It’s the most wonderful time of the year – spring break! Whether you’re going to grandma’s house or to a tropical beach, the first step to a successful vacation with kids is packing right. Travel expert Melissa Klurman can get you from overstuffed diaper bags to sleek and chic suitcases in just 5 simple steps.Then it's Buon Viaggio as our friends in Italy say! 1. Make a List, Check it twice: Stop! Before you even think about putting something in your suitcase, make a list for each member of your family. Then pile all the items on your pad outside your suitcase before you pack. Then edit out as many items as you can out (bring stain remover sticks and Woolite single packs to stretch wardrobe options.) Your goal is a lean, light suitcase. Remember: No one ever came back from a trip with kids saying “I wish my bags had been heavier and I had to carry more.”
2. Do you homework: Check out the weather in your destination on an app such as WeatherBug and pack for the climate without bringing “just in case” clothes. Consult the hotel’s website, or give them a call, to determine if they have supplies you can leave at home. Many hotels stock everything from baby proofing kits to booster seats.
2. Switch It Up – When it’s time to pack, don’t think "one suitecase-one person." Intead, divide everyone's clothes over multiple bags. You should have some of your kid’s or spouse’s pieces in your bag, and vice versa; covering you in the (hopefully rare) case that one of your bags goes missing or is left at home (trust me, it happens).
3. Plastic Rocks! – If you remember only one word about vacation packing with kids, make it PLASTIC. Put suntan lotion, shampoo, or anything that might leak in Ziploc bags for checked luggage. Tuck a few more into your suitcase for wet bathing suits, sandy shoes, or dirty bibs. Plastic zip bags for snacks on the go turn into drip-free garbage bags when you’re done eating. And if you’re packing for a dressy occasion, pack outfits in individual plastic dry cleaner bags and then place in a garment bag – the plastic layers keep clothes wrinkle free.
4. Roll, Roll, Roll – To save space when you’re packing, skip the “square” fold and roll instead. Lay shirts flat, fold arms in and across each other, fold in half length-wise, then roll from top to bottom. Tuck rolled items up against each other to create rows of rolls. In the corners, place shoes which should be filled with rolled socks.
5. Mesh to the rescue – Mesh laundry bags, usually sold for laundering your delicates, are travel lifesavers for families. For babies and tots, place easily visible, whole outfits into the transparent bag, then tuck the dirty clothes back inside when you’re done with them for easy drop and wash when you get back home. For you, place bathing suits and lingerie for easy snag free packing and washing. Added bonus: if you’re flying with carry-on luggage and your bag gets inspected, you can skip the whole strangers-holding-up-your-unmentionables part of the inspection since the contents are partially visible.
Melissa Klurman is an award-winning travel writer and editor who has professionally demonstrated how to pack suitcases on CBS, FOX, and NBC programs – she still, however, has trouble deciding which shoes to bring on vacation.