It also falls into the category of "Life Skills I Need to Master First."
We travel a decent amount, and we generally don't pack days ahead. Also, I'm one of those annoying people who likes to fit everything into a carry-on suitcase that will (just barely) fit into the overhead luggage bin. Waiting at the baggage claim just seems worse than a root canal. Can we still be friends?
For a 3-4 day trip, my kids usually fit everything into an L.L. Bean backpack, and with a little guidance, they can pack themselves using a list I give them.
On our recent trip to San Diego, I felt like I'd just about attained to Packing Nirvana. I'll show you what I did, and maybe it will work for you too. The rules are simple:
1. Don't pack anything you won't wear more than once.
2. Pack one garment per 24-hour period you'll be gone. (Not counting PJ's, gym clothes, etc.)
The weather forecast called for sixties and low seventies, so I needed some layers, but no puffy snow gear. Here's what I packed, and I did so in about fifteen minutes:
1. One pair of jeans
2. One pair of khakis
3. 2 T-shirts -- one long-sleeved, one short-sleeved.
4. 2 Camisoles - so glad I had these; it was chillier than I expected!
5. 1 lightweight cardigan. Cardigans are really the answer to life, the universe and everything, don't you think?
6. 1 cocktail dress and 1 dressy jacket - this ruined my wear-twice rule, but the Prof and I had a fancy banquet to attend.
7. 1 scarf - works to jazz up and outfit AND keep you warmer in the morning/evening chill.
8. 1 set workout clothes
9. 3 pairs of shoes: running shoes, comfortable ballet flats, and dressy heels for the banquet. Again, the heels were extra. I generally wouldn't pack so much footgear.
10. Undergarments and socks - rolled up and stuffed into shoes.
11. Toiletries -- I keep these always packed in two small travel cases that sit on my bathroom counter, ready to be grabbed and tossed in. Important: Pack a 3-oz. (or smaller) container of laundry soap and perhaps a couple of clothespins -- you'll need to wash a few things during the trip!
On the plane, I wore dark jeans, a white button-down shirt, a heavier, drapey white cardigan, and my trusty Frye boots. Hallelujah for that hardworking cardigan; I wore it for part of every day.
Learning to pack light but smart seems daunting -- I've been known to stare uncomprehendingly at a weather forecast that differs by ten degrees from my own city. But when you figure out how to take just enough and still feel sartorially sufficient, you'll be footloose and fancy free.
Now, find somewhere to go; you need an excuse to practice packing!