Oh, the excitement of an upcoming vacation - imagining what you’re going to see, what you’re going to do, what you’re going to eat. But before you even leave the house, there’s the packing to get through, which for many is nothing short of a headache … particularly if you’re lugging enough stuff for your family.
Today we’ll provide a few tips and tricks for making family vacation packing less stressful and burdensome. We’re not necessarily going to suggest that you pack light because, well, we’re not necessarily light packers ourselves. There’s value in having choices while you’re far from home. That being said, it is wise to pack efficiently.
Here are our favorite tips for packing for a family vacation.
Make (and Stick to) a List
For the list makers among you, this is a no-brainer; for others, sit down at the computer, or grab a pencil and paper. Choose whichever method means you’ll actually make the list. We are partial to online so that you can keep and edit a list for not only the trip you’re about to take, but future trips as well. No need to reinvent the wheel every time. Plus, you can use one “base” packing list and then alter it as necessary for the type of trip you’re taking or your destination (for example, the grandparents’ house each holiday season, the summer trip to Cape Cod, ski trips, an overseas vacation, etc.).
We like to print out the final list as we are packing in the days prior to the trip for the pleasure of physically checking items off. Be sure to note the final, final items (perishable snacks, stuffed animals, that book you had to read the night before but want to bring with you) with a highlighter or a circle so that you remember to grab them at the last minute before zipping up that suitcase.
Pack by Day for Each Family Member
We love this tip, which is particularly convenient when traveling with younger kiddos. Grab some leftover plastic shop bags or buy some oversized zip-locking bags. Mark each with the person’s name and which day the clothing is for. Add undergarments, pants, shorts, shirts, what have you. There you have it - each person can just grab the bag for a certain day, put on what’s inside, and later, put the dirty items back in the same bag. Genius!
Bonus: Instead of plastic bags, use packing cubes instead. Packing cubes come in many sizes and colors. Let each person pick a color so everyone will know which one is theirs.
Another option: Pack one suitcase for mom and daughter(s) and another for dad and son(s). Or, one for the daughters, one for sons, and one for parents. Organizing in this way keeps things streamlined and items easier to find.
Strike a Balance
It’s easy to feel like you’re packing the entire household when traveling with a family. To strike a balance between going overboard and bringing the necessary baby and kid items, consider your destination. How remote is it? Are you going to a Caribbean Island where you won’t have access to big box stores? Or will you be in a city suburb where it will be easy to get to a Target or a Costco?
If it will be easy to pick up diapers and toddler snacks upon your arrival, wait and do just that instead of allowing those items to take up precious space in your luggage. Have your kids pack, and carry, their own backpacks with their must-have items, i.e., favorite stuffy, a few books and toys, a special (small) blanket, a nightlight. Even kids as young as two or three can carry a small backpack through the airport, or use a very small roller backpack.
Rent Baby Equipment at Your Destination
Our only question is, why didn’t someone think of this sooner? For bulky items such as stroller, pack-and-play, bouncy seat, car seat and full-size crib, consider a baby gear rental outfit like BabyQuip. Whether you’re flying or driving, why take up space with your gear from home? Think about it … how much more rest will your baby or toddler get in a safe, full-size crib than crammed into a smaller playpen or on a baby mattress on the floor. More rest for the wee ones means a more enjoyable vacation for everyone.
We mentioned waiting to purchase must-have items at your destination, but better yet, consider ordering those items and having them waiting for you. Use Target.com or Instacart to get items such as groceries for a condo rental, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, even a few beach toys, delivered to your accommodation or available for you to swing into the parking lot and pick up.
Packing can actually be fun, we promise. Involve the kiddos, giving them specific lists and tasks. Get them excited about it with a new backpack or special book for the road or on the plane. Hopefully, these tips will make the process smoother and get you on your way to that long-awaited vacation.
Now, do you need a vacation to pack for? I can take care of that.