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10 Smart Packing Tips & Tricks Every Parent Needs to Know

10 Smart Packing Tips & Tricks Every Parent Needs to Know

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Packing has to be one of my least favourite parts of travel. Especially when I’m trying to do it while keeping one eye on the kids. During the past six years as a mum I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for streamlining our pre-holiday preparations. The fine art of packing for travelling with kids is something I feel I’m starting to master. Here’s my 10 smart packing tips and tricks every parent needs to know:

*This post contains affiliate links*

Smart packing tip 1: write a list

I love lists and have recently started using Trello* to create online lists for all areas of my life. You can use it on your desk top or there’s an app for your smartphone. You can also share lists so that it’s not just you responsible for making sure all your travel essentials are packed.

Take a look at more family travel checklists.

Smart packing tip 2: harness the power of the cube

I love order, so I’m not sure how I’ve managed to leave the house before now without these amazing packing cubes* from PRO Packing Cubes. I absolutely hate not being able to find things in my suitcase when we arrive somewhere, especially if it’s something the kids need NOW.

These handy packing cubes help organise your clothes and travel essentials so that you can find them with ease. They also turn your bag into a tardis with so much more room than rolling alone can create.

PRO Packing Cubes - How to pack for any trip - smart packing tips every mum needs to know

Smart packing tip 3: don’t over pack

Somehow our girls always seem to go through less clothes when we are travelling than when we are a home. I’m sure they get just as messy but I tend to reuse slightly grubby tops, knowing that we could run short. In the past this has left us with half a suitcase of unused clothes at the end of our holidays.

Now I just save on space and weight by packing less in the first place. It’s also better for the environment.

Smart packing tip 4: shop when you get there

Don’t waste luggage space on bags of nappies and wet wipes. They sell these all over the world *winky smiley emoji*. Just take what you need for your journey and the first night.

However, if you are going on a cruise make sure you have time for a top up shop when you arrive at the cruise port. Products like nappies, wipes and baby milk aren’t sold onboard.

Check out more tips for cruising with a baby.

Smart packing tip 5: pack wrinkle free clothes

I’ve recently been introduced to Hot Squash – a clever clothing range using material that helps regulate your body temperature. And the best bit? It doesn’t crease! What more could a holidaying mum need from her travel wardrobe?

HotSquash clothing -smart packing tips every mum needs to know

Smart packing tip: 6: ziplock bags

Keep all your toiletries in ziplock bags so if your holdall does get bashed around you won’t have to deal with messy broken bottles. I learnt this the hard way with an expensive bottle of perfume during a trip to Mexico pre-kids. Now, I also skip packing the perfume!

Smart packing tip 7: involve your kids in packing toys

I task five-year-old Tin Box Tot and three-year-old Tin Box Baby with packing a few toys to take with us each holiday. They mostly pack a mishmash of game pieces (not whole games) and cuddly toys into their Trunki* or LittleLife Wheelie Suitcases.

The crucial part is showing them how much space they can fill for each trip. As they get older their choice of holiday toys will improve but I want them to know now that space is always limited when we travel.

By the way, I always make sure their favourite bedtime cuddly toys are packed along with some crayons, books and stickers for entertainment. It would be madness to leave these things at home!

Smart packing tip 8: digitise your documents

Take photos of all your important travel documents or save them as PDFs and email them to yourself. I also save them in iBooks on my iPhone so if I don’t have wifi I can access them at any time.

iPhone - PRO Packing Cubes - How to pack for any trip - smart packing tips every mum needs to know

Smart packing tip 9: pack what you need first last

If you know you’re going to arrive at your destination late make sure your PJs and wash bags are top of your suitcase. Everything else can wait until the morning.

Smart packing tip 10: take packing advice from the pros

If you’re after even more packing tips get hold of a copy of Lonely Planet’s How to pack for any trip*. This pocket-sized guide will ‘unclutter your path to luggage liberation’ with easy to follow tips on everything from selecting the right bag to picking a multi-purpose travel wardrobe and teaching your kids the art of packing.

How to pack for any trip - smart packing tips every mum needs to know

Read more tips for travelling with kids.

What are your smart packing tips for other parents? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclosure: we’ve been sent some of these products in exchange for a mention on the blog. This post also contains affiliate links*. This means if you choose to click though and buy/use anything I have suggested I may receive some commission. I thank you.

If you’re collecting packing tips then why not pin this for later?

When you're travelling with kids packing becomes a fine art. Here are my recommended smart packing tips every mum needs to know

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking A Moment with Franca

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Liz Thompson

Friday 30th of June 2017

Thanks for the really useful tips and yes we want to get on the packing cube band wagon too! We're just writing a blog about our obsession with over packing and we will include a link to your blog about how to pack properly!

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Sunday 2nd of July 2017

Thanks, theta's really kind. The packing cubes are ace!

Tin box Grandpa

Monday 15th of May 2017

You mention in tip 6 that you leave perfume at home. If you are going anywhere warm or with mosquitoes/midges etc. these are attracted by strong perfume so best left out in any event. You can buy scent free talcum etc. which is a good option in hot climates.

Wandermust mummy

Friday 31st of March 2017

I use to pack light - often travelled with just hand luggage! Now have the baby must admit we tend to overdo it

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Saturday 1st of April 2017

It always feels better to leave the house overloaded when they are small. It's always the thing you didn't pack that you need!!

Jen at

Thursday 9th of March 2017

Great tips! I've never heard of these packing cubes. It seems counterintuitive but now I'm intrigued...

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Friday 10th of March 2017

They are brilliant Jen. I'm using them this weekend and they've saved so much space in our holdall. Plus I know where everything is now we've arrived!

A Moment With Franca

Saturday 4th of March 2017

Really good tips! This is one of the things I struggled the most when travelling. For my last trip to Basel I only was allowed to bring a carry on. We were travelling with Easy Jet so I had to put my handbag inside my bag. OMG that was so difficult to do! I managed at the end but it was not easy! I think now that I'm travelling more often and with some space restrictions, I'm starting to do my packing in a more clever way. Thanks so much for sharing this tips at #KCACOLS. I will definitely use them! :-) x

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Saturday 4th of March 2017

Glad you found the tips useful Franca! And 'yay' for more trips!!

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