Whether it’s a geeky conference, a family reunion, or a business trip, I use the same strategy to pack for frequent travel. I hate to re-invent the wheel for every single trip. So in case it’s useful to anyone else, here’s my packing strategy which my good friend B. from Oregon taught me.
1. Get an extra or travel size of every necessary toiletry item. Soap, shampoo, lip balm, contact solution, tweezers, ponytail holders, even a razor. Everything you would use at home.
2. Get extras bottles or boxes of every over the counter medication you routinely use, or would be unhappy to go without on a trip.
If this is cost prohibitive for you, think about setting aside a small amount from your regular use items instead, or use an index card checklist that you keep with your suitcase for the items for which you can’t afford to buy extras.
3. Get an extra week’s worth of underwear and socks.
4. Get an extra set of pajamas.
Again, if cost is an issue, think about setting aside dedicated items from your regular clothes for this, just enough for your longest planned trip. You may do laundry a little more often during “travel season” but you’ll never get to Chicago with no underwear.
5. Get an extra set of chargers for every electronic device that travels with you.
6. Put all of these things in your suitcase.
7. Pull together every “consumable” you’d want with you on the plane: snacks, OTC meds, tissues.
8. Put all of these in a bag you’re going to use only as a carry-on during travel season.
9. Get a folder with two pockets, the kind you used in school. Put that in your carry-on bag too.
How this will improve your life:
1. Whenever you are going somewhere, all you have to pack is travel documents, clothing, devices, and in-flight entertainment of your choosing. No packing the toothbrush and then realizing you have to get it back out because you haven’t brushed your teeth yet. No forgetting something because you didn’t pack it thinking you were going to use it in the morning.
2. All your printed travel documents such as flight schedule, hotel info, and receipts along the trip go in the folder, so you can find everything easily.
3. When you reach your destination, you don’t realize you forgot deodorant and have to spend money buying a brand you don’t like because that’s all they sell.
4. When you get home, you don’t have to unpack just to take a shower. You DO have to replenish anything you’ve used up during the trip, but since you started with a full stock, that shouldn’t be too hard.
As this is being published, I’m on a plane for trip #2 of my 5 trips this year from April through July. Spread out from Miami and NYC to San Diego, I’m not going to have a clue what time zone I’m in for several months!