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.
We use these clearview envelopes from Lug for our chargers, toiletries and our allergy emergency kit for our son.
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?
My best packing tip: wear the heavy stuff and pack the lighter stuff in your bags.
Judy C (Judy Cowan) says
Pack light and clothes that won’t wrinkle
Make a list of things that you need to pack. I always make a list to ensure that I have enough clothes for everyone when we go away. As I’m packing, I check off the list so I don’t forget anything.
heidi c. says
Make sure that all your shampoo and other containers that you are carrying in your luggage are closed tightly and wrapped!
Do not overpack – put everything out – all you need are a pair of walking boots which you wear, one pair of shoes, one dress per day plus one cardigan, with underwear.
Nicky K-B says
Make a list leading up to the trip of essential things you are likely to forget.
Roll your clothes before putting them in your suitcase.
Maggie C says
I tuck my socks in my shoes
Amy Heffernan says
Pack light and just want you need 🙂
use all the compartments of the suitcase.
Melinda L. says
Pack clothing that are versatile and does not wrinkle, that way you can mix and match your outfits
pack less, and pack versatile clothing
Tammy Dalley says
roll your clothes instead of folding
Silvia D says
I like using vacuum-sealed, airtight and waterproof space bags for packing clothes.I also pack a few extra bags to put possible leaking items or dirty clothes in.
seham merzib says
I label some of the bags or put a tag on it
Barbara Hutcheson says
*******Roll your clothes & pack lightly******
I set up a packing station on the guest room bed, at least a week ahead. Every time I think of something, I know where to put it. I also have room there to sort, organize, and fold things.
lisa bolduc says
omg I need all the packing help I can get, my sons diaper bag is getting out of control
Shellie Clark says
Make sure that all your shampoo and other liquids that you are carrying in your luggage are closed tightly and wrapped!
roll your clothes
always over pack better to have too much then too little
I generally try to pack low-care clothing, so I don’t have to worry about them wrinkling in the suitcase!
Amy C says
Make a list of everything that you are going to need.
Make sure you leave enough space in your bag for the things you want to bring back!
Best tip: making lists AND saving those lists for the next trip!
Roll your clothes
Brandee H says
When ever I pack, I make a list. Pile everything I need and then purge again. You never need much. I also use smaller bags to encourage packing less.
Marcus B says
Pack well before you have to travel and double check you inventory list before heading out. Thank you!
DARLENE W says
I like the idea of using vacuum sealed bags and when going to Cuba this fall I will use that idea when packing the clothing and shoes I give away as gifts to the people working at the resort. Backpacks and bags lay flat so they don’t take up too much room. Toiletry products will be sealed in zip lock bags
Doris H. says
Pack lightly and only pack necessities….you will want space for bringing items back from your trip.
roll tshirts into crevices to maximize space utilization
Bag your liquid toiletries so they don’t ruin your clothes upon arrival.
l p says
roll don’t fold clothes – few wrinkles. thanks
Megan F. says
Rolling, rolling, rolling! And if you have items that can only be worn with specific other items, roll them together!
I always roll my clothes!
Don’t pack extras… just what you need!
ivy pluchinsky says
make sure anything that could leak is in plastic bags with a zipper or a good seal.
Making a list to make sure you don’t forget anything
Michelle Lee Hoy says
Packing cubes are my new fav!
Suzie M says
pack & then take half out your suitcase will be lighter & you won’t miss all the extra
Only travel with carry-on and wrinkle-free clothing!
I pack things in the reverse order that I will use them so I don’t have to root through to find things
Michelle J. says
My #1 tip is get a rolling suitcase!
Pack light and pack outfits together, so you don’t have to go through all the clothes in the suitcase just to find a top, bottom and shoes.
Adam L says
roll up those clothes!
Vanessa Cook says
Pack in advance over a few days to make sure nothing is forgotten
I choose my outfits such that I only need a couple pairs of choose-choose outfits that will go with the shoes you are taking so you can cut down on the number of shoes to take.
Lesley Ruiz-Coronel says
pack in outfits…that way you’re not over packing!
cher w says
Always pack a set of clothes in your carry on, just in case your luggage gets lost.
A famous world traveler once told me : Pack your suitcase and carry it around the block. Then come home and take half of the items out. Now you’re ready for your trip. (Most people way overpack!)
Angela Mitchell says
I make a list of everything I need to pack a couple of weeks before I go away and then I put it on the fridge. Anytime I think of something I need to bring I add it to the list.
gayle gildehaus says
My tip is to roll your clothes.
Lauren E. says
Roll everything up into “tubes” so it fits better
Erin W says
Make a list before you start and stick to it!
Maria Medeiros says
I use ziploc bags to help sort items.
Lisa @bitesforbabies says
Great ideas! I tend to roll everything and also pack things in separate bags. The one thing I always do (as we travel overseas and usually take at least 2-3 flights) is pack a little bit of everyone’s clothing and items in EACH suitcase…that way if we lose one, it won’t necessarily be ALL of one person’s belongings 😉
Anne Taylor says
Fantastic tips! I’ve been rolling my clothes since the 80s and the technique never disappoints!
heidi c. says
I need a set of packing cubes. They seem great for keeping everything organized.