Digging out your suitcase, deciding what to bring, panicking that you've forgotten something -- it's no way to start a trip. That's why we've distilled the art of packing down to nine essential tips that will transform the way you pack, even if you're a lazy procrastinator.
Never Unpack Your Travel Items
You probably won't need your adapter, inflatable neck pillow, or mini laundry bag in daily life, so why bother unpacking them? Leave all of your travel items in your suitcase after a trip. That way, they'll be in your bag and ready to go when you need them. Plus, you won't have to worry about forgetting them if they're already packed.
Commit to a Travel Uniform
I wear the same outfit every time I fly. I know that it's comfortable, presentable, and warm -- key elements whether you're in the air for an hour or for 20 hours. Choose something from your wardrobe and commit to making it your travel uniform. That way, you won't have to stress over at least one outfit on your trip -- you can just pull it on and go.
Keep a Basket Handy
Do you wait until the last minute to pack? Keep a basket in your bedroom, laundry room, or bathroom that you can use to throw in items you'll need to pack as you come across them. This makes you less likely to forget these items; plus, you can just toss the contents of the basket(s) into your suitcase when you panic-pack right before leaving for the airport.
Buy Wrinkle-Free Clothing
You won't need to worry about carefully packing your items of clothing if they're made from wrinkle-free fabrics. Ball them up in your suitcase, crumple them at the bottom of your carry-on, whatever -- you'll still look fresh and pulled together when you arrive in your destination.
Drop Off Your Laundry at a Laundromat
Anyone who lives in an apartment or a house without a washer/dryer is familiar with the joys of the "wash and fold" service that many laundromats offer. Simply drop off your dirty clothes and return a few hours later to collect your clean, perfectly folded laundry. The beauty of this service? You can simply drop the crisply folded clothing into your suitcase -- no need to wash and fold clothing on your own. If you're really lazy, many laundromats offer door-to-door services: You can have your dirty laundry picked up, cleaned, and delivered to you without ever leaving the house.
Keep Old Packing Lists
Odds are you end up taking trips that require you to pack similar items. Keep old packing lists from former vacations to the beach, ski resort, and city -- that way, you'll always have a list of at least the basics. The best way to do this is to save lists on your computer or smartphone, so you're not scrambling to remember where you left handwritten packing lists.
Pre-Pack Your Toiletries Case
You know those small product samples that come free with purchase, after your haircut, or from the dentist (travel-sized toothpaste, anyone)? Keep those in your toiletries bag for the next time you travel. You can even take the hotel toiletries -- keep them in your bag and you won't have to worry about decanting all your regular products into 3-1-1-sized bottles for your next flight.
Schedule a Packing Time
Time can get away from you before a trip, what with making sure that you're caught up at work, at home, and with the other responsibilities of daily life. Schedule a night well in advance of departure to pack. That way, you're not frantically last-minute packing at 1 a.m. on the day that you leave.
Buy Stuff When You Arrive
Decide that at your destination, you'll buy any toiletries or anything else you were too lazy to pack. The downside: You'll waste time, exert effort, and spend money to obtain these things while on your trip. But hey, that's a problem for future you, right?
—By Caroline Morse