My Packing Tips After 30 Trips With Kids

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Every year we do about a handful of big trips - to the West Coast for family, one or two south to warm weather in the winter and one abroad to Europe with family. It is such a privilege to show the kids places beyond New York and Dan and I are pretty committed to making it a priority. I remember our first trip with Bodie, I laid everything out a week in advance. Outfits each in ziplock bags so they were easy to count and grab on the go. A portable bottle drying rack (really). One would think almost four years later I would have outgrown the enthusiasm but much of my advice to families traveling for the first time with kids hangs on planning in advance. Here’s what we’ve gotten into a routine of doing:

  1. Lists - They’re not overrated especially for big trips with multiple kids. Make a separate list for carry ons so that you have the crucial stuff for flights (I bring a carry on for each kid to keep things organized). If you’re ambitious on the packing light mission (I like to take it as a personal challenge) commit to a number next to each thing you need before you start packing. That way you can’t get carried away with 5 swimsuits just because you have them.

  2. Start early - I usually start five days out, auditing what we have, what we need and what is easily available at the destination. Definitely ring or write the hotel or house beforehand to know if you can spare yourself some of the essentials - toys, cribs or high chairs, etc.

  3. Ship ahead - For bulk items, if possible, order ahead on Amazon and have delivered - i.e. diapers, formula, sunscreen etc. If you’re going to a hotel or a rental, confirm receipt.

  4. Color themes - I know, I know. I try and pack in one palette (and encourage Dan to too) so it’s easy to mix and match and we can pack light for ourselves to leave extra room for the kids things.

  5. Night before - I put a post it on each of the kids’ doors for the items that I can’t pack until last minute - loveys, monitors and sound machines. I usually tuck these all into our Baby Bjorn portable crib bag.

What are your tips on packing? Do you pack light or would you rather bring it all?

Photo by Elaine Tu on Unsplash