Vacation Packing for a Family of 5 & FREE PRINTABLE CHECKLIST
When we had kids there was one thing I knew for sure...we wanted them to be the 'easy to pack up and go' kind of kids. My husband and I have always loved travel and adventure and didn't want our traveling to stop once we had a family. It is easier said than done, and vacations look VERY different now than they did before kids, but we get it done and have developed some tips and tricks over the years to help us pack up and get out with the two of us, 3 kids and usually 2 dogs in tow!
The hardest part for me is usually the packing. Packing for myself was hard enough before kids, but now I have myself, plus the 3 kids and 2 dogs to pack for and quite honestly- it's exhausting! For a few years I wondered if quick weekend trips were even worth it. The baby years were the hardest because you need SO much stuff and even when you pack the car full, you usually end up forgetting something!
As my kids got older it got a lot easier. We didn't need all those newborn items or nearly as many outfits (spit up incidents = way more clothes needed) . But, it was still a process to pack for so many people, and we have still had so many trips where someone ended up without underwear or a bathing suit!
Over the years I have found that it is easier to teach my kids from a younger age to pack for themselves. This has been life changing! I made a little list that makes packing way easier for them because they can check it off as they go. I always check over everything after they're done and it saves me so much time and teaches them to be independent travelers.
I am sharing my list with you (at the bottom of this post)! It is a pretty basic list, so for anything extra you need I have included a blank list for you to fill out as well. The list doesn't include shoes because I have found that you need different shoes based on where you are going and what they are wearing the day of travel, so you will definitely want to include that. You will also want to add in any trip specific items like hiking gear, rain clothes, cold weather gear etc for different types of trips.
Two of the lists I included are for Summer trips. One is a shorter 2-4 day trip and the other is a longer 5-8 day trip. The longer trip is for a trip where you will not have access to laundry. With our crew we almost always stay somewhere with a washer/dryer, so we end up packing less! When we have the ability to do laundry I only bring half of the items "needed" and we wear everything twice! I also included a blank checklist so you can write down specific items you need for your trip with kids.
Here are a few other products and tips that have made life so much easier. I can't even do trips without these anymore:
These are life saving. I honestly don't know how we traveled without them. I roll all of my clothing so that when I get to the destination I can literally just plop the clothes into a drawer and I'm unpacked. When it's time to head home packing up is so easy because everyone just dumps their clothes back into their own cubes and we're done. Each person in my family has their own color packing cubes and let me tell you- not sharing bags/space is the best thing I have ever done. If you have ever shared a bag with your kid and come to find them rifling through it you know what I'm talking about. These cubes make it easy to share a suitcase, but not space inside of it. For road trips we don't even use suitcases anymore. We just toss these into the rocket box and it's done.
Everyone in my family has a couple of these and they go everywhere with us! They are used for toiletries, sunscreen, snacks, and all the smaller things that you don't want to use a whole packing cube for. The best thing about these is that you can see what is inside so you aren't searching through all your bags for one item! They are also spill proof so they are great for messy items.
Like I said before, we usually stay somewhere with laundry. With 3 young kids it is pretty much a necessity. I have found that doing all the laundry the night before heading home saves me so much energy. When you get home you only have to put clothes away and not worry about sorting and vacation laundry. If you can't do laundry my recommendation is to stick it all in a big laundry or trash bag instead of in each persons individual suitcase. When I do this, the first thing I do at home is put the laundry in -no sorting through suitcases and doing smell checks!
We usually use trash bags but these would be much nicer:
While we love our packing cubes, they tend to come in larger sizes and sometimes I have found that we just need a few small bags for things like hair accessories, undies & socks or crafts. I love the soft cotton zipper bags we made for just this occasion! They come in cute little matching sets and are fully washable.
5. Everyone Carries a Backpack:
Every person in my family also has a backpack. Their backpack holds all of their own snacks, crafts, books, an iPad or whatever entertainment they want for the car. This saves our car from being littered with a thousand tiny things. When it is time to pack up to go home it is each person's responsibility to put their items in their backpack so nothing gets left behind. Our backpacks are a great size for travel and we will be bringing back our toddler backpacks soon too!
Vegan Leather backpack (great for water vacations):
These are just a few of my best packing trips and hacks for vacationing with kids! What are your favorite travel tips? Please share in the comments below and go follow along with our vacations on @lanaraelifestyle.