We're getting ready for our next trip, as usual. Before we leave I always designate a large chunk of an afternoon as “packing day.” Packing for kids does indeed take up the better part of a day because, well, there are kids involved!
If I'm being totally honest, it would be easier not to have the boys help pack for themselves. This goes SO much faster when I can just sort through a bunch of their stuff, shove it in a bag and call it a day. However, I insist on getting them hands-on with the process so that they can become self-sufficient little dudes. Plus, the trip goes more smoothly this way because they're really excited after having a hand in picking out their own outfits, toys and other gear.
Packing for Kids, Demystified
Have the kids carry a backpack
Giving kids some responsibility over their own items is a great way to increase their independence and ensure that they always have some form of entertainment on-hand.
Applesauce pouches, granola bars, peanut butter pouches…I even bring a few sweets so we have little rewards in case the kids are super-patient during a trying time. There are always inevitable moments where a plane gets delayed or a car breaks down, and it's important to be able to keep everyone smiling as much as possible!
Don't forget comfort items
Our boys each have a stuffed animal that they sleep with, so they HAVE to come along for every overnight. We also have a couple beloved hats and sweaters that we keep on-hand during every trip, in case the weather changes unexpectedly.
Medication is a must
Just in case anyone happens to get a midnight fever. It's a good idea to pack a first aid kit and baby wipes, too.
Sometimes, life gets messy. Especially with children. I keep one set of bottoms and socks in my carryon for each kid, along with wet wipes and tissues.
Load up the tablet
Our boys get to use tablets in the car – and only in the car – so we spend hours gearing them up with new games, movies and books. Scholastic has an awesome list of audiobooks for all ages to help pass the time. It's also a good idea to bring headphones for kids who tend to get overstimulated by new surroundings.
Get loved ones involved
We often travel with extended family, getting aunts and uncles and grandparents involved. Even when we're flying solo, though, we still have them take part in the packing or the transportation however we can. It helps the kids feel a sense of security and confidence in their trip when they know they have the support of their community. You can even have them send postcards from the road!
Lump outfits together
I like to put one day of clothing in individual gallon bags so we can pull out a set at a moments' notice as opposed to unpacking and digging through everything repeatedly. Packing cubes are a really great idea, too, especially now that new technology has made super lightweight cubes available.
Bring cameras for the kids
They make special extra-durable cameras just for kids, or you can pass on an older model that you no longer use. When you travel with kids, it's really fun to see a vacation from a kids' perspective! You can also make scrapbooks with them after the fact.
Packing toys is one of the simplest ways you can reduce stress on a family vacation. This is one thing that's always on my packing list, so I can count on getting a mental break when we arrive at the hotel room. We bring inflatable stuff and wooden lace-up cards to occupy the kids, as well as Koosh balls, finger puppets and a magnetic doodler.
What do you make sure to always bring when you're packing for kids?