Keeping Organized

On a trip


8 Ways to stay organized while traveling with the family

Within the past year, I have completed four round-trip flights with my three kids in tow and without another adult. Through it all, I've discovered that staying organized generally results in a smoother trip and happier travelers.  The following items are now staples in my traveling toolkit.

1/Packing cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to keep suitcases organized, maximize packing space, and make unpacking/repacking in hotel rooms a breeze.  I like to use a different color for each family member and then scatter each member’s cubes among the suitcases, so that if any luggage gets lost, at least everyone has some clothes.  If you pack the cubes tightly (I like to roll clothes before placing them inside), you'll really maximize every inch of the suitcase.  When you get to a hotel or cruise ship, simply take the cubes out of the suitcases and place them into drawers.  Pull what you need out of the cubes during your trip, and once the dirty laundry starts to accumulate, designate some of the cubes for dirty clothes only.  When it’s time to go home, it takes no time at all to move the cubes back into the suitcases.

2/Packing envelopes

Packing envelopes are similar to packing cubes but flatter and meant for packing small items instead of clothes.  These zippered bags are perfect for charging cords, snacks, electronic devices, diapers, baby wipes, crayons/markers, medications, cosmetics, and more.  Your carry-ons will stay neat and tidy.

3/TSA-approved travel bottles

Count me among those who have had to throw away liquids at the security checkpoint, which sort of gets your travel day off to a bad start!  I like these leak-proof bottles, because I don't have to worry about exceeding the volume limits, and they already come in a clear bag like you are supposed to use when you take liquids through security. 

4/Cable organizer

Keeping device chargers organized is my biggest challenge while traveling with kids.  I typically have at least six devices and chargers in my carry-on (My kids aren't old enough that I can trust them to secure them on their own) and keeping those cords untangled is a nightmare.  A cable organizer is a simple way to keep them all neat and easy to find.

5/Colored luggage handles

It turns out that red suitcases aren’t all that unusual anymore.  Or purple.  Or green.  I have all three, and I still almost always start to pull the wrong suitcase off the conveyer belt before I realize that it isn’t mine.  These colored handles make it easy to find your luggage at baggage claim.  They come in sets of four in various colors and patterns and stretch to fit any bag handle.

6/Bag bungee

I proudly can say that I have managed to get three young children, three backpacks, four suitcases, and one carry-on from the car to the baggage check counter without another adult.  No joke!  It wasn’t easy, but this bag bungee really simplified things.  I can strap a backpack, folded blanket, stuffed animal or shopping bag full of stuff that wouldn’t fit in my carry-on to the top of a suitcase, hand it to a kid, and instruct them to pull.

7/Hanging toiletry bag

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The hanging toiletry bag has been around for ages, and I almost didn’t include it because I figure most people probably already have one, but it’s truly invaluable.  Remember that unless all of your liquids are 3.4 ounces or less, this bag will need to go into your checked luggage.  When you get to your destination, all you have to do is unzip the toiletry bag and hang it from something in the bathroom like a hook, towel bar or shower curtain rod.  You can easily access your bathroom stuff, and it makes repacking a cinch.  You could even use these bags for things other than toiletries, such as jewelry, electronics or art supplies for kids.

8/Passport wallet

When traveling as a family, I have five passports and boarding passes to keep track of, not to mention other items that I need to be able to grab quickly at an airport like cash and credit cards.  I use a passport wallet like this one to make sure that nothing gets misplaced, and everything is easily accessible during the chaos of security lines and airport crowds.

Diana Smith is an expert cruiser.  She and her family, including her three Disney princesses, have set sail on six Disney cruises.  For more, check out Disney Cruise Mom Blog.  

Photo courtesy: Jordan Sanchez

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