Packing for a Trip? Put Those Kids to Work!
By Sarah Lyons
Family vacations are a great way to enjoy time away from the daily routine and create lasting memories. But if you are anything like me, packing for a family trip can be overwhelming, especially if you have multiple kids to pack for. As a mom of six I’ve learned the hard way how to make our vacation packing more efficient.
Start by making a master list. If you don’t have a list, you are bound to forget things. I have a list on my computer that I can copy, paste, edit and print each time we are going out of town. I have additional lists for the different types of trips. For example, we would need to bring different items if we are camping versus staying in a hotel. If you edit this list after each trip, it will become perfectly tuned to your family.
Once you have a list, begin to delegate. My older kids receive a copy of their lists and are told to pack their own bags. “Everyone gets a master checklist of items for the trip. We go over the bags they pack together to make sure they have everything,” says Jenny McKeever, mom of two. “This gives kids choices, selecting items along with becoming responsible for packing, with just a little guidance from you”. This helps to reduce the amount of packing the parent has to do because it leaves the kids in charge of packing their own things and helping younger siblings to get ready, rather than one person packing things for the whole family.
To make the process most efficient, items can be packed by outfit. For example, put a shirt, pants, underwear and socks together into a resealable bag. When you arrive at your destination, kids can grab a bag for the day. Dirty clothes can be placed back into the bag as well. “I am a roller,” says Holly Searles, mom of four. “I take an outfit – pants, shirt, underwear, and socks – and then tightly roll. I often use a hair tie to secure the girls outfits.” Whether you decide to roll or use the resealable bag method, remember to place the outfits needed first on the top of the suitcase.
Another way to make packing more efficient is to bring less items. Make sure you only bring what you absolutely need or you may find that the family vehicle is bursting at the seams. “I do not bring a lot of stuff for the car ride. My kids do very well with a small toy, coloring book, small activity book, reading book, and the DVD player going,” says Sarah Imbierowiz, mother of seven.
Remember that most items that are forgotten can be bought, borrowed, or gone without for a short time while you enjoy your vacation. The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead. If you have a complete list and you start working on packing well in advance, it should go smoothly and you will be able to enjoy your vacation without dreading the packing that goes along with it.
Sarah Lyons is a mom of six, including three-year-old triplets. She will test her efficient packing skills (and her patience) when they travel 14 hours for vacation this summer.