Packing It In

The countdown is at four days and the packing prep has begun. Organizing our necessities in one duffle bag and one suitcase is the mission and I have never failed the task. The idea of buying everything when we arrive has crept into my mind – the simplicity of this thought is nice, however not realistic. The simple answer is – if you forget something the twenty-first century has invented 20+ items of a similar nature that you can find in every store everywhere. Feel better? I do. So pack the stuff you can’t live without and you’ll be good to go.  Right? Not so fast! I have two small boys that think it is more important to pack books than their toothbrushes and a favorite pillow over underwear. I have every obstacle to contend with and the biggest one is myself!

I can’t just pack a bag. Everything has a rhythm and rhyme – everything has a proper place. I make a packing list and it evolves into a three eyed, purple spotted beast before the zipper makes its final curtain call. I don’t know how or why the chaos ensues, but it always rears it’s ugly head.

I picture myself standing in front of a self-help group saying, “Hi, my name is Kelly and I’m a compulsive organizer.” (“But, a great packer”) Admission is the first step to recovery. Everyone has a different method. Everyone thinks their method is best. I prefer mine. My simple five step method even includes a shopping adventure.

Step 1: Laundry. Having everything at your fingertips is priceless and you will have enough to do when you get back from vacation so this helps lighten the load(s).

Step 2: Make a list for each family member. Imagine a typical day from morning to night and jot down any items they use. Then I consider where I’m going, check the weather there and make adjustments.

Step 3: Shopping. I have been blessed with good travelers, but kids get bored easily and then without fail get loud, kick the grumpy man in front of you, spill their juice on their favorite book and have to go to the bathroom immediately when there is a line. Getting the kids a new toy or picking up a few new books from the library to take along will help pass the time waiting for the next flight or next town if you are driving. For this trip, I prepped a Go-Binder for my four year old. It is everything he needs for a fun trip tucked inside a binder and ready when he is. Keep reading for details.

I also pick up a bag of Skittles for my oldest to chew on during take off and landing to help with the pressure. Skittles are better than gum (in my book) because you don’t have to worry about spitting it out later.  There is nothing worse than walking off the flight with gum stuck to your butt.

Step 4: Get dressed. Pretend it is the day of your trip. What will you wear – shoes, clothes? What bathroom items will you need to get ready? Pull all of these items to the side and make sure you leave room for the bathroom items in your suitcase since they will most likely be the last items to go into your bag.

Step 5: Reality. Set out the pieces of luggage you plan to take.  Include purses, diaper bags, backpacks, etc. Then find the items on your list and place them by the appropriate bag. I follow these guidelines to actually fill the bags:

  • Pack extra shoes on the bottom of the suitcases
  • Pack the bulkier items first and lay them flat
  • Roll t-shirts and light weight items and pack them in between heavier items
  • Pajamas on top since you will need those first on the other side
Having a helper isn’t always the best idea

It is also important to do the research and know the regulations for flying. To bring the car seat or not? How important is that stroller? What about baby food, liquids, and medicine?

All airlines are different. I found this website to be thorough and very helpful for kids of all ages. Flying With Children is written by a flight attendant and mother. Over the years it has been updated with tips from parents around the world and definitely worth checking out.

You will need:

  • Binder – I used a 1 1/2 inch binder
  • Lined paper
  • Workbook pages
  • Three whole punch
  • Pencil case
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Chalkboard crayons
  • Markers
  • Stickers
    1. Paint the back cover of the binder with the chalkboard paint and let dry over night


  1. Once dry, add the paper, workbook pages, and pencil case filled with markers, chalkboard crayons, and stickers.

As a mom of small children it is my responsibility to keep them entertained on the flight as a courteousy to other travelers. Keeping a one and four year old happy, quiet, and entertained in planes, trains, and automobiles takes a little extra effort, but not only will the other travelers be appreciative, you’ll give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

In a few short days we will be Ubering our way to the airport. I have my fingers crossed the bags will be packed with the essentials. No matter what, I will be vacation bound and with Starbucks in hand and I’ll be one happy momma.



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