How to Keep the Suitcase Sane When Traveling with Kids

updated May 3, 2019
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Traveling with kids isn’t easy. Among the challenges that come from being away from your own home and routine, dealing with your family-closet-on-the-move, (that is, your suitcase) is high on the list. But preparing beforehand and having the right tools can prevent you from spending your precious time away from home digging for clothes in a tangled mess made of four people’s maybe-clean, maybe-not wardrobes.

Here’s My Big Tip: Separate each person’s clothes with packing cubes

Packing cubes turn your suitcase into a modular, organized chest of drawers on-the-go. By separating each person’s clothes into their own cubes, and then further separating each type of clothing, you’ve made the “Where’s my thus and such??” question a much, much easier one to answer.

Try to buy a different color for each member of the family. These are an Amazon customer favorite and come in a rainbow of hues, as do these, which boast exceptional quality and come with laundry bags.

If space is at a premium, consider investing in true compression packing cubes, which you can usually identify by their having two sets of zippers, an inner and an outer one. They squish clothes even more tightly together, giving you a significant amount of additional space.

If you already have packing cubes in the same color and need to differentiate them, try using colored zipper pulls. In a pinch, I’ve even used washi tape threaded through the hole of the zipper.

Put similar items together

Put clothing items that the kids will use all at the same time together rather than with each child’s other clothing. For instance, pajamas and swimsuits should all go together. That way you can pull out one packing cube and have all the children get ready at once.

Use clear shoe bags

Ditch the plastic grocery bags and spring for these drawstring shoe bags with a clear window so you can see what’s what. You’ll keep dirty soles from touching your suitcase and other packing cubes, but, particularly relevant when packing for kids, you’ll keep pairs together.

Keep dirty laundry together and compress large clothing

Dirty laundry takes up extra space when tossed about willy-nilly rather than folded. Keep these not-neat clothes all together so you can toss them in the laundry easily when the bag is full or when you get home. To save space, use a travel space bag that compresses your dirty clothes and also keeps odors away from the clean stuff. Simply roll to get all the air out.

Travel space bags are also excellent for stowing puffy jackets or ski clothing, if you’re headed to the cold and snow.

Corral cords

Traveling with kids these days often entails a good amount of tech. From extra batteries and SD cards for the camera to phone chargers, external chargers and chargers for those, Kindle chargers, and laptop battery cords, you’ve got to stay organized to find what you want when you need it. This case can help keep everything at your fingertips.