For many people, family vacations are something they look forward to all year long. We work hard in our jobs to have money that provides a safe and happy home, to feed our children the healthiest possible foods, and give them more than we had. Vacations are not only one of the best ways to make lasting, lifelong memories with your children; they also boost the physical and mental health of the entire family. When your kids are older, they likely won’t remember all the toys you bought them, but they will remember the experiences you shared. For this reason, more families than ever are adopting a more intentional and minimalist lifestyle. If you’ve got a vacation on the books and are looking to make packing less stressful than it needs to be, keep reading for some tips that will streamline and simplify your luggage.
Start With a List
As a parent, you’re likely used to juggling calendars, shopping lists, and post-it notes like a pro. Packing for a family vacation is no different than the other aspects of life you juggle. By starting with a list, you can pare it down to what you deem essential for your kids and leave the rest behind. Needs will differ between families and their lifestyles; of course, for example, a family with a baby may need a white noise machine while bigger kids don’t. Teens may need sports equipment while toddlers don’t. A packing list keeps things neat and organized.
Shoes are easily the items that take up the most space in your suitcase, so being intentional with which shoes you bring is essential. While it’s tempting to bring along a pair to perfectly match each outfit, the truth is, on vacation, most people just want to be comfortable. Appropriate walking shoes for exploring new cities or flip-flops for the beach are all most people need. Ideally, you’ll have just one or two pairs per family member in your luggage.
Layering is Key
Temperatures fluctuate not only between your hometown and your destination but on planes, in museums and hotels, and more. Making sure you have light layers that easily fold down to small piles is the smartest way to keep you and your kiddos comfortable on vacation. Windbreakers, baby sweaters, and scarves all fulfill this need perfectly. It’s hard to enjoy sightseeing or fall asleep on a train when you’re too cold, or your outfit doesn’t match the weather. Layers easily fit inside most day bags, or your children can wear them around their waists, and they can be a game changer as far as enjoying the day and getting the most out of it.
Save Souvenirs for Last
Kids naturally love bright and shiny things, and some adults struggle with impulse shopping too. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying your children little mementos they beg for, it’s best to keep a mental inventory of the things they ask for – some parents take photos on their smartphones – and save the shopping for your last day. It’s easy to let the souvenirs that your kids won’t even cherish amass quickly, so remind them before you head home they can pick out one or two special souvenirs.
Leave Electronics at Home
It’s tempting to want to bring your laptop to work while you’re away or your kid’s iPads to keep them occupied, but the truth is, these things are unnecessary on a family vacation and detract from the entire point of getting away together. Leave work behind so you can rest and reset and give your kids the chance to use their imagination and appreciate their surroundings without having a screen to distract them. Your smartphone acts as a camera and a video camera, so separate versions are unnecessary. Speaking of smartphones, if you do need to utilize the internet or check e-mail, you can access it easily through your phone.
Packing minimally can reduce decision fatigue or anxiety that you may have about your upcoming trip. Your focus should be on relaxing and making memories. As parents, that’s hard enough on vacation without worrying about miscellaneous and extra items. Use the above guidelines for an easier, breezier time – happy trails!