Sarah Lyons, contributing writer



Family vacations are a great way to enjoy time away from the daily routine and create lasting memories. But if you are anything like me, packing for a family trip can be overwhelming, especially if you have multiple kids to pack for. As a mom of six, I’ve learned the hard way how to make our vacation packing more efficient.

Start by making a master list. If you don’t have a list, you are bound to forget things. I have a list on my computer that I can copy, paste, edit, and print each time we are going out of town. I have additional lists for the type of trip. For example, we would need to bring different items if we are camping versus staying in a hotel. If you edit this list after each trip, it will become perfectly tuned to your family.

Once you have a list, begin to delegate. My older kids receive a copy of their list and are told to pack their own bag.

“Everyone gets a master checklist of items for the trip. Together, we go over the bag they packed to make sure they have everything.” Jenny McKeever, mother of two, said. “This gives kids choices selecting items along with becoming responsible for packing, with just a little guidance from you.” This system helps reduce the amount of packing the parent has to do because it leaves them in charge of packing themselves, rather than one person packing things for the whole family.

For the most efficient packing, items can be packed by outfit. One option is to place a shirt, pants, underwear, and socks together and place them in a zip-top bag and seal. When you arrive at your destination, kids can grab a bag for the day. Dirty clothes can be placed back into the bag after use.

“I am a roller,” Holly Searles, mother of four, said. “I take an outfit, pants, shirt, underwear, and socks and then tightly roll them together. I often use a hair tie to secure the girls’ outfits.”

Whether you decide to roll or use the zip-top bag method, remember to place the outfits needed first on the top of the suitcase.

Another way to make packing more efficient is to bring less. Make sure you only bring what you absolutely need, or you may find that the family vehicle is bursting at the seams.

“I do not bring a lot of stuff for the car ride,” Sarah Imbierowiz, mother of seven, said. “My kids do very well with a small toy, coloring book, small activity book, reading book, and the DVD player going.”

Remember that most items that are forgotten can be bought, borrowed, or gone without for a short time while you enjoy your vacation. The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead. If you have a complete list and you start working on packing well in advance, it should go smoothly, and you will be able to enjoy your vacation without dreading the packing that goes along with it.