By Amy Tara Koch
Updated: February 02, 2017


Travel is exciting, yes. But, the packing process—especially for families—is stressful.  To do it efficiently takes time and focus. To avoid mass dumpage into the suitcase, I start packing two weeks before we leave. And, I challenge myself to halve what I “think” we need. 

I place a cardboard box next to the table and drop things in as I think of them: books, sunscreen, shampoo, and medicine. First, I pack the kids. I begin laying the clothes out by category on the dining room table: undies, PJs, tops, bottoms, dresses, hats, shoes. Then, I create a small grooming kit for each kid with brush, toothbrush, hair ties, and Band-Aids. A few days later, I revisit the mounds and remove what is not entirely necessary.

Space Packs are a genius way to stay organized. These zippered pouches allow me to compress clothing and keep garments organized by family member.

Full-sized grooming products hog precious space. Everything is scaled down to small containers and placed in labeled Ziploc bags. Another space-saver in the beauty department is to stockpile skincare/grooming samples from department stores and drugstores. They are ideal for travelling.

And, I always travel with an in-transit pharmacy that contains kids and adult Advil, kids and adult Pepto Bismol, Benadryl, cortisone cream, Band-Aids, Neosporin, Swim Ear drops, eye drops, and saline nasal spray—since kids always get sick or bash a body part during the course of the trip. Being caught without medicine creates a full-blown travel nightmare.

Finally, to avoid overweight bags on the way home, I always shove an empty lightweight duffel bag in the suitcase to transport treasures/souvenirs amassed during the trip.

Guest family blogger Amy Tara Koch is a style expert, author, journalist and travel aficionado. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. Check out her blog, Amy Tara Koch.