Packing 101: When to start?

You have selected your destination and your date of travel. You’ve booked your travel and lodging, but you are still months away from your trip and you feel it might be too early to pack…but is it?

The short answer is “never”.

The long answer is more of a “well, it depends”.

Personally, I employ a 3×4 rule.

Three months before travel

  • Check average temperatures for your dates of travel and destination.
  • Take stock of the types of clothing you will need and check what you still need.
    • Make your list of items to replace or buy new.
  • Check the condition of your luggage and day-bag/carry-on.
  • Check the condition of any electronics that may need repaired, serviced or replaced.
  • Make sure your passport and travel documents are current and will not expire while abroad. Renew if it will expire while away!!

Three weeks before travel

  • Do a preliminary packing of all items to ensure that everything fits into your luggage.
  • Charge all batteries for electronics
  • Clear all memory cards so you have maximum space
  • Make sure any new or replacement items have been purchased/received.

Three days before travel

  • Wash all clothing and pack it into your suitcase.
  • Pack carry-on items and prepare for long-haul flight.
  • Check electronics for batteries and charge.
  • Pack toiletries and personal items.
  • Have post office hold your mail (if someone will not be there to retrieve it for you).
  • Provide itinerary to at least 2 family/friends not going with you.

Three hours before travel

  • Double check luggage for all items.
  • Double check electronics for charge/batteries.
  • Double check carry-on for all items.
  • Notify any family/friends of any changes in travel plans that have occurred.


I like to do a couple of preliminary packs. Each time I purchase a few things to add to my travel wardrobe, I pack it in so that I can be sure I’m only taking what I truly need. I try to keep my clothing to a minimum so that I have room for souvenirs. It also keeps me from over-packing with outfits or accessories (read: shoes) that never end up worn.

Find what works for you! If the 3×4 rule works for you, then use it. If you feel that packing and repacking multiple times over the months and months leading up to your trip, keeps you excited for the trip, then go for it!

“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and travel often, for the world is wide and adventure awaits!” – Emylee

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