Packing properly for your family vacation can make or break your trip.
Often times, when you are packing for yourself and your children, it can be overwhelming. But, packing doesn’t have to be you sitting on your suitcase while your partner zips it shut.
1. Plan ahead.
If you have small children, it’s best to do all laundry at least one week ahead. If you have older kids, they can help by picking, sorting and washing the clothes they will need.
With smaller kids, spills and accidents happen and it’s always best to have what you need. Choose clothes that are versatile, comfortable and can be worn more than once.
For shoes, wear your bulkier pair and place a pair of sandals/flip-flops/water shoes in your front pocket of your luggage. If you need formal shoes, pack them in your luggage and stuff your socks into the shoes to save space.
2. Choose your luggage.
Lay out all the luggage you will be taking in advance. This is for the purpose so you won’t be looking for it last minute. Choose the carry-on bags you will be using and set them aside as well. Choose a unique ribbon or string that you can attach to all of your luggages’ front zippers. This way, you can pick out your luggage from the wide array of luggages that all look the same as they go around the carousel.
3. Cross pack.
If you are checking your bags, consider cross-packing. Put a few essential items/outfits in your luggage for your partner and some of your kids in yours. And vice versa. That way, for some reason, your luggages are lost and don’t arrive with you to your destination, you will have at least one outfit to hold you over until you get your bags or buy new items.
4. Roll your clothes.
Even sunny Florida gets chilly during cooler months and believe me, Disney isn’t fun when you’re shivering. Pack your favorite Mickey sweater and roll it up.
5. Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie Polka Dot Bikini? Bring two.
If you are traveling somewhere tropical, make sure to bring at least two bathing suits or swim trunks.
6. Think Small for Toiletries.
If you are planning to stay at a vacation home that will require a shopping trip to stock up on essentials. Leave the shampoo and conditioners at home. Purchase them there. If it that isn’t an option, travel size is your friend.
7. Stock up on essentials.
If you have a baby that is still in diapers, make sure you bring as many as you will need. A good rule to follow is to pack double of what you normally use. For a baby or toddler’s diaper bag, pack enough diapers you will need for the length of your flight and add 2.
Snacks for kids are also something to consider because most times, kids do not want to wait for their small complimentary snack from the airline.
Bring a change of clothes for your child just in case of an accident and an extra shirt for you. Pack small toys to keep them busy and that can be stored away easily when they get bored. Lastly, I always pack one of their soft blankets for when they fall asleep or get chilly on a long plane ride.
8. Stay entertained.
Bring your gadgets and don’t forget to pack your chargers. I use a cable wrap and neatly store everyone’s cables and plugs in one central area. Don’t forget an adapter if you are traveling to countries that use different outlets. Pack your camera in a travel bag, you can use this as a personal item and take it with you onto the plane with your carry-on. Don’t forget extra batteries and camera cards. Headphones are also great to have to take advantage of any of the flight’s entertainment or to purchase a movie for an older child.
9. Remember — YOU.
As a parent, we often worry so much about getting our kids packed and prepared for what we hope will be a stress-free vacation. Don’t forget about your essentials. Don’t forget your contact lenses and solution, any feminine hygiene items you may need, shaving gear, deodorant, perfume/cologne, lip balm, ear plugs, nail clippers and tweezers. Bring your journal or e-reader for down times. Pack a plastic poncho for each of your family members. These ponchos fold almost paper-thin and can be placed in the front pockets of your luggage and not take up any room inside your luggage. These are great for when you are at theme parks or on a hiking a trail and will allow you to walk around in the rain.
And definitely do not, I repeat, do not forget your bathing suit and camera!
10. Pack medicine.
If you are traveling with children or without, it’s always best to prepare for anything. Bring travel-sized anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medicine, pain and fever relief medicine and a small first-aid kit.
Last tip: If you are planning to stay at a vacation home, try to make time throughout your stay and as you go, to do your laundry. That way, at the end of your trip, all of your clothes will be clean and folded and packed away in your luggage.
Hopefully planning ahead will help a bit and most times spontaneity makes for great memories.