I always look forward to visit new places and explore. Travelling promises excitement – a change of environment, an opportunity to taste different cuisines and most importantly a chance to meet new people. Most trips bring with them, a different kind of inspiration. The only part I do not really like about the whole ‘travel experience’ is even before beginning of the journey: packing (and my wife’s bickering probably makes it worse). I despise it and due to my extreme hatred for this utterly boring task, I usually leave it for the last moment (You have a flight in eight hours and haven’t finished your laundry yet!!). Just to give you an idea, in 2011, I moved from one city to another with one suitcase and four giant trash bags full of all my worldly possessions. Yea, an interstate ten-hour bus journey in brutal Michigan winter.
Last minute packing normally involves me holding an empty bag in one hand and trying to shove whatever I see in my room and think might be remotely useful on the trip in it. I know! I Know! Not the best way to do things. It only means missing out on a few important things and ending up with unnecessary load at the same time. Who really needs eight t-shirts on a three-day trip. So I’ve had a lot of “what was I thinking?” moments in the past.
In my attempt to be more organized in day-to-day activities, I decided to give systematic packing a try. Just to make it clear, I am in no way a supporter of spending 6-7 hours packing because I think as long as you have utter essentials with you, spending that extra time is not worth it. My metrics for this process are time and effort. I tried the following five steps while packing for my latest trip and found them very effective:
- Sit and relax: Yes. Disorganized last moment packing can cause a lot of stress and unnecessary anxiety, right before the trip and can reflect on your mood during the trip. Honestly, it’s not worth it. So before starting, sit, take few deep breaths and relax for five minutes.
- Scan head to toe: Before you start grabbing and piling up items brutishly, try to estimate what you might require. To cover all the essentials, do a ‘head to toe’ scan. Start with your head and think of associated items then move to eyes and gradually make your way to feet. For example, head- comb, shampoo & conditioner, hair product etc. eyes- eye drops, glasses, sun glasses etc. feet- socks, shoes etc.
- Create a list: Relying on your, already pre occupied, brain is one way to go or you can make a list of all the items that come to your mind. I highly recommend using Wunderlist, a task list creating app (available on web, IOS and Android). Wunderlist not only has an incredible user interface, it also has a feature to share your list with other users who can also contribute to your list. This comes in handy, especially when you are travelling in a group or you have a particularly nagging wife.
- Estimate 24×7 Consumption: Once you have made a list of what you need, it is important to decide the quantity. Just paint a mental picture of how your past one week looked like as far as consumption of above listed items is concerned. Basic mathematics will help you predict the numbers that you will need for the next few days during your trip. Update your list by adding the numbers in front of the respective item.
- Gather & Pack: Keep the list handy on your phone while you gather all the items from the list. Now place the items in your bags and mark the items as you place them.
Congratulations on hassle free packing! Have a safe trip and don’t worry, you didn’t forget anything.