Loretta Jane

When it comes to taking a vacation with your family, anticipation and dread both play a part. Children anticipate the fun they’ll have. Adults dread the packing. Packing, especially for a large family, is a burden fraught with questions over whether you will have the right stuff. However, it’s easy to forget that unless you are literally going on a pack-it-all-in type wilderness camping trip, you are probably not more than 20 miles from the nearest big box store. In other words, although it’s inconvenient to have forgotten a few things on a trip, it’s rarely a true disaster. Keeping that thought in mind, here are a few family packing tips.

Protect Your Valuables

If you have ever had a bottle of shampoo, shaving cream or perfume “explode” in your suitcase, then you know that bottles of liquid and gel take no prisoners. Always double bag your liquids and protect your valuables because fluids can seep into the smallest openings. If you’re bringing jewelry on the trip, don’t skimp on protecting your expensive pieces. Invest in a nice watch travel case and hard-cover jewelry box. Earring and watches stuffed into socks can still get scratched and or ruined by a bottle of nail polish with a loose top.

Double-Check Children’s Suitcases

Kids think it’s fun to pack themselves, but rarely are they any good at it. At best, every outfit will be embarrassingly mismatched. At worst, you child might pack six t-shirts and no shorts, only hiking socks or forget shoes. If your child insists on overseeing their wardrobe, give them gallon zip lock bags for the number of days you’ll be gone and let them put one complete outfit in each bag. You can visually check that they have remembered socks and underwear and surreptitiously rearrange the orange and purple combinations. Another option is to have your kids pack the night before and then check what they’ve done after they’ve gone to sleep. Kids are notorious about forgetting items under the bed or behind the door, so create a simple picture checklist that goes inside their suitcase so that they can check off when their shoes, toothbrush, iPad have made it back into their bag.

Hidden in Plain Sight

It’s easy to forget things in hotel rooms like socks and power cords because they blend in with the chaos. Unless your hotel room has been updated recently, sometimes the only outlets are in far flung corners of the room. Save yourself the hassle of leaving one more thing in the hotel by trying these simple tricks. Pull the bed covers up before you pack. Socks and underwear easily get lost on white sheets. (If you feel bad for the housekeeping staff, you can pull the covers back down on your way out.) Tie bright pom poms or ribbons to all personal power cords so they draw your attention when you’re scanning the room for forgotten items. If you bring your own pillows when you travel, always put them in the loudest, brightest pillowcases you have. If you need to, buy special travel pillowcases. It’s hard to misplace a tie-dyed pillow and easy to forget a white one.

Don’t Forget

Although it’s easy enough to run to the nearest store for a forgotten item if you’re already in the car, it’s a huge pain if you’re tucked in for the night. There are a few essentials you should have on hand. A first aid kit is important, and it needs to be stocked with antacid and anti-diarrheal medication. For some reason, nasty upset stomachs strike most often in the middle of the night. Throw in a few binder clips to the bottom of your suitcase too. Hotel curtains never close all the way and removing that sliver of light might be the difference between a decent and a terrible night’s sleep. And finally, pack ear plugs for the light sleepers. A sick child will shake you awake if you’re needed. A snoring husband might have you shaking with anger all night.

Packing well is a learned skill. Finding the perfect balance between too little and too much is an art.