Packing with Kids

As y'all know we have 4 kids. They're older now, but I started a packing process years ago that works so good for us. They still keep up this routine, the older they get the less involved I am. It makes getting ready for a trip so much more enjoyable y'all. 

So, what do we do?

First, we use this Travel Packing List and all the kids have the PackPoint app downloaded. Sometimes my boys are better using paper, that is when I use the Travel Packing List. The PackPoint app is great for my older girls, you can input the location, dates, and activities and it customizes a list for you. 

  • Print the Travel Packing List. I write next to each item how many of each item needs packed. I also cross off items they don't need to worry about. For example, the boys generally share shampoo and body wash with their daddy when we travel unless we stay in an airbnb where they have their own bathroom. 
  • The kids make a pile on their bed or on my couch and set their crossed off list on top. After I check and 'approve' their list, they get it packed in a backpack or suitcase. I approve the boy’s stuff still because they are country boys and sometimes they want to pack clothes that are for here on the farm, not so great for whatever trip we are leaving on. 
  • They pick out their clothes for travel day, undergarments, shoes, accessories, etc. We lay this on their dresser top and their ready to go! 

I've taught the kids how to pack too. When they got their first packing list from me we were driving to Texas a lot, lots of quick last-minute trips and it was getting to be way too much on me to pack for everyone, especially when it was a 'let's get packed and leave in a couple hours' kind of thing. 

These are some of the tips and tricks we use to pack for a regular trip:

  1. I don't spend money on toothbrush holders and all the expensive gadgets to pack. We use quart size plastic baggies to contain loose items. One has toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss picks. Another has deodorant, a razor, and cutips. (cutips are in their own snack size baggie sown inside the deodorant bag) The girls have a travel jewelry holder now that their Nana gave them, but for years they used baggies for this too. Y'all get the idea. 
  2. We don't pack any laundry bags. When we are on a trip, we tie the leg of a pair of pants, fill it with laundry, and we are good to go. Why spend the money on another gadget you have to pack and wash after your trip?
  3. Don't overpack. Bring laundry soap. Everywhere you go has laundry, if not your hotel or airbnb, a local laundry mat will get the job done. The more you pack, the more complicated it gets. Keep it simple!! Just be thorough with your list and remember there are stores everywhere. With pickup orders so readily available now, you don't even have to go inside to get the things you forgot.
  4. Travel size bottles are not always worth it, especially when traveling with a family. Pack your normal bottles, I use a piece of tape to keep things from spilling. This may not work for you if you are flying, especially if you only have carry-ons. If you do pack travel size bottles, this is not one area you want to skimp on. Buy the good bottles that will last and not leak. 

My kids pack themselves, for real? 

We have only had one hiccup years ago when my youngest son was 5. We went to an International Convention in Texas, the kids were packed, I double and triple checked everything. When we got to our hotel in Euless the kids went with Ryan to the pool so I could unpack and make sure we were ready for the busy weekend ahead. I got to Kai's suitcase, my then 5 year old, and he had unpacked his cute little dress shoes to bring his stuffie. We laugh about it now, I thought it was cute then, but not so happy to be driving in rush hour Dallas traffic to go buy shoes when I needed to be unpacking. 

For the most part, yes, this works. Passing the buck and not being in control is a little hard at first, but it gets easier to let go and it becomes fun to watch the kids take control and learn to be responsible for themselves. Remember, you do a check before it gets officially packed, so you're not losing all control. Breathe!! 

In the Car

We like food, like a lot! It can be fun for the kids to get gas station snacks now and then, but for the most part, none of us feel good after a day of fast food and gas station junk. This is what we do for the most part:

  • When printing our packing lists, I also make a list of the snacks want for the trip. Each kid picks a snack and a drink. Some of the stapes I always know will be on the list include sunflower seeds and Ryan's homemade beef jerky. 
  • I pack us bento boxes in a cooler. We usually have sliced meat and cheese, broccoli with ranch (my son prefers baby carrots), a boiled egg etc. Make it how you like it, but when we pack a box like this, we feel so much better when we get there. Driving is already tiring. Save the yummy cheat food for when it really counts. 
  • I have mini backpacks, one for each kid. They have whatever occupies them. For my girls, tech and coloring books. (We still like coloring books even though they are 15 and 17 now) The boys like to pack card games and their iPads. the also keep wallets, chargers, chapstick, sunglasses, etc. all in their mini backpack for the drive. When this gets packed, it gets loaded in the car so no one forgets their bag. 
  • I buy a flat of waters, when you stop to fuel up and you have to buy 6 bottles of water at $2 bucks a pop, it kinda cuts into the coffee budget, am I right?

 Packing for Camp

We are currently packing for a beach camping trip on the PINS. We will be somewhere between miles 4 and 60. Beach driving is a lot slower, so I try to be pretty thorough with our packing. I don't personally want to leave the white caps and view of my boys fishing to drive all the way back to Corpus Christi for something small I missed. 

We usually stop at HEB on the way and grab our groceries for that evening, then when we get to camp, I make a list of anything we may have forgotten. The next morning, I do an HEB pickup order, we take the kids to their favorite beach shops, and it back to the beach for the long haul. Here are some of the things we pack and setup to make beach camping a little easier:

  • We set up 3 privy tents, yes three. When you take kids to the beach and you only have one bathroom, it doesn't go over so well. We have 2 bathrooms and a shower. I have a plastic bin inside to keep our supplies as sand free as possible. 
  • Have baby powder at the entrance of every tent and in your day beach bag. Baby powder makes sand literally roll of. When we have gone to Pensacola Beach or other areas, the sand doesn't stick to you. It does on the PINS. I keep a day bag packed because we like to go driving down the beach and looking for stuff, cleaning up trash washed up on shore, and we like to go down to the very end. Mansfield Cut is so pretty and relaxing, and you can fish from the shore or the jetty! 
  • Have easy grab snacks, sand in food is not good. Snack cheese, boiled eggs, sliced lunchmeat, squeeze yogurts, go go squeeze, etc. 
  • Bring plenty of bottled water. This is not an area to skimp on. The sun is intense and everyone will need to hydrate more than normal. 
  • Remember that floaties can be a challenge at the beach, if you decide to have air up floaties, keep them tied to a stake or set up a tent you can zip them inside. The tent has worked better for us through the years, but now that the kids are older, we usually have boogie boards and that kind of thing, less to worry about blowing over the dunes. 
  • Sunblock! We have found that we really like Sun Bum. We use the SPF 70 when we’re at the beach and constantly reapply. I tan really well, and it doesn't stop me from getting golden brown, but it keeps us from getting all the bad rays and burning, which can ruin a good night’s sleep y'all!

For more information on primitive beach camping on Padre Island National Seashore, check out our blog post Planning a Beach Camping Trip.

In the end, packing with kids doesn't have to be stressful, I know some of my friends through the years that have overstressed the packing part of a trip because they have kids, and they lost their joy during it all. Remember to have fun and take in the little moments, even when things go wrong like shoes being left behind. It will make memories and you won't waste your time worrying when you can enjoy your kiddos instead. 

Whatever your next adventure is, have fun y'all!

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