Costa Rica, South Africa, New Zealand, New York, and British Columbia. These are a few of the places I have had the privilege of traveling throughout my young life. Everything from two days to six weeks. 110°F to -25°F. Hotels and hammocks. School class groups of 20 in the rainforest and alone in Capetown. Being as young as I am, I have seen some fascinating places on our planet. After this much traveling you develop rituals and systems to travel more effectively. These are my notes on one such travel ritual: packing.
The most effective packing ritual that I have developed is best illustrated by this photo.
Before every trip, be that two nights or a whole month, I perform this ritual. Laying out every item that will be traveling with me, on my bed. This ritual has worked very well for me. Here are some of the benefits.
Laying out every item like this is a great visual checklist, to ensure you have every piece of gear you need for the trip. There is no questioning that item X is in a bag somewhere. It’s all there, right in front of you.
While you could use this same system on the floor, specifically using your bed has a few advantages. First, a bed has edges and edges create boundaries and limits. Boundaries so there is no mistake that whatever is on that bed, is going with you. Limits so that you ensure you aren’t packing more than you should carry. The amount of items you can fit on your bed, arranged in a single layer, is the maximum amount of gear you need for any length trip. Most trips require less space. If you and your partner are both traveling and share a larger bed, split the bed. The same rules apply.
Second, by intentionally arranging items on your bed, you are forced to ensure everything is clean enough to be on your bed. Clean gear performs better, lasts longer, and is nicer to use. If it’s not clean enough to be on your bed, clean it before you leave. In this specific photo I am packing for a mountain bike trip to British Columbia. While my bike isn’t on the bed in this photo, you can be damn sure it was clean enough to be put there without concern.
Third, this ritual allows you to quickly snap a photo of everything you are bringing. This is nice if you need to reference the gear necessary for a similar trip in the future, if you are freaking out on the plane not confident if you remembered to pack item X, or in the unfortunate instance you are robbed or your belongings are lost and you need an itemized list for insurance purposes.
Finally, arranging everything on your bed the day before ensures everything will be accounted for and packed into a bag before you allow yourself to go to sleep that night. Wake up the next morning, grab your bag, and go.