True confession time: Even though I am a huge proponent of family travel there is always a day in the traveling process where I inwardly rant that it is just not worth it and it would be better to stay home. Any guesses on which day pushes me to my traveling breaking point? It’s not the day that everyone wakes up way to early from jet lag or the day that the kids meltdown at dinner from too much stimulation. It’s the day (or hours) right before we leave-the day affectionately known in our house as the “Mom’s acting crazy, she must be packing” day.
Packing, especially with a larger family, is such a frenzied affair that it is the day that I definitely have to power through with positive affirmations and promises of chocolate to make traveling possible for our family. I have learned that it isn’t the packing that causes me trouble, but the gathering of things from all over the house. To minimize the frustration (and not max out the supply of chocolate before the end of the day), I have developed a system to cut down on the packing time and get us onto the traveling fun.
- Pack from the Laundry. This is the fastest way I have found to get four kids clothes into suitcases in the quickest time. The key to making this work is to let the laundry pile up until everyone is wearing the ripped up pajama bottoms and last year’s baseball jersey. This laundry slacktivity is a regular occurrence in our house whether we are traveling or not, so it is easy to just wash all the laundry at once and then pull from the laundry pile to fill the suitcases and save the trouble of going to each closet to grab clothes. I’ve been known to do the washing machine to suitcase duty days before we actually leave to be sure that everything is clean and ready to go on travel day.
- Keep a toiletry bag packed. Duplicate toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc are kept in a small travel bag that can be grabbed and thrown into the suitcase quickly. As a bonus, there is much less of the “oops I forgot” syndrome using this method. We also keep a small first aid kit stocked with all our medical needs packed and ready to be thrown into the suitcase, as well.
- Keep a stash of travel ready games and toys. All of our favorite airplane and car games and toys are stored in a large bin in my laundry room. I regularly add dollar store purchase, clearance items, and party favors from birthday parties to the bin to add to the collection. When it is time to travel, I can go right to the bin and fill up the busy bag with our old standbys and some new fun for the trip.
- Create a reusable master packing list. I got this idea from my son’s scout camping preparations. He created a master packing list that he can use to help him remember what he needs for each campout and refers to it to be sure he doesn’t forget anything. Now that my kids are older, I can give them a list and let them help gather the things that we need to pack. Ideally, I would like to create a customizable, laminated list to give to each child and circle the items needed for that trip with a dry erase marker. Of course, this is one of those best of intention ideas, but as soon as I get caught up on the laundry, it will be the next thing on the list.
How about you? Do you have any tips to make packing smoother and easier? Be sure to share them in the comments. If you have your own travel tips that make traveling easier, link them up below with Travel Tips Tuesday and happy travels.