Staying organized on family vacations like a pro

messy white couch covered in clothing getting orgnaised to pack

Once we’ve got our bags packed and waiting for the taxi, we often feel like that’s all the hard work out of the way and off we go ready to enjoy our holidays.

If you’ve followed along with our steps for stress-free packing and used a packing list you’ll know that this is a great start to being organized. However, what happens after that first suitcase explosion….?!

Nearly all our vacations involve multiple stops, so keeping our luggage organized throughout our trip is the key to keeping stress levels under control and not misplacing items as we go.

Here are 7 steps we take to keep organized once we’re on the move.

This post is part of our Family Travel Advice series

1. Use packing cubes wisely

You’ve no doubt heard a hundred people telling you to use packing cubes already – so now is the time to pay attention! This is one of the keys tools that pro-family travellers use to stay organized on the go.

I must admit I am not the type who plans my kid’s outfits 3 weeks in advance for every day of my trip, but what I do believe in is separating out our trip by location.

If I know we’ll be on a two-day city stop, before heading to the beach, I try and put all the clothes the kids will need for those two days in one cube, mine & Mr Globetrotters in another. Ditto, all our beachwear gets rolled together and so on (yes roll, don’t fold!)

There are always 3 packing cubes that make up our top layer of the suitcase

  • Toiletries
  • Electronics
  • Pyjamas

These are really easy to then grab and go – especially if you’re just on single night stops. All you then need to have planned ready is the next day/location’s packing cube. The dirty stuff then goes in the day that’s about to be worn, suitcase repacked, and voilà!

2. Don’t overpack – wash your clothes as you go

Speaking of the dirty stuff, a 3-week trip doesn’t need 3 weeks of clothing! Reduce how much you need to bring and the amount of mess you can make by using a laundry service as you go. We never pack for more than one week in total.

An on-demand laundry service such as Laundryheap can help you take care of your laundry, dry cleaning and ironing needs when you’re away from home, minimising how many outfits you need to bring for everyone.

Servicing major cities across Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Asia, this is a super-easy way to keep your clothing needs on vacation under control. Through either their app or website you order a door to door laundry collection – this can even be contactless if you prefer.

Through the app, you can track where your order is throughout the process and, the best part, it takes less than 24 hours for your clothing to be returned, so it really is minimal disruption and inconvenience to your trip.

3. Easy to mix and match outfits

Minimise how much you are packing by having easy to match tops and bottoms that can be layered. If colour matching isn’t an issue this can simplify daily choices and mean you get more wears out of each outfit – and doesn’t matter if one item is in the laundry cycle!

4. Set up a mini command station for electronics & valuables

Tell me we’re not the only ones who now travel with five tablets, five sets of headphones, three spare battery packs, two mobiles, two laptops, a camera…. Oh, and you think all these devices share a common charging cord?

Whether it’s just the one night or a month, the first thing I unpack and set up in our temporary digs is our new command station. First up, our packing cube with electronics and cords gets plugged in with a multi-adapter power bank, we can then prioritise which items need charging first and rotate them around.

This is also where we keep the room and car keys and any other valuables including our itinerary folder, wallet and handbag. If we are using the room safe, we leave ourselves a little reminder card (trust me on this one!).

5. Room to grow

We ALWAYS come back with more than we left with! Be it in souveniers or essential supply shopping to bring back to our expat home. Don’t fool yourself travelling with kids that it’s all going to be light and easy.

We DO minimise what we set out with and if new items are purchases along the way, there are a few things you can do:

  • Use the expander zip on your suitcase wisely.
  • The bag inside a bag trick – especially useful when we know we’re going for a shopping trip or visiting the rellies who we know will have gifts for the kids. This can be a stacking suitcase or an easy to fold extra duffle bag that can slip in the front pocket and just fold out when needed.
  • Utilise any spare space around your extra kiddy items. By this, we mean portable carrycots and car seat travel bags that aren’t normally charged extra by your airline, utilise every square inch of space!

6. Send on your excess luggage

One of the hardest parts we’ve found with festive season travel is the pure number of bags we need. However, not all luggage is needed for every stage of your journey.

Where possible, see if a luggage delivery service can be used. If, for example, you have moved from a cold climate to hot, can your winter wear be sent on ahead or back to friends/family at home?

It can cost a little extra to use these services but trust me, its the type of thing that’s worth its weight in gold when you’re lugging suitcases up three flights of stairs at 2am with overtired tots and bemoaning the fact that 90% you don’t even need for this one night stop!

7. Bring the packing list with you!

We’re all great at ticking items off our list when we’re packing our suitcases at home, but do you remember to take a copy of your packing list with you?

This is the great way to make sure things weren’t left behind – think power cords plugged in behind beds, favourite teddies and toiletries in the shower.

We hope some of these handy tips will help you stay organized on your next multi-stop family trip so more time can be spent enjoying your time away with your family.

Don’t have a packing list yet? Download our family travel checklist here!

Have you got any more suggestions for keeping organized with kids on the move?

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