Whether you are headed to visit grandparents, to the beach or to the mountains you have to pack. And let’s be honest, packing for yourself and your kids isn’t usually easy nor fun. With multiple people’s needs to manage I find myself overwhelmed in the weeks leading up to a trip trying to make sure we have everything we need. Here are a few packing hacks I figured out along the way that can help make things easier.

Kids Carry On

Preschool-aged children and upwards should each have their own backpack filled with what they will need for the flight to keep them occupied. New crayons and a few pads of paper are both good on the plane and also useful if your child needs a break from the pool or something to occupy them at restaurants. Dot to Dot books or age-appropriate workbooks are also useful.  Wrapping a few little surprise presents is always a good idea for potential meltdowns and when nothing else seems to be working. The blind packaging toys you can find at most pharmacies are great for this!

Snacks, snacks and more snacks are key on any trip. Pack your child’s favorites in their backpack for when hunger strikes. To keep things clean on the plane think non-messy snacks like cut up fruit, pretzels, granola bars etc. Save anything that could cause a spill or a mess for your destination.

Tablet or iPad use is a personal parenting choice but if your kids have them make sure they are fully charged and loaded with their current (this week’s not last weeks!) favorite movies and shows before you put them in their backpacks. Don’t forget headphones as no one on the plane wants to listen to your child watch Trolls on repeat!

Mom’s Carry On

If you have a baby or child too young to carry their own backpack pack their things inside your own large tote or backpack to carry on. If you are going on a beach vacation you can use your large beach bag as a carry on so you don’t have to pack it in your suitcase. Going on a city trip? Carry on a backpack loaded with everything you need for the plane and then use it as you explore your destination.

To keep your carry on organized use zipper pouches divided by “event” such as plane time, arrival etc. If you have a baby or toddler in diapers make sure to pack one pouch with at two more diapers than you think you need and a full pack of baby wipes. You don’t want to be stuck rationing diapers if you run into a flight delay! Baby wipes are not only useful for diaper changes but can clean up sticky hands and faces, and are also great for wiping down germ filled airplane seats and tray tables.

In a second pouch pack a full change of clothes for each child as well as a clean top for yourself. You never know when a baby or child will get messy!

In a third pouch pack a full day’s change of clothes for you and each child in case you get stuck with lost luggage. If you are traveling somewhere warm this is also a good place to pack bathing suits and coverups so you don’t have to root around in your luggage to find beach or pool attire. Most kids are anxious to swim after a long flight!

Checked Luggage

Pack one suitcase for your children to share. Inside the suitcase pack each child’s clothes in their own packing cube to make unpacking easier and to help keep those little outfits organized. Roll clothes before putting them in the packing cube to increase space and decrease wrinkles. Unless you will have access to laundry pack two outfits (including underwear) per day per child and a few pairs of pajamas.

Make sure to pack any special bedtimes lovies or sound machines your child may need to help them sleep in a new place. The night before you leave, place a sticky note on the suitcase with a list of last minute items to be packed in the morning. This way you won’t forget that special bedtime friend or toothbrush in the morning rush!

In your own suitcase use packing cubes to divide shoes, underwear and clothes. On vacation, the last thing you want to think about is putting together outfits or lamenting that you have the right shoes to wear. Try packing in a specific color story to avoid wardrobe drama and to make getting dressed each day super easy! Also, make sure to only pack comfortable shoes that you can walk in and work well both day and night.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Mia McDonald