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Family Sojourning 

Simple packing tips for stress-free travel

You’ve been looking forward to that summer family vacation for months now and, finally , the date is just around the corner. Ah...what to bring? If you notice a panicky feeling arising just at the mention of suitcases and carry-ons, then you are not alone. Packing light is the way to go, but how do you balance minimalism with preparedness? W e’ve got some stellar tips for what to bring, what not to bring and how to make it all fit.

click to enlarge Child's suitcase courtesy of Wild Child/Clothing by Tate and Adele - NATALIE STEPHENSON
  • Natalie Stephenson
  • Child's suitcase courtesy of Wild Child/Clothing by Tate and Adele

Find the Right Bags

Whether you’ll be checking bags at the airport or sticking to carry-ons, finding the appropriate size bag for everyone in your family is key.

Make sure the luggage rolls easily and is not too heavy. Do the zippers work and are they easy for kids to manage? These days you’ll be amazed at the feather-weight options available. Choose small rolling cases for children; they’ll have fun cruising through the airport with their very own luggage!

For carry-ons, backpacks are the answer for Mom and Dad, as they are easily slung out of the way when carrying a child. Find a mini backpack for each kid where they can store their snacks and toys for the journey. This has the added bonus of limiting their playthings (if it won’t fit, it’s not coming).

Make a List and Follow it!

Figure out how many days you’ll be away and start planning each child’ s outfits. Write out a list by family member and then by day. Realize that some items may be worn more than once and things like a light jacket may be worn every day. If you have access to laundry facilities, pack less and plan to wash everything mid-vacation.

Make use of color-coded packing cubes (each child gets their own) or substitute plastic shopping bags for an economical alternative. Packing full outfits per cube allows children to grab one and start dressing themselves, instead of rummaging through the entire case.

When packing, get the little ones involved. Who doesn’t love putting stuff in the suitcase?

The Clothing Plan

Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. Layering is the best approach. Leave bulky, thick items behind and opt for lighter more versatile pieces that can be layered to create warmth. Clothing like quick dry tops and zip-off pants are worth every penny since they can be used for a variety of conditions and changing temperatures. Avoid jeans and sweaters which can take too long to dry in the event of a quick wash in the bathroom. Allow only two pairs of shoes per family member. Go with a pair of comfortable sandals and close-toed shoes (sneakers). Sandals can be dressed up or down, and really, who’s looking at your feet?

Don’t forget to bring one of each of the following:

• Swimsuit
• Hat
• Pajamas
• Wind/rain jacket (waterproof and lightweight is best)
• Sunglasses

What Else?

• Underwear and socks: they don’t occupy a lot of space, so bring whatever you need
• Toiletries: buy the small travel sizes for everything
• Small first aid kit: tweezers, bandaids, antibiotic cream, acetaminophen and antacids
• Diapers: bring just a few days- worth and plan to buy more mid-vacation
• Powdered laundry detergent in a Ziploc bag: perfect for a quick wash in a hotel sink
• Tech organizer: avoid a stringy tangled mess of chargers and earpods
• Cash: don’t leave home without a little bit, in case your card is damaged or stolen

Last Thoughts

Packing light not only relieves the stress of searching through heaps of stuff to find that one item, but also reminds us to explore what’s uniquely on offer while we’re away from home. Don’t worry: unless you’re on a remote jungle expedition, you should be able to find and purchase most anything you forgot. When in doubt, throw it out!

About The Author

Angela Switzer

One of the original members of the Source team, Angela remembers the days of ringing fax machines and crying babies when the newspaper operated out of her home. She loves all things outdoors, especially mountain biking with hubby, trail running and cooking gourmet meals, while camping in her beloved Eurovan. Her...
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