Savvy Travels: Packing Tips for Family Vacations

In Home and Entertaining, Melissa Martin by Lola Magazine

I once read a quote that said, “I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.” This is something that my husband Eric and I believe in. We love to travel and see the world, and we do so with our twin girls, Ruby and Mable, age 8.  We’ve established our own family motto: “Collect memories, not things.” Over the years of traveling as a family of 4, I’ve come up with a system that decreases the likelihood of me becoming stressed out (or losing my mind), because vacation is all about relaxing and living in the moment. Of course, let’s be honest, it still happens from time to time, I mean, I am a wife and a mother!

Hopefully this list can benefit you on your next trip and keep you sane!

  1. Packing cubes help you stay organized so you know exactly where your items are. It also assists with unpacking quicker while conserving space in your luggage.
  2. Always carry a small bag that contains the items that you may need as soon as you arrive, just in case your room is not available, or luggage has not arrived. (swimsuits, sunscreen, goggles, etc.)
  3. When you are flying with kids, pack their own backpack that includes snacks, a blanket (it can get cold on flights), hand sanitizer, and leisure items to keep them busy (books, games, toys, etc.)
  4. Be sure your luggage consists of hard-shell suitcases with four 360-degree spinner wheels, and a retractable handle. This will make it much easier to travel from Point A to Point B!
  5. If you have enough space and your luggage is not overweight (check with your airline on their max weight per bag), travel with your hanging clothes already on hangers. This makes for one less task to do once you arrive at your destination. The quicker your belongings are put away, the faster you can get to the pool!
  6. Invest in a digital hand-held luggage scale. This item could save you $$ in overweight baggage fees, which are typically $100 and up each way!
  7. Carry a portable battery power pack to charge your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. There are never enough electrical outlets in an airport, and you don’t want to be stuck without a working phone!
  8. Pack a large trash bag or laundry bag to bring back any dirty clothes (on cruises it’s very cheap to do laundry, if laundry is that something you want to do on vacation.)
  9. Tips! Always tip!! Tip the person who helped you with your luggage getting on/off the parking shuttle. This goes for any airline employee who helps you with your luggage. ($1- $2 per bag.) If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, this does not mean that the tips are inclusive as well! Tip the server who brings you a drink pool side, your waiter at dinner, the bell hop who brings your luggage to your room, housekeeping, etc. We normally bring a stack of $1 bills, so we have plenty of small bills for gratuity!
  10. If traveling out of the country, make photo copies of your passports and keep them in a safe location. If you do not have a passport, get one! You never know when and where your next adventure may take you. When traveling abroad notify your bank or credit card company of your travel plans, so that they don’t mistake your charges for fraudulent ones!
  11. To track flight prices check out some of these websites and mobile apps: Hopper, Skyscanner and Google Flights are some of my favorites!
  12. If you travel by air frequently, invest in a TSA Pre-check membership ($85 for 5 years) to avoid longer lines at airport security. If you plan on traveling out of the country more than a couple times a year invest in a Global Entry membership ($100 for 5 years) to avoid longer lines at airport security and upon returning at U.S. Customs. Some travel reward credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card reimburse you for this cost. Children ages 12 and under may use the TSA Pre-check Lane at airport security when traveling with a parent or guardian who has the membership attached to their boarding pass.
  13. Many resorts, hotels and condos may provide items that you may need when traveling with children such as cribs, strollers, etc. When renting from a car rental service, you may also rent a car seat for an additional fee if you choose not to travel with your own. However, if you chose to bring your own car seat along, most airlines will allow you to check the car seat free of charge. I recommend gate checking car seats so that they don’t get thrown down the luggage carousel or lost prior to arrival at your destination.
  14. Parents, while flying and you see the drink cart come by, go ahead and order a drink because you deserve it!

If you forget to pack something, no worries! All you really need to travel is an ID/passport, and a credit card. You can get everything else once you arrive!

This summer, book the vacation, go on the trip! Even with little kids! I promise, it will be worth it! Cheers to a life full of adventure!