Our favorite smart packing travel tips (+ printable family packing list)

Raluca Loteanu January 23, 2017
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family packing list

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Although traveling is my greatest passion, there is one thing I really dislike about the fact that we travel often: I need to pack and unpack all the time! Since we are parents this task became even more difficult, so I needed to find some tips to make this easier! The first step was to create a family packing list that I use every time we travel! This easy checklist really made the difference: I only print it before our trips, I made some additions or I delete some items depending on our destination and the time we spend there and the family packing list is ready! 🙂

If you like the idea of having a family packing list on hand for every time you travel, you can download mine at the end of the article!

Besides the useful family packing list that made trip preparation faster, I also discovered some smart packing tips and they really helped me be more efficient. I found these ideas on different sites and on Pinterest and after implementing them I noticed they really make a difference and can make packing much easier. I am sharing with you our favorite tips, I’m sure you’ll find here some helpful ideas for your future trips!

1. Use zip-locks

They are incredibly useful for organizing the items you pack and can be used in a lot of ways. We use them for organizing snacks: we put in each zip-lock the quantities necessary for one snack time and this way we can easily access them anytime we need.

The zip-locks are also helpful for packing children clothes: you can organize daily outfits in different zip-locks. This way you avoid packing too many clothes and each day you have everything ready for dressing the kids.

2. Create a binder or a box with fun things for the child to do in the car or on the plane.

The binder is perfect for plane trips because it is easy to carry in the hand luggage. You can put in it a lot of printables, games, and coloring sheets and they will keep your kid busy during the flight.

For road trips, it is better to prepare a box with games, toys, and books and keep it in the car. This way you have everything at hand when the child gets bored and needs something to play with. We also always take a new toy or a new book with us on long trips and this helps us keep Bogdan busy for a longer time.


  • 15+ printable resources: activities for kids, morning checklists, chore lists, planners, and much more
  • plus 12 months of ideas to help you build a happy relationship with your child

3. Make more room in the luggage by rolling the clothes instead of folding them.

A family packing list is full of items and they all need to fit in one luggage, so it’s useful to use rolling instead of folding when packing clothes. I read this tip a long time ago, but I never really noticed how useful it is until we moved from Europe to America and I needed to pack a lot of clothes. If you have large amounts of clothes to pack, rolling is the best alternative!

4. Use travel size cosmetics instead of the normal size ones

The travel size cosmetics are very practical and will not take up too much space in your luggage. You can find travel size cosmetics at almost all cosmetic brands, so you will be able to take your favorite products with you without carrying big items with you.

A useful tip for saving money is to buy travel size containers for cosmetics and to fill them with your favorite products. This way you can use the same containers over and over again without spending additional money on cosmetics. I use the same trick for the kid’s shower gel and shampoo.

5. Other easy tricks

Here are my two favorite tricks:

– the cheapest way to create a backseat organizer for keeping things on hand during road trips is to use a shoe organizer (they are practical and have a lot of pockets to use)

– packing a garbage sack (or more) in the luggage is great for storing dirty clothes so that they don’t get mixed with the clean ones

– the most space-efficient way to put shoes in the luggage is to cover them with a shower cap (they will not take up too much space and the other items will be protected against the dirty shoes).

Our family packing list

I am a big fan of lists because they help me keep everything organized and save time. Before each trip, I used to write down packing lists for the three of us, to be sure I don’t forget something. This was efficient when packing, but it required time to prepare the lists, so I wanted to find a quicker solution. This is why I created a printable list with the items we need to take with us and it is very useful for planning all our trips. I just print the lists, I add some specific items that are not on the standard list and I have everything set for packing! 🙂

I am sharing with you this printable, I am sure it will be helpful for you too! It contains 4 lists: packing list for the baby, packing list for kids, packing list for mom and packing list for dad. Every list includes the standard items grouped in different categories, but also some free spaces where you can add specific items you need for a particular trip. Then when you pack you only need to check the items as you add them in the luggage and the packing will be faster and easier.

family packing list printable

Download the family packing list printable

To download the printable you just need to subscribe to the Playful Notes community. This way you will receive updates and exclusive content from us and it you’ll have access to our collection of printables, so you’ll find other nice ideas too! To join our community please enter your email address below.

Here is a list of very useful packing tips for family vacations. At the end, you can also download out family packing list!

Here is a list of very useful packing tips for family vacations. At the end, you can also download out family packing list!

photo credit: Pexels.com

Category: Tips
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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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