I’m not sure when I became obsessive compulsive about packing — I’m certainly not overly organized about anything else in my life, outside of work.
But when it comes to packing for any kind of overnight trip with three kids and a large dog in tow — it can put even the most attuned organizational skills to the test.
I’ve always loved packing for trips, whether it’s for weekend at Grandma’s house or a week at the beach. Perhaps it’s because, as a kid, I spent every other weekend packing up to visit my dad’s house or perhaps it’s because my hometown is only 2.5 hours away — perfect distance for a quick weekend trip, but too far to drive there and back for a day trip. Or maybe it’s just because I like to travel.
While my husband’s responsibilities include yard work, taking out the trash and maintaining the car, packing is my forte.
When recently packing for a 10-day trip to Disney World, I got the suitcases out two weeks in advance. As clean laundry got done, much of it went in the suitcases instead of the closets or drawers. Because we were gone for a longer than normal trip, outfits for the kids were folded and packed into gallon-sized Ziploc bags and then I wrote the day of the week on them with a Sharpie pen. That way, it’s easy for the kids to determine what’s clean, and what’s not. (Just in case the dirty laundry doesn’t get put into the laundry bag, which I also packed.)
When it comes to packing for a vacation with kids, there are so many incidentals you have to plan for — swimsuits, beach towels and jackets in case it’s cold. There are ponchos or rain jackets, sunscreen, extra underwear and pairs of shoes. There are snacks, extra sippy cups, napkins in case of spills.
When it comes to long vacations, packing is not easy. But organization helps — and starting earlier, the better.
Here are some tips for packing for family vacations, from Travel + Leisure Magazine:
‒ A week before the trip, stage an area for pre-packing. As you think of things you’ll need, like sunscreen, ski pants or energy bars, toss them in a box or suitcase.
‒ First, do clothes. Check the weather forecast for your destination and pack accordingly.
‒ Lay the clothes out by category: pajamas, tops, bottoms, dresses, hats, and shoes, and double-check to avoid duplication.
‒ Don’t bring different shoes for each outfit.
‒ Grooming items should be packed in a sealed Ziploc bag to prevent leakage. Never pack full-sized shampoos or lotions; instead use travel-size.
‒ Pack medical necessities: bring a zippered pouch for medicines, and products to fight germs, colds, allergies, rashes, stomach aches and bandages for cuts.
‒ Pack easy-to-go snacks so that kids don’t get hungry and cranky. Stock up on snacks like granola bars, chips, crackers or applesauce in squeezable pouches.
‒ Bring toys, gadgets and activities to engage them through the hours of travel. It helps to have a “surprise” on hand, be it a a dot-to-dot coloring book, a new app or new game or movie downloaded.