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Packing for a trip is not always fun. When you throw kids into the mix, it becomes even more challenging. They need so much stuff that it seems impossible to remember everything and then get there with without needed a moving van. But, don’t sweat it! With some advance planning and easy tricks, you can pack your kids’ suitcases with confidence, knowing that you have everything you need to make your next trip go smoothly. Here are our 9 genius packing tips for travel with kids.
Tip #1: Pack extra outfits.
Let’s be honest: kids are messy! And the last thing you want to do while on vacation is to go sightseeing with a huge stain on your child’s shirt because they spilled their juice at breakfast. So, always pack a few extra outfits for each child. Figure out how many sets of clothes you think they need for the trip, and then throw in a couple more just for good measure. This way, if your kid has an accident, whether it is a diaper blowout or spilled food, you have clean clothes for them. Having a change of clothes is also nice when your toddler gets to a puddle faster than you.
Additionally, if you have small children, throw an extra set of clothes into your day bag each day in the event you need to change their clothes while you are away from the hotel.
Tip #2: Use packing cubes.
One of the best packing tips for travel with kids that I can give you is to use packing cubes. If you have never used packing cubes, get some now, especially if you travel with kids! They will revolutionize how you pack your suitcases! Use a set of cubes for each child’s clothes and accessories. This will allow them to easily find their things without digging through the entire suitcase. It can also minimize the choices they have to choose from, which will speed them up when getting ready in the mornings.
I use Veken packing cubes from Amazon. I love them. They are sturdy, durable, and hold a lot more than you would think. I have a set for each member of my family, each in a different color. This allows me to quickly know whose clothes are where in the suitcase. I highly recommend them!
Tip #3: Sort outfits into individual bags.
Whether you use packing cubes or not, I recommend packing each of your kids’ outfits in individual ziploc bags. Use one bag for each day of your trip. Put everything they will need to wear on that day in the bag, including socks, underwear, hair bows, hats, and belts. This will make getting ready in the mornings easier for everyone in the family because each child can grab that day’s ziploc bag and dress themselves. If they are too young to dress themselves, having each complete outfit in an individual bag will allow you (or your husband) to grab the bag and get going. No need to search for the perfect bow or matching socks. If you use packing cubes, pack each outfit in a ziploc bag, and then put all the bags into the packing cube. This will keep everything organized and easy to find.
Tip #4: Pack versatile items.
Next on our list of packing tips for travel with kids is to pack versatile clothing and accessories. Stick to solid colors whenever possible. Pack bottoms that match a variety of shirts. This will make it easier for you if your child needs to change clothes during the day. You can change just a shirt or pair of pants instead of an entire outfit. Also, it makes mixing and matching easier if your child decides they don’t want to wear the outfit you put together prior to leaving for your trip. Additionally, pack hats, bows, and belts that can go with different outfits. This will allow you to pack fewer of these items, which will save you space in the suitcase.
Tip #5: Don’t pack diapers & wipes.
If you have a baby, don’t pack diapers and wipes for your entire trip. They take up way too much space in the suitcase! Instead, pack only what you will need for your first day or two. Then, when you arrive at your destination, stop by a store and buy what you need for the remainder of your trip. This will not only save you space, it can also save you money on checked bag fees. You can do the same thing with sunscreen, bottled water, and snacks.
When my son was a baby, we went to Boston for a week. I packed two days’ worth of diapers, wipes, and baby food in his diaper bag. The first morning in Boston, we stopped by a grocery store and bought more. At Disney World, I ordered these things from an online grocery store and had them delivered to our hotel.
Tip #6: Bring a nightlight.
Next on our list of packing tips for travel with kids is to bring a nightlight. This little item won’t take up much space in your suitcase, but it can have a big impact when staying in a hotel with your children. Being in an unfamiliar room can disrupt the sleep of some kids. A nightlight can help calm their nerves. This is especially true if your child is scared of the dark. Additionally, a nightlight can prevent you from bumping into something if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Tip #7: Pack some cups.
If you have little ones, make your trip easier by packing some cups. You actually should pack a couple different types of cups. If your child is not quite big enough to drink without spills, pack some sippy cups. These will let your kids have their drinks without you having to worry about messes. The second type of cup you should pack is one to help your kids brush their teeth. Some hotels have glasses in the rooms, while others have disposable ones. If your kids use a cup to rinse their mouths out while brushing their teeth, bring a cup from home for them to use while on vacation. This way, you won’t have to worry about them using the glasses in the hotel room.
Tip #8: Don’t put valuables in your child’s luggage.
Many families allow their children to carry their own luggage when they travel. This is a great way to teach your kids to be responsible for their own things. But, if you do this, please do not put valuables in your children’s luggage. This includes tablets, cell phones, cameras, and other electronics. Children carrying their own luggage make easy target for thieves. Plus, you don’t want your kids to forget their bag somewhere. So, let your kids carry their own bags, but keep the valuables in yours.
Tip #9: Guard the lovey.
The last tip on our list of genius packing tips for travel with kids is perhaps the most important. No matter what you do, where you go, or what you pack, be sure to guard your child’s lovey as if it is a priceless gem. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or other special item, you probably have to travel with it. And if it gets lost along the way, you and your child will be miserable the entire trip because loveys are irreplaceable. So, when traveling, guard your child’s lovey at all costs. I recommend putting it in your purse or bag while in transit. When you are in the car or during your flight, let your child have it. Also, in hotel rooms, make sure you put the lovey in your suitcase or on the table before leaving for the day so it doesn’t get thrown in the wash by the housekeeper by mistake.
Packing is no fun, but with these smart packing tips for travel with kids, you can confidently pack for your kids. Use packing cubes, pack versatile clothing, and guard your child’s lovey. I hope these tricks help you on your next family vacation. For more tips on travel with kids, see our comprehensive guide to happy travel with kids, the best airplane and road trip snacks, best airplane activities, successful road trips with kids, and how to avoid child meltdowns while traveling. Happy travels!