The Art Of packing For A Trip

Packing for a trip has always been a major source of frustration for me. Maybe it’s because I’m one of the most disorganized people alive.

Trying to remember everything I needed, then find it, then pack it properly, was such a headache that I always put it off until the last minute.

Then, of course, I ran around like a madman throwing everything together, and almost always forgot something important.

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, I’ve gotten a lot better at packing for a trip. Once I realized the true cost of my disorganization — lost time that could have been spent enjoying the outdoors — I decided to learn how to do it better.

Here are 7 tips that will help you pack faster and with less stress. Although they are geared towards a camping or hiking trip, they can also be applied to vacation travel.

1. Get real.

How long does it really take you to pack? Next time you’re going on a camping or hiking trip, time yourself — you may be surprised.

I was certainly surprised when my wife timed our packing process. It took us four hours to pack for a weekend camping trip. Four hours! And that’s not including our trip to the store to get gas, food, and other incidentals.

That was the catalyst for me to get serious about packing smarter.

While you’re packing, take note of the things that slowed you down, so you can reduce or eliminate them next time.

2. Plan it.

As the saying goes, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Even a little time spent thinking about your trip beforehand will help you. Where are you going? Do you need maps or campground information?

What weather conditions will you be facing? If you’re flying, what are the airline regulations you’ll need to comply with?

Knowing your needs ahead of time will help ensure that you aren’t caught off guard when it’s time to pack.

3. Make a list, check it twice.

I can hardly overstate the importance of having a good packing checklist. Trying to remember everything you need without a list virtually ensures that you will pack in the most inefficient and time-consuming manner possible.

I’ve created a few checklists for different activities: a backpacking check list, camping packing list, and day hiking check list.

Use these checklists as a starting point, modifying according to your needs. Print out several checklists and keep them with your gear so they are easily accessible when you need them.

4. Embrace redundancy.

Yes, redundancy can be a good thing! What I mean by that is to duplicate some small, inexpensive items to making packing for a trip easier.

For example, don’t raid your medicine cabinet for toiletries just before a trip — have a dedicated toiletry kit already stored with your camping equipment. Also, keep extras of small items such as lip balm, tissue packs, and batteries stocked.

5. Get organized.

It’s not as hard as you think. Dedicate an afternoon to organizing your camping equipment and you will reap incredible benefits.

6. Eliminate time-wasters.

Buy your camping food during your normal grocery shopping trip. (Stock up on dry foods like chips, crackers, instant soups, macaroni and cheese, etc.)

Make extra portions of dinner and freeze them in ziploc bags. Throw them in the cooler and they’ll be ready for dinner the first or second night out.

Fill up your gas tank the night before your trip.

7. Unpack and store immediately.

The best thing you can do is to devote an hour or so to unpacking, cleaning, and storing your gear as soon as you get home. If you’re simply too exhausted (as I often am), set aside time the next day.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be amazed how easy packing for a trip becomes!

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