Making the perfect packing list spreadsheet


Trips big or small, it pays to have your packing list set right. Especially when you have kids. Things always end up last minute and in a panic just before launch. I haven’t forgotten a child at home, yet. Hoping not to pull a Home Alone on my children anytime soon and that’s why for a number of years now, my wife and I have been leveraging a master Google Sheet spreadsheet to make sure we don’t miss anything.

Packing list for any kind of travel – adapt as you need

Go ahead and make a copy of the sheet. Here’s how we use it:

  • Make a copy of the “original” sheet.
  • Rename your new sheet to whatever trip you are packing for. Dates help. Like “2022 Feb Ski Trip”.
  • Mark items you’ll need with a “y” in the “needed” column
  • As you pack, put an “x” in the “packed” column. Or a note like, “tomorrow” if you can’t pack it until then. Things like toothbrushes.
  • Keep filtering so you’ve only got the things you’ve got left visible. Open the filter for the “needed” column and unselect “y” so you only have blanks. This gives you everything you need to pack.
  • When you trip is done, make sure you add or update the “original” tab to include any changes so you won’t have to do it next time.

One of the big timesavers we’ve had with this packing list is making sure to label where you can find everything in the house. You can then go into one room and pack everything you need in one go rather than running around. I have enough running around after the kids on a daily basis, that packing doesn’t need to also include that activity.

While it doesn’t represent my house in the template, you can get a sense of where everything could be. Customize to your own dwelling. There is a handy graph embedded in the sheet that shows you where everything is located. You’ll need to scroll to the right to see it. The graph will also update as you filter the list.

I’ve included an example packing list for a road trip on the second tab of the workbook. A quick glance at the graph shows me where I’ll be spending the majority of my time sourcing items. The closet, washroom, and study.

So take this list, customize it to your own and keep iterating. The upfront work requires some time, but you’ll find it gets easier and easier as you go forward. Taking a few moments after each trip you go on to update your “original” tab will save you tons of time and headaches in the future. No more forehead slapping when you realize you should have brought the mosquito coil or headphone splitter cable that you swore you would remember from last time.

If you tend to leave packing to the last minute like I do, this list will greatly simplify your life and bring you peace of mind. Safe, happy, and well-packed travels.