The Ultimate Guide to Packing for Kids

Packing for kids takes time and can seem daunting at first.  I recently did a podcast with The Mom Vent and one of the hosts said that the reason she doesn’t travel as much with kids is that the thought of packing is overwhelming for her.  So to make it easier, here is your ultimate guide to packing for kids.

The biggest thing to not being overwhelmed by all you have to pack is to break it up into smaller pieces the week before you leave on your trip.  This allows you to:

  1. Be more thoughtful about what you do and do not bring
  2. Spread out the time it takes to pack so it is not so tedious
  3. Gives you time to add an item that you might otherwise have forgotten
  4.  Gives you time to do any necessary laundry/borrowing/shopping for items you might want to bring

Here is your ultimate guide to packing for kids:

One Week Before: Pack the Kids Checked Bags

Set aside 30 minutes per child (or more depending on how long it takes you) to layout all your kids clothes and accessories that they will need for your trip.  Once you have gathered everything on your packing list (if you need a packing list, download mine here), pack it into a bag (zip it shut, so little ones don’t take anything out) and then put it in your room or somewhere they won’t see it.  Make a list of anything you still need to pack that you might be using for the next week (sneakers, jackets, toiletries, etc.)   Make a separate list or pile of items that need to be laundered and then packed and finally, make a list of anything you still need to get (borrow or buy).

Packing Timeline for Travel With Kids

Five Days Before: Pack Your Checked Bags

I pack myself separately from the kids as I actually find it takes more time (it’s harder for me to decide what I will want to wear).  Similar to the kids, once you have packed your checked bag, make a list of any missing items, a list of any items that need to be laundered/borrowed/bought.

Three Days Before: Update Your Tech Gear

Although we don’t do a lot of screen time in general, on trips we go all in, no holds barred, no limits.  Do what works for you, but if you are in our camp, then you need to check your kids technology and make sure 1.) they are charged and 2.) they have entertainment your kids still like.  Downloads new shows, games, whatever you need a couple of days before.  Make sure you save enough time for this, as it always takes more time than I think it should (~1 hour)

Two Days Before: Laundry

Two days before your trip, check your “to be laundered” list and wash anything that still needs to be washed and make sure it makes it into those checked bags.

One Day Before: Pack Carry-on Bags for Parents and Kids

I don’t know about you, but the carry-on bags always take a ton of time for me to pack.  Although the kids primarily only use the ipads and headphones on the actual plane/car ride, we put in any other toys & bookds they will want at their destination as well as restaurant/car entertainment for while we are on our trip.  At this time, I also pack my carry-on bag and the diaper bag including: snacks, waterbottles (empty), phone/camera chargers, etc.

The Ultimate Guide to Packing For Kids

The Night Before: Pull Everything Together

Now is the time, your trip is tomorrow, all your preparation for the past week has paid off. Bring everything together and you are ready to go.  The night before your trip, after the kids have gone to bed it’s time to:

  1.  Put in any missing items from checked or carry-on bags (don’t forget those laundry items or toiletries!)
  2. Lay out all miscellaneous gear by the front door (car seat bags, strollers, etc…anything not packed in a bag)
  3. Put all the bags (checked and carry-on) by the front door
  4. Lay out the travel clothes for adults and kids.  Departures are often early in the morning, make it easy on yourself by laying out all clothes/shoes/jackets ahead of time so you don’t forget the morning of.

Bon Voyage!  What are your best kept packing tips and tricks?  Share them with me in the comments to try on our next trip?

The Ultimate Guide to Packing for Kids




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