How to Pack Light When Traveling With Kids

Mother and daughter having fun while packing for vacation.

By: Sally Norton

Have you ever wondered what the secret of those families that arrive at the airport with just a couple of carry-on bags and get seated in no time and without breaking a sweat is? Well, their secret lies in the fact that they know how to pack light when traveling with kids! They know that packing light leaves them hands-free, costs less, consumes less time and energy, etc. But how do they do it?

To pack light when traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a mission impossible. It just requires planning and preparation. And, it requires some tested tips and tricks. Don’t worry – we are full of those. Thus, today, let us share with you how to pack as light as possible when going on a vacay with your little ones.

Make a list of must-haves together

All vacations must start with making a good-old must-have list to avoid forgetting something essential. All those lists begin with the following:

  • Passport and documents
  • Plane (train, bus, etc.) tickets
  • First aid kit
  • Money (cash and credit cards)
  • Phones and chargers

Then, you have to write down all the things you and your family just can’t live without while on vacation. For instance, if you are going on one of those best cruises for kids, those can be things like bathing suits, flip flops, hats, glasses, beach toys, etc. 

If your children are old enough, it would be a good idea to include them in the process of making this list. Ask them what they would want to wear or what they would like to play with on this upcoming vacation. Trust us, if you ask them and if you honor their wishes, you will avoid many temper tantrums during your trip.

A girl playing while packing.

Always include your little ones in the process of packing for the trip.

Be realistic and strict

Once you have all your necessities ready, it is time to think about all the other things you have to bring. Those are things such as clothes, shoes, accessories, toys, etc. We all tend to overpack these things when traveling (both for our children and for us) as we think that we will need each and every piece. But, once we arrive at our destination, we end up wearing and using just one a third of those things.

To pack light when traveling with kids, you have to be realistic with yourself and strict with everybody else. So, when packing something either for yourself or for your little one, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you find it comfortable?
  • Is it appropriate for the place and the weather you are traveling to?
  • Can it be easily washed and dried?
  • Does my little one like to wear or play with it at home?

If the answer to all of these questions is a NO, well, you got your answer. Moreover, just like previously said, when traveling with your kids, let them participate in deciding what to pack. When you involve family in the packing process, everyone has a say about what they want and don’t want to bring on a vacation. For instance, you can ask them to choose a couple of outfits and just one toy. This will keep them occupied and happy, and most importantly, this will make them love using the things they have chosen.

Chose ‘clever’ items

Clever items are a must if you want to pack light when traveling with kids. For instance, those are items such as lightweight towels, double-sided swimwear, multifunctional shoes, etc. Moreover, instead of carrying different toys, books, and other entertainment options for your kids, just bring one tablet filled with games, e-books, coloring books, cartoons, animations, etc.

Try to replace the massive and heavy things in your luggage with lightweight ones. Find alternatives wherever possible!Do some more research on this topic – the internet is full of clever traveling items and tips for packing light.

A yellow backpack with stickers.

Clever items can save you a ton of space in your luggage.

Embrace laundry

Bringing a lot of items on vacation often means having to pay more – you need to pay for excess baggage on your plane, you have to rent a larger car, you have to book a bigger hotel room, etc. But, if you want to make your family travel accessible, this will simply not work. To save some money, you will have to pack light! Don’t worry; doing that has never been easier.

Nowadays, all hotels and Airbnbs have washing and drying machines. And, even if they don’t, there is undoubtedly a place where you can do laundry for cheap nearby. Doing that will be a lot less money-consuming than carrying excess stuff. Moreover, this can be especially helpful if your family vacation is more extended – just do your laundry once a week, and you will always have things to wear. Not to mention that your rental will always be clutter-free.

A woman doing laundry.

If you can do your laundry on vacation, you have no excuse to overpack.

Use packing cubes

One of the last but certainly not the least tips for packing light when traveling with kids is using packing cubes. If you ask us, packing cubes are an invention of this century. They help us save a ton of space in our luggage, keep everything organized, and help us find whatever we need in no time. So, buy yourself a couple of these before you go on your next great family vacation.

To make packing fun and productive, you can give each family member its own packing cube. Whatever they fit in there, that can go. What they can’t, it stays home. This will make everybody responsible when packing.

As you have seen, there are many tips and tricks for packing light when traveling with kids. We mentioned just a couple of them, but there are many more. So, do your research – you never know what trick will save you and your family’s upcoming packing. Moreover, start with researching and planning early. This is especially important if you are trying to pack light for the first time. Give yourself a couple of weeks to try different methods and see what will work best for your family.