Packing Light for Kids

You can totally pack two kids in one suitcase for your family vacation!


Ok, well I don’t mean packing the actual kids in the suitcase, but you get the picture! We’re talking about packing light when traveling, and in my experience, I can pack everything both of the Littles need into one suitcase! And the great thing is, you can use these same rules for any family members just by adjusting the size of the suitcase.

Instead of trying to pack your kids’ clothes into your bag – get them their own. They will LOVE having their very own suitcase and it will get them more excited about the vacation.  We love the Trunki by Melissa & Doug® – it’s an adorable, colorful, hard suitcase on wheels. Not only can they personalize it with stickers and their names, but they can also RIDE on it. It’s made to operate as both a suitcase and a toy, so it’s a lot of bang for your buck. My girls LOVE their Trunki suitcase.

As for packing them up in one suitcase, you can do that easily as long as you remember this simple rule:

Don’t over pack. Resist the temptation!

I edit my kids’ travel wardrobes by asking specific questions like, “Are we REALLY going to put her in that frilly dress?” and, “Do we need 28 colors of hair bows?”  The answer is almost always, “No.” Kids are stinking cute no matter what they’re wearing and no one is wondering where their special shoes are.

When packing – start with the basics. Lay out one outfit for each day you’ll be away on vacation, including every single part of the outfit for that day and keeping in mind any activities you’ll do when you get there - socks, underwear, layers, swimsuits, etc. Then, add pajamas. PJs get worn so much that they get dirty fast. If they’re worn during breakfast, they’re dirty; dinner = dirty; late night snack or milk = dirty.  If you’re staying with family, friends or have a vacation rental you can always wash them if need be. Keep these things in mind as you make your choices.

You can usually get away with just one pair of shoes per child - the ones on their feet the day you travel. If they do need more, it should only be one extra pair.

Last in are necessary accessories. Depending on what time of year you’re traveling, this could be sunscreen, sun hats, water shoes, winter hats, gloves, scarves, etc. For my girls, I also have to pack a few of their favorite things to keep them happy. For example, they like their own little special toothbrushes so I need those to keep the good tooth brushing mojo working.  Plus, they each need their favorite sippy cup and nighttime blanket.

After everything’s laid out, I condense their clothes into little vacuum-sealed bags. One large-sized bag for each child, and that’s it! I like the Original Space Bag® and you can get an 8-piece travel pack for about $20 from major stores like Bed Bath & Beyond. When the bag is full, you know that’s all you need to pack. I don’t even use a vacuum cleaner to seal them – I just roll them airtight. My friend swears Ziploc® bags work the same way. Just close the “zipper” about 95 percent of the way, roll the air out and finish sealing. I’ve even packed this way for winter in England and  just had the girls wear their big coats on the plane. I was able to pack all their layers, including bulky sweaters and socks, this way for the holidays last year. So, I know this works wonders. Imagine how much we saved in checked baggage fees!

Separate from their suitcase, I also recommend packing at least one lightweight, “emergency” outfit per child and keeping it in your carry-on for easy access. Something like a t-shirt and leggings should do the trick. You never know when your luggage will get lost, or if your child will have a major spill!

I hope sharing my thought process helps making your packing faster and easier. Just remember the golden packing rule – resist the temptation to over pack – and keep in mind that for most trips, you can buy anything you forget when you arrive!

Diana Heather writes at She is also the Chief Mom, both at home to her two girls and at You can follow Diana on Twitter .