Family Travel Tips for Packing

It can be tricky getting everything and everyone ready for a family vacation.  That’s why it might be helpful for you to remember some travel tips for packing so you can enjoy your family vacation as much as possible.

Personally, I always enjoy the packing part – it’s the unpacking when I get home that is no fun.  Unpacking means that the vacation is over, there’s a mountain of laundry to do, and it’s back to the real world.  Packing, however, is the start of an adventure.  It gets me thinking about the vacation.  I know that once the bags are finally packed and the departure date arrives, we’re off! 

5 Travel Tips for Packing

1.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – or your clothes in one suitcase.  If your bags don’t arrive when and where you do, you’ll be sorry that all of your clothes were in one bag and your baby’s were in another.  Pack at least two suitcases, depending on your family size.  Be sure that each family member has at least one outfit in each suitcase. 

In some ways, I don’t like this rule because I like to have everything really organized by person.  But, we have had bags delayed for days at a time in the past, and we would’ve been much better off having a little of everyone’s belongings in each bag rather than one bag for each family member.  Hopefully, next time I’ll take my own advice!  Thankfully, we had travel insurance, and the insurance company compensated us for the clothes and toiletries we had to buy while we waited on our bags.

2.  Pack necessities in your carry-on.  If you know that you or your children can’t go without prescription medications, don’t even think about packing them into your checked bags.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  Other essential items for your carry-on might be contact solution, eye glasses, and baby diapers.

3.  Pack an extra shirt in your carry-on.  If you’re unlucky enough to have all of your luggage lost or delayed, you’ll be thankful you can at least change your shirt.  Plus, what mom or dad hasn’t been spit up on (or worse) right as they were boarding the plane?

The first time we flew with our firstborn daughter, my husband, Craig, was carrying her in a Snugli.  Just minutes before boarding, she made a dirty diaper that seeped out all over him.  Like I said, an extra shirt always comes in handy.                                                                                                   

I also like to pack a couple of plastic bags in my carry-on.  They don’t take up any space, but are incredibly handy for wet or dirty clothes.

4.  Label all of your bags.  Make sure every bag you own, including your carry-on, has your name and contact information.  This not only helps retrieve lost bags, it helps you identify your suitcase on the baggage carousel when it looks just like everyone else’s! 

By the way, that’s why one of my favorite suitcases is bright blue,  .

5.  Pack less.  This one may seem a little crazy.  After you pack, take a few moments to unpack a few things and leave them home.  Ask yourself, “Can I survive a week without this?”  If the answer is “yes”, leave it home!  If you’re like me, you always end up at home with clothes you never wore but feel like you should wash anyway because they’ve been in the suitcase with everything else.  If you’re going for more than one week, pack one week worth of clothes and plan to wash.  If it’s less than a week, plan to wash and re-wear a few items.  Limit what you take carry-on, too.

One of my least favorite things about traveling (especially by air) is doing it with a bunch of stuff.  I’m dreaming of the day when I can pack a solitary carry-on.  But I don’t imagine that happening any time soon since I am always entertaining small children.

Any great packing tips you’d like to share? 


  1. James says

    My wife keeps lists on the PC of everythign that we need for a week away. Next trip she updates them with changes due to destination or changes in the kids ages and print them out and posts then on the closet door a week before. It gives you lots of time to make sure everything you need is clean, write in things that were forgotten and then when it is time to packyou just check everything off. I tease her about it but it works.

    • Jeri says

      James, you have a smart wife!! :) I love lists too. I feel like I’m a lot less likely to forget something when I keep a list. I usually do paper and pen lists. Maybe I need to upgrade to PC lists! Then I won’t have to rewrite one every time we go somewhere.

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