use evernote to create your ultimate packing checklist

Most of us need multiple packing checklists to cater for the different situations in which we find ourselves: a kids’ toys checklist for a beach holiday maybe and a very different one for a conference or an international flight. There are specialist apps that help you set up customised checklists, but why would you spend money and manage yet another app when Evernote already provides you with all the tools to create a packing checklist across all your devices?

In this post I want to share with you how I have set up my packing checklists in Evernote. It may not win a design award, but it is easy to set up and use, as well as totally customisable. The ingredients: simple Evernote checklists and note links that tie them all together and make it easier to navigate between individual lists.

The first step is to take a moment to think about the lists you are likely to need. You may come up with some general list headings (clothing, kids, healthcare, electronics, travel documentation) and some very specific ones (Everest climb, Borneo jungle hike). Don’t over-think it; you can always cut and paste later.

Next, start adding items to your lists if you have the time. If not, just create the list heading for now. A simple list will look like this:

A simple checklist in Evernote.

A simple checklist in Evernote.

We’ll disregard the green hyperlink at the bottom of the list for now.

I quickly review the items on my list before I start packing and tick off what I won’t be needing. For example, I may tick off bodyboard and wetsuit if I know I won’t be using those on a particular beach holiday. I then tick off all the other items as I pack them. Before the next holiday, I just remove the ticks and I have a fresh list.

I save my checklists in my ‘travel’ notebook and I give each of them a ‘pack’ tag.

Now, the real utility comes from setting up a ‘dashboard’ that lets you jump across lists and back to your dashboard. Mine looks like this:

Set up a dashboard in Evernote to jump across your various lists.

Set up a dashboard in Evernote to jump across your various lists.

To set up a dashboard, you first create a table (or just a simple list) in Evernote. Next, you paste the note links for each of your checklists into the table. You create a note link by right-clicking on a note and selecting copy note link. A note link is only available for notes that have been synced with the Evernote server.

Next, you copy the note link for your dashboard and paste it into each of your checklists (see note link at the bottom of the first screenshot).

You can now easily jump from your dashboard to individual checklists and back again. I have found this very useful—faster and more effective than using tags only. Accessing an item on any list is now just two clicks away.

You can also use the note links to connect other information to your checklists. For example, my flights packing checklist is linked to a carry on luggage note, which sets out current restrictions for carry-on luggage.

I have been using Evernote since 2008 and the note links have certainly provided a multiplier effect to the utility of this versatile app that just keeps getting better.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please leave a comment below if you would like to share your ideas for creating packing checklists or for using note links in Evernote generally.

8 thoughts on “use evernote to create your ultimate packing checklist

  1. Evernote is too heavy. I use Todoist, crossplatform available on Android, ioS (iPad, iPhone) and Web (etc.). You may check out their new features (Your last post on Todoist was in Sept 2012). I also use Toodledo on my projects but it only offers 3rd party app on Android which cause hiccups in synching.


    • Todoist is great but I personally would not use it for creating checklists. The beauty of Evernote is that it integrates so well with some of the best GTD-compatible productivity apps around, such as Omnifocus, zendone, Nozbe and IQTELL. And Todoist, for that matter: you can paste a note link in the comment field of a task in Todoist and open Evernote from there. Ah, it’s all magic… Thanks for leaving a comment!


  2. Pingback: Before You Go: Organize Summer Travel with Evernote Checklists - Evernote Blog

  3. I can not see where to create the table! How to you do it? Can it be done from an ios device?


    • Hi Marcus! I created the table using the desktop version of EN (new note > click in note field to bring up the formating bar > click on table icon). And no, I don’t think it can be done in ios. The table format isn’t crucial though – you could also make a list of packing lists (separated by headers if you like). The trick is to use note links to jump back and forth between specific lists and your master list.


  4. This is absolutely amazing!! I have an upcoming trip to South Africa and was finding that just using tags would put everything in one place but not in one view that I could manipulate. I LOVE THIS DASHBOARD TIP!! I just finished organizing my entire trip. Thank you for sharing…I also shared this on my social media since I know many folks that use Evernote.


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