If you travel with your kids you already know that preparing for a trip requires a lot of organization.
With one of the busiest travel seasons coming up (Spring Break), families not only have to figure out how to stay sane in a crowded airport or a long lineup at the border but also have to manage packing all the essentials into a suitcase without incurring additional baggage fees.
For families heading out of town for Spring Break, here’s some strategies on how to pack a suitcase and keep bags organized when traveling with kids.
1. Let Them Help
Kids tend to get excited once they know they’ll be heading somewhere new in a few days.
Make an age appropriate list for each child then let them gather everything before it goes into the suitcase or bag.
For little ones who can’t read yet, make a list of pictures and help them practice counting each item (ie. 3 pairs of socks, 2 t-shirts).
Older kids can assist with making the list and can put together outfits, prepare busy bag activities or pack their own toiletries bag.
2. Consider Packing Cubes
I used to be a big Ziploc-like bag kind of packer. Complete head to toe outfits in each bag with a few extra socks or t-shirts in case something gets soiled.
I didn’t get the whole packing cube thing until recently. What’s so great about these color coded bags anyways?
After a handful of trips with these lightweight mesh bags, I’m a huge fan of packing cubes.
We own Lug Cargo Packing Cubes and have found them to work really well. Each family member has just enough space for their clothes in their assigned cube – kids use orange, mom uses purple and dad packs his stuff into the blue bag. We’ve learned to travel with capsule wardrobes – using one color scheme – and will do laundry part way through our trip if needed.
On our most recent family cruise, I packed 3 t-shirts, 3 shorts, 1 cardigan and a skirt – all in navy, grey or white.
Their rectangular shape makes them easy to stack and arrange in our suitcase.They’re also easy to unpack as they’re easily transferred from suitcase to dresser – ideal for multi-destination trips.
The mesh part keeps air circulating and clothes don’t get mildewed like they would in a regular plastic bag.
3. Roll Everything
If you want to maximize space in your bag or suitcase, make sure you roll everything. Pants, shirts, dresses, socks and even underwear.
You’d be amazed how much a carry on or packing cube can fit when everything is rolled up. Rolling also minimizes wrinkles as well.
4. Keep Like Things Together
Keep toiletries, charging cords, accessories together in a clear see through bag. When similar items are put together in one bag it makes finding them later a lot easier.
While Ziploc bags do the same job I like that these ones from Lug are made of thick plastic so larger items tend to stay in place and the inside can be wiped easily if something happens to leak.
They are also handy when traveling by plane and you need to follow packing guidelines for toiletries (3 oz or less toiletries in clear bags).
Like the packing cubes, you can assign a color per group of items which makes searching for something straightforward. “Your toothpaste is in the orange bag” vs. “Your toothpaste is in one of the plastic bags”. Once we get home we put the bags in a drawer so we don’t have to repack toiletries for the next trip.
We keep several Ziploc bags in our diaper bag or my purse as well when we know we’ll be out for the entire day – just in case someone isn’t feeling well (motion sickness) or to compartmentalize everything we need for the kids – wipes and extra underwear in one bag, snacks in another, coloring sheets and crayons in another. They’re great as wet bags too if you’re spending the day at the beach and need somewhere to keep swimsuits and goggles.
Here’s to more organized suitcases and bags, Type A parents! What are some of your best packing tips?