How to Pack for Kids: 6 Simple Tips

Posted by Fodor's Editors on May 16, 2011 at 1:00:26 PM EDT | Post a Comment
Familly-packing-luggage.jpgWhether your family is heading out for a long flight or a quick road trip, reduce your pre-trip stress with our simple family travel packing tips. From making a list to creative carry-ons, you'll help prevent adult and kid meltdowns away from home (it's amazing how the smallest of stuffed animals can test everyone's sanity). 1. Give everyone his or her own bag. Individual suitcases (preferably different colors—red for one, blue for another) help you locate items in a hurry. This will make life easy at the airport, as even little kids are not only capable of toting around a mini-Pullman—they often enjoy it. 2. Assemble one toiletry kit for all the kids. Today’s rules regarding carry-on liquids mean more shampoos in checked baggage—and more potential for messy spills. Checking one bag with all spillable items (as well as beauty items such as hair dryers and makeup) saves you from a potential trip to the Laundromat upon arrival. It also eases unpacking, allowing you to deposit the entire case right in the bathroom. 3. Make packing lists for each child. List each item as it’s packed, and stow the complete itemization in the suitcase. The arrangement will help you repack at the end of the trip and give you the peace of mind of knowing everything that came is going back home. 4. Pack a family carry-on. One bag of essentials saves heartache if a bag is temporarily lost. Include one outfit for everyone, as well as prescriptions and other must-haves. A communal bag also simplifies car travel, giving quick access to overnight necessities for midway stops instead of unpacking the whole car. 5. Consider creative carry-ons. Soft coolers make great carry-on luggage. Roomy and crushable, they’re perfect for nonbreakable items (such as those extra outfits) and help you cut your food bill by becoming picnic baskets for takeout meals. 6. Think plastic. Plastic bags protect delicate items from spills inside your suitcase. They’ll also be invaluable at trip’s end for dirty laundry and any wet clothes coming home.

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Member Comments (5)  Post a Comment

  • Swantraveller on May 22, 11 at 02:40 AM

    These are really great tips - including those added in the comments. I have almost the same drill when I tag along my niece in short trips. I also make sure I pack a few of her favorite gummies and chocolates.

  • AJMelheim on May 20, 11 at 03:54 PM

    When we go on a car vacation/road trip, instead of packing suitcases, we use stacking plastic drawers that fit into the back of our minivan. That way, we don't have to schlep our suitcases into our lodging at each stop. We simply bring in the things we need for the night (including toiletries) and the next day's clothes. There's also no unnecessary clutter in the hotel room. Each person has their own backpack for toys, games, reading, electronics. We leave a laundry bag in the car for dirty clothes. This system as worked just great for our two week family road trip vacations for the past 6 years!

  • welove2go on May 18, 11 at 03:30 PM

    My favorite travel tricks with kids: long flight - bring the portable DVD, because if there's no TV in the headrest, or it doesn't work, you could have a really long ride. Number two: make a small pre-trip purchase of an activity book - coloring, puzzles, whatever - so it can be pulled out as a surprise when needed.

  • saacnmama on May 18, 11 at 10:11 AM

    sorry--meant to say how icky showers would be if the one checked toiletries bag got lost

  • saacnmama on May 18, 11 at 10:10 AM

    Is this article old, or just intended for people with too much cash? It seems to assume that everyone will pay to check their bags--no way!

    My son has pulled his own since he was 3. He knows where the toiletries pocket is, and beats many adults at getting stuff into bins at security. We do pool toiletries, but that means conditioner in one person's baggie, toothpaste in someone else's. Seeing how carefully many people choose toiletries, I don't want to think about how icky showers would be for everyone.

    I'd say keep a few toys you can loose in an outside pocket to pull out during waiting periods, along with snacks.