Just before a trip, my mind is scattered between preparing for the trip while dealing with the ongoing daily life of work and home. If I could afford the time, ideally having one day before & after a trip would make traveling more manageable in the organizational sense.
One day before the trip, I could spend packing and getting our house in order (who likes to come home from a trip with a dirty home).
And the day after the trip could be spent unwinding, unpacking and tending to laundry.
Ah, the luxury of time. In most instances, I do not have that luxury. Instead, I make a list of what to pack. Sometimes it involves running all over the house seeking items to pack in our suitcase.
To help offset some of the chaos, I keep a hanging organizer / toiletry bag packed at all times. Between Target & Drugstore.com, I manage to keep that bag filled with Q-tips, cotton balls, shampoo & conditioner, face cloths, eye make-up remover, hair brush, pony tails, deodorant (Ban roll-on is my absolute favorite), dental floss picks and all the necessities for everyday hygiene. And let me add that Drugstore.com is a huge time saver. I've ordered Viva paper towels from them too.
Cosmetics are essential to my travel gear. After returning from a trip, it can take me days to unpack. And it's frustrating when I go to apply make-up in the morning only to find a good portion of it is still packed. It's a distraction because I have to go get the suitcase, pull out my cosmetics bag and make my way back to the vanity to continue applying my make-up. And what I mean by distraction is that I would stop along the way and do 5 other things en route to the suitcase before returning to the vanity. I am infamous for this....dawdling and losing focus of the task at hand.
Just recently, I decided that an expandable hanging travel bag dedicated to cosmetics for travel-only is a must. It too will remain packed at all times. I already have small containers of make-up from the Bare Esscentuals kits I've purchased in the past as well as extra mascara on-hand. I had to purchase an additional blush make-up brush and Prime Time bases. To me, it's well worth the extra expense just to save a little time and frustration.
With the necessary electrical chargers needed for our equipment permanently tucked into a ziploc bag and ready to travel at a moment's notice, packing our clothing is the only task to deal with prior to a trip.
Also, I learned from Jessica some time ago where pre-planning outfits and tucking them into plastic bags is an efficient way of packing for a trip. I tried it using extra large size Ziploc bags and had a wonderful trip without the time-consuming task of selecting what to wear.
Now we're on our way to being a well-traveled traveler.