Our Best Organizing Travel Tips for Families
How to increase organization, avoid overpacking, and arm yourself for potential travel complications.
I got it from my maman. My love for travel and packing prowess that is. Every summer for fifteen years, we traveled home to Québec for a month. Not only did she pack for a family of four, she then drove 24 hours over three days alone with three kids. Not for the faint of heart. I paid attention though and picked up some invaluable travel tips and tricks that I now use and share with you.
Map It Out
Maman had a handwritten list but I use Evernote. If you’re not already using this app, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a team favorite. In Evernote, you can create a digital trip notebook with “before we leave” and “packing” checklists. If you travel to the same destination every year like we did, you can save your checklists. It’s such a time saver! Using a checklist will ensure that you pack everything you and your family need and avoid last minute, hurried overpacking.
In your trip notebook, save copies of your IDs, birth certificates, passports, visas, and other necessary travel documents just in case these items get misplaced or stolen. You can scan these documents using Evernote. Also, if you’re using travel magazines or guidebooks, scan the pages, save them in your trip notebook, and spare yourself the bulk in your carry on!
Pack it Right, Pack it Light
When traveling, less is more.
Create a packing zone. A corner of your bedroom is perfect. As you make purchases, wash clothes that you wish to pack, come across an item you need to bring, add it to the packing zone. This makes moving from the “list” to “packing” easier and less time consuming.
Select clothing. Check the weather and keep activities in mind when selecting outfits for you and your family. Avoid packing head to toe looks for every day. Select versatile pieces that can be used in 2-3 different outfits. For kids, selecting tops and bottoms in basic colors is best. This is not the time for fancy outfits. Keep it simple.
For kids, pack by outfit. Put the whole outfit in a gallon size ziplock bag. You can then put the dirty outfit in the ziplock bag after its been worn. Pack extra outfits this way too.
Packing cubes. I finally sold my maman on these. She just packed for a six week trip to Australia and says she’s never looking back. These are so versatile and help keep your suitcase neat and tidy. You can use them to corral smaller items like undergarments, socks, and swimsuits. If you’re sharing one big suitcase, assign each family member a color for quick and easy identification. You can just throw the cube in a drawer when you get to your destination.
Roll, don’t fold. If you roll your clothes, you can fit eight days worth of tops and bottoms in a large packing cube.
Pack shoes first. Maximize space by packing socks inside the shoes. This will also help the shoes hold their shape. Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes in the car or on the plane.
If you and your kids have undergarments, socks or clothes that have seen better days or are almost outgrown, pack them and discard them on the trip. This will create space for souvenirs.
Double check what amenities your hotel or rental offer. You can avoid a lot of bulk by not packing a hair dryer. The same is true for robes and beach towels. Always pack travel size toiletries.
Kids Are a Trip
Travel insurance. You think it’s an annoying, unnecessary expense until you take your first trip with a child. Children are illness and accident prone. Play it safe.
Book accommodations with separate sleeping areas when possible. You’ll pay more for this convenience but a good night’s sleep is a key ingredient to a happy, relaxing family trip.
Snacks. Pack more than you think you’ll need. No one likes a “hangry” toddler or adult for that matter.
Load up the tablet. This is a good time to download new activities, games, and movies.
Pack a few new, small toys. Hit up the Target dollar spot for coloring books, stickers, and little toy cars, planes, and trucks. It’s fun for kids to open something new on the plane or in the car.
The big takeaway? Don’t wait until the last minute! A little planning will go a long way to ensuring that you and your family start and end your vacation on a fun, relaxed note. Happy travels!