I’ve lost something. If you were to look at the top of my desk right now, you would shake your head, tsk your tongue and say “It’s no wonder.” I used to have one of those little signs that read, “A messy desk is the sign of a brilliant mind” or something like that, I have no idea where mine wound up. But honestly, I am pretty organized. I know what is in my stacks and stuff. I rarely lose things and when I do, I look for it the rest of my life. I’ve lost a couple of earrings, I’ve never forgotten. People borrow costumes and props from me, and I never get them back, I think about that from time to time. Growing up, my son didn’t even try to find anything, Caleb and Hubby, Doug, just made a bad joke about me checking my uterine tracking device and telling them where something is. Girls, can you relate? Why are we responsible for knowing the location of everything, even their stuff?

I hate to dig in my purse and even more, I hate to dig in my luggage looking for something. I like to pack like I’m setting up a little household, with thought and organization....similar things together, and accessible. I take pride in being able to reach into my bag and get what I need or to loan you an item you’ve forgotten. Duct tape? Got it, here in outside pocket. Corkscrew? Yep, right here in the little zippered bag with tea bags, clothespins, and lint roller.

When I do my “Packing it in” presentation on how to pack a suitcase, I start by asking my audience to take a look into their wallets and handbags, because that is a tell-tale sign of what kind of “packer” they will be, and what kind of luggage will suit them best. Unorganized folks, as in toss it all in, should not buy luggage with a million little zipper compartments. They will think this will get them organized, but it will just be stressful when they start the hunt and have to zip and unzip all those hiding spots. Lots of little compartments work best for those that are committed to putting things away immediately after use, and have a strong recall for routine.

Packing cubes, the fabric zippered boxes, are an excellent system for both types of travelers. Choose different colors and sizes and assign what goes into it. Socks and undies will always be in the blue cube. Swimming stuff in the orange zippered one. Two gallon zip lock bags work too, but take a bit more effort to reseal. Invest in smaller, clear, zippered envelope/pouches to stash things that go together such as medicines, jewelry, personal items. It’s easy to pick up and say, here are my nail clippers, or looks like I need to buy more cough drops. This can all be done without dumping your suitcase on the floor, throwing clothes into the air and having a “come apart” trying to find something you swear you packed.

And always put your passport and your phone back in the same place. Everytime. Everytime. Make it easy for YOU to get to and a place you can touch from time to time to assure that you still have them.

Christmas sales are happening and luggage is always a fun gift, it’s like getting a promise. Think about the traveler suitcase and how they roll before you just grab what’s on sale. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for my little item. But I have found three other things that I looked for last year!

Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or pb@goodtogowithpb.com.