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Every time we go away on a personal trip, my husband, an airline pilot who packs and unpacks constantly for his job, gets stressed and becomes the model for procrastinators. As veteran travelers you’d think we would have this all down by now, but I often end up doing his organizing as he finds this very frustrating. In view of this, it occurs to me that if he struggles with packing ‘isses,’ then normal people must have it twice as bad! If you are someone who gets overwhelmed thinking about what or how to pack for a trip, this article is written for you. The tips here work for me unfailingly every time I plan a trip, which is a least once every month. Enjoy!

STEP #1 – Check the weather at your destination, both short term and general. Do enough macro research to know, for instance, whether it will be cold at night even though the days are hot, or whether it rains every day in the afternoon. A simple search under the term ‘weather’ and your destination should turn up a few online forum postings about any common weather patterns you may experience; be sure and check for seasonal weather patterns as well.

STEP # 2 – Clear off your bed. With the aforementioned weather considerations in mind, pull and lay out everything you think you might need and want for your trip in terms of clothes. Put possible shoes on the floor and include ties, socks, scarves, hats, etc.. Now you can see what goes with what else and what is superfluous eg. you may have several sweaters that do the same job (cool evening cover-up). It is likely you’ve put all your favorite things out, and now you can pare down to what you’ll need. Take a minute to think through the types of occasions you may be required to dress for; mix and match things in your mind as you look at what you’ve laid out, and remove items that you will not need. Be choosy and take only what you’ll really require on the trip, giving special consideration to anything that can pay double or triple duty, such as classic pants useful for both daytime meetings and evening casual dinners.

STEP # 3 – Now that you have your pared down wardrobe, add in the few extras you would like to bring in terms of jewelry, perfume, etc.. It is easiest to pack this way because everything is out on the open and it’s much easier to think and visualize when you can see everything. Set aside your chosen jewelry to pack in your carry-on if you are flying (never send valuables through in checked luggage).

STEP # 4 – Gather and pack your toiletries. Remember to pack anything over 100mL into your checked luggage if you are flying, as these are no longer allowed and will be confiscated (goodbye, new perfume!) at security. Putting all bottles in plastic baggies will help prevent problems should anything break or spill. For your carry-on, small bottles of hand sanitizer, cream for dry skin and eye drops for dry eyes are of great relief on airline flights. Almost any toiletry can be found in travel size packaging and these are fabulously easy to carry in a small piece of luggage.

STEP # 5 – Check list time. Go over everything you will require, including your paperwork – passport, tickets and any confirmation paperwork (rental car? hotel reservations?) – and have a place for everything. Be sure to invest a few moments at this planning stage to consider all the little things you’ll need – common items people forget include camera batteries, phone charger, calling card, emergency phone numbers, medication and sunscreen. Being organized allows you to be calm and relaxed instead of harried and stressed as you wake up on trip day.

That’s it! A simple process for taking the stress out of travel packing. You might even find it fun! If you’re going somewhere tropical, throw on some calypso music while you pack and enjoy the anticipation. Happy trails!

Shauna Arthurs is a the founder of Travel-Like-A-Pro.com, a popular travel site packed with great tips, money-saving ideas and special travel deals. Visit today and learn to travel like a pro!

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