Packing up the Family…Tips and Tricks
Are you heading out this holiday weekend for some well-earned family fun? Traveling with the family can be a fun activity with everything you need at your fingertips…or a horrendous nightmare as you realize halfway across the state that you left everyones shoes at home (yes, sadly, this has happened to me…thank goodness for Kmart!). I have a couple of ideas that I’ve earned and learned over the last 8 years as my husband and I have traveled with our four little ones on various trips across the US. I hope they can be of some value to you as well!
- Make a List! I am somewhat compulsive about this because with 6 people to pack for, there is NO way I will ever remember everyone’s stuff without it. I am a believer in packing as light as possible. Lists help me see the crossovers in everyone’s necessities and realize what should or should not be duplicated. I usually start with the bathroom and itemize everything that everybody absolutely “needs” from this area. Keep in mind that some hotels include some of these items so it helps if you can call ahead and find out what they will be offering with your room. Then I move onto each person’s room. I also keep a separate list for electronics (camera, video, ipod, charging equipment, videos, etc.) since it can really put a damper on a trip when you forget the charger for the camera (no memories this trip!).
- Keep it Simple! I usually let each of my kids pick one animal, one blanket, one activity and one book to take with them. I always bring a “surprise” activity for them to receive after the trip has gotten underway and after they have exhausted their own entertainment. This can be a lifesaver on long car rides!
- Consider Your Destination! If I’m not planning on doing a lot of walking with everyone, strollers are a bulky item better left at home. When lots of sun exposure is on the agenda, I make sure to add this to my list and include extra items like suntan lotion, hats, sandles, beach towels, bathing suits, etc. If you will be doing hiking, don’t forget the backpacks, water, boots, extra socks, etc.If you are planning on flying, make sure you check with the airline you are traveling with for current rules and regulations on security and baggage requirements. Here are a few links to popular airlines and their baggage requirements and airport security tips…
Transportation Security Administration
US Airways Travel Tips
US Airways¬† Baggage Requirements
Southwest Airlines Travel Tips
Delta Airlines Security Tips
Delta Airlines Baggage Requirements
If you are planning on traveling in Arizona, About.com is a great site for some local travel tips.
- Be Safe! If you are taking a long car ride across the arizona desert, be prepared! Keep at least enough water and snacks in your car to sustain your family for half of the day. If you should break down,¬† your foresight in this area may be the difference between life or death in the desert heat. Keep a pair of jumper cables, flares and a flashlight in your car at all times.
- Packing Tips. If you want to really simplify your packing and condense your load, consider using Space Bags to pack your clothing. I discovered these as I was preparing my family for a 7 day cruise where we would be in small rooms with little or no extra space for storage. I needed everything to be compact and easily accessible. These Space Bags were a wonder! I was able to get seven days worth of clothing for four kids and two adults into 3 duffle bags with room to spare! Plus, everyone had their own Space Bag which is transparent so I could easily sort through and find what I needed for everyone throughout the trip without having to unpack everything.
I hope this helps you with your packing stategies so that you can have a wonderful, relaxing vacation without having to worry about those shoes you forgot at home! We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for helping to make family travel smoother. Please join us in our forum and share some of your thoughts!