Last-Minute Packing
Credit: Photo by Jon Rawlinson on Flickr

Everyone has their own reasons for delaying packing before a trip. Sometimes it's a last minute trip for business or a family emergency. Sometimes it's a last minute decision to just get away for a while. "I'll start packing tomorrow" starts a week before the planned trip, and then all of a sudden it's six hours before the plane leaves. "Yikes! I haven't started packing yet!" And sometimes, be honest, it's just plain old procrastination. Whatever the reason for your last-minute packing, here are four helpful tips to make sure you don't forget anything important for your trip!

1) The Reason For The Trip

Packing for business is a whole different animal than packing for pleasure. If you're going to a business-attire conference, your wardrobe is going to look a lot different than if you're planning to spend a week on the beach in Jamaica. Choose enough outfits to get you through your trip, plus one spare just in case. Don't forget socks and undergarments, or important accessories like ties. Of course, if you're going somewhere with an indoor pool, a swimsuit or two isn't a bad idea either.

2) Have The Kids Help

If you're taking the whole family, enlist the older kids and have them help the younger ones pack. Turn it into a game. If you give the older kids a list of things to pack and some light responsibility, they'll feel like they're an important part of the trip, rather than animate baggage. Just don't forget to double check what they packed, lest they get to Connecticut with three bathing suits each and no winter coats! This will free you up to make sure you've got the toiletries and the other things your family will need during the trip. 

3) Homeland Security and the FAA

Flying requires some extra planning, because of increased security and the ever increasing list of prohibited items in a carry-on bag. Be sure to pick up travel-size bottles of your favorite shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and shaving cream. If your trip requires a laptop computer, make sure you have it ready for inspection at the security check. (Big hint:Never, but never put your laptop in checked baggage. If your bag vanishes, so does your computer.) If you are checking baggage, put your toiletries, razor, and other personal grooming products in there. Don't forget your driver's license, accommodation reservation confirmation, passport (if necessary), and your flight confirmation. 

4) What If?

Last minute packing is not a lot of fun. But when the bags are packed and you're ready to go, take a few minutes and consider what will happen if your bags get lost, if your wallet is misplaced, or if you lose your cell phone. Travel insurance is a really good idea for all these reasons, and some homeowners' policies include this insurance as a matter of course. The airlines insure baggage up to certain amounts, but if you check that $3,500 camera and it doesn't show up at the other end, you're out a significant amount of money.

While packing at the last minute can be stressful, following these simple tips will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Having a list of things you need for your trip, including the things you must have at all times, can help you keep track of what's already done and facilitate your planning. The single most important thing to remember is not to panic! As long as you keep a level head and go down the list, you'll get to your destination ready for either business or pleasure.