One of my all-time favorite activities is packing. I get a lot of anxiety surrounding travel, especially now that I have kids, but packing honestly helps me to fight it. Making lists and putting each item in its place really soothes a lot of my panicking.
Packing to come stay with my parents presented a unique challenge because at the same time, I needed to pack for us all the go to California. And in case you didn’t know, York and San Francisco are very different!
Fortunately, I have packed for these kids so much that over time, I’ve developed a pretty good system for getting the most out of my luggage space, having what they need, and simplifying the whole process. Here are my TCK tips for packing for kids:
Lists are the best way to ensure against forgetting something important. First, I make a list for each member of our family and write what I can remember off the top of my head. Then I’ll go into Jack and Ella’s rooms and look around to see what I missed. And finally, I make a list of things that can’t be packed until the day we leave. Every time I’ve forgotten something, it’s almost always the baby monitor because it can’t be packed until the very end. These lists are also invaluable because every time you travel, you can always refer back to them.
Now that I’m getting ready for the California leg of our summer, I’m having to pare down what I brought to Pennsylvania into one bag for the three of us. So I really don’t want to waste any space on things we won’t end up needing. So around the house, I’ve been paying special attention to what the kids are using. I’ve been bringing different toy and activity combinations to see which ones they like and that hold their attention (auditioning toys, another unexpected joy of motherhood). Especially at their young ages, they can be pretty inconsistent. The toys Jack was into when we started the summer are definitely not the same ones he’s into now. You can do this with clothes too, see which outfits are too fussy or your kid complains when he/she wears them.
Alright, this is definitely my most curated tip and it might seem ridiculous, but it actually simplifies things a lot. Ella already wears a lot of pink and blue, so I stuck with that color palette when packing for the summer. I do this because everything can easily mix and match and you get more outfits out of fewer pieces of clothing. And the color palette ends up dictating which shoes and accessories (headbands, etc.) to bring so there’s literally no decision making or brain power required.
A great way to save space is to have items that can be used multiple ways. For example, I love Ella’s Keds because they double as church and play shoes. Casual dresses are great because she can wear them to church but also to the park or just around the house and it’s not a big deal.
Since this was a summer trip, I had to prepare for summer activities. Swimming, playing outside, Fourth of July, etc. For winter trips, I always pack a Christmas church outfits, boots, tights, etc. You can’t just pack for where you’re going, you have to pack for what you’re doing. We didn’t have a lot of concrete plans going into this so I had to pack for what we were likely to do.
If there’s a sickness or injury on a trip, you can normally just buy a few things to address it and it doesn’t make sense to pack an entire hospital into your luggage. But the few things I like to take with me on every trip are a thermometer, cold medicine, and Aquaphor.
One Extra Rule
I have a “one extra” rule for myself and I always bring one more than I think I’ll need of everything. I know, this sounds like it’s overpacking but the tips up to this point should already have saved you some extra room. It’s always good to be prepared and with kids especially, if you bring too few clothing items you will be doing a lot of laundry. Trust me on this one.
Packing for this extended trip was a little daunting, even for someone who likes packing as much as I do. But all of these ideas really helped me make it all manageable. Hopefully they can help you too for your next big trip!