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Every year at the Rick Steves tour guide reunion, we spend time planning, but also socializing. This is when the plotting begins. Ideas crafted over a few beers are often the best. And so it was, that my colleague Fabian Rueger and I came up with Packupine, a packing app.


As you know, packing an efficient bag based on weight is one of my passions. I’ve written and spoken about my crazy strategies. But how can I help people use that strategy more effectively? This is the idea of this packing app.

The app starts by helping you generate a list of items to pack. This list is based on criteria you give it, and based on our years of international travel. The list will pop up, and a projected weight will be calculated, based on the average weight of items. You can export the list to email or notes on your phone to print it out.

But the closet is where the fun starts.

The closet function takes you to categories of items, and lists generic things, like pants or dresses. In each category, you can add your own items. In the item description, you can name, photograph, and add the actual weight.


When you’ve customized all of your favorite travel items, you can tap them and drop them into your packing list, which will eventually give you a pretty accurate estimation of the weight.

So the idea is this: you can sit in a cafe a day before your trip, browse your closet on your phone, then drop all of your belongings in your bag for a real list of your own things, with an actual weight. I’m hoping this method will help people see where they spend their weight and make better packing choices.

This is our first release of the app, available on iPhone and iPad for the low, low price of $1.99. I hope you’ll give it a try and let us know how it goes. We will be continually improving it based on your feedback. Sorry, no Android version…yet.

The interface is simple, and I’ve drawn a little mascot to guide your way, Packupine. After all, if a cute little porcupine can pack a great bag, so can you.

Buy it here: Packupine!

AWS Staff

This post was published by the Adventures with Sarah team. Click here to find out more about the people that make everything at AWS happen.


  • Andrea says:

    Love this! I hope you create an Android version soon!

  • Karen Ellis says:

    Can’t wait for the Packupine app to be released for Android!

  • Sarah says:

    Can’t wait for the Android version! This looks like the perfect tool to keep from reinventing the wheel for each trip.

  • Santa Barbara says:

    Thanks, Sarah! Gonna get it today! I’m excited. Thinking of you, slightly jealously, in Palermo!!`

  • Kathleen says:

    The photo closet is genius. May I suggest offering the option of grams when weighing your clothing item. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Jane says:

    Got it and have started learning how to use it. This “tops”, “bottoms”, etc. kind of categorizing is what I’ve used for years, so I am particularly happy to see the app using those broad categories with particular items in each one. And to be able to take photos of my own clothes and enter their weights – hooray!

    • Jane says:

      Wishlist: ability to move list items into a different order (both closet categories and individual items in each cstegoru) and ability to delete items from the closet in the “from scratch” list. Overall, you’re very close to my dream packing apo!

  • Jane says:

    Wishlist: ability to move list items into a different order (both closet categories and individual items in each cstegoru) and ability to delete items from the closet in the “from scratch” list. Overall, you’re very close to my dream packing apo!

  • Tami Oquinn says:

    Look forward to the Android version, pls give us a shout out at launch, THANKS!

  • Barbara says:

    Hi, not sure if you can add things to your app once it’s made, but I think it would be very helpful when generating a “custom” list, to be able to separate items. Ex: I want to add tops, so I touch the tops. But they are all listed there. I would like to see the next screen show, for example, the categories-like sleeveless tops. Then I touch the sleeveless tops and all my sleeveless tops show on that next screen WITH THEIR WEIGHT on the right margin. Otherwise, it would be so much easier just to do all of this on a spreadsheet. Just adding random tops and then deleting cuz it’s too heavy and adding and subtracting – taking too much time. I love that I can take a picture and it has the weight for each piece. Amazingly, like you say in your videos, sometimes you can take two things for the weight of one thing.Maybe I’m just using the app incorrectly. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Barbara says:

    Hmm, another thing, when I’ve added items to my suitcase, it would be nice if, once again, there would be the category first, then indented perhaps, the items in that category. Right now the list shows in the order I’ve added them, so it’s all mixed up. Thanks!!

  • Gerardina says:

    I just downloaded it, learning all I have learnt from you to pack light, I HAD TO have this app. I’ll start testing it soon for an upcoming trip and leave a rating on the App Store. Thank you for your hard work.

  • ashlye says:

    I just downloaded the app! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! My family and I returned from a week in California (Disney – beach – baseball game – dinner with family) a few days ago, so the hassle of packing and worrying about luggage weight is fresh in my mind. I tried the app as if I were packing for this trip again. Everything was spot on. Your list was EXACTLY the weight and I mean EXACTLY what I packed (after editing to include my items taking out things like extra guidebooks, books, backpacks, etc). My husband, two kids (9,12), and I pack carryon only to make life easier (just try losing your luggage on an opposite coast from home with children once and you’ll be a solid convert?). This is going to be so helpful – especially when trying to remember what I packed from trip to trip, year to year. Our flight home was cancelled VERY last minute, and we frantically switched to another airline. Our original airline allowed a carryon and personal item, and are pretty lax about weight/size. The new airline checked weights and carryon dimensions carefully. Thanks to your helpful tips and tricks, we were able to board with our carryon luggage and avoid extra fees. Awesome work. People – go get this app??????????????

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