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    Default Review: Packing Pro

    Review: Packing Pro, by Quinn Genzel

    How many times do you go on a trip, only to feel like you have forgotten something. I tell you, it happens to me all the time. I think that literally EVERY trip I have been on, I stop on my way out, with the nagging feeling that I am forgetting something important (phone charger, tickets, reservation numbers, underwear, etc.)

    Well, let’s put an end to all that. Enter Packing Pro, a packing utility program to try and eliminate that self doubt you have just as you are leaving the house. Packing Pro is a full featured packing program…scratch that, it is actually a full featured trip program. In addition to having packing lists, it also has options for pre-planning (before you leave) so you can make sure to prepare for your trip.

    Pre-planning items include general preparation (buy travel guides, get passport, prepare budget, etc), physical preparation (get vaccinations, cut nails, arrange a will), equipment preparation (charge batteries, prepare digital music), home preparation (turn off lights, stop mail, set VCR), and work preparation (clean up desktop, set email autoresponder, reschedule meetings).

    When creating your packing list, you can choose from pre-determined template lists (with prepared lists for trips like “male, female, camping, light packing, etc). It would be nice to see more template lists (foreign travel, beach/lake, city, cross-country, etc.). In addition, these prepared templates don’t allow for any variation in the length of the trip – you are always told to pack 5 pair of underwear regardless if the trip is overnight or for two weeks!

    You also have the option of creating a new list using the expert guide. You can put in how many people are travelling (adult males, adult females, children), how many nights the trip is, the temperature of the location you are going, and if it is domestic or international. This answers some of my concerns with the template lists, but it would still be nice to have more templates ready to go. In addition, more specialization for the expert list would be great – are you going somewhere where you will swim? Maybe you are going multiple locations? What about renting a car? There is so much variation in trips types – from visiting in-laws to taking a cruise of Alaska – it would be great to see more guidance from the “expert”.

    Lastly, you can choose to create a list from scratch – manually adding items to your packing list, and manually deciding how many to bring of each. Once a list is created, you can always edit and refine it – removing items or adding more if needed. Packing lists are broken down into category (to do pre-departure, essentials, clothes, accessories, gadgets, medical/health, and toiletries), and each category contained appropriate sub-categories (in clothing, you have pants, shirts, dresses, socks, underwear, nightwear, and beachwear). Each subcategory actually contains the items you are bringing – in shirts, for example, you have long sleeve (warm), long sleeve (light), short sleeve, short sleeve polo, lng sleeve polo, t-shirt, jogging shirt, sweatshirt, and so on.

    For each item, you can set fields for how many you need (or how many times you need to do it), weight, value, and notes. These fields are generic and found for every item – including things that don’t make much sense for them (like the weight of arranging a will, or the value of cutting your nails). I wish some of the items had more specialized fields so you could include things like reservation numbers and hotel chain with your hotel reservation. You can currently add the information in the generic “notes” field, but it would be nice to see it more specialized. One problem with the items that are already included – there are no details listed for them! I can understand not including the value, but having the weights pre-programmed for things like pants, pajamas, passports, and such would be very helpful.

    After you create a list, you can check off items as it gets down or packed. Already stopped the mail? Check it off. Packed your toothpaste? Check it off. As you go through your list, checking things off, you can see a summary of how many things you have done for each category, and how many you have left. You can always uncheck something as well if needed. It’s an easy way to see what you still have to do when preparing or packing for a trip.

    You can go into a settings option to modify the font, layout of the lists, and colors in the app. In addition, when looking at your list, you can choose alternate sorting methods, a summary of what you have packed (weight and value), and even email the list to yourself. You can also add user-defined categories, sub-categories, and items, so if there is something that is not included, you can always add it yourself.

    • very thorough list of preparation/packing items
    • lots of customization (including visual appearance)
    • can email lists

    • can be time consuming to create a list
    • more templates needed
    • more detailed "expert" guide needed
    • some fields do not make sense for the items

    All in all, this is a relatively full featured packing app that tries to be an essential trip assistant. In some ways it success admirably – it helps you with pre-planning, it makes sure you pack things that you might forget. But in some other ways I found it a little lacking – more guidance with the “expert” would be helpful, additional fields for some of the items in the database (like reservation numbers), even including a timeline would be beneficial. But as a packing tool, this program can be VERY helpful. No longer will I feel like I am leaving something undone before I leave on a trip. The app is priced at $3.99, and if you are a frequent traveler, or just someone who is always wondering if they left the iron on (although interestingly they don’t have that as an option), this app is recommended. There is a cheaper lite version (not free) that doesn’t have as many features. Four out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.

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