Six Family Travel Packing Tips

By Mary Campbell, publisher of Macaroni Kid Lodi, Calif. June 29, 2019

It’s vacation time! I’m always so excited to plan our vacations, but when it comes to packing, I seem to always forget something. I have felt like I needed a new way to organize my packing for vacations, so here are six tips I’ve learned for staying organized:

1. Make a packing list  

I save a general packing list on my computer to use each trip, and then I add things based on the destination, whether that happens to be swimsuits or snow gear! Having a list also helps enable the kids to pack on their own, which takes some of the stress off of me.  

2. Lay out an outfit for each day

Pick outfits that can be mixed and matched in case something gets dirty before the end of the day. Don't forget socks and underwear! I have the kids lay everything out with socks and underwear before they pack it to make sure they pack enough.

3. Pack each day’s outfit in a bag

My kids are notorious for dumping out their suitcase when we arrive at the hotel. They're always desperate to find a swimsuit or something else that happens to be buried right at the bottom of their suitcase, which means everything on top gets strewn around our hotel room. So to avoid this mess, I label a plastic bag for each day of our vacation, and they pack their full outfit in the bag. In the morning, the kids know exactly what bag to open and can get dressed without searching for socks buried at the bottom of the suitcase. 

4. Limit shoes

Our family's rule of thumb is to pack one pair of walking shoes and one pair of sandals/water shoes per person. Limiting shoes is important to make sure we have room for everything else -- especially because of pesky airline baggage fees and tight car space.

5. Post a reminder for last minute items

I like to tape a note to the door with items that I need to remember to pack at the last minute. Cell phone chargers, baby blankets, medications, pillows, make-up, and toothbrushes are all last-minute items I have forgotten at one point or another. Taping a list of those types of things to the door helps me remember to check to make sure we have it all in those last frantic minutes as we're trying to head out.

6. Unpack when you arrive 

Because we're living in close quarters when on vacation, and because of that aforementioned mess my kids like to make, my rule is that we unpack before we do anything else at the hotel. The kids put their bags of daily outfits into the drawers, and at the end of the day, they put their dirty clothes back into their duffle bags. 

Staying organized while packing gives me peace of mind and makes for a better vacation! Where will your family head next? Get great ideas for family travel destinations at Macaroni Kid Family Travel!

Mary Campbell is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Lodi, Calif.