I've always been a little strange, but when it comes to this, I'm such a weirdo! I absolutely LOVE to pack! It actually makes me kind of giddy. Like, really giddy! Unpacking on the other hand, not so much. So that's why I'm sharing tips on packing and not unpacking! I have 16 years worth of child friendly packing experience and we've traveled a LOT with our geeklings! I'm going to make life easy for you this summer and share my favourite Do's and Don't's when it comes to packing for your children. PLUS, I have a fun bonus for you! Free packing list printables for you and for your little ones.
Here are my packing guidelines when it comes to children:
- Plan Ahead - Knowing what you have room for (in your car, plane baggage allowance etc) and what you will need when you get there (beach gear versus an all inclusive) will help you know what you should bring and you can then make a list accordingly.
- Decide what you REALLY need - What can you get by without (Do you really need 3 pairs of flip flops? Per child?)? What can you rent or purchase on site, so that you don't have to lug it along. We often borrow pool towels from the hotel with a deposit and buy floaties while we are there and pass them on to other guests that are just arriving as we are leaving.
- Let the children pack for themselves - Give them a list, better yet, click the button below and download my printable list for them (just add the numbers of each item they will need depending on the time you will be gone).
Click Here to get your Packing Lists!
There's one for older children and a simplified doodled one for those little ones who can't read yet. They can even colour it in.
Click Here to get your Packing Lists!
Yes, even young ones can pack for themselves! I do always inspect things, though, before they go in the suitcase, as my 15 year old tends to try and include his entire room, while my 11 year old forgets pyjamas almost every time!
- Encourage your children to pack light - When I was younger my aunt was taking her children for a short trip to a hotel with a pool. She challenged them all to pack light and I believe the one with the least amount of stuff won a prize. They all lined up for their mom to inspect their small bag, except one cousin didn't have a bag. He stood there, proudly, hands empty, with only his toothbrush in his pocket. 'Don't you know there's a pool?' asked one of his sisters, to which he responded by tugging on his shorts a bit to reveal his swim trunks!!
Ok, so that's an extreme example, but packing light gives you freedom! You aren't bogged down by several large bags, there's no extra weight fees at the airport and there's room for souvenirs to bring home.
Have ALL passports, for everyone in the family (even the hubster's), all tickets, documents etc., EVERYTHING, in ONE place - Whatever you do, don't let the children have their own passport. My little ones always want to take it out and look at their photo, that's just asking for it to get lost. My teens don't realise the crap we'd be in if they lost theirs, so they won't pay close enough attention and I just won't take that risk. Keeping everything in one place, keeps them safe, if your planner has a big enough pocket that's a great place to keep everything! Plus, when you get to customs or the ticket line, it's quick and easy to whip them all out at once and hand them over and you're not holding up the line. I'm going to put all of our passports and documents in the deep, last pocket of my Malden.
- Pack small bags for each child for the car or plane - Kids get bored soooo fast and you don't want them in front of a screen for the entire trip so make sure that they have books and crayons and toys to keep them busy and to minimise the 'Are we there yet?'s. I love to put a little wrapped gift in there too. Usually it's an activity book, pens and one of my take along memory keepers. I make one for each of my children when we go on a long trip. They use them mostly to store all the bits and pieces they collect as souvenirs. There are lots of pockets so it's a great way to keep it all in one spot. They can even write a trip journal on the inside and record what they've visited.
Sign up in the tag below for my free class on how to make some take along memory keepers for your kids! You'll get some free cutfiles too.
- Don't let your children bring ALL the toys - let them chose their toys and books, but be selective, you don't need to bring the entire contents of their room. A small bag, that they can carry, with light books and toys is just perfect.
- Don't let your children have too much screen time - We've noticed that the more time our children spend in front of a screen, the crankier they become. They are impolite, impatient and restless. They also fight even more than usual with each other after too much screen time. Depending on the length of the trip, we set a time limit where they have to read, sleep or play (usually about half the trip) then they can have one hour with their ipod/ipad/whatever.
- Don't bring round crayons or little cars on a plane - Before leaving we fish out the pencils and crayons that are triangular or hexagonal in shape instead of smooth cylinders. We've lost quite a few over the years as they've rolled off the tray table, onto the floor and to the back of the plane, under some cranky, kid-hating old man's carry-on, never to be seen again. Dinky cars have gone the same way. Now, you may be thinking, what's the big deal? It's just a crayon and dinkies cost less than $2! But, when you have a toddler (that refuses to nap on the plane) that wants to colour with the RED crayon and the RED one has been missing for about 3 hours now, you know there is going to be an epic tantrum! Even older children have been know to flip out over toys that have rolled away. Do yourself (and everyone sitting around you) a favour and leave anything that rolls at home.
Now, that you know what to DO and DON'T, it is time to start packing! Click the button here and download your packing lists. Click Here to get your Packing Lists!
There is a girl version and a boy version for the little ones and a versatile, ultimate list for you. This one is great to print off for your older ones as well.
and have a fantastic trip!
PS If you'd like to see my tips for decorating planner pockets, you can watch me do it in this youtube video: