Traveling with kids can be hard. After all of the packing, hauling stuff, and keeping track of excited youngsters, you may feel like you need a vacation from your vacation! Here are some tips to help make your next trip a little easier.
1. Pack underwear and socks for each child in a gallon ziploc bag. If it’s a short trip, you can also put two kids’ items in one bag. That way these stay separate from the larger clothing items, and they’re easier to find (or not lose). If your children wear overnight diapers, like mine do, or you’re bringing along a swim diaper, this is a good place for those as well (and always bring one extra). When we’re not on the road, I just throw the ziplocs right back in the suitcase or duffle bag so they’re ready for the next trip.
2. Prep your kitchen for a break. Eat up the last few slices of bread. Have a breakfast buffet with the last of the muffins and granola. See if anything will travel well for snacks. Check out the refrigerator and see if anything needs to be used up or given away because it won’t last until you get back.
3. Plan at least two meals for when you return home. Because the girls are gluten-free, I try to make sure to have some oatmeal pancakes frozen so we can use them for sandwiches, and a loaf of bread on the counter or in the freezer for the rest of us. Add some canned fruit or crackers or another easy shelf-stable side dish, and that’s lunch.
We almost always have chicken fajitas for dinner the night we come home, because it’s an easy meal to prep and freeze ahead of time, and it doesn’t take too long to thaw. Having meals ready to go for the day we get home means that I don’t have to immediately unload and start chopping vegetables or head to the store. I can unpack and start laundry instead, and start getting the house back to normal.
4. Buy a package of paper plates. Bring them along on the trip for any picnic lunches, pizza dinner gatherings, or random snacks that need a plate. Or when your kids buy a small Lego pack and they need somewhere to dump the pieces to build in the hotel room. They don’t take up a lot of space, and they come in handy more often than you think. Plus, when you get home, you can use them for those first two meals you planned, and you don’t have to immediately return to the reality of dishes! I have a hard time buying paper plates, because I feel like I am fully capable of washing dishes, but I love having them around for days like this!
5. Wrap everyone’s toothbrushes up in a towel. If you get really crafty, you can sew a toothbrush pocket towel for your family, but otherwise, you can simply fold over the bottom, and roll each person’s toothbrush up. They don’t touch, the towel absorbs any water, and it’s easy to throw the towel in with your laundry when you get home. If you’d rather have separate cases, these would work well and come in different colors so each person can choose their own.
6. Start a family master packing list. This will look different for every family, but these are the things that you bring along on every single trip you take. I break these down into a few basic categories:
- Clothing: Clothing includes clothes, pajamas, shoes, and so on. Include any accessories you normally like to have, like belts or earrings.
- Food: Food depends on the trip – sometimes I’ll bring entire meals along, and sometimes it’s just things like snacks and sippie cups. When we were in that stage, I also included baby food and formula/bottles.
- Toiletries: Body wash, deodorant, toothbrushes. The things that are replaceable but you don’t want to forget!
- Kid Extras: A favorite stuffed animal, a pack and play, blankets, backpacks with toys or books, diapers and baby wipes. Whatever is not clothing that you need to remember.
- Adult Extras: Phone chargers! That’s the number one here. But also sunglasses, notebooks, laptops, money, and so on.
Start by writing or typing up this list with as many things as you can think of right away, or use the free printable linked below! The next time you’re packing for a trip, write down anything else you remember as you’re packing. Once you’ve used the list for a few trips and you’re pretty sure it’s staying how you want it, you can even laminate it and use it over and over again (just keep it in your suitcase or travel bag with the ziplocs from #1!)
This Master Packing List includes my already filled in list that I use for our family’s trips, which you can print out and use as is or simply for ideas, plus a blank one for you to personalize.
For more ideas, check out my original post from last summer, Travel Tips For Families With Young Children, where you’ll find 6 more helpful hints!
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