Best Packing Tips for an Easy Vacation - No Laundry or Running Out of Essentials
It’s middle of February, and I’m already dreaming about our next vacation. Every year, I start the school year optimistically anticipating a calmer version of my chaotic life during school hours. But, come January, I start day dreaming about lazy summer days hanging out with my kids. Oh the irony! We are a family of five; two adults, a teenager, a preteen and a toddler. If you are confused about the scattered age range of my kids, join the club. I ride the emotional rollercoaster of parenthood multiple times a day. We can go from cheering on our high schooler to celebrating a potty training milestone within the same hour.
Our days are a non-stop cycle of work, school, after school activities, volunteer and social commitments. I realize it’s a blessing to have a full life but, I confess, by the end of most days the desire for a vacation is real. A chill family vacation, as if something like that exists. Can parents really be off-duty while on vacation? That vent session is for another time. For now, I bring you my best packing tips for a stress free family vacation.
Reality Check First
Let’s get something out of the way. No parent wants to spend days packing before going on vacation. We go from daily chaos to vacation mode overnight. Post vacation, we jump right back into our daily routine. Unlike some families, we like to milk every single day of our time off. To make the most of it, I let go of my daily cleaning obsessions and home-rules that annoy my kids and hubby. Vacation is supposed to be fun. With that in mind, here are some of the best parenting hacks I’ve picked over the years after being in many been there, done thatkind of situations.
Don’t Forget the Necessities
Make a list and check it frequently. Anything that you cannot be without, and would not want to be scrambling to buy. This is very personal, and is yours to determine. Anticipate everyone’s needs and pack accordingly. For instance, my toddler will need extra clothes all the time, down to the basics. It doesn’t matter if we go through all the clothes or not. Between a newfound sense of independence, potty training and trying to copy his much older siblings, I don’t expect him to stay clean for very long. For my sanity and mental peace, it is essential I pack extra. Nothing worse than having a diaper blast on the last day of the trip when you’ve run out of clean clothes. Happened to us once, and it was a gross plane ride back home.
Layer It Clean Daily
Pack a fresh base layer for every day of your trip. There are basics that you shouldn’t compromise on, and this one is it! For a seven day trip, I pack eight pairs of socks and eight undergarments for each person in my our family who is fully potty trained. I learned this early on, when we first started traveling as a young family. Now, after a full day of activities, we end with a quick shower and toss the dirty base layers in the laundry bag (more on that later). You start each day fresh, and it cuts down on the prep time in the morning when five people have to share one bathroom. Also, hang anything you plan to reuse such as pants, dresses, jackets, scarves, and let them air out.
Pack For Real Weather Not The Season
I get it, this one is obvious, but it is so often overlooked. Check the weather app and plan for real time temperature changes. As a family of five, it is easy to overpack. But who wants to haul a boat load of stuff, and then spend days after trying to put it away. Post vacation laundry is real work, and I’m always looking to minimize it. Spend some time thinking about the activities you really plan to do and then focus on what exactly you need to have with you. For our last summer trip to NYC I packed quite a few summer dresses for my daughter. They tookminimal space and looked cute. We had not planned any fancy activities as a family, so didn’t bother packing dressy clothes, shoes and accessories for the kids. But, for a quick summer trip to Half Moon Bay on the West Coast, I packed light jackets for everyone. The evenings along the coast were chilly, but a short drive inland temps soared. Layers helped!
Garbage Bag/Laundry Bag Same Difference
Pack a large garbage bag and use it as a laundry bag. Take one of those large scented bags and toss your daily dirty laundry in it every night. By the end of your vacation, you’ll have neatly sorted out the really dirty clothes from the gently used ones. It also helps to prioritize the laundry that needs to be done immediately post vacation.
Old Advice Still Works
Mixing and matching clothes work well for kids too! My neutral colored jumpsuit is a great outfit base paired with a couple of complimentary scarves and sweaters. Apply the same concept when packing for kids. For summer, a couple of pairs of neutral shorts and one pair of pants with a mix of shirts works well. For winter, a couple of dark colored pants with few long sleeves shirts, a sweater and a jacket should do. And to round off your multitasking outfits, pack some fun accessories. Last year, I snagged some super cute travel bags at a great price. I use them to organize accessories like stack rings, bangles, an everyday watch, hair ties, sunglasses, makeup and toiletries. It may sound like a lot but, when mixing and matching outfits accessories are a fun way to round out the look.
Carry on luggage can be a disaster in waiting for young families. My kids used to haul all their junk that they believed they could not live without. They barely played with it, and we were guaranteed a meltdown if they forgot to bring something back home. Set a limit to what the kids can bring, and make sure they are able to carry it on their own. Put those tiny humans to work! And it’s a great way to teach them some responsibility.
Vacation Mode, here we come! Share your best vacation planning and packing tips below.
~Thank you Fizza, we are grateful for the expert advice and can't wait to implement some of these amazing tips~
About our guest blogger...
Fizza Humanyan is a freelance content creator and copywriter. As a WAHM of three kids...a teenager, pre-teen and a toddler...she knows the difference between a good morning and bad is usually down to a cup of good strong coffee. You can find her IG https://www.instagram.com/aparentamiss/ where she promotes awareness about parental and chronic caregiver fatigue.