I love travelling. I hate packing. It’s one of my worst parenting jobs. I don’t know why, but it fills me with a sort of fluttery feeling in my tummy. That kind of “I really don’t want to do it!” feeling. But as I’m always saying to the children, there are certain things that we don’t want to do, but we have to do them anyway. Packing, with or without kids, is one of them.
Even though I really hate packing, I have mastered the art of packing lightly, even with kids in toe. You know those photos you see of fifty large suitcases each? Packed everything including the kitchen sink? Not me! I famously went on holiday for a week with two young children, one in fabric diapers, just carrying hand luggage. Two small suit cases. That was it.
How do you do I do it? How do I pack lightly even though I have 4 children?
I’ll let you into my secrets…
How do you Pack Lightly When Travelling With Kids?
- Wash clothes whilst you are away. I figure, that clothes need to be washed, so I can do a load a day, or save it up and do 6 in one day. It works out the same in the end. I’ll take the load a day. I’m so used to it, it doesn’t make much odds. (Even though I am the laziest mom when it comes to laundry.) This way, you can just pack a couple of days of clothes for each person and that’s it.
- Do you really need it? Can you live without it? You have to be hard-nosed here. I once asked the children what they wanted to take camping. The replied, the television, the beds and the house. Clearly they haven’t quite got the hang of “can you live without it?”!
- Think volume. A dress and tights, is less volume than jeans and a jersey. Think about which clothes you and your kids wear frequently that take up the least amount of space.
- Wear stuff that is big and bulky. Really can’t live without your jeans or those gorgeous boots? Wear them on the journey. That way they don’t take up luggage space.
- Stick to what you know. Don’t go inventing new outfits. You just bought your daughter the cutest new skirt but you’re not sure what it will look good with? So you shove in 3 extra tops. Either give it a test run before you go or leave it until you come back. Those extra tops take up valuable space.
- Toiletries. Decant the toiletries that you are going to take. Put them in smaller bottles. They take up less room and you’ll have to think about what you actually need.
- Put a limit on it. The kids want to take 5 teddies each, 3 bags of toys, 5 books and a kite. Give them a limit. Perhaps a small bag each that they can fill. Or one teddy and a book.
- Make a list. I hate lists but they can be useful. As a “not list person” I tend to use a scrap of paper and scribble out what we need…3 pairs of pants, PJs etc, etc. If it’s not on the list, have a think about if you can live without it. If you are a list-sort-of-person, you should definitely make a list!
Here are a couple of tips for getting through the agony of actually packing.
Take a basket and go to each cupboard or wardrobe that you need to pack for. Take out 2 days worth of clothes (or refer to your list if you’ve bothered to make one), put them in the basket. When you have everyones things, fold them (or scrunch them if you prefer) neatly in the suitcase.
Remember bathroom products, toys, books, computers AND documents if you need them.
Do it bit by bit if you find it as agonising as me. I’ll do the basket stuff at bath time the night before. Then putting them in a suitcase is really easy.
That leaves me the next day to do all the other bit and pieces such as pack a pic nic lunch and actually start to get excited about going away. Travelling is fun, even if the packing bit is not.
Get your partner to pack! Show them this amazing article on how to pack lightly with kids and then find something really pressing to do on the internet. Or go and paint your nails.
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