How to Pack in Five Minutes (or Less)

Today, we got a call that there was a bushfire a few kilometers away from us. This meant that we needed to pack evacuation bags, and pack them quickly. Thankfully, as seasoned travelers, we have become fairly good at quickly packing, and it only took us only a few minutes to get our bags together – less than 5 minutes each.
This made us think of you as we enter the season when you may be travelling for the holidays. And we thought it would be fun to share some of our best practices in packing quickly for a short trip. Generally, the principles here can be applied to longer trips too, and you just need to add more clothes and necessities. Here are our guidelines for maximizing bag space, minimizing your load and getting packed quickly so that you have more time to enjoy your travel.
Tip #1: Unplug and Take Your Main Power Strip (and what’s plugged into it)
If you are like us, most of your chargers are plugged into a power strip next to the bed or in your office. Just grab the whole thing, unplug it from the wall, and take out what you don’t need. We find that travelling with a power strip, especially one that has a USB port, has been essential for us to ensure we have enough outlets wherever we are staying. And this practice helps us remember to take our various chargers.
Tip #2: Create a Separate Toiletry “Kit”
We always keep separate toiletry bags that are well stocked. After every trip, we check and refill or replace items as soon as we get home. In this way, our toiletry bag is always ready to go. This has been a great time-saver for us in our travels.
Tip #3: Think in Layers
We think in layers from in-to-out and bottom-to-top as we grab clothes from the closet. This provides some order as we pack.
If you are going to a place where it gets cold, we strongly recommend investing in merino wool layers. Merino layers really maximize your luggage space and are incredibly warm for being so light-weight. We always grab merino layers for our fire evacuation bags because the natural fiber is best in a worst-case scenario, and because when the cool weather change comes through, we need to layer up. You can merino layer from undergarments through to jackets. Merino layers are by far one of the best travel investments we have made. We keep our merino layers together in the closet so they are quickly accessible to us. And you can always layer fancier clothing on top of the merino layers for your holiday celebrations.
Tip #4: Use Shoe Bags and Other ‘Containers’
Your shoes can be a hassle in your luggage – they take up so much space (especially when you have feet Graham’s size), can get scuffed or smooched, and never seem to be completely clean when you are in a hurry. With shoebags, you just chuck your pair of shoes in the bag, zip them up, and they can sit in the top layer of your suitcase. This protects your shoes, protects your clothes from your shoes, and saves you the time of having to clean the bottoms of your shoes. Shoe bags can double-up as dirty laundry bags too while you’re away.
If you take multiple medicines or vitamins, we strongly recommend investing in a medical container of some kind. We each have a medicine strip with our medicines and vitamins already sorted into days. This saves so much time as the thinking and sorting has already been done. Ellie keeps her medicine strip in a plastic box that also has her regular asthma inhalers in it. That way, she can just grab the whole box, put a lid on it, and throw it into her carry-on bag.
If you need to look ‘respectable’ where you are going, we recommend a shirt-packing cube. This allows you to fold your dress shirts and dress pants nicely and reduces the normal wrinkling you might expect from being in a suitcase. The shirt-packing cube compresses down, saving you space too.
Tip #5: Save Your Packing List and Use it to ‘Check’
You can keep a packing list in an app like ‘Keep’ or even just as a Google Drive document or other electronic file. Once you make one packing list and save it, then it can become the template for all your trips. This will save you having to reinvent the wheel each time you travel.
Packing lists do help, but we find that if we use the list as we pack, it slows us down. So we have learned to just use it towards the end of our packing to check that we haven’t missed anything. We do sometimes miss things, usually pajamas, hehe. You can use your packing list as a ‘memory back-up’ rather than a step-by-step list.
Checked baggage fees, small overhead compartments, and long waits at baggage claim are just a few reasons it pays to pack light.
Thankfully, the bushfire near us was brought quickly under control, and so we didn’t need our evacuation bags today. But being able to pack quickly is a skill that we have had to develop. We hope these tips give you some insight into your own journey when it comes to travel!What you do to keep travel manageable? Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

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