Packing -- the least fun part of a trip -- doesn't have to be stressful. Take these tips into consideration so you don't leave anything behind or end up lugging around more than you need.
Always use a list, and for this the World Wide Web can be your friend. The Universal Packing List website (upl.codeq.info) takes all the variables -- length of your trip, destination climate, accommodations, planned activities, transportation and size of your bag -- and customizes a packing list for you. Independent Traveler's interactive packing list (www. independenttraveler.com/packing) is similar. It has a list of more than 100 commonly packed items separated into categories. Online, you check off the items you need and then add up to 10 additional items of your own.
The Packing Pro application for iPhone creates your packing list based on the number of adults (male and female), the number of children, how many days you'll be gone, climate and destination. It also has eight sample packing lists, ranging from couples on vacation to business travelers, as well as a pre-trip checklist.
For a low-tech approach, create an "absolute-essentials packing list" that includes the clothes you would want to have on any trip, from pajamas to jeans. Then just add what you need specifically for your upcoming trip or buy whatever else you need once you arrive at your destination.
After a trip, update any packing list you created by crossing out the items you didn't need and adding the things you should have taken.
Keep a toiletries and medicine travel kit ready to go, including the basics: toothbrush, razor, deodorant, shampoo, Neosporin, Band-Aids, sunscreen and pain reliever. For women, when you buy makeup, consider buying two of everything so you have a separate set for a travel cosmetic bag.
If you take prescription medications, bring more than you think you'll need in case your return trip gets postponed.
If you are traveling overseas, consider ordering foreign money online at websites such as www.ordercurrency.com. They can deliver the cash as quickly as the next day and offer reasonable exchange rates. This can be more convenient than standing in line at the airport or trying to find an ATM the second you land in another country.
Instead of packing up the stroller, diapers, bottles, bibs, formula and toys, you can order them in advance from Babies Travel Lite, which provides worldwide delivery. Go to www.babiestravel lite.com.
Finally, so you don't pack a heavy sweater when a Hawaiian shirt is more in order, check to see what the weather will be like at your destination at www.weather.com.