3 Simple Steps to Packing My Family For Vacation!
I LOVE to travel. I DONT love to pack. But it’s part of it so I figured out how to do it efficiently.
As a mom, most of the packing falls on me, which is time-consuming. My husband packs for himself, I am by no means an enabler, but packing for my two girls has always been my job.
A long time ago I set up this system so they could help me pack for them and I would still know they have what they need!
Insert the packing list!
It started as a tool for just me so that I wouldn’t forget something as I was interrupted by the constant “mom, mom, mom” that all of us moms get.
As the girls got a bit older, it has served as a useful tool for them too. Now my oldest even requests it.
True my girls are now 11 and 9, but they have been packing themselves since they were in kindergarten and your kids can too!? I promise!
1. Print a packing list for each person in the family
This master list is saved to my computer and I print one for each person every time we travel. On the list next to shirts, pants, outfits, socks etc. I write “x 5”, or the amount of each item I want them to pack.
The list includes more than just clothes, it has things like books, activities and they’re personal favorites like stuffed animals, blankets other things that must go with us.
2. Each child then uses the list to make piles on their floor
I have the kids fold and stack their clothes and put them in outfits.? Each pile has a shirt, pants, underwear, socks, hair bow etc. This makes its easy for me to check their piles and make sure they have all the pieces they need.
The expectation is that when they’re ready for me to check their piles they have already checked off each item on their list and it is ready to be put in their suitcase.
Control freak mamas, don’t lose me now! Keep reading I have you covered!
So for my control freak mama friends, you STILL have the ability to make sure the kids end up with something cute each day and NOT last years hole filled stained shirt!
You’re checking each days outfit before it goes in the suitcase!!! AND you didn’t have to do all of the searching, folding and coordinating!
If you see something you don’t like, simply ask for them to “also” bring you “XYZ”.? They don’t’ have to know you’re replacing another pile!
Plus you are teaching your kids a life skill and some monitored independence. Win, win!
3. Organizing the Suitcase
Hold up people, don’t just chuck those piles into the suitcase and call it good! This right here will make for travel madness the ENTIRE time you’re gone!
Here’s my next packing secret! Ziplock bags and even better packing cubes! I CAN NOT live without packing cubes!
What are packing cubes?
These fancy little bags keep all of your clothes organized and folded neatly inside your suitcase.
At my house, we each have a different color of packing?cubes which makes using one large suitcase more manageable.
Everything is color coded which means I don’t have to hear about one kid touched my bag and made a mess of it.
In fact, if you’re an unpacker in a hotel room like my husband is you can easily take each person’s packing cubes and put it directly in a drawer upon arrival to your destination.
If you’re not an unpacker, like me, your packing cubes will keep your clothes neatly organized in your suitcase while you travel.
Don’t have packing cubes? No problem!
If you don’t have packing cubes or have younger kids that will destroy even your packing cube, place each outfit in a large ziplock bag with their name and day of the week you want them to wear the outfit.
Then when you’re on your vaca they can simply locate the bag (or you can for non-readers) and get dressed. All the pieces they need are kept together. This works amazingly!
The ziplock bags can even be placed inside the packing cube if you feel like that will work better for your age group.
Bags in bags, ahhh the ultimate organized suitcase!
Now Let’s Talk About the Suitcase!
I use one large suitcase instead of an individual one for each person.? Here’s why.
1. Baggage fees
Baggage fees are the biggest waste of travel money in my opinion. I don’t love the airlines that nickel dime you for everything. A seat, a carryon, a checked bag, breathing … but it’s what they do.?Unless you fly Southwest. (They’re my favorite airline and we almost always go with them. Southwest is without a doubt our airline of choice.)
But for airlines that do charge for bags, one bag, one baggage fee. Done. And you get to keep the rest of that money for endless vacation fun!
2. Less to keep up with
Kids, husbands, carryons, one checked bag per person, strollers and car seats if you have kids that age, it’s just TOO much! Talk about stress! One large suitcase is way more easy to manage for a family.
So you’re thinking your family doesn’t fit in one suitcase.? I get it.? But the biggest take away here is not to have a suitcase per person.? So if that means two large suitcases for your family great.? It’s still better than one small one each.
Here’s what our travel day looks like.
1. One last review of the list to ensure last minute items don’t get left behind.
Toothbrush, stuffed animal, charging cord etc. You know those items that can’t be packed until the last minute.
2. All bags piled at the back door.
Kids can help with this by placing their carry on next to the other items.
3. Packing list goes IN the suitcase to use on the way home!
4. Kids go in the car while dad loads the car.
Since it’s all at the back door in one pile no one has to worry something will be left behind! And the kids are situated and not running around adding to the “get out the door chaos!”
5. Arrival at the airport (skip this part if you’re driving. We use the above system for car trips too).
Once we arrive at the airport each person is responsible for their carry on. Backpacks for my kids. It’s just easier. If it doesn’t fit in your backpack it doesn’t go as a carryon!
Nothing is held separately from your carryon. That is the easiest way to leave something behind!
Plus at quick glance I can look at a kid, check for their backpack and keep going.
And that my friends is how I easily pack and travel with the kids! It’s a great system that I encourage you to try! It may take some practice and trial and error to get it perfect, but it’s a great step in the right direction to reduce the stress of traveling with children! In fact it works so well that my 21 year old stepson still requests his packing list!
Want a copy of my packing list? I’m happy to share! Click here and I’ll send it on to you!
Have questions? Email me jamie@LOTMV.com