Remember the days when you’d pack for a trip 30 minutes before dashing off to the airport? You’d throw in an assortment of clothes and toiletries, and if you happened to forget something, c’est la vie! Maybe it’d be available in the gift shop, maybe not—no biggie. But once you enter parenthood, your easy-breezy, toss-everything-in-a-bag packing days are over. Nowadays, you’ve got to be a packing ninja, rolling, tucking, folding and shoehorning every must-have and what-if item into carry-ons, duffles, rolly bags and teeny kiddo-size backpacks. It’s not only your job to make everything fit—it’s your job to remember every last detail, because you won’t be finding any forgotten loveys in the gift shop, sister! Here, we’re sharing our best pro packing tips to help make your next family trip actually feel like a vacation.
How to Pack for a Family Trip
From worrying whether everything will fit in your suitcase to stressing about checking the stroller, prepping for a trip with the kids can bring about its fair share of anxiety. When the bags are finally packed, you’re more than ready for a vacation. To help you streamline the process, we’ve gathered up our top savvy traveler tips for how to approach the art of packing.
1. Make an All-Inclusive Packing List
If you’re big into lists, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but even if you’re not, trust us—you need a packing list. Before you jet off on your family vacation, have a running don’t-forget list that always sits where you can easily find it. (Or just yell it into your Amazon Echo if you’ve got one.) You’re bound to remember random items at random times, so jot them down as they come up. It’ll save you from scrambling day-of.
2. Give Packing Cubes a Go
Running out of suitcase space is every traveling mama’s nightmare. To maximize your room, try packing clothes into zip-up fabric containers before shoving them into your luggage. Not only do they compress your belongings, allowing for more room in your bag, but they also help keep your family’s clothes organized, so you can always find what you need without emptying the entire bag onto the floor. (We like that you can peek inside these mesh packing cubes.)
3. Look Into Checked Luggage Rules
Most airlines let parents check approved baby items for free, like strollers and car seats—but it’s smart to research your airline’s specific policies so you know what’s what before getting to the airport. Some airlines require that you to check your gear at the ticket counter, others at the gate, and some let you choose. Pro tip: Pack your stroller and car seat into protective travel bags, and take off all your stroller accessories (cup holders, hooks, organizers and the like) beforehand. The last thing you want is to retrieve your stuff, only to find parts broken or missing.
4. Brush Up on TSA Breast Milk Rules
Yes, you can travel with breast milk (and no, baby doesn’t need to be with you). Per TSA rules, breast milk—and formula—is allowed carry-on bags, even if it’s more than the 3.4 ounces typically allotted for liquids. You just have to remove the bottles or bags from your carry-on to be separately screened. Ice packs and frozen gel packs are also allowed in carry-ons to keep milk cool, but if they’re partially frozen or slushy, they’ll need to be screened too. (Pro tip: Try using frozen peas instead.)…
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