Have you ever forgotten an essential item on your trips? Or come home with a heavy suitcase full of unworn clothing? Using a packing list app will be one the best travel tools you’ll find to make your trips easier. Whether you are going on an around the world adventure, or off to visit family, using a packing app takes the worry out of what to pack and what to RE-pack at the end of your trip. And over time, use of an app will help you to eliminate those extras that you lug around unworn, which will be better for both you and the planet!
As a lifelong list maker, I’ve enjoyed putting together packing lists for my adventures. But as my traveling increased after becoming an empty nester, I realized a master packing list would save me a lot of duplication. Since finding a packing app for my master list (and the trip lists I’ve refined from the master) my travel life is so much easier. I don’t have to worry about forgetting those little extras – charging cords, medication, etc. And as I use the app I’m able to see what clothing worked on my trip and what didn’t. I can keep track of what I need to replace or repurpose for my next trip and ultimately create a collection of travel-friendly clothing.
Using a packing list app consistently will make your packing more efficient. And packing efficiently is one step towards being a responsible traveler!
So… what is the best packing list app? That will depend on you! How you travel, what you’re comfortable with, and how much depth you want in a travel checklist. I’ve tested several of the best travel checklist apps for Apple devices (iOS) and recommend them below from easiest to use to most challenging.
Best Packing List Apps for Ease of Use
The simplest packing lists all use a packing ‘wizard” system. These apps open with a screen of travel options for the user to select – who’s traveling, how many days, where you’ll be staying, and on most, what activities you plan on doing. From the options selected, a packing list is generated.
You can use this list immediately or customize it a bit by eliminating or adding items. Swipe to remove an item and use the + option at the bottom of each category to add anything not listed.
The catalog options generated – casual shirt, long pants – are very basic. This might be enough for you. But if you’re looking for more detail, add customized options. For example, I was told I’d need “7 casual tops” for my test trip. If I wanted to specify long sleeved merino tops, a tunic, or a graphic tee, I’d manually add those. Good news is that once I’ve created a list that worked for me, I was able to duplicate it for my next trip.
All of the packing list apps below are reliable and easy to use. But each is slightly different with extras that might appeal to you. I’ve tested them for short family trips and longer adventures and give you pros and cons below.
Ease of Use: easy
Google Play Editor’s Choice Award Winner
This is probably the most popular travel checklist app. It’s intuitive, stable, and customizable with an upgrade to the pro edition.
My favorite thing about this app is the ability to pack light by checking the boxes for ‘repeat basics’ and ‘laundry’. Most of us older travelers have learned that packing light is essential to being able to travel comfortably. Avoiding heavy luggage makes cobblestone streets, and hotels without elevators, much, much easier.
And most all of us know that reducing the weight of what we carry on air travel reduces the amount of fuel needed for the flight.
With PackPoint the number of items to be packed is ideal for light packing
- Pack light!
- Very easy to use
- Weather info given for destination
- Set up for one person only
- No ability to specify where item is to be packed
- No values for travel items can be added
- Baggage weights are not calculated
Cost: first list free, additional lists and options with full purchase $3.99
Ease of Use: easy
Packr is a great app for short trips. It syncs with TripIt, lets you add family members to the list, and is very intuitive. Upgrade to the paid version to add multiple destinations to your list.
The multiple destinations option is ideal for long trips, i.e., 2 weeks in NYC, followed by a weekend in Miami. The app will suggest clothing and travel for both destinations. But you will need to do a bit of editing if you want to pack light! In my test case, the app suggested I pack 15 tops, 15 socks, and 4 pairs of shoes for a 16 day trip!
Fun Fact: this is the app used by SpaceX travelers!
- Ability to add multiple destinations
- Syncs with TripIt
- Includes weather forecasts, and nearby attractions (from Get Your Guide)
- Can’t select for traveling light – too many items!
- No values for travel items can be added
- No baggage weights calculated
Cost: 3 lists free (with ads & limitations)
- Remove ads – $2.99
- Additional 5 lists – $.99
- 3 basic trip options included, for more options, I.e. city trip, business trip – $.99 each.
Ease of use – simple
Another good option for keeping track of your packing. Again, you enter information about your trip to generate your list. Tick the checkbox on the bottom if you want to pack light. Chose this option if you’re comfortable re-wearing outfits and/or plan on doing laundry. Once again, add and subtract items to make the list fit your travel style.
This app suggests items that should go in your carry-on bag – very helpful!
Packtor is the only app on this list that has the option to prepare packing lists for more than one person. You can opt for a couples list, or a family list. I like that the family list includes some items specific to a child’s comfort, like a nightlight, toys, or water wings.
- Easy to use immediately after downloading
- Option to create couple or family packing lists
- Extra costs for full app options (annoying ads on free version)
- No preset category for travel activities
- Can’t add monetary value for items
- No baggage weights calculated
Number of Items Generated for a 16 Day Trip
As a test case, I imagined a 16 day trip to Aruba, where I would be enjoying the beach, as well as hiking, taking pictures, and having one or two fancy dinners. Both PackPoint and Packr gave me extensive suggestions for the beach, hiking, and photography. The big difference that I found in comparing the three easy-to-use apps was the number of clothing items suggested for the trip. As an almost minimalist packer, I know I’d never pack the 10 tops suggested by Packtor, let alone the 15 Packr specifies. But it’s easy to adjust the numbers of both apps to more realistic numbers.
|Item||# on PackPoint||# on Packr||# on Packtor|
Best Packing List App for Detail Oriented Travelers
On some trips – safaris, camping, etc.- there is a limit put on luggage size and weight. After our first safari when I ran afoul of carry-on rules, I began using a packing list where I could record the weight of each item and know, in advance of arriving at the airport, what my luggage would weigh. I put together a spreadsheet with approximate weights of all the items included. And after ALMOST losing my luggage on another trip, I added the monetary value of my items to the spreadsheet. Finding an app that could take the place of this spreadsheet made my life so much easier! Most people are not as… um, detailed oriented as I am, but if you are, I suggest you take a look at Packing Pro.
Ease of Use: average to challenging
Packing Pro is one of the original mobile device packing list apps. It is not as streamlined or as intuitive to use as others but once set-up, gives the user fully customization options and the ability to generate totals for all the trip items.
When you first begin using this app you can choose items from the pre-loaded catalog. You can leave it there, just using the basic list items, or you can specify what bag each item goes in, and/or who it belongs to. This is incredibly helpful when you need to find something quickly without rummaging through all your bags.
As you become more familiar with the app, you can begin customizing the catalog. In the example shown, I’ve added a favorite pink button down blouse, and quick dry convertible pants. I like knowing exactly what I’ve decided to include for my capsule wardrobe before the last-minute packing.
Note: it’s not necessary to add a completely new item to the catalog to remind you of what you’ve decided to pack. There is an option on every item for a note. Use this field to note the color or style of the items you’ve decided to pack, and you’ll see those notes when you’re prepared to pack. In the list above I’ve added a note to my shorts that I want my ‘fitness’ shorts.
Again, it takes a while to customize this app for your very specific lists. But once you’ve done this, you can duplicate the lists you create and use them over and over. I have lists for when I visit my Chicago family – one for the summer and one for the winter. When I’m traveling to Chicago in the Fall, I can edit one of these lists to suit the weather and activities. There’s no limit on the number of lists I can have.
- Can specify what bag to pack your item in (including option for items to wear on travel day)
- Calculates weight of luggage
- Details value of belongings
- Can download list to a CSV spreadsheet
- Requires intensive set up to get the most out of the app
Add a Style App to Your Travel Tools
I admit to being a packing nerd – constantly in search for the perfect bag and the ultimate travel capsule wardrobe. Having a capsule wardrobe greatly reduces the number of clothes I have to pack, and then carry along the way. This is good for me and for travel sustainability. (Each pound of luggage weight adds to the fuel needed for air travel) When I’m preparing to travel, I use one app to visualize my capsule wardrobe, and another as a travel checklist.
A Quick Refresher on Packing Light with a Travel Capsule
- Choose neutral, lightweight, easy care clothing as your base.
- Add one or two lightweight items in coordinating colors.
- Plan outfits using the clothing you’ve chosen. Ideally, every top should match every bottom so mixing and matching is easy.
- Winnow down your list until you are sure you have all you need but nothing more.
- Add a lightweight signature item to add some interest to your wardrobe – a scarf, shawl, or piece of (inexpensive) jewelry.
And my favorite travel wardrobe tips
A week before your trip, try on your planned outfits. First look for anything that needs mending but, most importantly, look for outfits that don’t flatter or are uncomfortable.
Take photos, if possible. This is helpful as sometimes you see yourself better in a picture than a mirror!
Choose ‘travel friendly clothing’ – lightweight, odor resistant, and easy care – and you can travel for two weeks carry on only! Some of the items in your closet will fit these criteria. But as items wear out, think about replacing them with travel friendly clothes.
Use an app like Stylebook to visualize the combinations you can create with the items you’ve chosen!
Ease of Use: time consuming customization required to use as a packing list app.
This app is not designed specifically for packing but I’ve found it very useful to visualize my travel capsule wardrobe. It takes some time to set up the app. You will need to upload images of your travel clothes (or use generic images from the web) and use these images to make outfits. But once you’ve created your ‘closet’, you can use it for every trip. (AND you can use the app to track the outfits you wear daily or for special occasions. Add notes to your outfits to keep from repeating looks for similar events or company.)
For my Bike and Barge trip to the Netherlands –
- I chose black and white as my base colors with blue and pink accent colors
- A signature item – a Diane Kroe carry-on cozy which can serve as a scarf, skirt, or cardigan, was in my carry-on. My cozy is in a limited edition print that coordinates with all my colors.
- I used Stylebook to mix and match my items into outfits
- I tried on the outfits, took a few selfies, and discarded items that were unflattering.
- Settled on a perfect combination – 8 tops, 4 bottoms, 2 sweaters, a fleece, and my carry-on cozy [note: 8 tops is more than I usually pack, but as this was a cycling trip with no laundry available, I needed extra tops]
I added versatility by choosing two tops and bottoms that offer multiple styling options. And chose fabrics that are quick drying and odor resistant. (Lesson learned from the humid barge – avoid cotton as it takes forever to dry!)
Stylebook does have a built in packing checklist, but I used a different app (Packing Pro) once I’ve settled on clothing.
Here is a view of my Amsterdam Stylebook packing list infographic. I found this helpful not just for packing, but for eliminating a lot of wardrobe decision making when getting dressed in my tiny barge cabin.
- Visualize outfits
- Good as home closet organizer too
- Lots of setup required
- Only for clothing, not gear
Tips for Getting the Most From Your Packing List Apps
- Once on the trip, reset your packing list (uncheck all the items on the list) and check off items again as they’re used. At the end of the trip you can clearly see what wasn’t needed. Add notes to your travel checklist indicating what was needed and what was superfluous. Pack lighter on your next adventure!
- Or use the app again before heading home to make sure you’ve left nothing behind.
- If you’d like to try tip #1 and tip #2, duplicate your travel list! It’s easy on the best packing apps!
What travel tools do you use that make your trips easier and more efficient?
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🌱 – includes an option to help you travel sustainably