Travel Tip Tuesday: The List that Keeps on Giving

What was the last list you made?

“To-Do at Work?”

“To-Do after Work?”

“Groceries?” “Errands?” “Chores?”

We are a list-making society, with a whopping 76% of Americans and 77% of Italians admitting to making and following at least one list. We use them at work, at home and when we travel.

But, what if I could share with you a secret travel tip I’ve developed over the years that decreases pre-vacation list making and packing time? Would you be interested?

But first … one more list.


1. Open a blank document in your word processor.

2. Type your name across the top with the words “Packing List” somewhere nearby.

3. Now start making a list. Include essential items you take with you on each trip, such as
– Toothbrush
– Shampoo
– Phone charger
– Contact lenses or glasses
– Books, journals or pens

4. Don’t worry if liquid items are larger than 3 oz or if you don’t carry certain items with you on specific trips. (Such as “I don’t carry a blow dryer when I go to Europe.”) Include everything on this list.

5. Once you’ve made your list and checked it twice, you can group related items.Choose your groupings according to your personal list-making and/or travel tastes. My list is grouped in chronological order with shower essentials leading the way, followed by hair and makeup necessities, personal hygiene products, clothes and shoes.

6. Clothes and shoes vary depending on the trip and season, but there are some items you always take, such as socks, house shoes, undergarments and Pjs. Be sure these items are on your list. You can also list items that travel well or items you tend to carry often when you travel. I always fly with a light-weight Isaac Mizrahi sweater. Isaac is on my list.

7. My list also includes a side-bar of carry-on specific items such as a neck pillow, Advil and my Ziploc bag of 3 oz liquids.

8. Save your list.

Next time you travel

– Print your packing list.

– Immediately mark through any items you don’t need for that particular journey.

– Add any trip-specific items you need.

This technique has saved me hours of planning and packing time and it will work for you, too. Do you have any tips for saving prep time before a vacation? What do you do to minimize packing time?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

8 Responses
  1. Hah, I hear you Judith! This is a great tip…and saving it on the computer is perfect b/c then you don’t have to keep track of a physical list from trip to trip. B/c I’d definitely fail at that part!
    Definitely. Plus I like to mark through, re-write, etc. etc… You need to make a list though, Michelle. I hear Trenitalia calling us!

  2. Great idea! I am a list-o-holic too!! I will have to try this.

    I usually just leave the things I know I always take and have duplicates of things I always use and leave them right in my wheelie. Saves me time!
    Having duplicates is a great idea, especially when they are travel-sized minis, etc like you use. Then all you have to do is double check, right?

  3. this is exactly what travelers need to do! i did a list like this about 5 years ago & i keep it in my travel basket that is on a closet shelf. the basket includes my rick steves money belt, my inflatable neck pillow, carry-on size spare toiletries (there is always a quart-sized bag filled & ready in the backpack), my airline earphones, my road journal, & all the most recent editions of rick steves guides plus the pertinent city maps.

    originally the list was only on my laptop, but it didn’t survive a computer crash a few years ago, so i’ve been glad for the hard copy (with all its notes & cross-outs!)
    Oooh, good idea to back it up, huh? I love the basket idea, as well. Keep it all in one place, right?

  4. I’m a huge list person and I pretty much do the same as you Cherrye. My list is separated by what it’s packed in, i.e., carry-on, check-in, make-up bag, wearing it on plane, etc.
    It is so much easier that way, isn’t it? I also go back and update my list if I “write in” things that could be useful for future trips.

  5. I’ve done this for the last 3 years, and it’s amazing how much time it saves!!!

    Everyone who sees my list laughs at me, but I don’t care. Packing has to be the one thing that completely unnerves me, and this makes it so much easier!
    Yea. I am glad you have done this for three years. I plan to keep mine up that long, too!

  6. TJ

    I keep various lists on my blackberry so regardless of where I am, I have a list to pack with and double-check against when I am returning home (so as not to lose ANOTHER phone charger). Lists for weekend trips, lists for work trips, lists for carry-on items, lists for dopp kit items. Like a lot of other travelers, I also keep a plastic box filled with travel sized items under my sink and a set of travel chargers (phone, iPod, camera, etc.) separate from the ones I use daily, all for less worries.
    Great tip with keeping those lists on your blackberry. I also like your idea of keeping to list to re-check against when you are traveling home. Having a list like that would have save me time with my Lufthansa/AirOne troubles this past summer!

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