Holiday & Travel Planning

Don’t Leave Home Without It

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.

How to pack a suitcase

Decisions come hard for adults with ADHD, 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 adults with ADHD 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:

[Free Handout: Your Master Packing List]

> 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, 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.

[Flying Is the Worst. Make It Better with These Tips.]