I'm not the type of traveler who shows up at the airport without her passport. And I'll never leave town without my son's asthma medication. But, given that I'm usually packing for five, I will, on every trip, forget something. A night light for the kids, a phone charger, headphones (which need to go in the carry-on, not the suitcase!). Rarely a catastrophe; always a pain I'd prefer to avoid.
That makes me a perfect candidate for Packing Pro, a popular Apple devices app that can help families and frequent travelers avoid overpacking or facepalm-inducing slip-ups, such as arriving at the mountaintop cabin with wine but no opener.
In addition to offering several ways to enter or select items to pack, a new feature in the five-year-old app allows you to set alerts for tasks to complete before, during and after your trip: lining up visas, confirming a return flight, recharging your digital camera. Another new feature lets you attach photos, handy if you're asking someone else to pack an item they're not familiar with -- for example, the stuffed bunny that is your daughter's favorite.
For me, the real power of Packing Pro is not in these extras, the customizable fonts and colors (who cares?) or even the 800-item catalog, but in the ability to create fairly easily a multi-person list that can be viewed multiple ways.
The Expert Help feature populates based on parameters you enter: number of family members, days of the trip, climate, international or domestic destination, and even whether you'll need to cook or wash clothes. Items are automatically linked to a person or the group, but you can also assign them to a bag.
Deleting the unneeded items Expert Help suggests -- such as the five padlocks it gave me -- is simple, though potentially tedious if your list varies substantially from the recommendations.
Which brings me to the catch: As with any packing app, Packing Pro requires an investment in time, as you either build a list from scratch or pare a suggested one. There were few glitches, but the complexity of the app required some trial and error.
Creating my first list took about 40 minutes, but I eventually needed just a few minutes to adapt already-created lists. Lists are easily emailed or shared via iCloud, which means you can move between devices or send lists to family members -- perhaps with the friendly suggestion that they pack their own bags.