How Long Does It Take You To Pack?

Posted in On the Ground

I love traveling. If you’re reading Fly&Dine, a blog about eating while you travel, I have to assume that you love traveling, too. Either that, or you’re either my Mom or my Facebook friend (Hi Mom!). Traveling allows us to step outside of our daily lives and, ironically, actually live. That means forgetting about carpools and progress reports; laundry and grocery shopping; team meetings and the myriad lines we stand in all day every day. That’s not to say that these things don’t exist while your traveling — anyone who’s ever been to Orlando can attest to that — but they don’t consume us in the same way. In fact, the last bit of tedium we usually experience before we travel is packing, which makes it the worst part of traveling.

Packing is like the final exam before summer break, except it’s so much more important because it actually affects summer break. If you forget all of your t-shirts, you’re going to have a pretty bad trip. I should know. It happened to me last year. (Luckily I found a store very quickly and restocked m’tees). Packing is a skill that gets better with age, but it still gives me anxiety every time I do it. I’ve developed a pretty good system, but it’s not like there are World Packing Championships. I have no idea if my system is effective or even valuable. All I know is that it works for me.

Basically, I go drawer by drawer in my dresser. Instead of thinking of a more macro approach where I would make a list and say “okay, I’m gone for four days, so I’ll need X, X, and X,” I just say, okay: four pairs of socks. Check. A pair of workout shorts. Check. By breaking it down to each drawer, I’m able to evaluate each kind of item, whether I need it, and how much I’ll need of it. The whole process takes about ten minutes.

I’m curious. How long do you take to pack? Do you spend hours making lists? Do you double and triple-check? How long in advance do you pack? Is there a better way to pack that I don’t know about? Let’s turn the comments section below into a forum on packing. Yes, I realize this is a topic of minor consequence, but what if somebody has amazing tips that you don’t know yet? Let’s spend some time and talk about something as stupid as packing strategy. After all, we’re big-time travelers, right?

This all reminds me of a scene from an old favorite TV show, “Hey Dude,” where one of the characters enters a beauty pageant and her “talent” for the talent contest is packing. If only I could be like Brad…




  1. For two weeks or less, takes me less than three minutes. I always keep a backpack stocked with one change of travel/casual clothes plus work-out gear in a packing cube, a rolled-up anorak (raingear) and a ballcap, toiletries, headphones, and cords and batteries for electronics, along with $50 in small bills, some Starbucks cards for flight attendants, and my passport. On a business trip I throw in a dress shirt or two and dress shoes. All my travel and workout clothing can be washed in a tub/sink and drip-dried in three hours (less if there’s a hair dryer), so I often don’t need the spare set. Takes me about 30 seconds to pull the bag out of the closet. That leaves me two and a half minutes to throw in any trip-specific items (including a day-pack for longer trips).

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