I hate packing before I travel. I put it off until the last minute. Every time. My suitcase-filling was so wire-close this time, as I sat on the plane fiddling with the jammed window shade I wondered, “Why do I do that?”
I have to book my tickets weeks in advance – had to book the car, the hotel … I even scouted fun restaurants. So why wait so long to pack?
I’m not typically a procrastinator. I like closure. I like getting things done.
So why do I delay packing?
I wonder if it is primarily because I do not like limited options. Ever. And that 22 x 14 x 9-inch suitcase limits me.
Imagine a typical Colorado morning. The radio alarm goes off. You hit the snooze, hoping against hope that at some point today you will get that Journey song out of your head.
Easing out of bed, you make those old-age noises you swore you’d never make, and you greet a day full of options. You open the blinds and a glance out the window towards Mount Herman tells you, it is snowing. It’s April, but it’s snowing – one of the “perks” of living at 7,300 feet. So you select silk socks to go with wool socks, liners for under your running pants, and spring-colored layers to keep you warm, but look like the calendar is correct.
That same scenario for a traveler in a nearby Denver hotel room plays out differently. Alarm goes off. Room-darkening curtains toss open to reveal – snow. What? A glance at the suitcase tells the mile high visitor – it’s going to be a rough day.
Packing for another city, climate, or country is definitely a challenge, but I love to travel therefore, I must figure out how to summit my Everest without waiting until the last minute. So I found 5 hacks to help pack-haters like me. (I think I’ll call them “pack hacks”.)
1. App it up.
Yes, it appears there are apps to make the chore of packing and the pre-trip tasks easier, especially if you plan to take any repeat trips.
The Packing Pro app helps you create a packing list and lets you save your lists for future use. You can save different lists for different members of the family or parts of the country or cities, i.e. my New York City list looks nothing like my Omaha list. You can sort your list by category, i.e., clothes, medicine, electronics. There is also a pre-trip “To Do” list that looks helpful. Customer reviews of the app assure me they have used it for foreign and domestic travel and would never embark on a trip without it.
2. Roll with it.
Packing is demotivating on some level because you know your nice outfits that you carefully tuck away will look (and I think, smell) nothing like that when you arrive at your destination.
The expert’s suggestion: roll certain items for better results. Real Simple’s The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase suggests rolling your softer garments, i.e. jeans, T-shirts, blouses, etc., and folding stiff ones, like dress pants or blazers.
Then arrange those rolled items in the bottom of the bag, forming a solid suitcase foundation like burritos in a baking dish.
3. Group outfits.
It may feel a bit like summer camp, but if you hate packing as much as I do seeing some order and method to the madness helps. Use Ziploc bags or roll clothes with loose rubber bands to group your items into outfits.
Grouping also forces me to think more thoroughly through what I actually need to take versus my temptation to toss in favorite shirts, comfy clothes, and forget pajamas, shoes and socks.
4. Bulk up.
I would not consider myself a chick who “loves her shoes” but let’s be honest a poorly selected shoe can ruin an outfit or make for a very, very long day. So I struggle when it comes to packing shoes. The experts suggest every trip needs the trifecta of shoes: a casual sandal or loafer, sneakers, and an evening shoe. Then they suggest wearing the most bulky of the shoes to save suitcase room. (I’m thinking that means my boots.)
I also try to stuff any shoes that I am packing full of various items before they go in the suitcase: belts, underwear, jewelry bag, or phone chargers. If they’re going to take up space in the bag they may as well be worth every inch.
5. Just do it.
Lower the bar. Drop your expectations and just pack. Get comfortable with the notion you may forget something or circumstances may change.
If you forget something or a surprise rainstorm settles over your travel destination, use it as a free pass to go buy whatever item you need to make your stay comfortable. If you find yourself at a COACH store shopping for a $900 purse, you might be pushing the boundaries a bit. But short of medicine and eyeglasses, you can pretty much purchase whatever you forgot on “the other side”.
In a few weeks when I drag out that far-too-small suitcase again, I promise to take my own advice, focus on the fun travel options that await me (not the limited suitcase options) and will start to pack sooner-than-later.
Happy travels to you.
Stay calm and pack.