How to create an efficient packing list for a trip
Woman creating a packing list with an open suitcase

Preparing for a vacation or getaway is always exciting – booking flights and hotels, and picking attractions and activities can be a lot of fun. However, when it comes to packing, people tend to be a little more stressed than enthusiastic. What if you don’t bring the right clothes? What if you forget something? What if you pack too much or too little? These are all genuine concerns, but if you think ahead and create a packing list, then it can help eliminate some of the stress and ensure you don’t leave anything important behind.

Here are some tips on how to create an efficient packing list for a trip.

Choose luggage wisely

Before you create your packing list, you need to figure out what kind of bag you’re planning on using. Are you sticking with a traditional suitcase, or are you carrying a backpack? If you’re flying, do you plan on checking a bag or doing carry-on only? Also, what do you already have that you can use to avoid having to spend more money?

When choosing your luggage, you’ll want to consider the type of trip you are doing and how long you are going for. For example, if you’re taking a cruise, then you can easily get away with a suitcase since you don’t have to worry about moving it around too much. Though while there are laundry facilities on most ships, it can get expensive, plus some cruises also have formal evenings. So depending on the length and style of your cruise, it might be worth checking a bag in order to pack more items of clothing.

If you are going on a train trip around Europe, then carrying a lot of luggage isn’t ideal. You may find some train stations don’t have elevators, and carrying a large suitcase up and down staircases - especially if you have connecting routes - is tricky. On the plus side, it’s often pretty easy to find a laundromat if you are travelling independently. In this case, a carry-on suitcase or backpack might be a good fit.

If you are going on an adventure trip with lots of cobblestone streets or beaches and trails along with various methods of transportation (ie: buses, boats, etc.) then a backpack might be best. 

Consider your destination and type of trip

Your destination and the type of trip you have planned will factor into what you need to bring as well. A few things to consider include: 

·       The climate of the destination

·       The season in which you’re visiting

·       The local culture

·       Activities you have planned

Plan a capsule wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a wardrobe in which you have a limited number of pieces, but you can mix and match them in several different ways to create multiple looks and outfits. A capsule wardrobe is especially perfect for travel because it allows you to save on space without being an ‘outfit repeater’.

Capsule wardrobes usually feature classic basics in neutral colours that can easily work together. On top of matching tops and bottoms, you will also want to consider pieces that you can layer - especially for destinations where you may have temperature fluctuations throughout the day (or even throughout the trip). Additionally, pieces that you can dress up or down are great add-ons when travelling.

Once you have your capsule wardrobe set, you can rely on smaller and easier-to-pack accessories like belts, scarves, sunglasses, and jewellery. These extra pieces can make a big difference and add some personality to your multiple outfit options.

Break it down into subcategories

Once you have an idea of what you might like to bring, it’s time to put together your list. The best way to do this is to break it down into subcategories that you can then tweak as you go. For example:

·       Travel essentials (currency, credit cards, passport etc.)

·       Toiletries

·       Shoes

·       Accessories

·       Clothing (you can further break down into day/evening/beach/outwear/undergarments)

·       Technology (camera, charging cords, headphones, e-reader etc.)

If you are packing more than one bag - for example, a checked bag and carry-on bag for a flight - it’s also handy to have separate lists for what goes in each. You’ll want to make sure any valuables stay with you. Plus, it’s always a good idea to pack an extra outfit in your carry-on just in case your checked luggage gets lost.

Make your list and check it twice

Chances are your first attempt at creating a packing list will be too much and result in you over-packing for your trip. So once you have made your list, comb through it and give it a good edit. Question the items you listed and whether or not you really need them. After all, there’s nothing more annoying than carrying something around in your bag for days or weeks at a time only to never use or wear it!

Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog Eat Sleep Breathe Travel where she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.

Hannah Logan is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.