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How to Pack Light with Kids – Tips from a Traveling Mom

How to Pack Light with Kids – Tips from a Traveling Mom

Once upon a time, there was a girl who enjoyed being on the road. Exploring the world gave her a sense of freedom. Overpacking was her weak spot; her usual amount of luggage was huge. She would carry with her whatever you can imagine, from clothes to unnecessary tools. Once she had kids, she passed her love for traveling to her two kids. Spending lovely times together and making unforgettable memories were priceless.

However, packing for her kids was stressful, not knowing what to pack or unpack. As time passed, she gained vast experience on how to efficiently pack light for every vacation. Now, she is an expert at packing light for kids after loads of misfortunate trips.

That “girl” is me; here’s everything I’ve learned about light packing for family trips.

Tips for Packing Light with Kids

Traveling with kids? Take these tips from a traveling mom on how to pack light for kids! Leave the extras at home and bring only the essentials!

Pack essentials first

A golden rule I follow when packing for family trips is to pack the items I want fast access to or the ones I will use at the airport in one carry-on bag.

Passport and tickets

Keep your passport and tickets in your backpack just in case you lose your luggage or it is delayed. Take no chances in this situation because getting another passport and ticket is expensive, not to mention the trouble.

Mom packing with daughter

Cellphone & charger

So many transportation modes indeed have charging points for your devices to be fully charged all the way, but if you forget to bring chargers, you won’t be able to use them. Also, if you have a layover between flights, it’s better to ensure you are well-equipped if you need to make a phone call or charge your cellphone.

Small wallet

You may think you won’t need to carry a wallet; nowadays, we typically use digital money and hardly use cash or coins. Nevertheless, credit cards might not work in all countries or when you realize that you need coins for tips and vendor machines.

In addition, when I’m in a crowded place, I’m always careful of thieves, and putting money in my pockets won’t help! A compact money clip wallet keeps my cash and cards organized and safe when traveling. At the same time, it takes up minimal space in my bag.

Tips for packing light with kids

Small medicine kit

Getting medical help immediately while traveling can be challenging. Carrying a small medicine kit gives me a hand in treating minor health problems that may happen with the kids and keeps us away from buying medications we are unfamiliar with.

Water and snacks

Reusable water bottles are a healthy option. You can refill them with tap water, a better alternative than other liquids such as juice. Snacks are a lifesaver when your kids are bored and hungry on the road. Stay away from snacks that melt or take up too much space, instead go for cereal bars, sandwiches, and waffles.


Traveling with babies needs extra care and packing. Make sure to pack at least one diaper for every hour or two, and take some extra just in case you need them.

Extra pair of clothes; compact fleeces for kids

Don’t pack too many clothing items, just what is necessary. I usually pack clothes to wear for the entire week, no matter how long my trip is. I can wear them more than once while doing my laundry. 

Related Post: Essentials for Traveling to Europe with Toddlers

Use packing cubes

To pack more efficiently, use packing cubes. They save space and make it much easier to immediately take out what you need. One way to use them is to organize them by category; for example, one for tops, one for swimwear, one for bottoms, one for dirty clothes, etc.

Also, try to label them by color or a mark, so each child knows their cubes. They will save you the trouble of taking out all your items to find one, not to mention they provide protection from water and dirt and make your clothes wrinkle less.

Create Small Activity Kits for Kids

To keep my little ones entertained, I need to pack some of their favorite small toys (don’t get overwhelmed and pack many, you’ll regret how much space and time they will consume). I also always pack sketchbooks, pencils, and crayons because they don’t take up too much room and help keep the kids quiet and amused.

Suitcases for family travel

Create a Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a minimal group of essential clothing items that can be easily matched and mixed. It is vital to create one for your next trip if you want to minimize your packing list. I always choose neutral colors and versatile pieces that can be worn in multiple styles for different occasions and weather conditions.

To make the process smoother, I book accommodations with a laundry service whenever possible to wash and re-wear my traveling clothes and return home with minimum dirty laundry.

Share Toiletries; Take Travel Size Products

Despite the fact that some hotels provide toiletries, I always pack the essentials for myself and the kids. To save storage space, put in one bag the toiletries the whole family can use:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Conditioner
  3. Body wash
  4. Sunscreen
  5. Toothpaste
  6. Dental floss

Other items can be travel-sized and stored in one minimal personal toiletry bag, such as toothbrushes, deodorant, nail clippers, lotion, and wipes (you’ll need them for sure).

Related Post: Tips & Tricks for Flying with Toddlers


A top tip for packing light with kids is to ditch gadgets that take up too much space at home. Instead of bringing my laptop, I use my cellphone; most cell phones nowadays have the same uses as a laptop. You can bring a USB or upload your photos and videos to your cloud-based service when you can access the network connection.

Ask the hotel/ B&B you’re staying in if they supply a hair dryer or flat iron; if so, leave them at home. Pack a portable charger with multiple USB ports so all the family can use it. Bring earphones for you and the kids so you can enjoy the music along the way and not disturb others, and use a travel organizer bag to store them to keep them safe.

Wrapping Up Packing Light with Kids

Being all set is the key to a successful trip, but keep calm and enjoy the precious time you spend with your kiddos even if something goes wrong. Opt for packing smart and light and make it a habit.

Author Bio

Mariam Simmons is a fashion enthusiast and Content Manager at Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides. With over a decade of writing experience, her main goal in creating content is to ensure readers learn something useful and provide value instead of noise.

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