How I Use Trello as a “Continuous Travel Packing List”

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We recently got back from a big trip, and that reminded me I’ve been meaning to publish a tip on how Trello has saved me a lot of time and hassle around travel – and how to set it up so that it can benefit you as well. I’m a big fan of kanban boards in general but this may have helped me more than any other.

Why a “Continuous” Packing List?

In short? Because I used to forget stuff. All the time. By creating a continuous packing list that I reset for every trip, I could continue to add items that I’d forget and then never forget them again. This has a great deal of appeal for me. It has stopped me from forgetting probably 100 things since I created it, which adds up to some real hassle saved.

My wife and I also may need to do some asynchronous planning / packing, especially with our little guy running around, and so the list is especially helpful when one of us thinks of something in the moment. It’s a really effective way to talk through this sort of thing with a partner.

Lastly, it makes me a more efficient packer/traveler. I’m someone who, if left to my own devices, would wander around our house aimlessly thinking “maybe I should bring this?” in ways that would be comical if they weren’t frustrating. It also reduces the anxiety that comes along with travel (“Did we turn the stove off?” “Did we remember to run the dishwasher?”), because it’s clear what we did and didn’t do.

Our Trello Board Setup


I have board columns for (in order):

  • Uncommon Items
  • Big List: Departure Checklist
  • Big List
  • Pack/Do
  • Staged
  • Done


I use labels to track categories, which I apply to a given item. I currently use the following labels (and apply multiple if needed):

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Toiletries
  • Kid Stuff
  • Containers/Staging
  • Food
  • Departure Checklist (this is something we need to do prior to leaving)


I have some Trello automation that moves items back into their respective lists (for when I return from a trip), and that sorts the items in a given list since I tend to pack one kind of thing at a time.

How We Use It

Planning the Trip

  • Move items from the Big List into the Pack/Do list that we plan to bring
  • Move items from the Big List: Departure Checklist into Pack/Do in the same fashion.
    • I could have combined these lists but the resulting list just felt too big.
  • Check the Uncommon Items list for anything we need
  • For anything we need to do, add a due date if it needs to be accomplished before we leave (e.g. charge gadgets, stop the mail)
  • Run the Trello automation to sort the list by category


  • Move things from Pack/Do into Done as soon as they’re in a bag/container that will be staged.
  • When they’re ready, move the container items into the Staged column (this is so we won’t forget to actually put them in our vehicle. This column…exists for a reason.)
  • When the Pack/Do and Staged columns are empty, you’re ready to go!

When We Return

  • Run the Trello automation to reset the lists. This moves items from done back into Uncommon Items, Big List, or Big List: Departure Checklist as applicable.
  • Run the automation to sort the lists once more, which tidies them up for next time.

What’s Your Setup?

Do you do something different, or have any tweaks you’d suggest? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Until then, happy trails!

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