How to pack light for a trip with children

As a proclaimed over-packer, I’m always researching tips. On our last four day getaway to visit family in the south, I had to combine mine and my daughters’ clothes into one suitcase. It seemed like a difficult task, but it turns out it’s not impossible to pack lightly.

Here are some tips on “How to Pack Light for a Trip with Kids.”

5 packing light tips ■Make a packing list a few days before the trip. I always allow myself time to add or cross off items. Stick to your list!■Find out if there is a washer/dryer where you are going – if there is an opportunity to wash my clothes I always pack less. If there isn’t a washer/dryer, you can hand-wash swimsuits, underwear, socks and small items.■Lay out the clothing you are going to pack in organized piles. I pack one full outfit per day, pajamas for every other night, and a back-up outfit for messes.■Remember denim can be worn 2-3 times on a trip (shorts or pants) and sweatshirts/sweaters are worn as much as needed. Swimsuits are hand-washed in the sink and air dried, so I only pack one for every other day.■I always use PACKING CUBES, especially for my daughters’ clothes. Each cube is organized by outfits, undergarments and pajamas, then swimwear and/or layering pieces. Don’t have packing cubes? Extra large Ziploc bags work just as well!5 more easy tips■Travel Outfit – I incorporate layering pieces in our travel outfit to save space in our suitcase. A jean jacket, sweatshirt, or cardigan comes in handy when it’s chilly in the car or on the plane too!■Pack MUST HAVES not JUST IN CASES. I’ve learned over the years that I can purchase any emergency items (umbrella, sweatshirt, etc) if needed and reuse them at home. I like to collect souvenir sweatshirts.■If we are traveling to a cold place, I pack multiple light layers instead of bulky sweaters/jackets.■Pack multifunctional items – for example, a solid black maxi dress can be worn multiple ways. Choose 1-2 pairs of shoes that go with your outfits.■Weigh your suitcase at home. If you can’t do this, make sure there is space in your carry on for extra items. There is nothing worse than discovering your bag is overweight and having nowhere to put heavier items.Toiletry packing list

One of the lists I rarely deviate from is my toiletry packing list. Even though some hotels provide toiletries, I always bring the same products for me and my family's sensitive skin! Here is a toiletry packing list for a family with kids:

■Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss.■Hairbrush and hair ties - hair spray and curling wand.■ Travel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, body lotion and face wash.■First Aid: band-aids, children's Motrin, adult Tylenol, allergy medicine.■Skincare products (I have smaller versions of my favorite under eye cream, serum and moisturizer).■Sunscreen, after sun aloe, travel size baby powder (if going to the beach).■Shaving supplies/contact Solution.■Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.

When I first started traveling with my kids I would always wind up spending a lot of money at the local grocery store or gift shop for a forgotten item. Now I keep a toiletry bag packed with essentials and add in the specialty items before we leave.

Caitlin Houston is a Wallingford blogger and mom of three who loves sharing all of her favorites on the Caitlin Houston Blog. Learn about fun activities at home, family friendly travels, easy recipes and more.


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