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  • Writer's pictureAbby Black

Efficient Packing Hacks for Family Travel with Kids 8-12 Years Old

My husband and I took our 10-year-old daughter to Mexico for the first time this month. We enjoyed family time together, explored various excursions, and soaked up plenty of sun and fun by the pool and beach! I lost track of the number of ice cream cones and fruit smoothies my daughter ate and the chips + salsa we consumed. This trip helped me realize and recognize the significance and stress of trip packing. Inspired by this experience, I've compiled practical tips and insights for families traveling with kids.

Tips for Organizing Your Packing Process

Traveling with kids can be exhilarating, full of adventure and memories. Ensuring a smooth journey requires some up-front planning to accommodate your kids needs and preferences. From beach days to in-flight entertainment, here are some practical tips and insights to help streamline your packing process.

Beach Bag Essentials – this was by far the thing we used the most. Sunscreen, goggles, towels, reusable water bottles, diving sticks/rings, a small pouch for seashells, and a mid-sized pouch to keep some of the smaller items organized. The mid-size pouch was the perfect place for our room key, phones, cash, Chapstick, receipts, and other small items. Check out the video on my Instagram page for a breakdown of everything in our beach bag. If you’re looking for some great bags and pouches, I’ve also included some links below for you to check out.

Carry-On Must-Haves – equip each family member with the essentials. We each had a backpack and carry-on suitcase. My daughter’s backpack included: reusable water bottle, snacks, headphones, iPad, various activities, small notebook and a pen with some highlighters, toiletries, a change of clothes, and sandals. My backpack had similar items, along with our travel documents, chargers, a small assortment of first aid supplies and Ibuprofen, sunglasses, and a hat. Once we landed in destination, we stopped at the bathroom to freshen up a bit and change clothes. It made our trek through the airport and ride to the hotel much more comfortable. I love the Dollar Store for their word find books and other types of coloring or activity books.


Optimizing Clothing – we spent most of the day in our swimsuits and a coverup. I took inventory a few days after we arrived and realized we packed too many clothes! Yes, even with only utilizing a backpack and carry-on bag. My daughter wore swimsuits, a coverup, 3 nice outfits for dinner, 3 pairs of shorts, 3 tank tops, a pair of pajamas, undergarments, 2 pairs of socks, a pair of tennis shoes, 2 pairs of sandals – one for the beach/pool and another nice pair for the evening. We packed way more than this, and she was completely content! She has packing cubes, so everything was organized and easy to find.


Fly Comfortably - be prepared for the unexpected. We experienced quite a bit of turbulence the last 30 minutes of our return flight home, right before we landed. My daughter had a bout of motion sickness and there’s nothing worse than your kids being sick, let alone in a crowded space with limited air flow. We turned off our devices and took some deep breaths, which helped her feel better. Knowing this, I will pack Dramamine for Kids the next time we take her on a trip.


Purchase Wisely – consider buying necessities upon arrival to lighten luggage weight and adhere to carry-on restrictions. Because we didn’t check a bag, I knew we would buy things when we arrived. This also helps with the weight of your suitcases! We found a store close to our hotel and bought sunscreen, aloe vera, and snacks and drinks for our room. We used almost all of it but had we not, I would have left it behind due to the size of the bottles being over the 3oz allowance for carry-on.


Make Notes – I took notes while I was unpacking so I would have a list of the things we used a lot, and the things we forgot or could have done without. This will come in handy the next time we travel. And this list looks much different than when I am traveling solo or when it’s just my husband and me.


Effective packing is key to a successful family trip with kids. I hope you found these tips helpful if you’re traveling with kids. I created a simple recap of this in a checklist for your next trip. Keep in mind, you may need to adjust this based on the ages of your kids and what works best for your family. Let me know if you have other tips to share or include.

Happy Travels!

Abby Black

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