10 Tips to Make Packing a Suitcase for Kids Easy
With the holidays coming up, if you’re like our family, you are preparing for some upcoming trips. Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, I recommend packing a suitcase for kids for three reasons. A dedicated kids’ suitcase gives your child(ren):
- Ownership and pride of their belongings on this trip. Since it’s their bag, they may be more inclined to help you pack, carry it independently, and make sure it’s packed in the car. The kids’ suitcase gives them a job of ownership, if you want to give it to them
- A space to be organized. Kids’ stuff belongs in the kids’ suitcase, not yours. You don’t have to rummage through a bunch of different bags to find each person’s clothing for the day. Kids aren’t digging through your bag to find your space. So, it gives you a bit more privacy, which I always welcome during this season of life.
- A limitation on what can be brought. It’s easy for kids, and parents, to keep putting kid-related items into luggage. Once your suitcase is full – stop. Rearrange items or re-evaluate what is being packed.
Packing a suitcase for kids can be a bit challenging, but with some careful planning and organization, you can make the process smoother and ensure they have everything they need for their trip.
Here are some tips for packing a suitcase for kids:
Make a Packing List
Start by creating a packing list specific to your child’s needs. Consider the length of the trip, the weather, and any special activities or events planned. Include essentials like clothing, toiletries, and any comfort items they can’t sleep without. Don’t forget to add accessories for electronics and appropriate shoes, two things I’ve forgotten in the past.
If you have laundry available at your destination, you can pack lighter, with the intention of doing a couple of loads of laundry to rewear items. When we don’t have laundry available, I plan for two outfits per day per kid, plus one extra outfit every three days. So, for one week of travel, I will plan for 16 outfits per kid. I take into consideration the weather and stage of childhood, too. Our three-year-old will typically need more outfits than our six-year-old. So, I may skip the extra outfit for our older kiddo if space is tight.
Choose the Right Suitcase
This will vary whether you are packing for one kid per suitcase or multiple kids per suitcase. Recently, I’ve been packing my own items in a rolling carry-on and putting the boys’ belongings in a larger rolling suitcase. It’s an easy way for me to keep my items separated in smaller bag, but still have enough space for their items in a larger bag.
If you plan on having your kiddo pull their own luggage, opt for a suitcase that is appropriately sized for your child. Rolling suitcases with fun designs can make kids more excited about packing and traveling.
Check the Weather
Check the weather forecast for your destination before packing to ensure you’re prepared for any weather conditions. I always throw in a couple of extra items for cooler weather. My boys tend to get cold easily, so a warm jacket is always on our packing list.
Depending on where you are headed and what time of year, be prepared for rain, heat, or snow. As it can be difficult
Pack by Outfit
As I said earlier, I choose the kids’ clothing by outfits. I do this for two reasons, one, it helps my kids independently pick out their clothing on vacation. And two, it keeps me from overpacking. If you want to be super organized, pack your child’s clothing by outfit, placing each outfit in a separate resealable zippered bag. This makes it easy for your child to grab an entire outfit without rummaging through their suitcase.
I love using packing cubes to keep things organized. I will often stack outfits on top of each other and then place them all in a packing cube. So, the outfits are together but not separated by bags. Pajamas are in another packing cube. Underwear + socks are in another packing cube.
Pack Extra Clothes
Kids are prone to spills and accidents, so it’s wise to pack a few extra outfits, especially underwear and socks. Include a lightweight sweater or jacket in case of cooler weather. Like I said above, I usually pack one extra outfit for every three days we are gone, on top of the one to two outfits I pack for normal usage. When traveling with toddlers, you can never have too many pairs of underwear or socks.
My brother-in-law was in the military and he taught me how to efficiently pack a suitcase. His number one tip was to roll clothes instead of folding to save space and minimize wrinkles. This technique is especially useful for packing items like t-shirts and pajamas. To keep outfits together, I will roll the bottom and top together. Sometimes, I will wrap them with a rubber band to keep them together.
Toiletries and Medications
Pack travel-sized toiletries in a toiletry bag. Don’t forget items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and any medications your child may need. Make sure to comply with airport security regulations for liquids and gels. I have one kiddo with extra dry skin, so I purchased an extra bottle of cream to pack when we travel. Remember vitamins and supplements if your child takes any. I put these in this pill organizer so I bring just what we need, and they stay organized and locked up.
Depending on the mode of travel and the child’s age, pack entertainment items such as coloring books, crayons, a tablet with headphones, or a favorite stuffed animal or toy. Here’s a list of favorite toys based on age group, that I’ve found our kids gravitated towards
0-1: wubba nub, flap books, crinkle toys
2-4: coloring books, window clings, WOW water books, squigs, stickers, easy-tear tape, post-it notes, magnets, reusable stickers, books
4-6: ipad games + shows, lcd writing tablets, books
I pack most entertainment items in a small rolling bag that the boys are able to wheel through the airport independently. I will occasionally pack their suitcase with extra items needed for entertainment while on vacation or for the trip home.
Snacks and Drinks
Bring a small selection of healthy snacks and a reusable water bottle. This can be especially helpful during long car rides or flights. I also like to have some snacks on hand during our vacation in case someone gets hungry at an inopportune time and we can’t get a meal or snack at a nearby restaurant or store.
If your child has a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or bedtime storybook, be sure to pack these comfort items to help them feel more at ease in a new environment. While my kiddos have never had specific comfort items, they’ve always asked to pack something special to them at the time. I find this especially helpful if they will have a babysitter or visit with friends and family. New environments and new people can often make them nervous.
Label your child’s suitcase and other belongings with their name and contact information. This can be useful in case items are lost or misplaced. We ordered some fun Mickey Mouse luggage tags when we were headed on a Disney Cruise. Now the boys request these tags for every trip we take. Label luggage, reusable water bottles, electronics, and other important items that unfortunately could get lost.
Involve Your Child
Depending on their age, involve your child in the packing process. Let them choose a few of their favorite items to bring and encourage them to pack their own backpack with some entertainment and snacks. I’ve let my boys help out as much as they’d like. Sometimes they are all hands on deck and pick out all of their outfits. Other times, they just double check that I’ve downloaded the latest version of “Stinky + Dirty” on Amazon Prime, lol.
Ensure you have all necessary travel documents for your child, including identification, passports, visas (if required), and any required medical documentation. If you are traveling solo with kiddos, I recommend having a letter from the other parent giving permission to travel without them. I’ve never needed it, but I never know what sort of situation I may find myself in while traveling.
First Aid Kit
Pack a small first aid kit with items like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any specific medications your child may need. I like to keep extra band-aids on hand because someone is bound to get a cut or scrape that requires a band-aid to make it feel better.
By following these tips and customizing your packing strategy to your child’s specific needs and preferences, you can help make the packing process smoother and ensure your child has a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Packing a suitcase for kids can be a manageable and organized task by using these tips. Do you have a favorite tip you like to use when packing for your kiddos? Share in the comments below.