Family vacations are often chaotic, although often in a good way. If there’s one thing that’s almost always difficult, it’s managing all of your stuff. No matter how much you try to keep it organized or all together, there’s sure to be one thing you forget, can’t find, or accidentally leave behind. It often doesn’t matter how old your children are, either. If they’re young, you have to keep track of various baby paraphernalia. And if they’re older, they could have everything from stuffed toys to devices to keep track of.

You’re never going to be perfect, and you’re likely to always lose the odd sock when you’re traveling. But there’s still plenty you can do to keep everything organized and make sure you have everything you need on your family vacation.

Create a ChecklistPrintable Packing list

A good list can be helpful in so many situations. When you’re traveling, a packing list is one of the most useful tools you can have. You can organize your list in whatever way makes sense for you. You might list what you need to pack for each person, or what you need for each day. Alternatively, maybe organize your list based on what should go in each bag or what you need for different activities or locations.

You could just write your list down on a piece of paper. Or you could type up a list, whether it’s just in a plain document or organized in a spreadsheet. As you pack things, check them off to make sure you have them. Then do the same thing before you go home to ensure it all comes back. It’s also a good idea to have a list of the bags you’re taking, so nothing gets left behind.

Free printable packing list

Use Suitcase Organizers

Suitcases and large bags are obviously handy for carrying a lot of stuff, but they can also get messy. When you pack a lot of stuff into a suitcase, it can easily start shifting around until it’s hard to find anything. One easy way to solve this problem is to use organizers or packing cubes. This allows you to separate different categories of items into smaller bags. Separate your clothes by person, day, or use so you can easily access them. This makes sense for keeping certain things safely away from others too. A toiletry bag will protect the rest of your things and packing any electronics separately will prevent moisture or other issues from getting to them.

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Label EverythingOn The Go Toiletry Bag

Labels are a great tool if you want to keep track of all your stuff. You can use them to show whose stuff is whose, especially if some of you have identical items that you want to be able to tell apart from each other. It will also leave you in no doubt of what belongs to you so it doesn’t get mixed up with other travelers’ things. You can get labels to sew into clothes or iron on, as well as labels you can stick to other items. Sometimes just writing on things with a marker is the best way to go.

Make Personalized Items

If you want to go a step further than labeling your stuff, you could make some of your things personalized. This is a good idea if you want the kids to have some handy travel items but don’t want them to get mixed up. For example, it can be useful for them all to have their own travel mug or cup that they can refill. By making custom tumblers, you can help them all keep track of their own drinks. And as a bonus, it will help to cut down on arguments over whose is whose. Even if they don’t all have a unique design, you can mark them out as belonging to your family.

Give Everyone Their Own Bag

How to Travel with Carry On Luggage Only

Giving your kids some responsibility over their own stuff has its pros and cons. On one hand, it can mean less for you to worry about. It also teaches them an important lesson. However, on the other hand, not all children are capable of watching over their own things. You can end up worrying even more about their stuff if you’re not sure they’re able to handle the responsibility. But by giving everyone their own bag, you’ll have less to carry yourself. Younger children will enjoy being trusted with their own things, and older children are likely to prefer having easy access to anything they might want during travel.

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You might give little ones their own backpack or ride-on suitcase, but older children could carry all of their stuff. With their own suitcase or duffel bag, they can be responsible for their own clothes so you only have to look after your own suitcase.

Have a Plan for Dirty Clothes

Doing laundry while you’re on vacation is an option. You could use a hotel laundry service or visit a laundromat. But who wants to do laundry when they’re trying to have fun? If you’d rather not bother, you need a way to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes. Packing a separate bag is an easy option, but it’s important to remember that eventually, you’ll have more dirty clothes than clean ones. Unpacking everything and repacking it as you use it can be a good idea. You could even take a collapsible laundry basket for a simple way to stay neat and tidy.

Have Smaller Bags for the Car/PlaneLevel8 Carry-on Luggage Review

You might pack big suitcases with most of your stuff, but some things need to be a bit more accessible. You don’t want an essential item to be in the hold of the plane or the trunk of the car when you need it most. Smaller bags that you can use during travel are ideal, and everyone could have their own bag of essential items. Some of the things you could all have on hand might include travel games, drinks and snacks, wet wipes, phone chargers, and of course your wallet and phone.

Encourage the kids to pack their own bag, maybe with a favorite toy or anything else they might want during the journey. They can pick what they have with them (within reason) and you can also encourage them to include a few essentials that you think would be practical.

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Do a Final Sweep Before Going Home

It’s pretty easy to leave something behind when you go home. You’ve been busy having fun and you might not be so focused on making sure everything comes home with you. There will often be the odd casualty, even if you try to keep track of everything. But there’s a lot you can do to prevent anything from getting lost too.

If you made a list of things to pack before you left for your trip, you can use the same list again to ensure it all returns. Another useful thing to do before you go home is to do a thorough sweep of where you’ve been staying. Whether it’s a hotel room, an apartment, or a house, it gives you a last opportunity to spot anything. Inspect every surface, check under beds and inside bedding, sweep the floor, and look inside closets and drawers. Don’t forget to check the bathroom so you don’t leave toothbrushes or any of your toiletries behind.

Make your next family vacation easier and more relaxed by organizing your stuff. You won’t have to worry when you have everything in order and you can make sure it all makes it back home.

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