Travel Packing Tips

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I love getting ready for a new adventure- researching a new destination, the excitement before heading out on vacation. What I don’t love to do before a trip – packing. I mean it’s a necessity of course! I find it takes longer than I want it to and I just want it to be done. But I have found a few shortcuts over the years that have made the process more efficient and more foolproof.

My best tips to help you pack for your next vacation!


Vacation Packing Tips


Make lists

This is something I never did as a single person, but now that I often pack for me AND two kids, and I am in charge of multiple bags (luggage, carry-ons, snacks) a list is a necessary starting point. I like to write out everything that needs to be packed. I start with a fresh page, and break it into four boxes, one for me, one for baby girl and one box for little man. The fourth box is for the carry-on bag or bags (which will often include snacks).

I try to pack in one shot, but sometimes I am distracted. With a list, I can keep better track of what has been packed and what we still need to put in the suitcase. Having a list also lets me figure out what needs to go in the bag at the last minute. Just be sure to check the list right before you leave!

One could go digital with their packing list, but I like to write mine out by hand. I always have a composition notebook by my side, and I can look back at previous lists if I need (there are lots of lists in my notebook!). I personally like to think about each adventure individually, instead of working off a generic list.



Lay It Out

After I make my list, I like to hunt and gather. I will lay everything out on the bed before filling the actual luggage. I do this so I can see exactly how much stuff we have which helps me determine which bags we will be taking and what will go in which piece. Also makes it easier to pair down if we have too much, or to decide there is room for that extra outfit!

My best tips to help you pack for your next vacation!


Let Kids Help

Once I have my list, I enlist the kids to help gather and pick out their own clothes. Its like a game, I will call out things like: “4 pairs of leggings” or “6 pairs of undies” and they will go to their room and choose their items. I will then add them to our piles. Sometimes I have to edit, like when baby girl wants to bring 4 dresses to go to Florida for a long weekend… but at least they have some say in what clothes (and plushies!) they bring. Lately I have also been giving baby girl a gallon sized zip lock bag and letting her fill it up with whatever little toys (like Shopkins and Moana figures) she would like. That way I know we are bringing stuff she wants to play with, but it limits the amount of toys.




Never Unpack Travel Items

I keep my travel toiletry bag packed at all times. Before each trip, I check that I have what I need and refill what is low. I keep a gallon sized Ziploc bag in the linen closet filled with extra travel toiletries – extra little toothpastes we get from the dentist, or travel shampoos and soaps I might grab from a hotel.

I also do this with our hair ties and clips. I keep a snack sized Ziploc bag filled with hair ties, bobby pins, and barrettes. That way I can just pack that in the suitcase and baby girl and I are set for hair accessories!

I also like to use plastic bags (like you get from the supermarket and CVS) and Ziploc bags when I travel. When I unpack after a trip, I leave the plastic bags and Ziplocs (if they are in fine condition) in the suitcase for next time!


Travel Toys

In our game closet, we have a bin that is filled with the items we use only for travel. My kid’s ipad headphones, Ziploc bags of crayons and markers, workbooks and little travel games (we like travel checkers, chess and Spot-It). Whenever we go to a party and get a little favor that might be good for travel, I put it here. Or if I am at Five Below or a Dollar store, I might pick up some little games or books to add to this bin. For the kids, I like to have a new game or workbook for each trip!



I am actually off to pack for my next trip. I have my list ready, I just need to figure out what outfits (and shoes!) I want to bring! I’d love some tips for that…


What are your best packing tips??

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  1. I couldn’t agree more with making a list! We don’t travel much, but when it comes to packing for 9, someone ALWAYS forgets something. I’m bad about telling the kids what they need, and thinking they will remember. I pack for the 3 youngest, then have to check with the older 4 to make sure they don’t forget their toothbrush, hairbrush, or heaven forbid, deodorant. We’ve had to stop and buy those, socks, underwear, swimsuits…the list goes on. A real list would save us from these extra expenses and stress.

  2. I like to write my packing list too! For my husband, for myself, for my son and for the handcarry. I do this every trip. I never though ziploc has lots of uses. I will definitely use it more. I like your tips!


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