Packing in advance, that eternal promise that you never fulfill.

Ever left home for that summer trip with the feeling that you don’t have something with you? Me too. There’s a reason for it, we always forget something. Always. The worst part comes when you remember you forgot to take your sunglasses while you’re going out of the plane in Sicily. And no, buying new ones when you get there won’t make you feel better.

So why don’t we start packing way in advance, so that we reduce the possibilities of forgetting something to the minimum? Here are 7 tips that will make it a lot easier (and faster).

1. Start a couple of days before and leave the suitcase open somewhere visible

You always have that dinner with a friend the night before the trip that you had forgotten about. So if you start two days before, there will be little left for you to pack when you are back from dinner. If you’re travelling long, you might want to start even the weekend before so that it’s less stressful and you can organize the items inside the suitcase. We all know how precious space gets after a while, so perfect your Tetris skills.

Having the suitcase open in the middle of your house might be a bit uncomfortable, but it helps you remember whenever you see it that you are under the process of packing, so it will be easier to associate an item you see everyday with the fact that you want to take it with you.

2. If travelling with kids, ask them and/or your partner for help

Two people are better than one – plus your partner maybe knows better than you the toys your kid likes. So implement all the ideas below with your partner (i.e. make a common list of the items your kid will need, and whoever puts it first ticks it off).

If your kids are old enough to pack on their own, make sure they do way in advance. Think with them of any other activities that they want to do, such as cycling or playing tennis. Got through the most important things with them the night before (or even a couple of nights before, if you already know they are a bit lazy and disorganized). If your kid is travelling on his own (with his school or for a summer camp), ensure he takes all the medicines, IDs and contact numbers that he needs in case the organizers want to contact you.

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3. Think of clothing/accessories in relation to activities and plan accordingly

For example, if you’re going to the seaside with your family but you’re also planning to visit some old ruins and go hiking with a friend in the mountains, you have potentially four different types of clothing and accessories involved. For the beach, think especially of accessories: sunscreen, towel, summer bag, sunglasses, flip flops, waterproof camera, inflatable ball and other beach games, and then of course a bikini or swimsuit.   For the visiting, get yourself some comfortable sandals or trainers, a light shirt and shorts, but especially don’t forget your camera, tourist guide, and a backpack or bag to carry them. For the hike, you will need shorts or light trousers, a comfortable T-shirt (and maybe a light hoodie or raincoat just in case), maps of the area, perhaps your GPS and a sturdy backpack. And finally the most important: the everyday clothing and cosmetics: jeans, T-shirts, a dress (women) or chinos and a shirt (men) in case there’s a fancy dinner, footwear, underwear, sleepwear, toothbrush, shampoo, comb and brush, shaving accessories etc…

4. Make a list on your phone

You will always remember the most important things while you’re away from home. Use your phone to create a list (Clear can be a very useful app here), categorize if necessary and tick off the items when you put them inside the suitcase. You can also create a separate list of things you need to buy for your trip (sunscreen, presents for the family, extra medicines or mosquito spray), especially if you know they will be hard to find when you get there.

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5. Put ideas into practice instantaneously

Take action as soon as possible whenever you think of something that you need to take. Either put it in your list on the phone if you’re at work or elsewhere, or pack the item immediately if you are at home. Never say: “Oh it’s impossible I will forget” because you will.

6. Stick post-its to the items you're going to need until the last minute

Yes, there are some things that you need to take at the last minute, such as the toothpaste or the computer. Get yourself some bright yellow Post-its and stick them to items that you want to take with you. Do not put those items in drawers, or else it will be useless. It will look a bit awkward for a couple of days, but who cares, you’re at home after all. Before leaving, make sure you have a walk around the house (twice) to check for fluorescent notes, and put those items immediately in the suitcase.

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7. Check, check and check

The night before, check your wardrobe, bathroom drawer and book shelves for items that are missing for your trip. And more importantly, check inside your suitcase (or bag) for the flight (train, bus, boat) tickets, the ID and credit card, the glasses (if you need glasses), medicines that you need to take with you, your phone, your keys and any other important stuff that you definitely don’t want to forget.

Note: if you're starting late with your packing after all, check out this article.