When it comes to traveling with children, adequate preparation is an investment in a smooth experience. Packing is one of these preparations, and how you do it affects every one of your travel days. Here are some packing tips that will help keep your children’s items organized so that you can spend less time sorting through things and more time enjoying your trip.
Packing cubes are one of the best ways to keep your child’s clothes contained, together, and separate from your clothing, if you’re sharing a suitcase. Giving each family member a set of cubes in their own color takes the organization a step further. Using packing cubes is like having a portable chest of drawers in your suitcase.
Even with packing cubes, you’ll end up with a tangled mess of dirty clothes in your suitcase if you don’t have a designated place to stash clothes that can’t be worn again. Bring a mesh drawstring laundry bag, or a travel space bag that you can roll thin in order to save space.
Another favorite way to pack children’s clothes is by outfit. Get a Ziploc bag per day, label it, and then put a day’s worth of clothes all together in that bag: underwear, socks, shirt, pants or skirt, accessories, everything. That way, you or your child (depending on age) can grab a single bag and have everything they need to get dressed.
Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you pack. If you’re a list-maker, keep the packing list you made for your child on your last trip. I like to keep it digital, and when there’s something I realized I forgot while I’m on my trip, I add it to my list. Next trip, it’s just a matter of pulling up my list and adjusting for the weather and the number of days we’ll be gone.
Packing for kids is often a balancing act between bringing all the stuff you actually need to make the trip run smoothly and not bringing so much that lugging it everywhere is a nightmare. Car seats, of course, are necessary, but if you’re flying and renting a car, renting car seats at your destination is an option. Cribs are another necessity when traveling with young children, but if you’re staying with friends or family, they may have a crib or travel bed you can use, or they may be able to find a loaner. However, if your child is used to her own travel crib, sleeping in it will probably make for easier naps and bedtimes, which is worth the hassle of carting your own.
No matter how much you plan ahead and how organized you are, something will get forgotten and not everything will go according to plan, but some flexibility and a good attitude can go a long way in making the unexpected manageable. Just remember that it’s all part of the adventure of traveling with kids.