Packing smart for kids: make or break your family vacation

There is nothing worse than getting hours away from home and realizing that you left someone’s favorite bunny sitting by the door. Here are some simple tips that may make that easier or happen less on future adventures. Make the entire experience a memorable one by packing smart: from packing the bag to actually getting to the destination.

what to pack

Make a game of it

Letting the kiddos help with the chore of packing can be fun.  Take it in stages depending on what mode of transportation you are embarking on.  Waiting until the last minute can be stressful for everyone, especially on mom.  By letting the kids be more involved they know what they want is packed and you know what they need is packed. Make stacks…the clothes that you want to take and a stack of maybes if there is enough room.  Start a few days before the trip to get them involved and it helps you not to forget anything like flip-flops or sunscreen.  Keep it light, tight and right then there can be no mistakes or unwanted forget me nots.

Always take more than one

If there are things that your kids just can’t live without then, by all means, take more than one.  There may only be one that they have in “their” bag but mom has one or two backups in hers.  This can save you driving around to every store in town to get that toy that they just can’t live without.

Also make sure the most needed and most used items go in last this way if it’s a quick stop or in an overhead bag it can be grabbed at a moment’s notice or meltdown.  These steps can avoid angering all other travelers with you on this trip.

Remember the memory making things

Matching outfits for that perfect picture down to socks, shirts and necklaces are a must for the family photo that will be immortalized on desks and refrigerators long after the vacation is complete.  They may only be worn for minutes or even once but they will be seen and remembered for a lifetime by you and your future families.  Make sure you get the perfect look you want because that moment may never happen again.

Keep valuables hidden

Depending on how you travel and where you go you should always know where you packed your valuables. Losing something or forgetting where you packed it can allow panic to set in. 

Kids are not the only family members that have their must-haves to feel complete, make sure that you and your family have what completes them also. Dad’s favorite gold chain or moms fancy earrings are needed for that trip so keep them safe and secure for the event. You may think you put them in that small inside pocket of the bag in the trunk when you really have it in the bottom of the bag in the back seat.  Making a mental note of what and where can save hours of accusations and worry.  It can also mean that there is more time relaxing and enjoying each other, which in truth is what a vacation is really for.

And finally….

Let the kids help

Let the little ones be a part of the whole experience.  From packing the bags to making the snacks for the trip can be a new experience for them.  It can also be a way to teach them them best way to do this for themselves one day.  There is nothing cuter than a lil one packing his or her bag ready to go to grandma’s house, but one day you want that little one to be a grown up that remembers what and why to pack what they need from what you taught them from your family trip to grandma’s when they were little.

After all is said and done it’s suppose to be a fun, family outing or experience.  Don’t let the stress of getting ready to get there ruin it before your feet ever hit the floor.  Memories are once in a lifetime so make every one count.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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