Oh, packing for the family vacation. It’s always an undertaking, isn’t it? The number of ways I packed a bag is innumerable. From “minimalist” to “be prepared” we’ve packed for so many climates and situations and forgotten so many things (kids head phones…2 days ago, true story). Through all of our trial and error, we’ve found these tried and true tips to be the most helpful at getting the most organized (and forgetting the least)!
Do all your laundry before you pack
We all have our “A” clothes and you’re probably wearing them right now. It’s helpful to have everything clean so you can pack it at once instead of throwing it in at different times.
Check your destination forecast
It often happens that your destination weather can change from when you last looked. You’ll be more prepared and less likely to be caught off guard scrambling to find sweatshirts or ponchos if the need arises.
Make a master packing list
I am not a natural list maker. This for me has been a learned behavior because I’ve literally forgotten PJ’s and power cords too many times to count. Open a note on your phone and spend the time putting everything you need on it. Once you have it you can refer back to it for each trip.
Keep a packed toiletry bag
Shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, travel brush, extra hair clips, face wipes, etc are all in a designated travel bag. The bottles just get refilled for each trip or when they’re low. It stays in the suitcase and eliminates a lot of the tedious toiletry packing.
Have a prepacked first aid kit
Having the basics on hand just makes life easier. It doesn’t have to be a wilderness kit- just band aids, Tylenol, hydrocortisone cream, polysporin, etc. It just stays in our suitcase and comes with us for each trip.
Pack your car the night before
This is especially if you’re leaving in the morning. It’s just one less step you have to worry about when you’re trying to rush out the door. We keep a ‘things you use overnight so you can’t pack’ bag on the counter and throw things in it in the AM (pacifiers, teddy, sleep sacks, camera batteries that are being charged, etc)
Load up your electronics
It takes forever to download episodes of Peppa Pig or movies to an iPad so we try to do that several days ahead of time.
Don’t forget the extras
We have a ‘things you think you won’t need’ packing cube that stays packed and gets put in on each trip. Umbrella, ponchos, extra power cord, sewing kit, dry bags for clothes, extra ziplocks, etc. It’s the back-up for unexpected circumstances. Once you pack it once, you just take it with you (and reload) when needed.
Utilize packing cubes
Packing cubes are the bomb guys. You can pack each child’s clothes individually, pack a cube for each day of the week with everyone’s clothes, or pack all the bathing suits in one…you get the idea. They’re immensely helpful.
Bring what you know you’ll have a hard time finding on vacation
This used to absolutely not be my advice. I really believe you can buy almost anything you need almost anywhere in the world. But, for instance, my daughter is a picky eater. We pack pouches we know she’ll eat or diapers/wipes we know we’ll need. It’s expensive to buy it at your chosen destination and we’ve spent time driving around trying to find what we ran out of. If we have the space, we just bring our own.
I’d love to hear any of your own tips to make family vacation packing go more smoothly!