Before the summer comes to a final close, I thought I’d celebrate the end of summer travel with a week of posts to help all of you prepare for your last summer getaway or your next fall or holiday adventure. I’m laying all my best packing tips, suggestions, and lists out for your planning perusal all week long. I’ll bring you a new packing list post each day this week.
To kick things off, let’s start with my 5 best packing tips for families:
5 Packing Tips for Family Trips
1. Make a list.
Obviously! A list is the essential first step to make sure you don’t forget anything. I have a master packing list that I rely on before each new vacation. I take that list and edit it for specific destinations and to account for the ever-changing needs of my kids at various ages and stages. Better for the list to be over-inclusive and then pare it down.
2. Involve the kids (at least a little).
Teaching kids to pack their own things is an important and necessary life skill. My daughter gets excited for the trip when she is involved in the packing so I’ve let her help as soon as she showed interest (around 4 years old). I call out things from our list and let her run to grab them and lay them on the bed. Now that she’s 6 years old, she also (mostly) packs her own carry on bag with toys and entertainment items that interest her at the moment.
Of course, having little kids “help” is often no help at all when you are in a rush to get out the door for a vacation. So plan your time accordingly.
3. Start several days in advance.
Procrastinators beware! Starting early enough is always my biggest challenge due to our busy life getting in the way, but it is so important. This is the hardest tip for me to follow!
First, more than a week in advance, make sure you have clothes that fit your kids for the right season at your destination. This gives you time for a quick Target run to pick up any essentials you are missing. The same applies for travel-size toiletries. In fact, I prefer to keep a pre-packed toiletry kit for each member of the family so that I always know I have the important items on hand.
Start laying out clothes and other items to pack at least 3 or 4 days in advance if you are packing for a trip of any significance. Don’t leave all the laundry and packing for the night before – you’ll be up very late and tired to start your trip.
4. Plan out a laundry strategy for the trip.
One of the best ways to pack light is to bring less and find a way to do laundry once or twice during your travels. Many hotels have coin operated laundry if you just do a little research to check in advance. Since my toddler still takes a daily 2-3 hour nap at our hotel most days during our travels, this down time is the perfect opportunity to knock out a load of laundry without missing out on time during our trip.
5. Share suitcases.
With airlines charging expensive bag fees, families should definitely think about sharing bags. Sharing bags also makes good sense to hedge against the risk that an airline loses a bag or two. We try to scatter a full outfit for everyone in each bag we check. Even if only one bag makes it, we all still have a clean change of clothes.