The following guest post has been submitted by Allison Parker.
Maybe you wait until the night before to pack for a big trip, or end up running too many last-minute errands on the way to the airport. Over the past few months, after almost missing flights and trains over packing snafus, I’ve honed in on ways to improve the packing process. Now, I can proudly say I can pack for a week’s vacation in a matter of minutes, simply by adopting the following habits.
And, by adopting some (or all) of the following habits, you can also become a lightning fast packer.
1. Become a planner.
The more detailed your travel itinerary in advance of your trip, the better. A week before your trip, make a list of each piece of clothing that will correspond with each day’s activity. In the event that you realize you aren’t prepared, you have enough time to shop for those hiking boots or fleece leggings you forgot you needed.
2. Think in color palettes.
Choosing a color palette ahead of time prevents you from packing clothes you won’t end up wearing. If you are going on a fun tropical getaway, you may want to pack clothes with warm colors (reds, yellows, and purples) such as colorful sundresses and fun wedges. For work travel, neutrals (beige, black, white) are key. When attempting to pack in record speed, choosing a color palette helps you focus on only those pieces in your wardrobe, cutting the options significantly before even starting.
3. Regularly investigate clothing for rips, tears, and stains.
Examining each piece of clothing on your packing list ahead of time is crucial. Going through clothes that are torn or stained at the last minute can dramatically slow down the packing process.
4. Focus on necessary items first.
Ensure “can’t live without” items are at the top of the packing list so they are the first to be checked off. For example, contacts and prescriptions are often items that cannot be purchased at the last minute.
5. Keep up with your laundry.
In order to avoid spending the night searching for that coveted blouse crumpled up at the bottom of your laundry basket, stay organized by keeping up with your laundry on a regular basis. Maybe you have communal laundry in your apartment building or go to a laundromat. The last thing you want to do the night before a big trip is spend hours pushing quarters into a washing machine. A few days before your trip, set aside the clothes you plan to bring so you won’t be tempted to wear them.
6. Survey your toiletries basket.
Don’t waste time running around the house trying to find that small bottle of shampoo you swear you saw just last week. Designate an area for your travel toiletries. This can be a basket in a bathroom cabinet or simply a small drawer. Making note of the toiletries you already have can prevent that last minute Target run the night before your trip.
Better yet, replace travel toiletries after a trip so you are always fully stocked and ready to go!
7. Pack in increments.
Instead of gazing into an empty suitcase a mere few hours before you head to the airport, try to set aside just fifteen minutes a night to pack a week leading up to your trip. You’ll be amazed at how quickly everything comes together.
8. Charge electronics the night before travel.
How many times have you walked out the door only to find your phone was on low battery? Waiting for your smartphone or iPad to charge can drastically add to your packing time. Charge essential items the night before your trip, and if you can, shut them off while sleeping so the battery is fully charged when you wake up.
9. Avoid traveling with a duffel bag.
It’s second nature to double-check your bag for your favorite pair of boots or swimsuit before leaving. Duffel bags are a headache when trying to find something quickly and are a pain to lug around on your shoulder.
Or, compartmentalize your belongings into packing cubes or compressions sacks so you know exactly where certain items can be found.
10. Designate a space in your luggage for your most important items.
Being super organized during the packing process means having a special place for your most precious cargo, such as a passport, keys, wallet, or that special family heirloom. The worst thing you could possibly do is toss all of these items haphazardly in the bottom of your suitcase or backpack. Put these items in a small, zipped compartment so they are accessible yet don’t move around very easily. The last thing you want is to be frantically fishing through your entire packing list worth of gear thinking you’ve lost your passport when you should be on your way to the airport!
It’s tempting to wait until the night before to pack and get everything organized, but that doesn’t usually allow for a quick and easy task. Before your next trip, implementing at least one of these points into habit will save you time, and perhaps even have you packing lightning fast.
What are some of your habits that help you pack in record time?
About the author: A southern girl at heart, Allison Parker is a 20-something writer embarking on a new life in Chicago. A travel fanatic, tech nerd, and celebrity junkie, she is the editor of her blog, alli in the city, narrating her travels across the globe. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.