On Saturday I’m flying to Hawaii with my two kids, ages 3 and 3 months for a week long 4 island jaunt. We are traveling out to meet up with our extended family for a memorial service celebrating the life of my Great Grandmother who passed earlier this year at 108 years old. My husband is staying home so I have to figure out how to pack for three people without having so many bags my sister and I need to rent two cars to hold all the stuff when we get there.
So here are some of my tips for getting everything shoved into a manageable amount of bags.
First things first…make lists. I love lists, I could make lists of all the lists I have going. For travel, because deep down I’m a huge dork, I have a spreadsheet that I use each time I go anywhere for longer than a few days. The file has multiple tabs and the tabs serve as my lists. They include an itinerary tab, a general supplies tab, a clothing list tab, and a budget tab.
Once you have an itinerary you can see what you’re planning and know what clothing items you will need to pack. I like to lay the clothing out and type in what items will be worn for each day and each activity. I find this helps me pack the right amount of clothing without overpacking. Let’s be honest, we all think that 5th baby bathing suit is a must pack but if you’re only going to 3 beaches it really is only taking up much needed bag space.
The next list you need is a stuff list. I divide my stuff list into 2 categories, the stuff I have to bring from home and the stuff I can buy there (aka diapers, wipes, formula, etc.). If I pack and find I need more space the first things I remove from the bag are the items I can purchase easily at my destination. I’ve found the easiest way to take what you actually need and not waste precious space on the things you think you need but will not touch is to make these lists. Once you make them spend a week taking mental notes of how often you actually use certain items. My big “why do I bring so many” is wipes. 90% of the trips I make I bring home more than half of the wipes I pack. Wipes are heavy and take up a lot of space so for this trip I am packing 1 pack of wipes in a carry on and 1 pack of wipes in a checked bag. I can always buy more wipes if I run out there.
My final tip is to pack smart. I have to lug myself, my two kids, and all the things we need through several airports so I need to pack smart. Just because I can take 6 bags between my ticket and my son’s ticket doesn’t mean I need to. I am packing 2 checked bags, 1 overhead bin carry on, and 2 under seat carry on bags. I always divide clothing up into multiple bags, including putting at least 1 day’s worth of clothing into a carry on bag just in case a bag gets lost and I pack extra plane supplies into the overhead bin carry on. I pack so in theory I won’t have to get into the overhead bin bag on the planes but if the you know what hits the fan the extra stuff is there. I use my camera backpack for this.
For my other carry on bags, I have a basic bag which will carry all the baby supplies and all the food and toddler entertainment and my son has a small backpack which will hold some toys and snacks for him. Speaking of toddler entertainment, tune in two weeks from now for tips to making air travel run smoothly with kids!
And we’re off…this trip will consist of 7 flights and 2 ferry rides so it’s a good thing I managed to get all the things into as few bags as possible!