Packing for vacation doesn’t have to be overwhelming

By Beth Teitell
Globe Staff / July 21, 2011

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What is it about the seemingly simple act of packing for a relaxing vacation that can cause blood pressure to spike? This: It’s 11 p.m., Target is closed, it’s too late for even Zappos, and you’re forced to confront reality. You hate your wardrobe; your children have outgrown the few garments that will meet your in-laws’ sartorial standards; your spouse can’t find his bathing suit, and it’s your job to locate it.

Though you are going away for just one week to a developed region known as Cape Cod, you fill so many suitcases and extra bags that it’s hard to stuff them all in the trunk. But you can’t leave your favorite shorts behind - you might finally lose those few pounds and they’ll fit again.

Perhaps it’s a sign of society in decline, or pure laziness, but packing is considered so stressful that an entire packing industry has emerged, complete with motivational speakers, experts, and pre-made checklists.

Diane Albright, a Pennsylvania-based certified professional organizer and motivational speaker (pack!), said people doom themselves in several ways: packing clothes that don’t all coordinate; bringing too many shoes; and the biggie, procrastinating. “The reason people put it off is it’s so overwhelming. If someone gave you a list and said here’s what to pack, you could do it.’’

In other words, people, write a list, ahead of time, when you’re still calm. “If people would just sit down one time and write a list, and save it on a computer or where their luggage is,’’ Albright said, “it would be much easier. You’re reinventing the wheel every time.’’

Plus, if you plan ahead and realize more than 24 hours before you’re leaving that you just need one more pair of great sandals, that’s plenty of time for Zappos.

Beth Teitell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BethTeitell.