Today I spent my day packing for my family’s getaway trip to Yellowstone this week! My kids have never been and my husband and I haven’t visited Yellowstone since we were kids. Needless to say, we are all VERY excited for our trip…but despite the excitement, packing for a family trip can create a lot of stress for those who do the packing.
But why stress over a fun trip?
Because when we are responsible over all the packing, we also feel responsible if we forget anything or didn’t pack the right stuff.
I used to feel this way for years and, kid you not, would have multiple packing checklists throughout my home just for one trip, because I used to be paranoid that if something was forgotten, it would ruin the vacation and be ALL MY FAULT.
Talk about fun, right? No wonder so many of my friends say that their least favorite part of a vacation is the packing.
Well, the good news is you no longer need to feel stressed about packing for a family trip anymore. Years ago I learned a few simple things to make sure packing for a trip was no longer an overwhelming ordeal.
Check out these simple Family Packing Tips to make your experience a breeze!
Bring the Favs:
I have found that when packing clothing and accessories for a trip it’s best to just pick out your very favorite items. Don’t stress too much about what you think you “should wear,” pick out clothing and accessories that you want to wear. Wearing clothing you love makes the trip better, trust me!
This is especially true for kids. If I ever tried to pack my kids clothing without their input, boy oh boy would I get comments like, “Mom, this doesn’t even fit me.” “I don’t like wearing that!” “Did you pack my favorite sweatshirt?” I have learned my lesson and no longer pack my kids clothing. Sure, I’ll make sure they have a few of the necessities like undies and socks, but I leave the rest to them.
-It’s a win-win! I win for not having to pack clothing for my kids and they win because they get to pick out their favorite outfits to wear on the trip.
Let the Kids Pack:
Learning to pack for a trip is a great skill for your kids to learn now. So start teaching them this great life skill by giving your kids a simple packing checklist that they check off as they pack. See example of a simple packing list for kids below:
-4 shirts -2 pants -2 shorts -4 pairs of underwear -4 socks -4 pairs of PJs -1 hat -1 jacket -1 swimsuit -1 toothbrush with toothpaste
Kids don’t need Separate Suitcases:
We have been on many trips with our 4 kids and to this day I have never had to pack multiple suitcases for each of my kids. Until their teens and don’t want anyone ever touching their stuff (heaven help me when I hit that stage) your kids can have all their items in one large suitcase. I typically separate their clothing at our destination, but for packing in the car….less suitcases, more car space!
Even in the suitcase I can categorize each of my kids’ items with a small slat of cardboard and masking tape labeled with their name. Using labeled Ziploc bags to show their individual toiletries and small Tupperware containers can also be great for storing small items like hair ties and bobby pins. This way you can use one suitcase for all your kids, yet separated for easy distinguishing.
Pack Items by Category:
If you’re going swimming as a family on your trip, then pack all of the family’s swimsuits, towels, sandals and sunscreen together. That goes for any family recreational activity, car ride activities, medicine needs, etc.….pack it together in their specific categories, not separately in everyone’s individual bags. Doing this saves room and is much easier to access or locate when needed….plus, you can make sure you have everything needed for your family without the fear of a child forgetting to that item in their suitcase.
No one wants to face the “unpacked swimsuit dilemma” in the dead of winter where no swimsuit can be found at local stores (hint….yep, that’s happened to us and it stinks for the kid!)
Just like when you organize your home by category, you pack that way too! Makes a huge difference.
Use Laundry Baskets:
One of my earliest blog posts shares my deep love for laundry baskets, but they really are my best friends! I use them for just about everything, but especially on trips! They can be used for car snacks and drinks, any family recreation items, and yes, even dirty laundry collection while on your trip. They’re also handy when carrying items to and from the hotel room when you’re traveling. Laundry baskets also keep things where they belong and don’t shift items around during the road trip. When used creatively, they can become one of your best allies for a successful trip!
Think Simple and Convenient:
Anytime I pack, I try to pack as simple as possible, not only in what I choose to pack and bring along with us, but I also try to keep it simple even as we travel, in an effort to help make our trip as smooth as possible.
This means I pack light! Instead of packing multiple jackets, I pack one. Instead of 4 pairs of shoes, I bring one pair for outdoor use and another pair for going out to eat or shopping.
In my experience, the lighter you pack (that includes for your kids too); the lighter you’ll feel on your trip. Remember, you’re going on a vacation for a reason and it’s certainly not to feel stressed and overwhelmed by packing too much stuff!
Use Small Tupperware Containers:
Like laundry baskets, small Tupperware containers are my go-to when packing items like lotions, vitamins, shampoos or hair gels. Instead of lugging around large toiletry items and having them take up a bunch of space in your suitcase, you can easily squeeze the shampoo, lotion or any other toiletry cream or liquid into a tightly sealed Tupperware container.
If you have travel sized toiletry items, use them! I have yet to run out of a travel sized toiletry item on a week-long trip. They last longer than you think!
Delegate as Much as you Can:
Sometimes as parents we think we have to take the brunt of doing all the packing and prepping for a trip, but the truth is, your kids are capable of helping prepare for the trip as well. Plus, the added responsibility can make it fun for them and even more excited for the vacation.
Here are some examples of packing items you could delegate to your kids: -Car snacks/fruit -Car activities (coloring books, reading books, movies, music) -A filled up water bottle for each family member -Clean out the car of any trash -Gather beach towels, any recreational items needed (soccer ball, Frisbees, life jackets) -Their own clothing/shoes -Their own toiletries and put them in a Ziploc with their name
-It’s a family trip for a reason….so don’t hesitate to get your family involved in the packing and preparing. Remember, you’re not only getting some help, but you’re teaching them wonderful life skills that will be a great asset to them in the future.
As a final note, one thought that has always helped me when I feel the need to “pack it all” is to remember that most likely if anything is forgotten that we’ll need for our vacation, there will most likely be a store where I can purchase what I need. Of course, I’d prefer not to have to purchase extra things, but when I know I could if I needed to, it always puts my mind at ease and alleviates any stress I may have had.
The best family trips in my book are the ones when we plan, pack and execute simply. When we choose to intentionally pack lightly and keep things simple, we not only end up bringing items we really need and want to use on our trip, but we end up enjoying our vacation so much more!
So take a breath, put your mind at ease and get your family involved in the packing. Family trips are only fun when we choose to let go and embrace every moment.
Cheers to making your next family vacation your most memorable one yet!