How to Create Your Own Master Packing List

How to Create Your Own Master Packing List

Years ago I made my own master packing list to avoid creating a new one each time I packed, saving time and minimizing the chance that I’d forget something. It is so easy to remove what I don’t need each time I have a new trip to plan for- I’ve never looked back! It may take you a trip or two before you think of everything you will want to have on your list, but once you have it you’ll be set.

I fit everything for 10 days in Iceland, Disneyland Paris, and Paris in a carry on.

Make Your List
Start by sitting down, either with a notebook or a blank word document, and mentally walk through your day from when you first wake up. List everything from the eye mask you take off in the morning to whatever you use to put your hair back when you wash your face. Write down all of the items you come into contact with that you would want to have with you when you travel. Focus on toiletries and medicine for now, but if you think of any other items go ahead and write those down too.

Now physically walk around your house/apartment/room and look for items you may have missed. Think of items you use less than once a day but more than, say, once a week. You probably wouldn’t want to take an item you use once or twice a month but most likely would want something you use several times a week. The only exception to this I have come across are any menstrual products you may need; definitely put these on your list if they apply to you and check to see if you will need them when you’ll be gone.

Go through your medicine cabinet. Add to the list anything you have used repeatedly. If you’re staying within the country, every single over-the-counter product isn’t as important as if you’re traveling abroad, but you want everything on your list so you won’t forget when the time comes.
Note: If you are traveling abroad, the country you go to may have different products or ingredients available. I learned the hard way that hydrocortisone cream in the U.S. has a higher percentage of the main active ingredient than some counties in Europe, something I cared about when suddenly got hives at the beginning of a four-country trip.

For clothing I just keep a list of types of clothes in my packing list and then customize for each trip. I list things like: jeans, shirts, jackets, shoes, scarves, etc. Then I add bullets under each item I’ll be bringing for specifics.

Now think about items you know you like to have when traveling that you don’t necessarily use in your regular life. A neck pillow for the plane, plastic bag for a wet swim suit, a very small purse or a tote bag to hold your room key, phone, and lip balm when you go to the hotel pool or breakfast. These aren’t necessities but if you’re not trying to travel light then they may make you more comfortable.

Organizing Your List
I keep my packing list in a word document. I have it set up to have three columns and organize everything under one of the following categories: Toiletries, Medicine, Liquids, Clothes, Electronics, Purse/Personal Item, and Miscellaneous. Over time the it has evolved to have the “liquids” and “personal item” columns separate from the others because I pull those items from different areas and they go in separate areas when I’m packing.

The most recent update I’ve made to how I organize my list is that under each category I have everything alphabetized. This helps avoid duplicates within each category and on the overall list by knowing where to look for an item.

Tools for Travel
This is similar to the suitcase I use most often. It’s a small hard-sided carry on by Delsey that I found at Marshalls. (When I need to replace it I’m going to make sure the new one has a side handle to make it easier to carry.)

For a personal item I use a large Longchamp Le Pilage tote in navy.

I have this toiletry bag and have been very happy with it over the years that I’ve had it. It fits all toiletries I need except for liquids and I like that it has a hook so I can hang it out of the way in the bathroom.

I use this packing cube for bras, underwear, and socks, and this one for everything else that isn’t a jacket.

I put shoes in the bags that sheet sets come in from Target but you could also buy shoe bags online.

I hope this guide helps you to create your own packing list. Traveling is one of my most favorite things to do, despite what my anxiety tells me, and I love knowing when I leave the house that I have everything I need. Let me know if you have any questions about a packing list or any other requests for posts about travel.