I hate packing. I am a Professional Organizer. I have a packing list. I get excited when The Container Store has their travel sale. I help clients pack. But I still hate packing. I am not sure how something that should take an hour or two stretches itself out and takes me an entire day to do. My husband packs in 7 minutes. Then I realized what it was. Kids.
Now I have to pack for 3 people at very different stages of life and it can be overwhelming. How many snacks would we go through if we got stranded on the runway for 4 hours again? Is the tablet fully charged? Are the liquids and computer easy to pull from our carry-ons? How light can we travel to avoid paying baggage fees? Should we buy diapers and wipes on the other end to avoid packing them?
Here are 4 things that can be very helpful for packing with kids.
1. Ziploc Bags rule. Not just the quart size to put your carry-on liquids in, but all sizes. Anything that might leak or could break- stick it in a Ziploc. I even double Ziploc the baby bottles and sippy cups. Changing altitudes can leave you with leaking containers so wrap them in a paper towel to help even more. I carry a few extras at all times because they always come in handy, from dividing up snacks to sealing up a dirty diaper.
2. Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes are great to pack several people in one bag. I know that all my clothes are in the black ones, the baby’s are the flower ones, and the toddler has purple ones. That makes it easy to find each person’s clothes at our destination without tearing apart the whole suitcase.
3. Label some things with a Sharpie and blue painter’s tape. When it is time to re-pack and return home, it is easy to match things back up. Any empty cases or bubble wrap would tell me what needed to go in them with easy to see blue tape. I didn’t think it was necessary to label things until I forgot the night light plugged in at the hotel. Next trip, I labeled a small bubble wrap baggie “night light” and won’t forget it again. Use the same bags and labels every time you pack for things like phone chargers, baby monitor, etc.
4. Let spouses and kids pack and then adjust. After my husband takes his 7 minutes to pack, I make some adjustments. There are 3 levels of luggage. First are the carry-on items that you need handy and will be under the seat like snacks and things to occupy your kids. Then it is the extra electronics, baby Bjorn and back-up clothes and diapers that might be in the overhead bin in case you do need them. Last there are the clothes and items that can be checked- hopefully for free. Once you know what your spouse and kids want to bring, you can adjust them to be in the proper bags based on when they will be needed.
After all effort of packing, there is some sense of accomplishment when you realize that the extra planning and effort paid off. I do love to unpack though. I don’t care how long the travel day has been. When I get home, I can unpack those suitcases, put them back in the garage and have laundry going in 10 minutes. Hopefully one day I will actually like packing too- but I doubt it!