Hacking Your Packing: 6 Tips for Your Next Family Vacation

Hacking Your Packing: 6 Tips for Your Next Family Vacation
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Barbara Danza

Before kids, packing for vacation might have included some basic toiletries and the number of outfits you‘d need for the number of days you’d be away. If you forgot something, it was no big deal.

Packing for an entire family, however, affects a number of people, requires planning, calls for high-level strategy, and involves lists, consultants, and numerous sleepless nights. 

Okay, it’s not that bad, but you do want to be prepared for anything that may come up when traveling with kids. With that in mind, here are six easy tips to make packing for your next trip easier.

Bag Your Bags

Garbage bags, reusable bags, and a laundry bag don’t take up much room but sure can come in handy when you’re away. Whether you’re covering up a stroller or a piece of luggage when a rain shower suddenly appears, or you’re simply separating your clean clothes from those that need to be laundered, you'll be glad you took time to pack these.

If you love to shop on vacation, packing an empty, soft piece of luggage or duffle bag is also a great idea.

Speaking of Bags

Don’t forget to pack the all-too-useful clear, zip-top bag. 

Bring along a bunch in various sizes to waterproof or sandproof your phone and for grabbing an on-the-go snack when you leave your hotel room for the day.

My favorite use of these ubiquitous baggies is to pack your kids’ outfits separately. Rather than managing who’s wearing what each morning, use clear gallon-sized bags to contain an outfit for each day of the trip, complete with accessories, so that each child just needs to grab and go.

Cameras for the Kids


Let the kids have free reign on the trip to take their own pictures. This gives them something to do along the way, inspires creativity, and helps them to feel involved. Later, seeing the experience from their vantage point will be priceless. Who knows, perhaps you'll like their shots better than yours.

Don’t Forget Snacks

At the very minimum, bring lollipops, which are helpful on plane rides when hunger strikes and when sensitive ears begin to pop. If you’re staying in one place for the duration of your trip, consider having groceries delivered upon your arrival. 

If hitting the road, take advantage of the lack of TSA restrictions and stock your car with food to keep in the hotel room. Bring water; fruit and nuts, or your favorite snacks; cream for your coffee; cereal and milk; disposable cups, bowls, and utensils; and any other kitchen comforts you'd enjoy.

You‘ll naturally eat most meals outside the room, but you’ll afford your family the luxury of relaxing in the room with snacks at hand, or eating an easy breakfast in pajamas some of the time without the trouble or expense of ordering room service.

Keep Kids Safe

To keep your children safe, bring along pocket travel cards with emergency contact information, or consider temporary tattoos like these in case they get lost. Instruct your child that in an emergency situation they should seek out a police officer, security guard, or responsible adult and use the information to get help to reunite with you quickly.

Drumroll Please

My favorite hack I’ve come upon is this: To separate the soles of your shoes (ew) from the rest of what you’ve packed in your luggage, pack each pair in a shower cap. Brilliant! (Thanks, Pinterest.)

Enjoy your time with your family and enjoy your travels!

Barbara Danza is a contributing editor covering family and lifestyle topics. Her articles focus on homeschooling, family travel, entrepreneurship, and personal development. She contributes children’s book reviews to the weekly booklist and is the editor of “Just For Kids,” the newspaper’s print-only page for children. Her website is BarbaraDanza.com
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