Always Be Prepared: 10 Tips To Making The Ultimate Packing List

There are always risks to traveling. Your flight might be delayed or the airline might lose your luggage. I eliminated some travel risks from my life by creating an all purpose packing list. It’s the list that I consult before every trip to make sure I leave nothing to chance. The list is partly common sense and partly items I added over the years based on recommendations. Even if I don’t bring everything on it, it’s good to consult just in case. Here are some tips to make your own list:

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1. Remember The Essentials

Think of what you cannot live without while on a trip. Try to think of what you need in your everyday life. For me, my clothes, my wallet, and my cellphone must always be packed. I need these items no matter where I travel or for how long. Write down the things you can’t live without, even for a couple of days.

2. Be Smart When Packing Toiletries And Medications

It’s always good to bring travel-sized toiletries with you. You may want to take your chances using whatever soap and shampoo is in your hotel, but there might not be any. Remember that when going through an airport, you don’t want any liquids pulled out of your carry on, so think about that while you are packing.

I would also think about any medications you might need. Depending on how long your trip lasts, you might not need your entire pill bottle. In fact, you might not want to bring any medications if you are able to go to your local drugstore. Just consider where you will be going on your trip. When I was in Europe, the language and cultural barrier made it hard for my friends to find cough medicine when they needed it. Bring some medicine from home if you think it will be more convenient.

3. Think Seasonally

All of the items on my list are convenient for travel during every season. Once you have every possible item on your list, it is only a matter of deciding what to bring. For example, I won’t bring my raincoat to Hawaii in the summer, even though a raincoat on my list. Check the weather forecast and consider what you might be doing on your trip. You can also throw caution to the wind and say, I’ll just pack what I packed last time, but if your usual plans change, you might be unprepared. It doesn’t hurt to keep all of these items on your list so you don’t forget anything.

4. Only Bring The Electronics You May Need

Electronics can be optional on your list. It’s always a good idea to remember to bring your phone and your charger. Someone else might have one, but you don’t want to worry about it. Keep in mind that a lot of electronics, such as a laptop, are expensive and can be stolen. Also, you might not want to bring something as heavy as a laptop if you don’t think you will have a lot of downtime. Put it on the list anyways in case the opportunity presents itself. If you are traveling to a different country, remember to bring power converters for your plug-ins.

5. Entertainment Can Be An Asset

Entertainment doesn’t seem that important until you are stuck at the airport for two hours. This category could include a book or movies to watch in the hotel. It’s good to plan for these things. Just think about how much time you will have to read or watch movies while you are away. If this is not a priority, you can make room for other things in your bag.

6. Determine Your ‘In Case Of Emergency Items’

I have a list of worst case scenario supplies. This would include matches, batteries, or a first aid kit among other things. Chances are you can buy these wherever you go. The point is to have them in the moment that you need them. They don’t take up much space in a bag; however, a lot of supplies can take up valuable space and weigh you down. Be practical.

7. Pack Some Accessories

Accessories tend to be different, but we all have them. Accessories might include a hat, glasses, scarves, or jewelry. I would advise against bringing anything you are worried about losing. Sort your accessories into accessible bags for convenience.

8. Remember Anything Needed Specifically for the Trip

These are the items you will need to get anywhere. This would include your driver’s license, passport, flight plan, or money. Even if you are not taking a plane, you could find a car, a train ticket, or anything else you definitely need to get you to your destination. You don’t want to get all packed to go and then realize you can’t go anywhere. Put them on the checklist to be sure.

9. Take Care Of Things At Home

This is actually just one item on my list but it covers the broad idea of making sure that your regular life isn’t interrupted by your trip. Think about everything that needs to taken care of while you’re gone. An example would be getting time off work or returning books to the library. You will probably do this anyway in the months and weeks before your trip. The point is to give it some last minute thought before you leave so you are not stressed out during your vacation.

10. Make It Your Own

In the end, what ends up on your list is whatever you feel like packing. For example, I am not really a camper. If you are someone who goes camping often, there is probably a lot of camping gear on your list. The list is about making your travels easier. Once you discover what you want to get out of a trip, write down whatever you need to in order to make it happen.

These are just a few categories that I used to make my own list. You are your own person with your own needs. You need to find what works for you. It will take you awhile to think of everything you will need. You can even consult some travel websites for advice. My personal list is a checklist but I know that not every box has to be checked. The point is to be ready so at a moment’s notice you can get out there and have fun.

What does your ultimate packing list look like? What are your must-have travel items?

Image: Strange Luke