Don’t beat your head against a wall while trying to pack for a family vacation. Learn how to pare down items to just the essentials and organize them to save space.
It's hard enough packing for just yourself. Throw a spouse and two children into the mix, and the task can feel impossible. But don't worry! There are easy ways to fit your entire family's essential items into one bag (yes, one!). This will save you space in a car, train, or bus, and if you're flying, it may help you avoid paying fees for extra baggage, as well.
Choose the Best Bag
Before you even start packing, you need the right bag. If you're going on a short weekend trip, I’d go with a large duffel bag. It’s easy to carry and due to its soft exterior, it can be squeezed into compartments of various sizes and shapes. If you're heading out for a week-long trip, you might need a larger type of luggage, such as the Expanse™ Flatbed 32, that is big enough for the entire family's belongings to fit into, as well as includes compartments to separate clean from dirty.
Narrow Down Your Packing List
Learning how to identify "essential" items and pare down what you put in your suitcase is crucial. Now, your essentials may be different than mine, but when I think of essentials, here are the items that come to mind: shirt, shoes, underwear, socks, pants, and toiletries. Bring solid-color clothes that you can mix and match.
Weather may play a determining factor, of course. If you're heading to a tropical environment, bathing suits are musts, and if you're going to visit glaciers, you'll obviously need heavy winter coats to stay warm.
Something else to consider is whether you'll have access to a washing machine and dryer. If you will, you can bring far fewer outfits.
Miscellaneous items, such as umbrellas, insect repellant, and sunscreen, can usually be purchased at a drugstore once you arrive at your destination, so if you can't squeeze in those types of items, no worries.
Divvy Up the Essentials
Staying organized is key. Personally, I dislike it when that one clean pair of socks that I need ends up at the bottom of my bag, and then I have to drag everything out to find it. To keep your items, secure, clean, and easy to locate, use packing organizers.
- For shirts and pants: Use a garment folder to pack any nicer items you're bringing on your trip. The large-size will give you some leeway for packing everyone in this one Folder. Put that garmet folder at the bottom of the bag, since it's going to take up the most room.
- For socks and underwear: Stuff these items into a cube. If you want to try and fit everyone’s undies into one Cube, try the large. But you also have the option of using different color Cubes for different family members, use different sizes, like the multi-color medium half cube set.
- For shoes: Use a shoe sac for shoes in order to keep loose sneakers from muddying up other items in your bag. Depending on shoe size, you may be able to fit more than one pair in each shoe sac.
- For toiletries: Put toothbrushes, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razors, hair brushes, and anything else that's critical into a Bi-Tech Trip Kit. This zippered pouch will help prevent liquids from leaking all over your suitcase.
Also, be sure to check out a more extensive packing list from Eagle Creek.
Any tips that you'd add to this list? How do you pack your family's essentials into one bag? Share your thoughts in the comments, below.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog)
Minimalist Travel: How to Pack Your Bag for Cuba
How to Pack and Organize a Backpack for a Euro Trip
Minimalist Travel: How to Pack for All Four Seasons in One Carry-On