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How To Pack for Kids for Vacation

Packing for vacation is hard work, and even more so when I’m packing for myself and my girls. We are getting ready to head out on our third cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines this week and I couldn’t be more excited.

With that said, I’m busy wrapping up loose ends around the house and entering ‘prep mode’ for vacation.


Make A List… And Check It Twice

I’m a list-maker. About a week before we leave home, I make a list of the essential clothes for each family member with each person getting their own list. The number of nights away from home, equals the number of outfits plus one extra – when traveling with little ones you’re always bound to need a spare change of clothes. I like to lay out one person’s things at a time. Once everyone’s clothes and necessities are laid out, they get checked off my list as they are put into the suitcase.


My 5 Must-Haves

Here’s a look at some of my ‘must have’ travel items:

1) Plastic grocery bags – We always end up with wet bathing suits, clothes or a souvenir that could use a little more protection in the suitcase.  And the good news – the bags don’t take up much space.

2) Zip-top plastic bags – I’m a big believer in taking snacks on the go and the sandwich-sized bags work great for us. If we visit the beach or pool, I put my phone, room key and money into a bag for safekeeping – I don’t want them wet!

3) Baby wipes – Even if you don’t have a baby, these wipes come in handy for quickly cleaning surfaces, washing hands when you’re in a pinch or even just using one as a cooling cloth.

4) Activity kits – Before each trip, I stop by the dollar section at the store and pick up a few activity kits. Just coming prepared with a mini-coloring book, a few crayons and stickers is a great way for the girls to spend time when they get restless or bored. It’s small, affordable and easy to pack too.

5) Dish soap – When my girls used bottles and sippy cups, I always traveled with a tiny bottle of dish soap. Each night, I’d spend a few minutes in the bathroom washing cups.


Take Your Own Bag

With my girls, I allow them to each have one small bag of their own. They can bring a few small toys, as long as they can fit into their bag and it is their responsibility to be in charge of it.

I usually end up putting their extra change of clothes in there too. They love being responsible and showing off their own mini-suitcases too.


Packing – It Does Get Easier

It took me a while to get in a rhythm of packing for my family, but surprisingly, it’s getting easier. I’ve found the more we travel, the easier it is to pack. I’m learning more and more about what we use and most importantly, what we don’t use too.

I’ll never forget on our first cruise a few years ago, I forgot to pack bibs. On our first night in the dining room, Molly ended up with ketchup and crumbs all over her new, cute dress. We tried to use an oversized napkin as a bib, but it just didn’t work well. It was a hard lesson to learn, but now I pack bibs for all trips.

The one item I’ve decided to no longer take with us on trips is my hairdryer. It takes up way too much space in the suitcase and typically most places provide them in the room. I miss not having my own, but using the one provided saves me more room in the suitcase for souvenirs.

What are your tips for packing for kids? Are there things that you can’t leave home without? Do you have a special way you like to pack the suitcase? Do you set guidelines for what toys they can or can’t bring along on the trip? I’d love to hear what works for you…

What are your packing tips? 


** This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own. **