Traveling as a family can be stressful. But with a little preparation, packing and getting ready for a weekend getaway can be fun and educational for young children.
Use the 5 tips below to ease your packing woes, and make sure to get everyone involved, even the youngest children!
Tip: Less is more.
Especially when packing for the whole family, it’s easy to get sucked into the “What if we need this” black hole. But really, packing just the right amount can help you feel at ease about having enough room in the car, save time when you get in and out of hotels, and make it less likely that you misplace or lose an important item. Go for less, and remember that if an emergency pops up you’re never too far from a corner store.
Tip: Let go of perfection.
Traveling gets messy. For adults and children! Remember that a crummy car can be vacuumed out when you get home, and in fact put that on your list of things the kids can help with. Be prepared in the car with easy to access garbage bags, and make sure your child knows where they are and how to use them. Gentle reminders never hurt either.
Tip: Pick Multi-Purpose.
Using one item for two purposes means saved space. When your cooler is empty from the trip TO your destination, use it to store recyclables that you want to take home. Can a car blanket double up as an extra layer under your sleeping bag in your tent? Lastly, think carefully about the size of backpacks/bags you bring along. Choose one that can double up for day trips when you reach your destination, whether it’s supplies for a day hike or a trip to the zoo.
Tip: Roll it up!
Rolling clothing is a great way to prevent wrinkles and see at a glance what exactly is in your bag. Best of all, it’s great fine motor control practice for children of all ages. Lay out the item on the floor, tuck in sleeves on shirts, and ask your child to roll the item up tight! If you pack a single layer of clothing this way, it’s easy to access specific items when you want them.
Tip: Let your child help you pack.
That’s how they learn! In addition to rolling clothing, your child can practice getting their own things ready for a trip. Speak together about what you’ll be doing, one step at a time. “We’ll be swimming. What do you need?” or “We’ll be spending the night. What do you need for bed?”
Independence starts early, and you can help your child by providing this type of practice!
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