Family vacations are a great way to enjoy time away from the daily routine and to create lasting memories. But if you are anything like me, packing for a family trip can be overwhelming, especially if you have multiple kids to pack for. As a mom of six I’ve learned the hard way how to make our vacation packing more efficient.
Start by making a master list. If you don’t have a list, you are bound to forget things. I have a list on my computer that I can copy, paste, edit, and print each time we go out of town. I have additional lists for the type of trip. For example, we need to bring different items if we are camping versus staying in a hotel. If you edit this list after each trip, then it will become perfectly tuned to your family.
Once you have a list, begin to delegate. My older kids receive a copy of their list and are told to pack their own bag. “Everyone gets a master checklist of items for the trip. We go over the bag they pack together to make sure they have everything,” says Jenny McKeever, mom of two. “This gives kids choices selecting items along with becoming responsible for packing, with just a little guidance from you.” This helps to reduce the amount of packing the parent has to do because it puts the older kids in charge of packing themselves and allows parents to spend more time with children who are too young to pack their own items.
For the most efficient packing, items can be packed by outfit. One option is to place shirt, pants, underwear, and socks together in a zip-top bag and seal. When you arrive at your destination, kids can grab a bag for the day. Dirty clothes can be placed back in the bag afterward. “I am a roller,” says Holly Searles, mom of four.
“I take an outfit, pants, shirt, underwear, and socks, and then tightly roll. I often use a hair tie to secure the girls’ outfits.” Whether you decide to roll or use the zip-top bag method, remember to place the outfits needed first on the top of the suitcase.
Another way to make packing more efficient is to bring fewer items. Make sure you only bring what you absolutely need or you may find that the family vehicle is bursting at the seams. “I do not bring a lot of stuff for the car ride. My kids do very well with a small toy, coloring book, small activity book, reading book, or the DVD player going,” says Sarah Imbierowiz, mother of seven.
Remember that most items that are forgotten can be bought, borrowed, or gone without for a short time while you enjoy your vacation. The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead. If you have a complete list and you start working on packing well in advance, it should go smoothly and you will be able to enjoy your vacation without dreading the packing that goes along with it.
Sarah Lyons is a mother of six children, including three-year-old triplets. She will test her efficient packing skills (and patience) when her family travels 13 hours in the car for vacation next summer.