sure the 5 out of 5 bags are repacked prior to checking out.
Number 5 of My Tips to Be Organized While Packing
Place the luggage that you plan on using, next to the piles you have laid out. I like to do this at least a few days prior to departing. This allows me to realistically look at the quantity of items I plan on packing, compared to the available bag space. I can eyeball whether I am overpacking, and if I need a different size or shape bag. By doing this ahead, if you do need to switch your luggage plan, you have allowed ample time to do so.