Do you hate rummaging through bags trying to find that pair of shorts or socks that you know you packed? If you pack the right way- it is so much easier to be organized while on a family road trip! Here are my best packing tips for a family trip!
Now, if you need help deciding WHAT to pack you'll want to check out my free printable Road Trip Packing List– but if you are trying to figure out HOW to pack it- here are my best tips!
Decision #1: Duffel Bag or Suitcase?
If your kids are old enough that they can carry their own bags- I strongly suggest going with duffle bags for family travel!
Since they are soft-sided, they can expand to fit in more clothes, shoes, and gear- and they can much more easily be stacked and maneuvered to fit into the trunk space of a car!
I love these Gonex duffle bags – and each family member owns the large-sized bag (they come in more than a dozen colors, so each person can even get their own color making it easier to know which bag belongs to which person!). And because they are inexpensive- I don't mind replacing them every few years as they get dirty and worn.
The one downside to packing clothing in duffles is that since there is no structure to the bag- things can get disorganized and wrinkled! My solution?
Packing cubes ! They are the BEST way to keep things organized and neat in your duffle bag! But what to put in each cube? An outfit? A category of clothing (like all shorts)? Keep reading!
Decision #2: Pack Bags “By Person” or “By Day”?
Well, it depends. Generally, I like to pack our bags so that they contain everything needed for one, two or even three people (depending on the length of the trip, and size of the bag!). For a week-long trip, every family member packs their own duffle bag. And they are responsible for what goes in it, for carrying it in/out of our hotel or rental spot, and packing everything up to return home!
However, if we are going to be spending just one night in a hotel (perhaps on the way to our final destination), then I pack a bag just for that one night, and it holds everything for the entire family.
But I do have one exception to these “rules”- swimsuits! I always pack a separate swim bag for quick and easy access in case we can't get into our room when we arrive. Usually, it's just a packing cube full of swimsuits added to one person's duffle bag- but it is so simple to just open one bag and pull out all of our swimsuits than to hunt through everyone's individual bag!
Decision #3: Pack by Outfit or By Category of Item?
When we are headed to a place where I will be able to unpack all of our items, then I like to pack by category- all tees shirts in one packing cube, all shorts in another, and so on.
But if we won't be able to fully unpack at our destination (like when we are staying with family members in a spare bedroom) and will be pulling things out of suitcases for the entire trip, then I pack by outfit, one in each packing cube.
While on Vacation- Do You Plan to Do Laundry?
For me- this is easy- Hell no! This is a vacation, right? (Okay, unless we are traveling for multiple weeks, and then I really have no choice do I?)
So Then… What To Do With Dirty Clothes?
Well if you are able to unpack everything into dresser drawers and closets- then unpack when you arrive and then throw your dirty clothes back into your empty duffles and/or packing cubes as you wear them. This will certainly make packing up to return home a quick task!
But if you are unable to unpack then I suggest taking along a pop-up hamper .
You can throw everyone's dirty clothes into the hamper as you go along, and once it is filled, then it is time to empty it out into one of the duffel bags (sometimes you have shift items from one clean duffle to the next to make room for this). You can continue in this manner for the entire trip- filling/emptying/shifting, and again, when it is time to pack up and return home- it should be a fairly quick task!
Planning a Family Road Trip?
You might want to check out these other posts that offer tips and advice on planning and packing for road trips:
- Printable Road Trip Planner– a free printable and planning guide to help you plan your next road trip!
- Free Printable Road Trip Packing List
- How to Plan a Great American Road Trip
- Packing for a Road Trip: How to Pack the Inside of Your Car
- The Best Car Coolers for a Family Road Trip
And if you are looking for some cool family road trip destinations:
- 10 Great Things to Do in Atlanta with Kids!
- 10 Great Things to Do In South Dakota with Kids!
- Things to Do in Williamsburg with Kids!
- Things to Do in New Smyrna Beach Florida with Kids!
- 5 Reasons to Visit Mammoth Caves with Kids
- 7 Great Things to Do in Lake Placid with Kids