When packing for this 3-month trip to Ghana, I was determined to enjoy the process, have times to relax and enjoy final moments with people around me, and leave confident that I hadn't forgotten anything and would return to a welcoming environment. It's really important to me to have everything neat and clean before leaving, so we feel welcomed back on return. This is what I did... Keep in mind, that I would love further ideas/advice from your experiences packing and traveling.
Packing To Do List
- Start early (if possible) and with a list
- Research what to bring (optional)
- Distribute items among bags
- Pay attention to carry-ons
- Keep a record
Now the longer version for more committed readers... :)
1. Start early (if possible) and with a list
I try to start with a list right away. Often it's just handwritten, but with a bigger trip like this (and even more for our later move to Sierra Leone), I use wunderlist. For me, it's super important to have a list that the hubs and I can both access and add to from the computer or our phones. Also, I like to save my list for future trips so I don't have to redo everything. I like to keep a running shopping list with this -- mostly because I hate shopping and only want to go once, if possible. Shout out to Amazon and 2-day shipping!
2. Research what to bring (optional)
Depending on what type of trip, this may or may not be needed. I wrote to a few missionaries and looked at a couple lists, like the CDC packing list -- so super helpful for missionaries.
3. Distribute items among bags
Once I had everything together, I pulled things for the carry-on(s) and then divided everything else into piles based on the number of checked bags (for us 3). So, each bag had clothing and other essential items, as equally dispersed as possible. This is for in case a bag gets lost. Also, it ended up making each back about equal in weight. I had to do very little shifting and guess work to get them the right weight.
4. Pay attention to carry-ons
I made sure anything super important or heavy was in our carry-ons along with a change of clothes. So, things like all our medications (didn't need to be included with our one quart-size liquids baggie) and copies of itinerary went in the carry-ons. Plan for delays, especially when traveling overseas. If you're stuck in an airport several hours, you want to be prepared. Also, it's a good idea to minimize carry-ons with small children, if possible.
Side note: Our checked bags were lost/delayed on our honeymoon, and I'm so glad Josh had me pack a few essentials in my carryon. Lifesaver!
5. Keep a record
After the bags were packed and weighed with this amazing scale, I unpacked each bag and took pictures of the contents. And yes, I did use the pictures, not because luggage was lost, but to know which bag had what items! :)