Spring break is coming up fast, which means your kids will soon be out of school and itching for something to do. It’s fun having them home, but everyone can go a little stir-crazy in the absence of routine. If your kids can’t seem to hold still and you’re ready to get out of the house, pack up and go on a vacation!
The prospect of some R&R with the family is exciting, but if you’re not prepared, it can be more stressful than relaxing – particularly when you’re trying to pack the entire family for an extended vacation. Everyone has their packing preferences, and condensing your bags to reduce fees at the airport can be difficult.
Don’t let the stress of prepping for your vacation get to you! Use these helpful ideas to pack and fly stress-free with your kids:
Write a Packing List at Least a Week Before Departure
A written list will keep you organized as you pack and ensure you don’t forget anything important. Write the list at least a week before you leave so you can add things.
Pack Extras in Your Free Checked Items
If you’re traveling with a baby, you’ll almost certainly check your pack ‘n play, car seat, or stroller. Most airlines let you do so for free, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?
Before wrapping your car seat in a garbage bag or other protective cover, throw some extras into the dead space. You can pack diapers, extra wipes, books, an extra pair of shoes, or a few other items that didn’t fit in your bags. Most airlines don’t look twice at well-protected baby items, and you can bring some extras without the cost.
Roll Clothes Rather than Folding Them
When you travel with kids, you’ll have to pack double the normal amount of clothing. They’ll need spare outfits, extra underwear, and sweatshirts in case the weather turns sour. Fitting all those clothes into minimum baggage presents a unique challenge.
By rolling clothes instead of folding them, you can maximize the space in your suitcase. Rolled clothes take less space and reduce air pockets, making it so you can bring more.
Use Plastic Baggies
Ziploc baggies are ideal for organizing your luggage. For example, you can use gallon-size bags to pack individual outfits for each child, and squeeze all the air out of the bags to compress the space. This makes packing neater and helps your kids stay organized without you needing to micromanage them.
Bring some extra plastic bags with you, too. They have many uses and you may need more for packing on the return trip.
Keep Track of Luggage at the Airport
Nothing ruins a trip with kids faster than losing your luggage at the airport. Before you check your bags, make sure you’ll be able to find them again. Aside from putting your name and information on the luggage tag, attach a tag or strap that’s easy to pick out so no one mistakes your bag for theirs.
There are also affordable tracking devices for suitcases so you always know their location. That way, if someone picks up your bag by mistake, or it gets put on the wrong plane, you can track it down and save yourself a lot of hassle.
Leave Wrinkly Clothes at Home
Don’t bother with clothes that wrinkle easily or require dry cleaning while you’re on vacation, especially for the kids. It’s not worth the hassle of trying to pack them neatly and making sure they don’t get ruined. Most of the time, you won’t need fancy clothing on a vacation, but if you do, consider renting something instead.
Plastic Wrap Your Bottles
When you have kids, you can’t go anywhere without bringing soap, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, aloe vera, and hand sanitizer. However, packing each one is a pain. They always pop open and get on your other items.
To avoid this problem, take off the cap, place a small sheet of plastic wrap over the opening, and replace the lid. This will keep your items from leaking and remove the hassle of purchasing new products when you arrive.
Find Clever Storage
Everyday objects can be extremely useful for organizing and storing things. Plastic wrap, for example, can safely hold jewelry in place, and an eyeglass case can carry makeup so that it doesn’t break.
Bring Extra Shower Caps
A shower cap is obviously useful if you want to save some time not washing your hair – but did you realize it can help you keep things clean on the way home? Kids will have stepped in who knows what on your trip, and you can easily wrap a clean shower cap around the soles of dirty shoes to protect other packed items.
Bring an Extra Bag for Dirty Clothes
If you’re on a vacation that lasts several days, the lines can easily blur between clean and dirty clothing. For organizational purposes, bring extra garbage bags or plastic grocery sacks to carry your dirty clothing home.
Go the extra mile and sort the laundry into bags by whites, darks, and lights. You won’t lose any space packing this way, and laundry will be much easier when you get home.