Proven Tips on How to Pack for Family Travel

a woman packing her suitcase
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

Packing for a family trip with the kids can be beyond stressful. You don’t want to forget to pack anything, and you want it to be as organized as possible. We have done this hundreds of times, with our family of six, and found some really great hacks along the way.

First, Don’t Pack it All in One Bag

If you are staying the night somewhere before your final destination, pack a separate bag for that portion of your trip. The last thing you want to do is unload all of your luggage at a hotel for a 12 hour stay. So, pack a hotel bag with a change of clothes and your basic toiletries.

Pack the toiletry bag separate. Don’t try to fit it all in with your clothes. When you travel with kids, you typically want to pack medicines, first aid items, their soaps, and so on. We use a small carry on to pack all the toiletries, along with diapers, wipes, and accessories.

If you can, let the kids pack a fun bag or backpack. This is the bag where they put their fun items, electronics, and toys. Let them pack their favorite dolls, stuffed animal, books, tablet, earphones, and coloring supplies. That way they have their favorites, can be entertained, and it is easy to find.

If you are riding in the car to your destination, don’t forget your snack bag. There should be a bag or cooler dedicated to snacks and beverages for the ride. Stopping at gas stations not only creates more stops but it can get expensive. So, grab all their yummy travel snacks in your weekly grocery order and pack them for the ride.

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Now for the Actual Packing…

Let me just start with packing cubes. These are literally the best packing organizational hack ever. They keep your luggage organized and make it so easy when you get to your destination. We use them to pack one kid in each cube. Then when we get to our destination, they can take “their” cube out and have all their clothes in one place. You can get a variety of sizes and colors too.

packing cubes in suitcase
Packing Cubes in Suitcase

Pick the right toiletry bag. For many years, I used gallon freezer bags and various toiletry bags. When I switched to a couple hanging toiletry bags, I asked myself why I didn’t do this a long time ago. They make them in all different sizes, colors, and variations. Get a hanging one though. They easily hang on the back of a door and are life savers. We prefer to pack one for the kids and one for the adults.

toiletry bag hanging up
Hanging Toiletry Bag

Get some hard-shell luggage that rolls in various directions. We never had this until last year and I am still kicking myself. We had soft luggage and it got crushed every time we traveled. When you pack for a family, your luggage always hits the max capacity and is heavy! With these suitcases, your kids can easily help push them too.

luggage ready to pack in car
Luggage Bags

Roll it up! It really does give you more space and help you keep your outfits together. Take the bottom and top and tightly roll it like a burrito. You can utilize all of the space in the suitcase this way. For kids, it also helps them not have to rummage through everything to pick an outfit!

rolled clothes in a suitcase
Rolled Clothes in Suitcase

That’s it! Don’t forget, most things can be purchased if you forget them. Use your packing list to help you get the major items. Happy packing!

There are many other great travel posts on but, if you are cruising, don’t forget to read the top 15 items you should pack.

-Kristy M., Mommy to Many


  1. […] Packing smart not only helps you stay organized but also saves you from unnecessary expenses. Check the baggage policies of your airline and pack efficiently to avoid excess baggage fees. Consider bringing essential items from home, such as snacks and toiletries, instead of buying them at inflated prices during your trip. […]

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