Packing Tips for families

Travel Packing List Tips

Travel Packing List Tips

Packing….some travelers love it, others despise it. Packing for families can complicate things even more. Check out my tips to make the process easier and less of a headache!

1. Packing Cubes

We LOVE our packing cubes. We all have a different color and multiple sizes to make it work. They help to organize all of your clothes and help to compress so you can fit more items or have more space for souvenirs!

Option 1: Pack all like items together. Sock and underwear, one cube. T-shirts, a second cube. Pants, a third cube. This is how we pack as adults. Especially since we often wear pants for multiple days.

Option 2: Pack outfits. This works great for kids. Shirt, underwear, socks, and pants….check. Then I can put 2-3 sets into one cube. Now all I have to do is pull out one cube and I’ve got 3 days worth of clothes. Then you can put extra items in another cube. I also pack all the pajamas together into a cube.

Packing cubes are essential when you are moving from hotel to hotel. You won’t have a messy suitcase by Day 2 and you’ll spend less time packing and unpacking.

Another tip: Roll your clothing. It won’t be as wrinkled and you’ll be able to pack more into the cube. When you are packing for a family, every little bit of space counts!

We prefer the Eagle Creek packing cubes for their ability to last through our many trips. They come in multiple sizes and styles.

suitcase with packing cubes

2. Plastic baggies

We use plastic gallon size baggies for a million things. If it is liquid, into a baggie it goes. No one wants to ruin their clothing or electronics with a bottle of shampoo that exploded!

They are also great for accidents or mishaps that may happen while traveling. The kid puked on a plane, into the bag it goes! That reminds me, add a baggie or two into your backpack or carryon. 🙂

We also pack our extra snacks into the baggies and stuff them into the suitcase. Toddlers need consistency and snacks are key.

If you like to reuse and minimize waste, check out our favorite reusable baggies, Bumkins reusable snack bags.

3. Toiletries kit/Makeup Kit

We can’t travel without our toiletries kits. All those fun mini sized shampoos and soaps. Yes, I know, some hotels have them, but let’s be real….if you stay in an airbnb, it is iffy what you’ll end up with (if anything).

We each travel with our own kit. I’ve included what I pack:

All of these items are in silicone reusable travel bottles.

-Shampoo

-Conditioner

-Face lotion (Neutrogena)

-Body Lotion (Aveeno)

Then I have a plastic case with a bar of soap, a small travel sized loofa, razer with a new blade, travel size hairspray, travel size hair brush and other essentials (nail clippers, favorite nail polish, toothbrush, toothpaste, q-tips and extra hair ties/clips)

TOP TIP: Keep your kit stocked and buy everything that needs to go into it. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot my hairbrush or toothbrush because I forgot to add it the day of. Go ahead and just buy a second one, you’ll thank me later.

My husband travels with less, but again, it is ready to go without having to grab anything.

My son has bath toys, shampoo, watercolors (because it’s fun), cup for washing out his hair, toothbrush and kids toothpaste. We change the toys out to keep things interesting.

I also have a small travel pouch with my makeup. This is one item that I DO NOT have double of. I probably should, but let’s be honest, make-up is expensive. Luckily, knock on wood, I haven’t forgotten to grab the pouch and toss it last minute into the suitcase.

4. Kid stuff

Here is what we travel with now that we have a kid. We’ve downsized quite a bit now that our son is older, but these are the major items.

Books: We read 3 books every night before bed. We usually bring 10 and we also have some digital books on his tablet. The smaller and lighter the better!

Music: We’ve always traveled with music. He has an iPod and Bluetooth speaker. They don’t take up a lot of space and they are great for drowning out random sounds. We just have the same album playing on repeat. Soothing lullabies and classical music.

Wifi camera: We like to keep an eye on things and sometimes the signal can be iffy, so we travel with a Nest security camera. It is easy to set up and works anywhere with wifi.

Blanket and pillow. There is nothing like the security of your own things. Having these little extras is helpful for spending the night in new places. Plus those adult pillows can be so fluffy and uncomfortable for little necks.

Lovey: Don’t forget any special bears/stuffed animals or blankets.

Toys: We grab a kids sized backpack and fill it with toys and snacks. Our son usually gets to help us pick what he wants to bring. This is what usually makes the list: playdoh, legos, cars, Tegu blocks, fidget toys and a favorite toy for that week.

Child sleeping in a bed with a bear

5. Electronics

Grab and extra packing cube with little pockets for your electronics and charging cables. We love this system. If you don’t want to buy anything, sandwich ziplock baggies work great too!

Here is our list:

-Charging cables for phones (iPhone, Android, and tablet) *we usually bring two of each and each adult carries a set

-Charging cables for cameras and iPods/speakers

-Adapters *If you are traveling to a foreign country, look up the adapter you need. Here is our favorite travel adapter for its low price and small footprint.

-Foldable hair dryer and hair straightener (you can always forgo these if the place you are staying is providing them)

Phone with charging cable
Don’t forget your charging cables!

6. Don’t forget!

Ok, you’ve got your clothes, your shoes, your toiletries kit and your electronics. What else?

It depends on where you are traveling! Think about the destination and the climate. Do you need a raincoat? How about a sun hat? Extra sunscreen? Hiking boots instead of flats? Bug spray? Water bottle? Binoculars? Quick-dry towel?

It helps to know what activities you have planned and to take a quick look at the weather. Packing for families can be hard work and you don’t want to have to run to the store for those last minute items if you don’t have to.

Sign with various locations
Where are you headed?

7. When is it time to pack?

I’m usually a day before type of gal. But I’ve done plenty of preparation before the day before. Make sure all the laundry is done, gather items that you need to purchase before the trip and before you pack. I usually have a pile gathered a week before as I find things around the house or think about them.

It helps to store your “travel items” in the same location. We have a bin in the storage room with the car seat alternative (Ride Safer Harness), the headphones for on the plane, the blow-up travel bed and more. The packing cubes are also stored in our suitcases, so it is easy to find them. See our Gear post for our favorite kid-friendly travel items.

Some people like to pack the week before a trip. However, I find that I overpack because I’ve forgotten what I’ve already included. “Let’s throw in just one more pair of jeans, I can’t remember if I packed one or two pairs”. I also find that I may forget something because I didn’t write down what I didn’t add and now I can’t really see what is inside.

Luggage next to a chair

So that’s my list for packing tidbits! I hope it was helpful. If I’ve forgotten anything that you can’t live without, drop me a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.

If you are ready to take off on an amazing adventure and you need some inspiration, head back to my destination page for a list of places we have traveled.

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