My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery
I wanted to give you all a peek at our Travel Packing Lists today! Instead of having one of those “print and go” universal lists, we go with a more dynamic system. After all, a universal list doesn’t really take into consideration our family’s personal routines and nuances, our children’s age, the seasons we are traveling, our destinations, our itinerary etc. So instead of a static sheet (3 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, etc.), I keep spreadsheets for each trip and plan EXACTLY what is going into the bag (khaki pants, jean .
The spreadsheet system:
- Builds a collection of lists for future reference. I have a lot of packing lists for various destinations and seasons that I update with notes after the trip on what we used and what we didn’t use. This way I can just pull lists based on season and location and have a framework for our next packing list.
- Indexes automatically a reference of what I packed where. Is the bottle of Teething Tabs in the Diaper Bag, Carry-on or the Main Bag?
- Creates a list of exactly what we brought with us so that we can compare the list to what we are packing on our return or use it to file a lost luggage claim with our insurance/airline/giant hit man with a gun we hired to get it back.
Each document is saved to the cloud (Google Drive) and titled with it’s location, year and season. I used Quarters (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4) to differentiate between seasonal differences in various locations instead of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Autumn in Australia is Spring here… so I use a quarter reference instead of a seasonal one.
Our spreadsheets have four columns: Item, Packed, Location and Notes.
- Item – In the item column I just write a detailed description of the item to bring. For instance: “2 skirts” is too vague, “Vintage Beige Polo Golf Skirt” and “Grey Pinstripes Banana Republic Skirt” is concise. I want to alleviate the decision making process on packing day as much as I can. I may still vote out or choose to include some additions when I actually start packing, but after the planing phase the work is done for me on what to bring for the most part. I make sure to update the list with our final inventory as I actually physically pack.
- Packed – As I pack an item, I check it off in this column and highlight the items I have left to pack on the morning of departure.
- Location – This column helps me plan our suitcases and carry on bags as well. During planning I decide which item is going in which bag based on whether we will need it during our travel days or not. I also update it if I change where it is packed on packing day as it acts as an index to our belongings on the trip.
- Notes – This column has two roles: prior to the trip I can keep track of things that need ordered or mended prior to packing day, and after the trip it acts as a place to record thoughts on if we used it, whether we should pack the item next time or if there is an alternative that I should look into.
Rows are divided into sections via header rows (Bold text on a colored cell background). I create a row for each category of items to bring. For instance, for O I have: Diapers, Eating, Clothing, Gear, Sleeping, Toiletries, and Other.
I only track two people on my spreadsheet, so use the same page for both. However, if I were tracking for anymore I would give each person their own page (tabs at the bottom) to simplify things and keep my eyes from bleeding.
When we arrive home I make sure to update the packing list from the trip that we just took. I make notes on items that we didn’t used or used and loved a lot, plus I add to the list items that we may have forgotten or picked up along the way to bring on our next trip and notes on those as well.
I made a preseeeeeent for you guys…because I know how much you like presents! A Family Travel Packing List Spreadsheet for the OCD inclined! I made it colorful and added resources to some of the best packing lists on the web so you can find ideas to inspire lists catering to your family’s needs.
There are four tabs (pages/sheets) at the bottom: Baby & Toddler Packing Lists for the diaper crew, Child Packing Lists, Teen & Adult Packing Lists and a General Packing List for various family essentials.
- Save it to your drive or locally.
- Create a new spreadsheet, add a new page for each family member titled with their names plus a “General” page for your family. Then just copy/paste the relevant starter list into each family member’s page.
- Edit the Row Section titles, replacing BabyName, ChildName and AdultName with their actual names.
- Need to add a new Row Section for your own custom group of items? Just copy the row header of an existing section and paste it to create the new one.
- Add, edit and delete items as needed depending on your family’s preferences and destinations.
Google Drive App
You can print a copy of your spreadsheets off which is a good idea in case of iffy internet connections and phone service, lost devices or avoiding international rates. However Google Drive has an app that you can download so that you can access your list from your mobile devices. iPhone and iPad users can find it here on iTunes, Android users can find it here on Google Play.