A Simple Technique to Shrink Your Travel Packing Time

Shrink Your Travel Packing Time
Shrink Your Travel Packing Time

Travel is a wonderful thing, but let’s be honest there are some parts that are not so much fun and I would put packing firmly in the ‘not fun’ box. As somewhat of a hyper organised geek I always look for ways to make myself more organised or save time and packing is one of those areas I want to spend as little time on as possible. So over the years I have found a very simple solution to cutting down my travel packing time.

For most trips I can now pack in 15 minutes or less!

My solution is a simple one…


There are many websites that will give you lists of things they think should help you pack but building your own list is a much better way. Because it is personal to you will give you confidence to trust it and allow you to free your mind to focus on the wonderful trip you have ahead of you.

How to Build The List

Shrink Your Travel Packing Time - Evernote

This is really simple to do:

Next time you pack for a trip write down everything you put in your bag. Then whilst you are away note down two things:

  1. Anything you didn’t use
  2. Anything you forgot or wished you’d brought with you

Add or remove these from the list and you over time you should end up with the perfect checklist.

Save this and then next time you travel follow the list and your travel packing time should be next to nothing! Continue to distill it every time you travel and eventually you will end up with a minimalist but essential list of everything you need.

What Do I Use To Do This?

My preference is Evernote but you can use anything you like from an old notebook to post it notes.

I use Evernote for pretty much everything but I especially like it for packing lists for a few reasons.

Firstly it is easy to get all the lists together using tags. I have mine all saved under a tag called .checklists so with one click I have them all in front of me.

Secondly it’s easy to duplicate a list as alot of the items won’t change. Flying to a cold country rather than a hot one? Duplicate one list and change around the clothes that you need to stay warm. 

Thirdly you can build a list with check boxes. This means you get a visual ‘tick’ even time you check something off the list making it easy to see what’s left to do. When you’re finished just un check all the boxes ready for next time.

Shrink Your Travel Packing Time - Ticking things off the list

Becoming an Expert!

To really refine this process then have a unique list for each type of travel.

For example I have lists for hot and cold short haul trips in Europe. These are when I know I will only have hand luggage so space will be tight but allow me to make the distinction between the different times I will need for different times of year. I also have lists for long haul trips, business trips and cycling holidays!

The great thing about making the lists personal to you is they are specific to the type of travel you do!

Enjoy The Extra Time!

So there is it, a really simple way to cut down your travel packing time! 

If you’ve got any other hints or tips that you use to make packing that little bit quicker then add them into the comments below.

Further Reading

Check out ‘How To Pack Light‘ by James Clear and ‘What’s In My Bag‘ by Matt Mullenweg for some useful tips from seasoned travellers.

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2 years ago

I did a similar process for my cycle expedition. I also made a note of items I didn’t use so much to keep refining and condensing my items and optimise my efficiency. Excellent Blog Ben! Keep writing!

Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical


I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets. 

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Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used  World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.


Using local guides is one of my favourite travel tips. The easiest way to find a local guide is to use Get Your Guide who offer tours with local guides all over the world.


Check out my gear page for my favourite travel gear, here for a detailed 3-month packing list for men and women and here to find 38 great travel gifts.


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