Tips on Packing with Kids

So your trip is all planned, your hotels reserved, your itinerary all settled, but now you have to pack.  And if you are traveling with children, you’re not just talking about one backpack.  There are two concerns here:  First, you’d like the packing process to be as simple and streamlined as possible.  Second, you’d like to actually be able to make it through the airport without being crushed under a pile of luggage.  Note that this advice is not specific to Iceland travel–I’m not telling you what to bring–that will be a future post, once we’ve seen what we have and haven’t used from our packing lists.

I have two separate sets of tips for the process, depending on your personality (or rather, your tolerance for mismatched clothing on your children).  If you are willing to step back a little from the process, children who can count things and reach all their dresser drawers and closet hangers can pack their own suitcases.  We start with a list of items to pack (verbal (one item at a time) for very young children, working up to a pictorial list and then to a written list once they can read).  The kids can mark off each item with a marker once it has been packed.  I do always still run down the list at the end with each kid:  “Do you have three long sleeve shirts?” etc.  to make sure they aren’t missing anything, but it saves a lot of time and whining–“I don’t like these pants!”–to let them pack their own suitcases.  The con for this method is just that you have to be willing to let them wear what they picked out!  Sometimes that means just letting it go when your child comes out wearing striped pants and a checked shirt.  And sometimes it means being very specific with your list:  Pants may mean sweatpants to a tween boy, and if you want him to have a pair of khakis, it will need to say that on the list.

While that is the method we prefer, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  If that method isn’t right for your family, my sister has a method that works very well for her family. Maybe it will work better for you?   She packs each individual outfit (including socks, underwear, even hair accessories, if they are needed) in an individual bag, usually a plastic grocery bag, within the larger suitcase.  The con for this method is that it does take more time up front from the parent.  However, while traveling, the child just pulls out a bag and has everything he needs!

No matter what method you use for packing, you still want to minimize the amount of luggage you are dragging along behind you.  We have two tips for helping with this.  First, each child gets his or her own suitcase.  From about 3 or 4, a child is perfectly capable of pulling a carry-on size wheeled suitcase through an airport.  (And at that age, they are usually excited to do so!)  Second, we don’t pack any more than will fit in that suitcase, plus a small bag of stuff to do on the plane.  How do we do that?  We never pack more than 4 or so days worth of clothes, even for a longer trip.  We nearly always plan to do laundry while we are traveling.  When you have small children with you, this usually isn’t too much of a scheduling problem–throw a load in at night after kids go to bed and before parents do.  So far we haven’t had problems finding laundry facilities.  I hope that continues!

Do you have better tips for packing with children?  If so, please share them with us!

Tips on Packing with Kids was last modified: May 26th, 2016 by Lora