The Best Way To Make Sure You Have Everything You Need When Packing For Your Trip

We've all had that moment on vacation or a business trip. You get to your hotel, you go digging in your suitcase for that important thing you needed to bring, only to find that you left it at home. For most people, the default solution usually becomes overpacking for the next trip, which has its own set of problems. Packing more in your checked luggage might tip you over your allowed weight (adding an additional fee to already costly travel), and some airline ticket tiers don't even include a carry-on. That makes overpacking a problem before you even get on the plane. 

There is a much better solution to make sure you have everything you need when packing for your trip. Sure, you can get packing cubes that squash a bunch of stuff perfectly into your suitcase (and you should, because they're a fantastic idea), but that won't help with remembering what you really need to bring in the first place. Instead, we suggest this packing hack: Lay everything you plan to pack out on the bed before you put it in your suitcase. We'll tell you how it all works and give you more ideas to help make sure you don't forget anything that leaves you at a loss on your next trip. 

How the packing hack works

The packing idea from Take Off With Me suggests putting everything you're packing in front of you, all laid out on the bed. Not only does this allow you to form outfit pairings ahead of time, but it might make you realize what you've overpacked. For instance, if every shirt on the bed goes with jeans, opt for bringing just one or two pairs since you won't need the other pants you were planning to pack. You can get a sense of what's missing and you're less likely to leave anything out this way, rather than rummaging through an already-packed bag to figure out if an item made it in or not. Plus, you can get a better idea of what will fit where and what to roll or fold. As a general rule, thicker fabrics like jeans and pants are great to roll, but lighter things like thin cotton shirts can be folded.

The second part of this packing hack says you should take a picture of everything on the bed so you remember what's in your suitcase, even after you've finished packing. In the unfortunate case of lost luggage, having this picture will allow you to inventory everything for insurance purposes and report it to the airline. Log the photo in an album on your phone along with pictures of all your travel documents, including your passport, and a pic of your packed luggage.

Other tips to help you pack perfectly

We also recommend making a general packing list that lives on your computer that can be printed out later with empty space for additions. For instance, create one column for toiletries that you always pack, one for clothing, one for carry-on items, and so on. Then, you can go through the list while everything is laid out in front of you on the bed, double-checking that you haven't forgotten any items. Additionally, we like to have a separate space away from your main pack to lay out things for your carry-on, like a change of outfit (just in case), medications, electronics, and any valuables.

One more thing that can be incredibly useful to have on hand are empty bags, like plastic grocery bags and Ziplocs, especially for your carry-on luggage. When you're saving room for souvenirs, you can use these bags to fill in the empty space of your suitcase. Later, you can use them to keep dirty laundry, shoes, and wet bathing suits separate from other items in your suitcase.