Packing Tips GALORE! How We Pack for Trips (with Kids!)

Lifestyle, Travel

Vacation all we ever wanted….vacation had to get away! Family trips are one of our favorite ways to make memories, but getting everyone packed and ready is no small feat. Looking for a few tips to prep for your next big adventure? We’ve got dozens of packing tips you NEED to try.

woman pointing at packed suitcases for kids, from Fun Cheap or Free

Does anyone actually enjoy packing? Getting your suitcase loaded up is stressful enough, but getting all the kiddos ready, too? Eek! So overwhelming.

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Good news! We’ve learned quite a few lessons about packing, and we’re about to spill our secrets. Take a deep breath, grab your bags, and let’s do this!


woman packing suitcase, from Fun Cheap or Free

You guys know we like to keep things real around here, so be honest. How often do you find yourself packing for vacation the night before you’re supposed to leave? Or even the morning of the trip? We’re not here to judge, but we are here to help! And this tip will change your life.

We like to pull out all our suitcases one week before we leave for vacation. Why? Because then it’s SO easy to pack things as you go. Instead of wasting time putting clean laundry away that you’re going to pack anyway, just put it right in the suitcase.

This also keeps you from doing last-minute loads of laundry when you realize something you wanted to pack is dirty! Ugh! Less laundry and less stress? Win, win. Sign us up!

Ready for more? Let’s talk about packing up those kiddos!


family with kids packing for vacation, from Fun Cheap or Free

Remember the carefree days of kid-free travel? Packing seemed like a breeze then, right? Well, we’re about to restore some of your sanity. Getting your kids packed for a big trip does NOT have to be stressful. Follow these tips to simplify the process:

  • Start with a Checklist – Write down everything you’ll need for the trip, and divide it out by family member. You can even make a Google Spreadsheet if you’d like. 
  • Divide and Conquer – Rally the kids, grab your list, and give them marching orders — tell them what to go get. We let our kids choose their own outfits, and then we help organize them. #RaisingCapableKids
  • Roll, Roll, Roll – Rolling clothes will save you SO much space, and it’s faster than folding! We like to roll clothes by outfit, keeping the top and bottom together. That tiny little step saves so much time when your kids are getting ready for the day during your vacation! Game. Changer. 
  • Pack Two Pairs of Shoes Per Kid – You don’t need to bring the whole closet! Going somewhere warm? Pack one pair of everyday sandals and some flip flops for the pool. Traveling somewhere cold? Grab some sneakers and snow boots.

Pro Tip: Only buy white socks for your kids. It makes life so much easier and packing a cinch! No more hunting for matching socks. Hallelujah! 


kids using iPad in the car, from Fun Cheap or Free

Okay, if you have kids, then you KNOW packing for them requires so much more than just clothes! How many times have you heard, “mom, I’m bored!” on a road trip or plane ride? Too many, we're sure! To solve this problem, we pack a backpack for each kid. Here’s what we put inside:

  • Blanket & Neck Pillow Traveling during nap times? Come prepared! 
  • Coloring Book Don’t forget the crayons, too! The dollar store always have a good selection and they're cheap!
  • Books to ReadMake a stop at your local library a few days before your trip and let each kid pick out a book or two.
  • Tablet/Movies – Whether you've got a screen in your car or you download some shows to your tablet, don't forget to bring some movies or shows! They're crucial for long trips, especially once the coloring books and other entertainment are no longer holding their attention.
  • HeadphonesThese are essential for both car and plane travel! Don’t pay for the ones they sell in-flight. 
  • Snack BagAirport food is EXPENSIVE! And gas station food is a gamble. We like to bring our own snacks, and we’ll give you the scoop on that in a bit. 
  • Water BottleIf you’re traveling by plane, pack an empty bottle and fill it up at the airport after going through security!

Okay, let’s take a deeper dive into those snacks! We’ve got a system we think you’ll love. 


road trip food for kids, from Fun Cheap or Free

You know we hate spending money on road trip food! Save yourself some cash and bring food from home! We pack an individual snack bag for each of our kids. Toss in enough snacks and treats to last the whole day, and let them know they can decide when to eat it all. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. 

Flying? Pack one bag for the trip there and one for the flight back. Keep the return flight bags in a suitcase. Wondering what to include in those snack packs? Here are some quick ideas:

  • Fruit Leather
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Trail Mix
  • Apple Sauce Pouches

Word of advice: make sure the bag sizes are identical. It will save you from unnecessary arguments! Want more snack packing advice? Read all about our lunch and snack system!


family with suitcases, from Fun Cheap or Free

Now that the kiddos are ready to go, let’s get your bags ready! Here a few quick tips:

  • Sort by Clothing Type – To get organized, we like to start by sorting our clothes. For example, put swimsuits in a pile, shirts in another, and so on. 
  • Pair Up Your Outfits – Decide which shirts you’ll wear with which pants, roll them up together, and place them in a packing cube! You can pack one cube per day or organize cubes by clothing categories. Do what works best for you! 
  • Pack One Toiletry Bag – We like to gather up all the toiletries the family will need and pack them in one bag together. Don’t forget toothpaste! Put those toiletries in a clear plastic bag the morning of your trip, then drop them in either mom or dad’s suitcase.


Want to see the proof that these tips work? Watch the packing tips video online HERE, or watch below:

So there you go! That's how we do it! What’s your best packing tip? Drop us a comment below and let us know!

Image with text that reads "packing tips to make trips easy" from Fun Cheap or Free

Looking for more hacks that will make your life easier?

Wheels up!


  1. Claire

    What do you mean by reusable snack bags? We are headed on a trip next month and I’m traveling solo on 2 planes with my 3 kids ??? so nervous lol

  2. Olivia

    Love it! Safe travels, and have fun! ?

  3. Debbie Meader-Hall

    Great ideas. Thank you, too bad I did not ha e some ideas when my kids were little (33 & 30 now). Gives me ome great ideas I can use for lunches.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Oh mama, your babies are grown. 🙂 Thank you for your support! XO

  4. Maureen Clipperton

    Wow, that was crazy, but awesome job! Have a safe and blessed trip.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      I know right?! SO crazy! Thank you so much!

  5. Jamie

    Great video! A lot of useful tips that I will be using for an upcoming International trip for our family! Have a great time!

  6. Stephanie Dupaix

    Good tips! We’ll be trying them out next month!

  7. Wendy

    My tip: I always take a collapsible cooler ziplocks so we can easily transport drinks and cold beverages to the beach, amusement parks, etc.

  8. Tiffany A

    Any advise for pack n plays/cribs and traveling with car seats? ? I’m taking my 1 year old and 3 year old to LA by myself and I can’t decide what would be easiest with car seats.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Car seats are a pain, but luckily you can check them for free so you can keep your hands free for the littles. Good luck with your travels.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Oh yea, thanks for finding that!

    • FunCheapOrFree

      That’s so smart! That would really help to save some room in the bag!


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