Hello. I am Polle and I have five different, colored toilet bags from IKEA that are also labeled with a different color.

For many, that might be a reason to diagnose me with one or several mental disorders, but please allow me to explain.

I travel a lot. My family and I live in Belgium, but most of my work is outside of Belgium. On average, I spend 3 nights per week away from home.

That means, that pretty much every single week, I have to pack my suitcase. Sometimes only for two nights, other times for two weeks. Sometimes packing light for cabin luggage, other times ‘full option’ when I’m packing for several conferences and I’m in the midst of my running training. And some weeks, I will have plenty of time to pack my bag, other weeks I will literally have 40 minutes to shower, hug my daughter and re-pack my suitcase for a new trip.

So, I had been looking for a system that
a) helps me pack my suitcase fast;
b) makes sure I don’t forget stuff;
c) makes sure I don’t pack stuff I don’t need.

So, color-coded toilet bags

A couple of years ago, after forgetting my toothpaste for the gazillionth time, I started color-coding my toilet bags:

  • Pink small (for short trips): Default toilet bag. Small (travel) size toothpaste, hair wax, deodorant, toothbrush, lens fluid, lenses (plus spare);
  • Pink large (for trips longer than a week): Default toilet bag. Normal size toothpaste, hair wax, deodorant, toothbrush, lens fluid, lenses (plus spare).
  • Blue small: Running. Sportswatch, heart rate monitor, arm strap for my iPhone, running earplugs.
  • Orange small: Plastic cutlery. I hate hotel restaurants and I don’t always (want) to go out for dinner. So, quite often, I visit a local grocery store, buy a salad and eat it in my hotel room or nearby park. So, I pack forks, spoons and knives.
  • Silver small: Suit-stuff. Suspenders and cufflinks.

That means I always pack one of the orange bags and depending on my plans, I will pack one or several of the other bags.
It helps me -literally- to pack my suitcase in under 5 minutes and I hardly ever forget something – I only forget something when me or someone else takes something from one of the bags and doesn’t replace it; I never double-check the contents of the bags before I travel.

I use IKEA’s Upptäcka series toilet bags (which -while I was looking for the bags on the IKEA site to add a link- seem to be discontinued).
To make it even more fool-proof, I labeled each toilet bag (which might be pushing the limit here). It make it easier to ask my wife (or others) to bring one of the bags and not bring the wrong one.

So yes, I might be an idiot or I might have a mental disorder, but at least I’m an idiot with a mental disorder that packs his suitcase fast and efficient.

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