PackingEssentials.com: Packing made easy

This website makes customized packing lists for travelers

By Shannon Broderick

I am a compulsive list-maker.

I make grocery lists, to-do lists, homework lists—and packing lists. Every time I head off on a new adventure (something that’s been happening fairly frequently as of late), I scribble down a hasty list of things to wear and bring before pulling out my suitcase to pack.

Making a list to begin with, however, can pose a challenge. I’m always forgetting to add something to the list, whether it’s an umbrella (who knew it would rain in Zurich?), proper shoes, or an extra camera battery. And if I don’t add it to the list? You bet I’m not going to remember to bring it.

Enter PackingEssentials.com, a website that helps travelers to build their own, customizable packing list. Packing Essentials takes your destination, the arrival and departure dates, length of trip, and any special activities, among other things, and creates a personalized packing list for travelers to follow. Packing Essentials prides itself on stress-free packing, 16-day weather forecasts, and mobile + tablet viewing (so you can view your list from anywhere).

"An Expensive Mistake"

PackingEssentials.comAccording to creator Edan Barak, Packing Essentials arose from an ill-fated vacation last year.

Founder Edan Barak
Founder Edan Barak

"I went on a ski trip last year and forgot to bring my waterproof ski pants," Barak explained.

"I had to spring around $150 to buy a new pair at the ski resort--an expensive mistake. I wished I had created a packing list before my trip so I wouldn't forget anything, and wondered why there wasn't a good website that allowed me to do that. That's how the idea...came about."

A web developer by trade, Barak had the site conceptualized a mere two weeks later, and it was ready to launch after eight months-- and he hopes to see the site grow in the future.

Barak envisions "a one-stop portal for anyone preparing to take a trip."

"It will include a lot more useful tools such as currency exchange rates, phone dialing codes, reviews and comparisons of travel-related items (such as luggage, travel clothes, etc)," he says.

Trip #1: Boston

This upcoming weekend, I’ll be headed to Boston to spend time with friends, before going home for a day or two—so I decided to try the site, to see how it held up. I registered for free, plugged in my details, and clicked "generate packing list."The first thing that showed up was a list of recommended tasks to do before even beginning to pack—travel, home, and car preparation.

Packing Essentials allows you to customize a list, as I did here.
Packing Essentials allows you to customize a list, as I did here.

Travel Essentials reminded me to empty my trash, lock my doors and windows, put gas in the car, and to check my tire pressure and spare tire before—it also reminded me to remember my license, wallet, and student ID.

The next tab was packing and accessories, and gave me a list of luggage, toiletries, sleeping gear and accessories. I particularly appreciated the toiletry list—I’m famous for forgetting toothpaste or floss—and the toiletry list was certainly comprehensive.

The clothing and foot-wear list was simultaneously helpful and not helpful at all—while well thought out (it suggested thermal underwear!), I prefer to make my own, more specific list of clothes, instead of general categories like “shirts,” and “pants.”

Packing Essentials also has a a list of various things you might bring in order to entertain yourself on a trip—an iPod, headphones, cellphone and/or a digital camera, as well as things that I personally might not bring on a trip (Calculator? Family pictures?) but might be useful, nonetheless.

The last section gave me information about Boston—in particularly, the weather—which aided in my packing.

Each tab also gave me the option to add additional to-do items for the already made, as well as delete options not relevant, however, which allowed me to change the lists to my liking.

You can print your packing list.
You can print your packing list.

After I edited my list, I had the option to either print out the list, or tick it off on the browser page—I could also save it, to come back later (which is exactly what I did).

Trip #2: Madrid

Intrigued, I decided to try another list—this time, I tried it out on a trip that I took to Madrid around this time last year, for six days. This time, I chose the “minimalist” option, which removed all extraneous items from the list.

This time, the list changed a little to reflect my longer trip (Packing Essentials reminded me to “empty fridge of perishables, which I always forget to do), and the fact that I was (hypothetically) leaving the country by checking to make sure I’d gotten all my vaccines and checked-in with the airline.

Since I was traveling with the ‘minimal’ option, it removed all of my travel accessories, save for a tooth brush and paste and an umbrella—because, according to the built in forecast, it’s supposed to rain in Madrid this week.

A seal of approval?

I then put the site to the ultimate test, by sending it to my friend Elizabeth Murphy. Murphy, a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, studies Information Technology and is my de-facto, go-to expert on all things computers and web-design.

She complimented the site on its mobile version, which was responsive, and was impressed with how easy it was to use on her phone—even more convenient, some might say, than the desktop version. With the mobile site, users can scroll through their list and check things off, on a device that fits in their hand.

After trying the site out, Murphy was impressed.

“I think it’s a useful idea,” she said.

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