Summary: What we pack for trips.
Lesson: Plan ahead for less stress
The Miller family takes a lot of trips, especially since we moved to Europe. We all love getting out of Dublin and exploring new areas. Packing for six people, 4 of which are children under 10, is not an easy task. I’ve always been super organized and through some heavy trial and error, I think I finally have a good system in place. Packing is no longer a stressful part of the trip. I’ve made it quick, easy, and efficient. Here’s how I do it, complete with some links to products I’ve found useful. (*I am not being paid to promote any of these products)
What We Pack
For the plane (train or car ride)( mostly for kids):
Phones: Each kid has their own hand-me-down iPhone, no SIM cards. They are full of games and learning apps. They are only allowed to play on their phones on trips; otherwise we keep them stored. Phone case from Amazon, find it here.
Toys: each kid is responsible for packing their own toys. We give them a small bag, or purse, to use. Everything they want to take must fit in those bags. We end up with Shopkins, cars, LOL dolls, Barbies, and/or small stuffed animals.
Extra: I normally pack a few coloring books and notepads with some crayons and markers in my backpack.
For the trip:
We like to travel as light as possible. We can almost always find a wash machine or laundromat and we can buy anything we may have forgot, or we might need. Kevin and I each carry a large carry-on size backpack, Maddex has a normal size backpack, and we have a few extra.
Clothing: I love to use compression bags for packing clothes. I got a 5-pack from Target on one of my visits to Washington. I got these ones. These are great, no vacuum required, and they save space. I pack 3-4 outfits per person, plus pajamas. I use the two large bags and Kevin and I each carry one in our packs.
Bathroom bag: 3 toothbrushes, Sonicare with 3 heads (Maddex, myself, and Kevin), deodorant, hairbrush, Chapstick, Vaseline, Nurofen, and lots of hair ties.
Ziploc bags: I have three Ziploc bags for liquids, I pack this in the front of my backpack for easy access when we get to the airport. The bags hold: toothpaste, kid toothpaste, mouthwash, conditioner, kid medicine, lotion, and 2 laundry pods.
Electronics: We have an REI pack, Flash 22 (link) pack that holds all of our electronics. Laptop (surface), phones, Switch, various cables and power supplies, plus portable phone keyboard and stand. At airport security, Kevin empties the bag into a bin; easy, simple, done.
Sleeping Gear: We like to squeeze into small spaces. If we are stuck in a hotel, we get the double or triple room. In case we don’t have enough beds, we will pack a sleep mat with pump. If the room has bunk beds, we’ll also take a hammock. If we are lucky enough to get an apartment with enough beds, I skip this step altogether. I also have a travel blanket for each kid and portable lights they share for their beds at night.
My Purse: I don’t carry a purse often, but I do have one specifically for travel. It holds all our passports, airline tickets, Residence Card (to get back into Ireland), as well as some gum for the flight and random other things. I bought this one in Italy from a street vendor.
Extras: We always pack 4 portable bowls with spoon/fork combos Kevin found online. Often, we will end up with cereal for most meals. These are great for other snacks as well; they make eating in the room a breeze.
Anti-vomit Kit: I have two kids who get car sick and we have to take the Air Coach, a poorly ventilated bus, to and from the airport. Kevin found some kids Dramamine in the States and I ordered some “Travel Sickness Bands” from Amazon. We don’t allow phones on the Air Coach and we don’t feed them before we leave. All these things added together have seemed to solve our bus sickness issues. Just in case, I do have vomit bags which I also ordered from Amazon. Thanks Mom, she introduced me to them.
That’s it, looking back it seem like a lot, but for a family of 6 its not bad. Everything fits into 4 backpacks, with the girls carrying their purses full of treasures. We still have plenty of room in case we pick up an outfit or two or find some cool items from shops along the way. We also have a BOB single stroller, which we use as a makeshift luggage cart as well as kid hauler. Its huge, but for now it’s what we need.
As I mentioned, I’m ultra-organized, so of course I have a specific area for storing all the travel items. I have several “Travel Cubbies” where all the sleeping gear and various travel items are stored. I put all the smaller travel items in a bin, which I can just take out of the cupboard to pick and choose what to pack. The electronics have their own shelf for storage as well.
Prepping is simple. I pull the things I need from their storage space, toss it all on the table, and get to packing. It is so much easier when you aren’t running around looking for things, praying you don’t forget something important. I’m all about low stress.
The kids are in charge of their own clothes, they bring me three outfits and they pack their bag of toys. Kevin is in charge of electronics; charging and packing. I do the rest. It’s a system that has taken quite a few trips to work out, but we have it down to a science now. Packing takes about a half hour and we do it all the night before, so we are ready to get moving in the morning.
Hopefully, this helps anyone who wants to travel with kids. Packing doesn’t have to be a stressful disaster, just a little organization and prepping beforehand and it will quickly become the most calming part of your trip.