17 Essential family packing hacks

Essential family packing hacks

The whole world appears to be in a sorting, folding frenzy thanks to Marie Kondo, which surprises me because I thought her methods were kind of obvious. Though admittedly back when my mum taught us this stuff, 40 years ago, we didn’t call it KonMari, mum simply called it being organised while we called it anal retentiveness and swore behind her back, because we just wanted to lob our stuff in our drawers and go play.

When it comes to packing for travel I’ve been KonMari-ing the crap out of my suitcase for decades. Our family of four can live comfortably out of a single suitcase and a carry on, for weeks on end, without fear of smelling.

Here are my essential family packing hacks to ensure you travel smart and light, even with a couple of kids in tow.

1. Love a list

Any trip with kids in tows can be like herding cats, so will always require a little more planning. Packing is no exception. Write a packing list for every member of your crew and follow it.

2. Child labour

It’s a great idea to get the kids to pack for themselves but always check what they’ve packed before you go because there’s every chance instead of undies and shoes they’ve packed slime and eighteen stuffed toys.

3. Get real

Pack only the number of outfits that you need and make sure it’s clothing that travels well, fits you comfortably and goes together. Your suitcase is not a magical box that will suddenly make your rainbow tie-dye t-shirt match perfectly with your floral jacket and striped jeans, so start with one core neutral colour then add a few items that co-ordinate to add a splash of colour.

4. Leave it out

Let’s face it, unless one of your family members is walking the Oscars red carpet, you and the kids are not likely to need six ball gowns, three formal dresses, eighteen pairs of shoes and that ah-mazing frock you bought two years ago that you’ve never worn (because why start now?) – Ditch the “might wear” gear because let’s be honest, you won’t.

5. Made to multi task

Keep packing to just the necessities and aim for multi-purpose gear like zip-off trousers, wraps and plain t-shirts that go with everything.

6. Let the sun shine in

Don’t forget the all-important sun protection whether you’re going to the tropic or the snow. We always pack plenty of sunscreen, hats and our  sunglasses for every member of the family. For everything sunglasses we love Vision Direct  for their great prices and excellent variety of kids and adult sunnies.

7. Cell mates

Packing cells are your new best friend. Not only are they great idea for keeping things organised but you can use different colours for each family member to easily identify each person’s gear. 

8. KonMari your case

Correctly folding and rolling clothes maximises luggage space so it is easily identifiable and there’s room for more!

9. Keep it clean

We pack our shoes in those little disposable shower caps found in hotel bathrooms to keep dirty soles off our clean clothes.

10. Well heeled

Speaking of shoes, you only need two pairs, including the ones you’re wearing!

These should be walking shoes or sneakers and sandals (if its somewhere hot) or walkng shoes and boots (if it’s cold). If you have a formal occasion planned, lob in a pair of heels, and you can always get away with chucking in a pair of thongs if you’re heading to a beach, because they take up next to no space.

11. Put a lid on it

To avoid the opening your luggage to discover your shampoo has slimed everything you own, remove bottle lids and place a small piece of plastic wrap over the opening before screwing them back on.


12. Make them mini

We never pack full size toiletries, instead using travel size bottles topped up with our at home products. Far more sensible and far less costly if you do spring a leak.

13. Zip it

Zip-lock bags are solid holiday gold! Pack a stack in different sizes, then pack some more. Not only can they assist in keeping your phone and camera sand and splash free at the beach, they make useful storage for all those little odds and ends collected along the way, and you can use them to store the snacks you steal from the breakfast buffet. Or is that just us?

14. Around the twist

Don’t get your knickers or your charger cords in a twist – coil them up and store them in a spare sunglasses case.

15. Charge it

Make sure you have all the correct chargers for camera, phone and laptops as well as the correct power converter, so you can plug them in!

16. Back up

Always pack a small additional fold up duffel because luggage tends to expand on the go. 

17. Carry on

Always pack a spare set of clothes for the kids, along with nappies if needed, and snacks for tots in your carry on case, just in case your checked baggage doesn’t end up holidaying at the same destination as you.

Head here for even more family travel hacks.

Disclosure:  Vision Direct generously provided us with a new pair of sunnies but all opinions, as always, are own. We’re sharing the love because, in all seriousness, they’ve made us all look like rock gods! 

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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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