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Road trips are one of the best types of vacations for families. But, when you are changing hotels every day or two, it can be challenging to pack so you don’t have to load and unload your entire car every time you change locations. To make it easier, here are 10 simple and smart packing tips for multi-city family road trips.
I love multi-city road trips. They have become the most common type of vacation my family takes. And as we’ve done more and more of them over the last few years, I have learned how to pack better for them. These tips are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
- Tip #1: Use multiple suitcases.
- Tip #2: Pack suitcases for locations, not people.
- Tip #3: Use packing cubes.
- Tip #4: Put special outfits in one suitcase.
- Tip #5: Use small laundry bags.
- Tip #6: Put all toiletries in one bag.
- Tip #7: Load items for your next stop in your car last.
- Tip #8: Consider buying things as you go.
- Tip #9: Don’t forget to pack a bag for wet clothes.
- Tip #10: Consider doing laundry along the way.
Tip #1: Use multiple suitcases.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned when packing for multi-city family road trips is to use multiple suitcases. Instead of packing everything into one or two big suitcases, use several smaller ones.
This will make it easier for you to load and unload your car at each location because you won’t be lugging around big, heavy suitcases.
Tip #2: Pack suitcases for locations, not people.
Instead of packing one suitcase for each member of your family, pack a suitcase for each stop on your trip. Put everybody’s clothes for each location in a bag together.
This will minimize the amount of luggage that you must unload at each hotel. You can leave all of your bags for the other stops in your car when you arrive at your hotel.
Alternatively, pack everything you need for two consecutive stops into one bag.
Tip #3: Use packing cubes.
When packing for multi-city family road trips, it is important that you keep your suitcases organized so you can find what you need when you need it. The best way to do this is by using packing cubes.
While packing cubes seem simple enough, they are a game changer for families!
I have a set for each member of my family in different colors. This allows me to see at a glance who’s clothes are where. It also allows my husband and son to easily find what they are looking for without digging through the entire suitcase.
If your road trip will be long, consider buying two sets for each person in your family.
I use Veken packing cubes. I love them. They are very durable, fit easily in our luggage, and come in a variety of colors.
Tip #4: Put special outfits in one suitcase.
If you need to pack special clothes or gear for one stop on your road trip, pack all of it in one suitcase. For example, if you will be attending a wedding at your first destination and then visiting national parks during the rest of your trip, pack all of your family’s clothes for the wedding in one suitcase.
This will make it easy to remember where those special outfits are when you need them. And then you can leave that suitcase in the car during the rest of your trip.
Tip #5: Use small laundry bags.
When packing for multi-city family road trips, use small laundry bags instead of one large one. The reasoning behind this is the same as to why you want to use multiple smaller suitcases: it will minimize the amount of stuff you have to load and unload at each hotel.
Small laundry bags that can each hold two or three days’ of your family’s dirty clothes are easier to carry when full. They also take up less space in your car.
Once you fill up a laundry bag, you can just leave it in your car when you stop for the night. You will appreciate this when you are six days into a two week road trip!
Each set of Veken packing cubes comes with a small laundry bag. I use these when we are on multi-city road trips instead of my large laundry bag.
Tip #6: Put all toiletries in one bag.
My next tip for packing for multi-city family road trips is to put all of your family’s toiletries in one bag. Unlike your clothes, you will need these items at each of your destinations.
By packing your toiletries all in one bag, you can remember where they are. Then, you won’t have to run out to the car to get something that you forgot to bring in or that got left in another suitcase.
Another benefit of this is that you can put this bag in the bathroom of your hotel and keep everything where you will be using it.
Tip #7: Load items for your next stop in your car last.
This one may seem obvious, but when you load your car at the beginning of each leg of your trip, put the bags you will need for your next stop in last.
This will make it easy to grab them when it’s time to unload. It will also prevent you from having to dig through all the stuff that will be staying in the car to find what you need.
This simple tip will reduce the frustration you feel from the constant loading and unloading of the car during your vacation.
Additionally, put the things that you won’t be needing anymore in first so they will be out of the way during the remainder of your trip.
Tip #8: Consider buying things as you go.
My next packing tip for multi-city family road trips is to consider buying things you need along the way while on your trip.
Instead of loading your car at the start of your trip with snacks, diapers, sunscreen, toiletries, and other necessities for the entire trip, consider buying them as you need them.
This will give you less things to pack at the beginning and save room in your car. It will also mean fewer things to unload from the car at each stop.
Tip #9: Don’t forget to pack a bag for wet clothes.
If you are taking your road trip in the summer, will have access to an indoor swimming pool, or will be in a wet climate, don’t forget to pack some sort of bag to hold your wet clothes!
The downside of multi-city road trips is that you change locations every day or two. This means that you really don’t have time for wet swimsuits or clothing to dry out before it’s time to pack up and move to your next location.
So, make sure you bring something to put those wet things in! You can use gallon size Ziploc bags, a plastic tote bag, or any other waterproof bag. This will keep your wet clothes separated from your dry clothes.
Tip #10: Consider doing laundry along the way.
Last up on my list of packing tips for multi-city family road trips is to think about doing laundry during your trip.
Normally, I don’t do laundry while on vacation. Instead, I prefer to pack enough clothes for the whole trip. But, when you will be changing hotels every couple of days, it makes sense to pack less. Taking time to do laundry halfway through your trip will allow you to take fewer clothes and, therefore, fewer bags.
If you decide to do laundry during your trip, double check to make sure one of your hotels have laundry facilities so you won’t have to go looking for a laundromat during your trip.
I hope these packing tips for multi-city family road trips help make it easier for you on your next road trip! Have a great time!
For more help with your next road trip, see how to plan multi-city road trips, best road trip snacks for kids, ultimate guide to road trips, how to save time on road trips, and essential items for successful road trips with kids. And check out how to pack for road trips like a pro!
For general travel tips, see how to plan an epic family vacation, how to take amazing vacations on any budget, and my ultimate guide to happy travel with kids.
P.S. Need help finding the best places to go on your family vacations? My Ultimate USA Bucket List for Families will instantly give you 60 of the best vacation destinations for families in the United States! Get it for FREE in the box below and start planning your next trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive my weekly email newsletter full of family trip tips and inspiration!
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