9 Organization Hacks That Will Change the Way You Pack for Your Next Family Vacation

9 Organization Hacks That Will Change the Way You Pack for Your Next Family Vacation

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When you’re packing for a family vacation, organization is vital.  Between the days of preparation, the sudden fixation on the weather at the destination, and the multiple lists that are checked and double-checked, I often feel like I’m planning an advanced military operation, not packing for a family trip.

I still recall the first time we travelled with one of our kids.  We were brand new parents, headed to Mexico with our three-month-old baby.  We had to overnight at my parents before an early-morning flight, and thank goodness we did.  Shortly after arriving at their house, we realized that we had forgotten to pack ANY soothers for our soother-obsessed child.  Needless to say, a last-minute run to the store was in order, and we were thanking our lucky stars that we discovered it before leaving on the 5 hour flight.

Fortunately, our packing organization has improved since then.  In fact, with three kids, and somewhat-frequent travel, I’d venture to say that we have our packing for family vacation process down pat.  Here are some of our top packing organization tips for travelling with kids.

Organized Packing for Family Vacations

Travel with kids without losing your mind!  9 packing organization hacks that will change the way you pack for your next family vacation. #travelwithkids #familytravel #packingtips #familytraveltips #packingorganization #travelorganization

1. Use a packing checklist

A packing checklist is an absolute must-have in our house. I’ve been keeping a running packing checklist for years, and consolidated it into a handy printable that you can find here. Without it, I guarantee I would forget something (like, ahem, a soother!).

I finalize my checklist for each trip a few days before we leave, based on the weather, our planned activities, and whether or not we have laundry where we’re staying (another life-saving tip for travelling with kids: choose accommodation with laundry whenever you can!).  I’ll jot down how many of each type of clothing I want to bring, and any specific items that I want to be sure to remember.

As an aside, as much as I love to pack light, spills and messes are inevitable with young children.  We always pack an extra set of clothes, especially if we don’t have laundry at our destination.  The same is true for sleep – we always pack 2 pairs of PJs, 2 sleepsacks, and 2 Pack ‘n Play sheets, just in case we have a middle of the night disaster.

Related: Ultimate Baby & Toddler Packing Checklist

2. Pack interchangeable outfits

Family vacations are not the time to choose the perfectly-coordinated-but-don’t-match-anything-else outfits.  I pick my kids clothes with outfits in mind, but always pack clothes that are interchangeable.  Stick to a similar colour scheme so you have flexibility to mix-and-match tops and bottoms as needed.

3. Start pre-trip laundry early

How many times have you ended up doing late-night laundry the night before a trip, because an item that you needed was dirty?  Just me?

Start your pre-trip laundry early, and set aside items that you want to bring as soon as they’re clean.  This ensures that you (or, let’s be honest, your spouse or your kids!) won’t inadvertently dress your child in an item that you need for your trip the day before you leave.

4. Establish a packing zone out of reach of kids

As you set aside items in the days leading up to a family vacation, you need a place to put them.  I have learned from experience not to leave open suitcases lined up on the floor, unless I want to repack those suitcases approximately 100 times.

In our house, we stack the clothes up high out of reach, or make sure the suitcases are zipped up whenever little helpers are around (this obviously only works until they’re able to unzip the suitcase on their own!).  Tucking them away in a spare room works too.

Related: 9 Best Ways to Save Money on Family Vacations

5. Give each child their own bag

Unless we’re trying to consolidate our packing to avoid excess baggage fees, we always give our kids their own suitcase.  Not only does it help us keep things organized, it’s a novelty for them and they’re quite happy to pull their own bag (less fighting over who carries what, and they’re being helpful – it’s a win-win!).

Packing for a family vacation

We have these suitcases, which are perfect for younger kids.  We’ve found that they fit about a week’s worth of clothing, although that may be pushing it now for our (big) six-year-old. 

6. Create a system to keep kids’ clothes organized in their suitcases

We use a few different packing methods to keep kids’ clothes organized.

If somebody else is going to be dressing the kids, or I have certain outfits in mind for certain days, I organize their suitcase by outfits.  I roll all items for an outfit together (right down to the socks and underwear), to make it easy for whoever is getting them dressed to grab an outfit and go. 

For most trips, packing cubes are my best friend.  My kids are still pretty small, so I can cram a surprising amount of clothing into one cube.  Packing cubes not only help us fit more into each suitcase, they help keep the suitcase organized.  This is particularly true when we’re flying and sharing suitcases – packing cubes allow us to keep each child’s clothing separate.

7. Pack sleep necessities so they’re easy to find

When you’re packing your children’s suitcases, give some thought to what your schedule looks like. If you’re going to be arriving at your destination right before bedtime, pack their sleep necessities (playpen, sheets, PJs, diapers/pull ups, loveys, monitors, etc.) in one easy-to-find bag.  That way, you’re not having to delay bedtime while you dig through every bag to find everything you need to put them to bed.

Related: How to get your Child to Sleep on Vacation

8. Make a morning-of checklist

If you have one takeaway from this article, this should be it.  A morning-of checklist is a game changer.

We often leave for trips in the morning, and as any parent knows, trying to get out of the house with small children is no small feat on a normal day.  Add in the chaos of leaving for a trip, and it’s no wonder that things are often forgotten.

There are always a few items that can’t be packed until the last minute.  In our house, it’s usually sleep stuff, baby monitors, loveys, charging cords, and toiletries.  Not only are these last-minute items, they’re the important items that would be hard to live without.

I always write a morning-of checklist, with everything we need to bring, and everything we need to do before we leave on our trip.  It might seem a little bit overboard to check off every item as we put it in the suitcase, and every bag as it’s packed in the car, but if it helps us to remember everything, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!

Here are my top packing tips and tricks to stay organized when travelling with kids. These 9 packing organization hacks will change the way you pack for your next family vacation! #travelwithkids #familytravel #packingtips #familytraveltips #packingorganization #travelorganization

9. Pack an accessible bag for pit stops

Finally, if you’re travelling by car, it’s nice to have an easily accessible bag with everything you may want on a pit stop.  This includes things like hats, hoodies, sunscreen, a picnic blanket, and any winter gear that you may need.  Having these items readily accessible makes pit stops that much easier.

Related: How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids: Activities

If you’ve got other family vacation packing tips that help you stay organized, I’d love to hear them!

Travel with kids without losing your mind!  9 packing organization hacks that will change the way you pack for your next family vacation. #travelwithkids #familytravel #packingtips #familytraveltips #packingorganization #travelorganization

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