Traveling with the family is a blast but, packing for them is another story! After years of struggling with the stress of packing up the family, I’m happy to provide you with my top 7 Mommy Musts for Packing.
1. Always start with a list.
I used to laugh at my mother when I was young for having lists all over the place but, when traveling, starting with a list is a must. Start your list about a week before your trip and refine it as the travel day draws closer. Your list should be categorized for simplicity depending on destination. For example, for a camping trip I would use the following categories….Clothes, Outdoor Gear, Bathroom Necessities, Camping Equipment, Meals, Snacks, Drinks, Outdoor Fun, Indoor Fun, etc. Once the categories are identified, start to itemize below each category to complete your list. Another point to add, keep these lists on your computer because once you have developed a good one, why re-create the wheel when you need it again. My list development may sound a bit anal, but it sure does help in avoiding a mom breakdown.
2. Appropriate Suitcases
There are many fancy suitcases/bags available these days. Big Ones, small ones, bright colored ones and cute patterned sets. My advice, ensure that everyone has their own unique color/designed suitcase so there is no fighting over whose is whose and whatever you do, make sure they have wheels and a pull handle. Rolling a bag is far easier than carrying it on your shoulder or trying to pull it along the floor. Also, make sure that everyone’s suitcase is the appropriate size for them to handle. There are many small adorable licensed character bags available for young kids that have the wheels and pull handles. Even though your kids may be young, there is no reason why they can’t pull their own bag, they usually enjoy it! As the kids grow bigger, so should their suitcases.
3. Packing Charts
If your kids are old enough (I started this with my kids at 6), put together a packing chart. I usually use a white board and write all the kids names across the top and the items that need to go in their suitcase down the side. For example, some of the items listed down the side would be 5 pairs of socks, 5 pairs of underwear, 5 pants, 5 long sleeve shirts, sweatshirt, 3 pairs of pajamas. Once I put the chart out, the kids go to their rooms and pull out the items according to the chart and then check off the items. It’s great, the kids love it and it makes my life easier. Once they’ve checked off all their items, I can go to their room, pull out their suitcases and I check their work as I fill up the suitcases.
Each child should have their own backpack that they can fill with whatever they want to bring. The key here is, they carry what they pack. No one else carries their backpack but them. Make them walk around the house for 5-10 minutes with their packed backpack on, if they complain that it’s too heavy, then they need to adjust what they’ve packed. It’s always a good idea to take a quick look to see what they’ve put inside. I can tell you from experience that having a toy gun show up in the x-ray machine at the airport does not make airport security very happy and could delay your trip!
5. Flight Activities
Another point that comes from experience, when traveling by plane, especially with little ones, err on the side of overpacking activities and snacks. More than likely, there will be some type of delay and a mom NEVER wants to run out of things for the kids to do or eat. I usually double the length of time that it will take to get to your destination and pack for that. For example, if your flight is 2 hours, pack for 4. It may seem excessive but believe me, the last thing you want is to run out of activities and snacks before you even leave the ground!
6. Older Sibling Check
Yes, that would be your husband. Not a bad idea to provide him with a list and double check what’s he got in his bag! They usually forget something!
7. Always Carry Photos
No matter where we are going, I always carry recent individual photos of my kids in my purse. No parent ever wants to be in the situation where their child is unaccounted for. In the event that happens, having the photos readily accessible is key. Rather than having to describe your child when you are in panic mode, being able to whip out their photo for all to see saves minutes, even seconds when they disappear from your side.