How to pack when traveling with kids

How to pack when traveling with kids

Everything You Need to Pack, Without Packing Too Much!

One of my bad traveling habits that I can’t seem to quit is over packing. I tell myself every time that I don’t need all those clothes, but the excitement of the trip makes it hard for me to decide what to wear. I also justify all that extra gear by telling myself, “what if the weather changes or we decide to do something different?”. So… I’m writing this article not only for you but for me too. My resolution is to stop over doing it. Let’s get packing!

  1. Check the weather.

This seems so simple, but it’s so important. We know that weather can change quickly so I usually make sure to double check the forecast the day before my trip. Also, make sure to look at the daily highs and lows since some places can vary drastically. Our summer trip to Montana this year had us in cold weather gear in the morning and shorts and tees in the afternoon. With temperatures at 40 degrees in the am and 80 degrees by 4:00, we had to make sure we had layers.

  1. You can wear something more than once.

You don’t need an outfit for every day, but one for each different type of activity. Will you be hiking during the day and then heading to dinner at night? Or walking all around the city during the day and relaxing in the evening? Don’t feel the need to pack a new outfit for each event. You can wear the same dress to dinner at two different restaurants and the same sweater for chilly evenings, no one will know! I have also found that even when I’m doing outdoor activities such as fishing or hiking, I tend to wear the same pieces over again anyway! I have my favorite layering pieces and typically the outer layer is the only one that sometimes gets dirty.

  1. Simple and classic pieces go a long way.

Basic pieces that are easy to layer are your best bet. Don’t pack unique or special items that only will work for one situation. Try to find ones that cross over easily, such as dark dressier denim that you can wear casually or dress up with heels for dinner. Or, a cute shirt to wear shopping that looks good with a vest and scarf if the temps drop. For more outdoorsy trips, pack an outfit that during cold weather all the pieces can be worn and in warmer weather all you need to do is drop some of the layers. For example, leggings under long hiking pants for cold mornings and when the days warms up either switch to just leggings or just the pants. Even better, get the pants that unzip or roll up into shorts!

  1. In a pinch, you can most likely find a place to launder your clothes.

If you are staying with friends or family, or renting a place from VRBO or AirBnB, your place will most likely have a washer and dryer. On my last trip, I had to pack for my toddler and me for 8 days. If you have kids, you know that can be a lot of clothes. On top of that, we were headed to Reno, NV where it was snowing in the mountains and 60 degrees at my aunt’s house. I decided I was only going to pack enough for 3-4 days and then just wash all my clothes. I still had too much, (back to why I’m writing this article) but it was much better than trying to pack for 8 days. If you are staying at a hotel, you can either pay to have your items laundered or find a laundromat. Yes, remember those? I know, you haven’t visited one since college but it’s a cheap option if you absolutely need something washed. The only downfall to this option is that you have to hang out at the laundromat for a couple hours.

  1. In a real pinch, you can buy clothes.

I have yet to vacation somewhere that I couldn’t find something to buy if I had to. Heck, I usually buy something from wherever I am vacationing anyway and then I can hardly fit them into my already stuffed suitcase! If you only pack what you need most, you won’t have trouble fitting those new purchases into your bag. Seriously though, I’m sure many of you have had your luggage lost or delayed at some point and we always seems to make it work because it’s unlikely that you will be anywhere that you can’t buy some article of clothing. Even when I was in Zambia, Africa, there were people selling t-shirts and wrap skirts on the side of dirt roads…

  1. Toiletries…

So this one is hard for the ladies, at least this lady. I don’t even wear that much makeup or have that many toiletries, but for some reason when I’m going away I feel like I need every option. “What if I want to curl my hair?” or “but I want to wear my new perfume”… type thoughts creep into my head and before I know it I am trying to stuff my curlers into my suitcase. The best way I have found to pack toiletries is start with the irreplaceable items. For me it’s my contacts and glasses. If I lost these, I’d be in real trouble my friends. I had to have my husband overnight contacts to me once and it wasn’t cheap. For someone else it may be prescription medications. Then, think about items such shampoo, toothbrush, soap, deodorant, etc. You can choose to pack these in travel size, or you can always buy them when you arrive. Yes, you can get there, stop at a drugstore and get what you need, then throw out what’s left when you leave! Most of the time I find there isn’t even any left in the travel size items by the time my trip is over so I don’t feel like I’m being wasteful. If you’re staying at a hotel, please take advantage of the free toiletries they give you. If you absolutely have to bring the specific products that you use at home, buy empty travel bottles and fill them with your product. Don’t try to pack full sized items that potentially will be cracked or the tops come off due to the crazy air pressure, and leak out everywhere (I’m talking from personal experience here). Take travel size, tape the tops closed, and put in a Ziploc bag or travel bag. Lastly, for the ladies, just take the basics for makeup. Think about your basic go to look. Mine is foundation, blush, a brown eye, mascara and chapstick. I may throw in a lip color, but I really don’t need much more. You don’t need to pack 6 different eye shadows or lipsticks. Really, no one will know that you did your makeup the same way for a week. And… as I keep saying, you can always go buy something you need or forgot.


Always be sure to pack your kids travel pillow.