Postcards & Passports

How to Be Organized When Traveling with Children

This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019

Is it possible to be organized when you travel with children? Yes, but it will take some planning on your part.

Just imagine that perfect family vacation photo…

Behind the scenes, every family travel photo is a potential organizational nightmare. Not only do you have to coordinate what everyone is wearing, but you may have to juggle outfits at the last minute. (Do they look amazing, or will you have to change your kid’s stained clothes?) Do you have a backup plan in case the weather turns bad? (Colored umbrellas make cute vacation props!) What if the youngest is cranky because she didn’t get a nap? (Did you bring her favorite toy?)

For a great trip, packing and planning has to start long before the departure date. You know your family best. Use these tips along with what you already know and arm youself by being completely organized!

Use a Checklist to be Organized

Having a checklist to refer to when packing can help avoid leaving the essentials behind, both when going on the trip and returning. You can organize your packing list however you want. For instance, you can use a separate file for each kid. Or the list can be a master list of everyone’s things.

Start by packing items that can be packed a week early and end the list with those that need to be packed at the last minute. The more detailed your checking list is, the easier it will be to pick out the right items. You can include information such as where an item will be stored. On departure day, you can cross off things on the checklist as part of your morning routine to keep everything in order.

Organized Clothes  

It can be tiresome to have to sort out your kid’s clothes each day of the trip. With ziploc bags, you can organize each day’s clothes in their bags. This way, you can pack the clothes to be worn on a specific day using a single container. Label the bags according to the day that the clothes need to be used.

Additionally, use packing cubes to separate your children’s clothes. This strategy will make it easier to avoid mixing up the clothes. While the best option would be to have each kid use their own suitcase, using packing cubes can be ideal when that option isn’t feasible. You can even use packing cubes of a different color for each child.

Be sure to pack extra clothes so you’re prepared for accidents — dirty clothes or spilled food, for example. It might also be wise to pack multiple outfits that coordinate with each other. That way, when clothing changes are necessary, outfits will still match.

Bring Familiar Items From Home

For an adult, going on a vacation might trigger the desire to buy new clothing, a new book to read, and new accessories (sunglesses, sunhat, etc.) But children are generally more comfortable with items they are familiar with. It’s okay to buy a few new activities…or even a new swimsuit, but remember to pack a few favorites from home, too. Especially a favorite outfit or stuffed animal your child finds comfort in.

Organized Bags

Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to look for an item in a haystack of toiletries.  Disorganization can eat into your family’s time, and easily result in a mess. Imagine if you had leaking shampoo or toothpaste with a loose lid, getting all over your clothes! Be sure to keep small items and toiletries in separate ziploc-style bags

For instance, you can use a hanging bag with clear plastic pouches, to store your toiletries. This will double as an easy way to hang the toiletries in the bathroom during your trip, and it’s easy to find what you need. You should also have a separate bag for electronics such as phone and laptop chargers. Arrange the chargers in a way so that you won’t have to untie any accidental knots.

Keep Credit Cards and Passports Close

All credit cards, passports, and debit cards should be within easy reach. You don’t want to be searching through your bags to make a payment or show your passport. Plus, having these essential cards and documents in a single place eliminates the chance of accidentally leaving one at home. A passport wallet  or small cross-body purse is great for storing items you need quick access to.   

Leaving an Organized House

This is not a tip for your trip, but it can be a pivotal part of your experience. It ensures that you can have a good night’s rest when you return home. After the kids are out of the house and waiting in the car, take a few minutes to tidy things up. Place all the toys and laundry in their place.

Check that all windows are closed, faucets turned completely off, and doors locked. Garbage cans should be emptied, and the heater and hot water tanks set to “vacation mode.” This ten-minute routine can prevent surprises once you get back home. At the very least, create a checklist of everything that needs to be done before leaving the house.

Be Organized But Flexible

Have a plan for each day of your vacation, but leave some time for flexibility as well. Pay attention to how your children are dealing with the schedule, level of activity, and need for food and naps. If they are growing weary of structured time, perhaps an impromptu visit to a local playground might solve everything!  If everyone finds themselves too tired to keep going, better to return to the hotel for a pick-me-up nap than to keep pushing through an itinerary. And an unplanned stop for gelato is always welcome!

A Memorable Time with Your Family

Being organized from the onset of the trip makes experience stress-free. You can cherish each moment without having to worry about the nitty-gritty details of the trip. Use these tips to have nothing short of a memorable time with your family.

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