Packing has always been a challenge for our family, and packing well can make or break your trip. It is one of the most important things we do to get ready for a trip and ensure we start out on the right foot. We don’t want to forget anything! And we also need to remember there’s always limited space for all our “stuff”. That’s why we are sharing our packing tips for families here.
Truth be told, we had to learn how to pack well over the years. (We learned the hard way – more than once.) We came to understand we can only squeeze so many bags in our car trunk or the overhead compartment on the plane. And we refuse – on principle – to pay the overweight baggage fee when we fly. Although we would like to bring everything “just in case”, it is clear to us that is just not possible. When traveling with two teen girls though, we have found it is of utmost importance to maximize the space in our bags. They can overpack so easily!
When the girls were little, we had to make sure we packed everything for them when we hit the road. We double checked bags to be certain we had enough diapers, their favorite kind of snacks and stuffed animals aplenty. Looking back, it was honestly pretty easy to pack the items necessary to ensure we had happy little girls. We had a system. We were organized. For a few years, we were pretty darn good at packing for a family of four. Then the girls grew up.
Why Teens Need Packing Tips
If you have teenage girls (or boys) that are like our kids, you understand the fights over the need for 17 pairs of shoes for a five day trip to Mexico. For us “old” guys, one or two pairs of jeans is probably just enough for most getaways. However, for the girls we learned they “need” a pair of light-wash, dark wash, flare leg, and skinny jeans. At a minimum. Our girls honestly believe that packing four shirts per day is a totally appropriate estimate. Don’t even ask about their myriad accessories that are absolutely, positively, without a doubt necessary for their survival. ^insert eye roll^
Of course we adore our daughters. They are smart, kind, fun and totally beautiful. And they are the worst over-packers you may ever find. Minimalists, they are not. With this fact in mind, I came up with 20 packing tips families with teens can definitely use.
20 Packing Tips For Families With Teens
- Always start with a list.
- Pack so you can dress in layers.
- Think about your itinerary.
- Limit the pairs of shoes to 3…max.
- Skip full size toiletries. The ones the hotel provides will be just fine.
- Don’t stuff clothes in your suitcase. Roll them tightly.
- Try to find wrinkle-free clothes.
- Pack heavy pieces in your suitcase first.
- Stay organized. Skip the step when you just throw everything in the suitcase.
- Think about buying, and using, packing cubes.
- Bring an empty gym bag to bring home travel souvenirs.
- Stick to one color theme. Neutral or black and white works well.
- Leave formal clothes at home. Think: comfortable.
- Clothes and shoes should be multipurpose.
- Don’t forget prescriptions and over the counter medicine.
- Check the weather for your destination.
- Bring a thin blanket or shawl, even when traveling to a warm spot.
- Plan on doing laundry if you are traveling for 7 days or longer. (Be sure to bring some single-use detergent!)
- Make cuts. Take a few things out of the suitcase you can do without.
- Repeat to yourself: I will not over pack.
Packing Tips For Deciding What Clothes To Pack
Now that you have some ideas for how to do the best packing job of your life, there still may be some hesitation on what clothes you will actually need. If over packing is a no-no, then under packing is even worse. You don’t want to end up at Target searching for a swimsuit, dress shoes or some cheap shorts because you forgot it.
When looking at your closet to decide what to bring, look for things that are comfortable and make you feel good first and foremost. A designer label on your pants isn’t going to do you much good if they are so tight you can barely breathe. You want to relax on vacation. Choose clothes that help you do that!
Stick to items from your closet that work for day and night and can be dressed up and down. Go with dark colors if possible, as they hide stains or sweat marks. Try to pick items that fold up small and/or do double duty. My girls can use a sarong as a skirt or even a cute halter shirt. They can take a tank dress and make it totally appropriate for After Five attire. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it sometimes. Now, if they just could make more of their wardrobe multi-tasking we could fit all our bags in one Uber.
Bottom Line: Everyone can be good at packing.
These packing tips are for families with teens specifically, but they can really be used by anyone. If you need to be efficient with your clothes and maximize the space in your suitcase, you will need to pare some things down. Make sure everything works for the climate you are traveling to and that several pieces coordinate well together.
And whatever you do, don’t let your teen talk you into bringing a second bag. That is a slippery slope you do not want to start sliding down. Trust me.
For more packing tips, check out our handy dandy packing list essentials for a family vacation.