Packing Tips for Traveling Light

Do you have trouble deciding what to take along when you travel? Here's how to pack your suitcase without wanting to pack it in.


Filed Under: Travel and Vacation Tips, Organization Tips for ADD Adults
Overstuffed suitcase, ADHD packing tips

The last time I went on a cruise, I packed enough outfits to change my clothes six times a day.

— Dana Rayburn, author

Decisions come hard for ADHD adults, and packing a suitcase means decisions galore! "What outfit do I wear Saturday night?" and "How much can I fit into my suitcase?" are two of them.

The typical approach for ADHD adults is to pack their entire wardrobe. The last time I went on a cruise, I packed enough outfits to change my clothes six times a day. Since then, I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, and I now teach others how to cope with situations like the one I've mentioned. Here are four of my favorite packing tips:

1) MAKE A LIST. Type a standard list of necessary items for every kind of trip you take (I have a list for business trips, camping trips, ski trips, and family car trips.) Print out your lists and place each in a plastic paper protector in a small binder labeled Travel Lists, and put that binder some place conspicuous. I keep mine on the cookbook shelf in the kitchen.

Each time you pack for a trip, open the binder to the correct list. As you put each item in your suitcase, mark it off the list with a dry-erase marker.

2) PLAN YOUR OUTFITS BY THE DAY. If you're going on a business trip, you'll be traveling to your destination, going to your meeting, heading somewhere nice for dinner, and doing a little sightseeing before leaving Sunday morning. There's no need to pack a full wardrobe for a three-day trip. Organize your outfit list like this:

> Friday (travel day): jeans, blue blouse, black sweater, sneakers.

> Saturday (business meeting): black slacks, green blouse, black flats, pearl necklace, and watch.

> Saturday evening (dinner): dress, paisley scarf, black pumps, teardrop earrings.

> Sunday (sightseeing and returning home): jeans, pink T-shirt, gray sweatshirt, sneakers.

3) USE THE "SMASH IT" TRICK. For stuff that doesn't wrinkle — socks, underwear, and sweaters — stuff items in large Ziploc bags and smash the bags to squeeze the air out. The clothes will take up less space in the suitcase.

4) USE DRY-CLEANING BAGS AND HANGERS. This idea, which came from cruisediva.com, can save you time. When you pack, keep clothes on their hangers. Next, cover them with dry-cleaning bags and do a simple fold-over in your suitcase. Not only is it painless to unpack (just hang up the item), but you won't have to worry about wrinkled tops and pants.

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This article appears in the Winter issue of ADDitude.
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