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Help for the Forgetful Traveler

One of my organizational issues is that I forget things. Don't get me wrong, my memory for trivia, people, and administrative nonsense is endless. But I forget things. My brain is much too busy to pay attention to where I put down my keys, because while I'm dropping them in my purse, I'm actually thinking about what I'm going to write in this blog today. Or climate change. Or the color of a stranger's shoes. (Squirrel.) You understand, right?

If you are like me, I bet you have--at least once--arrived at a travel destination and realized you have forgotten something vital, like a hairbrush or a phone charger. Or maybe you have an anxious brain and worry that you are going to forget those things. Sure, you can buy the forgotten thing while on the trip, but that gets expensive and wasteful. I have finally found a foolproof way to make sure I am prepared for any spur-of-the-moment overnight. I keep a set of certain essentials in my suitcase, always ready to go. That way, I can focus my packing energy on choosing outfits and putting work essentials in my briefcase.

Here's my list:

1. A fully stocked toiletry bag. I keep one of everything in here that I use regularly: toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shower cap, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, cleansers, razor, tweezers, deodorant, etc. I make sure all liquids are in airplane-appropriate containers in case I have it in my carry on bag.

2. A teensy first aid kit and a teensy sewing kit. Probably the first of these came into my life from some very nicely stocked hotel room. But they have come in handy.

3. A raincoat that folds into a tiny packet and/or a travel umbrella.

4. A bathing suit and cover up (which might double as a robe or pajamas for your trip). Before this, I can't tell you how many times I have realized that I'd been booked into a hotel with a pool or hot tub and I didn't have the appropriate swimwear.

5. A multitool, Swiss Army Knife, or corkscrew and/or bottle opener (put this in checked luggage if you are flying) .

6. A dirty clothes bag. This could be just a plastic shopping bag, but I love having a bag dedicated to this purpose. I take it out of my suitcase, hang it in the closet when I am unpacking, and then throw the dirties in there as I go. It saves me from feeling embarrassed that housekeeping has seen my underwear on the hotel room floor.

7. A plastic shopping bag. Folded neatly in the bottom of your suitcase, it won't take up room, but can be used for trash, wet bathing suits, shoes, or a ton of other things.

8. Electronic accessories: charging cords, earbuds. It gets expensive buying these on the fly in airports or gas stations. Watch for sales and then stick them in your suitcase. Then you can leave your good cords at home and not worry about leaving them behind in some random outlet. (Forgetful, right?)

9. Anything else you often use and might have two of: Travel flat iron, hair dryer, workout clothes, pens, a notebook.

10. Finally, I keep printed packing lists in my suitcase for all the other stuff. There are also apps for packing, or you can create a checklist in your favorite "to do" list app. Don't have a prepared packing list or an app, but think it's a great idea? Contact me using the form on the bottom of my homepage, tell me whether you prefer a paper list or app ideas, and I'll personally respond by email within 48 hours.

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