Now that my kids are 6, 9 and 10 we’ve started taking more family trips. I want to soak up this time with them and remember all of it! (Well, most of it!) I’ve got my packing routine down pretty well. Today I’m sharing printables and a few items that make things so much easier! These are the things we use again and again.
I always start with my checklists. These days I use one for me and one for the kids. (I’ve used these for years, but I’ve redesigned/updated them for this post.) Marcello is more organized than I’ll ever be and does his own packing.
Here is my women’s pack list. I keep this printout in my closet and pull it out each trip to make sure I’ve covered everything, and sure enough there’s alway something I almost forgot. (This time I almost forgot underwear! Yeah.)
The last two trips I’ve essentially just packed this 7-piece black and white wardrobe capsule from Amazon and it’s worked great.
And here is my big kid pack list. I go through the list with each kid. I’ll link the lists I used when they were little below.
Oh I would love to buy two new matching suitcases, but ours work fine so I’ll just quickly showing you what I would buy if I could. OR check out TJ Maxx or Marshalls for some great deals. I love one that stands out just a little from the navy and black luggage pile.
To make things easier to find, I use these packing cubes. Each family member has their own color. It makes it easy to share suitcases and avoid the giant ball of mixed clothes my son creates when he’s digging in to look for his socks! Each set comes with a variety of sizes including shoe bag and dirty clothes bag, and they stack neatly.
I find using these easier than taking five different bags — even if we’re not flying. Typically my husband and I share a suitcase and the kids share one.
Another great way to use the cubes is to gather everyone’s clothing for an event. For example, for our last trip, we attended a wedding and I put all the kids dressy clothes in one cube so we didn’t have to dig though each cube for what we needed. You could also do this for pool day items and swim suits or gear.
I love this toiletry bag! I used to travel with 3 makeup bags — one for hair, one for face, one for makeup. But now I can hang this beauty up and see everything all at once. They have different prints to choose from.
Whether it’s to slide under the seat in front of me on a plane or keep in front of the car on a road trip, I love a travel bag that opens easily with lots of pockets! This one is versatile and lightweight, but holds SO much stuff.
I also like to keep my super cool fanny pack with my wallet, keys and normal “purse things” in it. Stop laughing. They’re cool again. And mine is water resistant AND has gold zippers. I can pull it out of my big bag for outings and adventures. Sometimes I’m fashionable and wear it cross-body. I know.
My husband uses this nice-looking Samsonite backpack with USB port for charging on the go. He even puts extra clothes in there in case something happens to the luggage … or maybe it’s because I hog the suitcase.
My kids can carry their own stuff now [insert party dance]! They have handy folding backpacks similar to these for all our travels. We’ve used them for years. They’re nice because they don’t take up any room when we store them when we’re not traveling or when we get to our destination. I have these designated for travel so we don’t have to empty school backpacks.
I color code all their stuff, so everything is always pink, blue and green! This includes their packing cubes, back packs and tablet covers. I don’t know what we’ll do if someone changes their favorite color, haha!
I used to pack all kinds of things to keep my kids busy. You can find my toddler plane list here. But now all they really need are a few things:
- Water bottle
My kids each have an Amazon Fire Tablet. They are normally $90, but I got them on sale I think during Prime Day for around $50. I like them because they are affordable and when they are in kid mode I can control how long they play, when they play and exactly what they have access to. You can even download the parent dashboard to your phone or access it on your computer.
One thing I don’t like about it is if your child wants to subscribe to an app (like a monthly fee), it won’t work in kid mode. It has to be in adult mode.
I bought them kid proof cases similar to these in their assigned colors to protect them and also to keep track of whose is whose.
My kids favorite game apps
These are the most popular games at our house. They are all free with the exception of Minecraft, which has a one-time fee of $6.
- Sonic Forces
- Soccer League Championships
- Crossy Road
- Stickman Hero
- My Baby Unicorn
- My Little Pony Rainbow Runners
- Superbook Kids Bible
- PBS KIDS Games (needs internet)
- PBS KIDS Video (needs internet)
Don’t forget the headphones so you (or other passengers) don’t have to listen to the game music on repeat on repeat on repeat. These are nice because they have a microphone if they need to use them for online learning. (If you know, you know. The microphone struggle is real.)
If your child’s device has a headphone jack, get a couple sets of headphone splitters. They’re only a few dollars and you can watch with your child on the plane or kids can watch together!
Make sure you download everything before you leave. Some apps can be accessed only with internet, so turn it on airplane mode to see what your child will be able to access during travel. I learned this the hard way. Tears were had.
I put a whole pile of snacks in their lunch boxes to keep them busy and full. I make sure nothing needs to be refrigerated. I tell them once we are in route they can eat whatever they want, when they want, but when it’s gone there’s nothing else.
TIP: I use half the snacks one the way to our destination and pack the other half in our suitcase to replenish the lunch boxes on the way back home.
- Good & Gather 4-ingredient bars (cooke dough is our fave!)
- Raisin boxes
- Mixed nuts
- Fruit strips
- Pirate Booty
- Gum (sweet mint isn’t as “minty” as the others for kids)
- Fruit: apples, oranges, grapes
TIP: I pack an empty water bottle for each person so we can refill it once we are through security at the airport. Because buying water bottles for five people at the airport is pricey.
I think that’s everything. Now I just need to quit procrastinating and put it all away! We got home Sunday and it’s still sitting there.