The ability to travel in our modern age seemed as permanently sure as the hills. Of course, that was pre-2020, prior to the gangrene of a pandemic spreading throughout the earth, effectively killing off humanity’s itinerary.
But things WILL get better! If you’re into travel bullet journal ideas, why not consider making a BuJo packing list? Even if your foreseeable future is devoid of travel, you can still gain from making this spread right now. After all, isn’t half the fun in planning and daydreaming?
In this post, we’ll guide you in designing the perfect bullet journal packing list. Let’s dive in!
1. Determine the Features of Your Bullet Journal Spread
Before designing the basic layout, determine what features will make your list as helpful, efficient, and logical as possible. I can think of two. Much like a habit tracker, a handy packing list should implement 1) symbols and 2) categories.
Use Functional Bullet Symbols
Bullet symbols that can indicate whether an item is packed or yet to be packed are the best way to manage your luggage. They’re important because they track what you pack, giving you peace of mind from having to do rechecks. Casey and I use this modest format:
Once an item is packed, we fill in the square and forget about it because we trust the system. This method is cleaner than crossing something off the list and less work than migrating it to another category. Simple is best.
Turn Each Bag/Suitcase Into a Category
Separate your list into categories, designating each bag or suitcase as its own. For example, “Casey’s Carry-on” or “Big Blue Suitcase”. Doing it this way ensures an extra level of organization.
Of course, it’s easier to pack for a self-serving weekend road trip than an extended vacation with the entire family. So keep your unique needs in mind.
For us, there isn’t a need to divide EVERYTHING into categories, such as what belongs to whom, which items are electronics, clothing, toiletries, etc. But we definitely need to know WHERE something is packed.
To separate your main list into its appropriate categories, you can incorporate color-coding with the symbols, like this:
Or, you can also break down the list visually into sections, like this:
2. A Recyclable “Master Packing List” or a New Tracker for Each Trip?
The next step is to figure out whether you want to recycle the same spread for all of your excursions or create a fresh one for each upcoming trip.
My wife and I both preferred the “one-spread-fits-all” approach. We figured it would be wiser to create one beautiful spread dedicated to the essential items and reuse it over and over again. This saves notebook space and time.
But, you might wonder, what if your master list of belongings changes? Or how will you deal with the previously filled-in bullet symbols? Won’t the page end up cluttered or messy after repeated use? Valid questions, for sure. If you’re going for a minimalist packing list, then it makes total sense to start a new one for each trip, since it takes such little effort to remake.
Casey’s Creative Spread
But by leveraging the bullet journal method to its creative potential, Casey designed a cute packing list I know you’ll all love:
I think this decorative spread gives the best of both worlds. Its modular elements – the envelopes, the category labels, and inserts – are all changeable, rearrangeable, and replaceable. But only when they have to be. For instance, we’ll likely have to replace the bullet lists after each vacation, but not the luggage labels.
3. Design Your Bullet Journal Packing List
Much like you would for daily or weekly spreads, calculate a simple layout for your packing spread. Leave enough room for each category, including its potential bullet list and header. Keep everything neat and orderly, preferably aligned to your grid spacing cheat sheet.
In our case, even though we’re using inserts, notice how each of the pouches is spaced symmetrically on the double-paged spread.
At the end of the day, though, this is just a LIST. If you mismeasure the layout, who cares? Some of us bullet journaling junkies just HAVE to finesse every little thing, but by no means do you have to!
Finally, this step is where you get to manifest all of your creative ideas. How about trying your hand at the following cute doodles? (Minimal lists without the pomp are totally fine, too!)
A paper airplane. A super popular symbol for travel, this one’s easy yet good-looking. It’s essentially a bunch of “V’s” assembled together. No matter how you draw it, make sure all the triangular shapes resemble wedges. Also, to give perspective, make the further wing slightly thinner than the one closer to you.
A suitcase. Start by doodling a rectangle with rounded corners. From there, you can draw the handle, the wheels, the corner protectors, the bands, some stickers – really, any feature you wish – using basic shapes.
Casey converted small card envelopes into suitcases by using thin Washi tape for the bands and corner protectors. She finished off the other easy details using a 0.5mm Sakura Pigma Micron pen.
A backpack. Although traveler’s backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, I’ll show you how to draw one with an arched top. Usually, there’s also a compartment on the front lower half. For the upper half, you could draw a flap or another small compartment.
I love how Casey divided her cut-out backpack into two parts, with the lower portion functioning as a pocket for inserts.
If you’re intimidated by fancy bullet journal stickers, Washi tape, brush pens, and the pressure to write beautiful lettering, don’t be. Bullet journaling is a means to an end – better productivity. So start basic with the design and gradually progress from there.
Other Bullet Journal Packing Lists From Around the Web
Need more packing list inspo for your BuJo? Here are several other spreads from bullet journaling veterans we really like:
A Stylish Theme Without the Embellishments
This organized packing list has everything we love, in a style we agree with. The color choice is excellent. The suitcase doodles are simple yet fitting. In fact, go over to the Plenty of Plans Instagram feed, and you’ll be encouraged by how even unsophisticated doodles can create a stellar presentation! Credit: @plentyofplans
The Master Tracker
So, Jenn’s list is what I suppose Casey’s list would look like for a 2-week adventure. It makes my head spin. Regardless, this is a very intelligent spread. The items are divided into appropriate categories, albeit according to type rather than whereabouts. But color-coding could easily address this! Credit: @happie_jenn