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Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Making a travel checklist

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 by Emily Boyd

Travel checklist on Remember The Milk

If you have travel plans for the holidays, this tip's for you! RTM user mrgage shared some great ideas to ensure stress-free travel preparation:

Inspired by GTD guru David Allen's Travel Checklist, I set out to make my own with RTM. I tend to travel across country a couple times a year to visit family and it's never fun to stress about what to pack. Then of course, it's even worse to stress about what I forgot to pack. With my travel checklist, I never forget anything!

My first step was to create a new separate list which I called "Packing". I then populated it with all the items I could possibly think of that I would need while away from home. This list must be complete, otherwise, it renders itself useless. I've added items in certain detail that I know will work for me. For instance, just to be safe, I add items such as "white socks, dark socks, dress shirts, t-shirts". However, someone else might prefer to have just one item called "clothes". It all depends what is comfortable for you.

I've created groups to help me separate my items in a logical way. My groups are: "Prepare, Pocket, Carry On, Suitcase, and Last Minute". For each item, I prefix the item name with the group. Here some items from my list:

  • Prepare: Snacks
  • Prepare: Load Music onto Mobile Device
  • Pocket: Cash
  • Pocket: License
  • Carry On: Headphones
  • Carry On: Mobile Device Charger
  • Suitcase: Deodorant
  • Suitcase: Shorts
  • Last Minute: Get sunglasses from car
  • Last Minute: Close Apartment Windows

I've opted to prefix task name with the group name rather than use labels for a couple of reasons. First, RTM alphabetically orders the list so prefixing with groups keeps like items together and second, these groups are only ever used in my "Packing" list so I feel there is no need to crowd up my tag list with a lot of tags I won't ever use elsewhere.

I've got 78 total items in my Packing list. It may seem like a lot, but when packing, it's easy to throw a bunch of items in the suitcase, and then check off all those items at once off my RTM list while they're still fresh in my head. The stress relief is so valuable to not have to worry about whether or not I packed something.

For items grouped as "Prepare", I'll begin to tackle in advance of my trip. I may even assign due dates on these items so I make sure they get done a head of time. All of these items help me with preparing for my trip. I really don't want to have to rush at the last minute to find good reading material because I didn't realize that I ran out of good stuff at home. I'll also need ample time to transfer content to my mobile media device for the long plane ride.

All items labeled as "Last Minute" ensure that I handle all the loose ends literally right before I walk out of the door or shortly after. For example, they make sure I run to my car (before I get into the cab) to get my headphone adapter and my sunglasses that I didn't bring in with me the night before. My "Last Minute" items will also remind me to turn off all my electronic devices in my home to save money while I'm away. I can coordinate these last minute items either from a printed paper version, or using my trusty application I run on my Android phone.

Now, there is an important aspect of this system: when it comes time to start packing for my trip, I don't touch my RTM Packing list. That's right. I've created this list once, and with 78 items in it, it took a while! I don't want to check everything off and then either rebuild the list next time, or un-complete all the items. Instead, I check all the items, duplicate them, then move them to another list I created called, for instance, "Packing for XMAS break '09". Now with this list, I can make special modifications to the list that I might need for that specific trip. I can delete the item: "Suitcase: Sun Tan Lotion" cause I won't be needing that back in New England during the holidays. I can also add some other items such as "Suitcase: Gifts for Parents". Now I've got a customized list for my specific vacation that I can check-away and then archive the list when I'm done. All the while keeping my original RTM Packing list intact and ready for my next adventure. Now packing has become a relaxed time rather than a chore because RTM has done all the hard work for me!

Thanks for sharing this tip, mrgage — you're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week. :)

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks