Travel DIY: Create Your Own Packing Lists

Make Your Own DIY Packing Lists

We talk a lot about packing lists here on the site. It’s in our name! We’ve covered hundreds of destination packing lists and we even have a few you can download for your trips. But what happens when it comes to creating your own packing lists for your own trip? Are you one of those people who prefers it on pen and paper or wants something online that you can keep on your smartphone?

We’ll show you the many ways you can create your own packing list suited for your trip. This will allow you to take our lists to real life!

Hand-written Packing Lists

There are a handful of ways to set up your packing list. The first way is to create the categories like clothes, shoes and toiletries and write it all out on a piece of paper.

hpl handwritten packing list
It doesn’t have to be pretty, just useful.

Printable Packing Lists

Type up a list or Excel document and print it out before your trip. Make a column for each of your categories and list the specific items underneath it. There’s something satisfying about scratching out things as you go on a real piece of paper. You can also use this as a rough draft for your final copy of your packing list.

Packing List spreadsheet version
Packing List Spreadsheet- Click to See Full Size

The above example took me about 5 minutes to create on Google Sheets. If you’d like to download a printable PDF of the sheet, click here. (Be sure to print in landscape mode.)

Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote Packing Lists

Another great way to create your packing list is using app and web tools. You can create a document and save it on a Dropbox or Google Drive app to reference on your trip. You can also create a packing list using Evernote. This way, you can make both a list and add pictures of your pieces of clothing and other items to place in the same note. If you download the app, you can also access it on the go on your smartphone.

Image-Based Packing Lists

Create image-friendly packing lists using a secret Pinterest board with images of your outfits. This is a little more time intensive, but can be used on multiple trips. Search “packing list” on Pinterest to see what I mean.

DIY packing lists

Polyvore lets you create collages of thing you can pack, but most of the time you’ll want to use images already on the site.

You can even take pictures of all your outfits or items on your smartphone and keep them in a folder. Then you can flip through them when you’re trying to decide what to wear on the road.

Packing Apps for Your Smartphone

A number of apps have been created to help you bring the right items on your trip:

  • Stylebook is an app that helps you create packing lists from what you already have in your closet once you snap pictures of them all.
  • Packing Pro has an all-encompassing list of anything you could possibly need for a trip, all sorted into categories like electronics, clothing and more.
  • TripList is another app with adaptable packing lists for every trip.

Extra Tips for Your DIY Packing List

Pare Down Your Packing List

Follow up with your packing list before you actually leave and get rid of any items you can live without. Go through each clothing item to make sure you can wear it with multiple outfits. And see if you can cut down your packing list with items like cords that can charge multiple electronics. That way you can make sure you travel with exactly what you need and nothing more.

Double Check As You Go

A good way to find out if you’re missing an item is to double check your packing list while you’re traveling. I’ve done this when I re-pack my bag to make sure I haven’t left behind any items under the bed, in the bathroom or plugged into the wall.

What kind of packing list do you use when you travel?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. MEISSOUN says

    I have created a packing list in Excel. I keep the template and then adjust it to the destination (city, beach, etc.). It never gets printed out, I just have it open on my computer while I pack and add X to every item I have packed.
    The list also includes stuff I have to do before leaving like informing the cleaning woman, taking out the trash etc.

  2. Kelsey says

    This is great, thank you! I’m going to be making my own pen-and-paper style packing list for my upcoming trip, as I haven’t found any that fit yet (Living in England and travelling around the UK and Ireland for 12 months while going to school and working).

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