Some advice from a professional packing procrastinator about when to pack:
- Don’t Wait – Don’t wait until the last minute! Start your packing planning early so it’s less overwhelming. You will probably have less likelihood to forget something important that way, too. Read an article about your destination or watch a program to inspire you. Then, start setting out some items when you are excited (and where you won’t forget any tips your learned).
- Share the Fun – If you will be traveling with a friend, pick a date to get together in advance of the trip and share ideas. Serve snacks, have a beverage and make it fun. Talk about what activities you might want to do on the trip, the clothes you think you need or want to bring, determine if you have any efficiencies between the two of you (e.g., see if it is possible to share any items like sunscreen), etc.
- Do a Test Run – This is especially important if you’re just bringing a backpack because you may be surprised how quickly that space fills up. The last thing you want is to have this epiphany the morning of your flight!
- Split it Up – This about packing in stages or sections. Maybe just handle toiletries first. You can always do clothes later. If you bringing dive gear for a trip, for example, consider packing this in advance of your other items. It will feel less overwhelming to split the time. If you are sharing the bag with your clothes and other items, it will also help set your expectation around how much else will fit.
- Start Simple – Start filling your daypack carry-on with items like your camera, pens, etc. in advance. Chances are you will not need them right up until your travel date and it will give you a head start. This is where a packing checklist (available here) can be very useful.
- Print – Take time to print paper copies of your itineraries (as backup to any electronic copies) in advance of the trip. I do not recommend doing this too early though as itineraries sometimes (actually, more often than not) shift.