Kid-Proof Vacation Packing System

By Holly Homer

Kid-Proof Vacation Packing System

In the grand scheme of parenting, the ultimate goal is to produce functional, independent children who are happy. In the grand scheme of parenting, there are times when it is just easier to do something yourself than to turn it into a big life lesson! Packing suitcases was always one of those areas for me. The deal is that it always ends up being mom’s problem if something {or some things} is/are accidentally forgotten. It was self-preservation to do the packing myself!

This year we traveled several times, and I have taken a different approach. The boys are older — my youngest is seven and my oldest is 12. They NEED to learn how to pack themselves! Now, I didn’t just let them loose with the task. We did it together, and it worked surprisingly well.


Holly’s Kid-Proof Vacation Packing System

Our upstairs has a hallway between the rooms. This is where I set up a suitcase for each child and then gather them together for a 10-minute packing mission. Each boy is responsible for finding, retrieving and then packing the items that I call out.

We talk about season, the planned vacation activities and whether or not there is a washing machine available at our location. I start at their feet and move up so they can visualize what will be called for next:

  • Shoes — leaving one pair to wear
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Pants/shorts
  • Shirts {that match the pants/shorts}
  • Jacket — usually just get out to wear
  • Pajamas
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/comb


They are not allowed to move to the next object until they have the appropriate number of the previous object placed neatly in the suitcase.

This system takes just a few minutes, turns into a game and makes the kids responsible for their stuff. The bonus is that they know what they have in their suitcase when we get to our destination. Once we had successfully packed once or twice this way, I realized that this was likely faster than my doing it all by myself, and a lot more fun!

Vacationing is supposed to be relaxing, right? When it comes to vacationing, what else do you let the kids do by themselves to take stress off yourself?