Less Drama Family Travel Tips: Keep Calm and Carry On

travel tips

On Thanksgiving 2012, my family of four traveled to Ohio for a three-night stay at my in-laws’ house. We managed to fit everything we needed for the trip into two carry-on bags and two backpacks. There was no drama about checking items, paying extra fees, waiting at baggage claim, or lugging tons of unnecessary stuff. We just zipped through the airport and had all of our belongings with us at all times.

I’ve always had a knack for packing light, so today I’m sharing some of my best tips:

Do double-duty – Pick clothes that you can mix and match and wear more than once. Solid colors work best.

Layer – If you’re going somewhere cold, pack several thin layers of clothes rather than bulky sweaters and jackets. If you’re bringing a coat, wear it on the plane.

Be light on your feet – I rarely pack more than two pairs of shoes per person. Three is the absolute max. One pair of walking shoes like sneakers (that I wear on the plane), one pair of casual shoes (like sandals or flats), and one dressier pair. Kids usually only need two pairs.

Coordinate colors – If you pack black shoes, coordinate all of your outfits to go with them, so you don’t need to pack brown shoes, too.

Contain yourself – The airline restriction on liquids over three ounces is actually a blessing in disguise. Small containers of shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, and toothpaste save lots of room in your bags.

Fly, then buy – Pack enough to get you to your destination and then buy things when you get there, such as diapers.

Set limits – Decide ahead of time on the number of stuffed animals, toys, and (soft cover) books your child can bring.

Stuff it – Rolled socks and underwear can be stuffed into all the little nooks and crannies of your bag, including inside shoes.

Roll it – If you do nothing else from this list, do this. It allows you to fit TONS more into your luggage than you would by simply folding your clothes. Start by folding the clothes as you normally would and then tightly roll them up. When putting them in the suitcase, really squeeze them in together and don’t worry about wrinkles; this method actually prevents wrinkles.




And to avoid all the little dramas along the way, don’t forget:

  • Checking in online the night before and printing your boarding passes
  • Leaving plenty of extra time to make it through security and to your gate
  • Travel documents and photo IDs
  • Some cash on hand for tipping or small purchases
  • Prescription and OTC medicines
  • Enough snacks to get you to your destination
  • All of your chargers, headphones, batteries, and SD cards
  • Plastic bags for packing shoes and dirty clothes
  • Ziploc bags for anything that can spill. Sometimes I also unscrew the cap of a bottle, put a little bit of plastic wrap over the opening and then put the cap back on for added protection
  • Finally, keep calm and enjoy your family trip!


Do you have other family travel tips to share? Please leave them in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and “like” it on Facebook. And for even more great tips on becoming a calm and connected parent (delivered right to your inbox every Tuesday), please subscribe to this blog. Happy Holidays and safe, drama-free travels to everyone!

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  • Veronica

    Love the blog! If your family is traveling for the holidays or going somewhere big in 2014 make sure to keep your little ones equipped by visiting http://www.kidstravelzone.com/. Choose from a great selection of kids travel luggage and bags perfect for a great getaway!

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