Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of traveling. You don't want to over pack and get stuck toting unnecessary items on your journey, but you also don't want to under pack and end up stuck without your key essentials. And once you add kids to the mix, things get infinitely more complicated. That's why we hit up Pink Peonies blogger and bona fide jet-setter Rachel Parcell for her top tips for packing for trips with her two adorable kids. "I try to start packing for a trip about two weeks before we leave," Parcell says. "In the beginning I do a lot of planning and list-making, especially if we are bringing the kids!" Read on for the rest of her expert tips!
Watch: How to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids
1. Make a list of everything you’ll need
Add new items to the list as you think of them and be sure to include everything the kids and adults will need. Print the list and check off items as you add them to the suitcase. It’s smart to save the list to your desktop or email so you can easily use it for the next trip—just make changes as your kids grow, etc. Lists are the way to go!
2. Know your baggage limits
If you're flying, don’t start packing until you know the luggage weight, dimensions and restrictions. Baby formula and food as well as breast milk is usually allowed in reasonable quantities and most airlines do not charge for checked car seats and strollers.
3. Consolidate everything that truly matters into one bag (...and don’t let it out of your sight!)
This includes important paperwork such as passports, tickets and itineraries, as well as your wallet, phone, phone charger, medication, snacks, blankets and other items that kids can’t sleep without. If you have your family’s essentials all in one place and it’s easy to get to, you can quickly solve lots of travel issues.
4. Involve your kids in the packing process
If they’re old enough, let your kids help you pick out their outfits or pack their items away in their luggage. It builds their excitement and eases the anxiety that can come with leaving home! It’s also a good idea to let your kids have their own carry on with items they want and/or need. These Fawn Design Minis are the perfect size for kids!
5. Consider packing your own strollers and car seats
I almost always travel with my own stroller, because I know that my kids are already used to it and they can fall asleep if needed. It’s just better for all of us! Depending on where you’re headed and how long you’ll be there, you should consider doing the same.
6. Don’t forget snacks!!!
My toddler can get cranky if she doesn’t get her snacks. Be sure to pack snacks securely, so you don't end up with a huge mess on your hands. I like to use ziplock bags or snack carriers with dividers. Take a look at this blog post for a little more on the importance of snacks during a recent family trip at Disneyland.
7. If you don’t need it until your final destination, stow it away in your checked luggage
This may seem like a given, but this requires planning ahead so you know what you’ll need right away and what can wait.