PhotoWhen my daughter was a teen she would interview me before vacations: How many days will we be gone? What will we be doing? What kinds of clothes do I need?

From my responses she would handwrite an elaborate list of exactly what was needed with quantities. Her packing list was the envy of the family; while we all fretted over what to take, she would carefully select and place items in her open suitcase, crossing them off her list, one by one.

Fast forward several years and I am preparing for a trip to Alaska. With no idea what to expect, weather-wise or otherwise, a friend suggested I do an online search with “What to pack for Alaska.” It was a brilliant idea and I found several sites that listed essentials. From their lists I culled a personal “What to Pack for Alaska for 11 Days” document that I saved online.

As I made subsequent trips, I would open up my how to pack list, update the destination and the number of days, and then customize. As I took additional trips and learned more about travel, packing, and how to streamline, I edited and updated my list.

Your customized list

With my trusty packing list, I rarely forget items. Follow these tips to create your very own list and you’ll never forget to pack the essentials:

  • Open a document in your word processing program and title it “What to Pack for (your destination(s) for (however many) Days.

  • List the essentials you will need, one on a line, for example: undergarments, bedtime clothing, tops, bottoms, shoes, socks, belts, sweaters, jackets, swimwear, exercise/casual wear, and on.

  • Be specific in which color and item you will take, for example: pink silk top, khaki and black pants, brown belt, or, three short sleeve knit shirts in navy, yellow, and black.

  • Make each item either a bullet or open box so you can check it off.

  • List your toiletries, including everything you will need. Don’t forget over the counter medications and prescription medications.

  • Add eye glasses, contacts, contact solution, sunglasses, back up eyeglasses, cell phone, iPad, laptop, chargers, books, and ebook reader.

  • Include a packable tote bag and foul weather gear.

  • Add details with quantity/quantities so you are sure to have enough.

  • Include a line item for an emergency kit and follow with a detailed list of what you might need. Do the same for a makeup kit.

  • Add travel guides and documentation such as passports and insurance cards, as well as photocopies of your credit cards, picture ID, insurance cards, and your passport.

  • Do you plan on bringing a carry on, tote, or backpack? If so include as a line item and identify the items to pack. Remember articles that make travel more comfortable, such as a travel packs of tissues, a water bottle, reading material, and chewing gum, hard candies, or snacks.

Afraid you might forget the shoes that go perfectly with your special dress? Or the lucky tie you wear for presentations? You can put your worries to rest now that you have the tools to make a packing list.

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