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6 Ways to Avoid Chaos When Packing For Kids

Packing up your kids for vacation can be a monumental undertaking. Keeping them organized is even more exhausting. Packing for your kids is time-consuming, tedious and frustrating. Even when you set out with an organized suitcase (which, let's be honest, they unpacked at least twice before departure), they destroy everything as soon as you arrive at your destination.

But there's a way to keep shirts and dresses from turning into a monstrous mess, especially when your kids are older. Everyone can stick to a few basic organizational rules. Add in a few easy tricks and you'll be sipping a drink next to the hotel pool in no time.

1. Keep it light

Kids don't need a lot when they travel. Give them a small carry-on suitcase and a backpack, and they are good to go. The best rule of thumb when letting your kids pack is if they can't carry their own bags, they can't bring them. Obviously for babies, this does not apply. We will get to the little people in a minute.

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2. Less is more

Many families book vacation rental homes and apartments when they travel. Always check to see if there is a washing machine. If there is, pack half the clothes that you think you will need and do laundry on the fly. If you are traveling for over a week, but won't have access to a washing machine, pack only a week's worth of clothing and plan on doing laundry at the local laundry mat or in the hotel bathroom one day. It will be worth the hassle in baggage fees savings alone.

3. Stay organized

Packing cubes are a kid's (and mom's) best friend when your kids are old enough to have their own suitcase. Underwear and socks go in one cube, T-shirts in another, outerwear in one and jeans/pants/skirts go in the last. This way your kids can pull out their cubes and stick them in a drawer or keep them in their suitcase and know exactly where each item is located. Make sure you include a cube for dirty laundry or a laundry bag in their suitcase as well. Dirty clothes can really make a suitcase disorganized and messy.

4. Laundry

If you are very well organized, after your arrival you can designate one suitcase for laundry. Empty out all of your packing cubes, stick them in the hotel dresser and let the kids toss all of those dirty shirts and shorts into the laundry suitcase. When it is time to go home, close up the suitcase and deposit it next to your washing machine when you get home. As for any extras, before you leave the hotel throw all of your clean items and toiletries into one bag, so you know what needs to go back to the bathroom and bedrooms.

5. Packing babies

You know that lovely medium-sized suitcase that you have been cramming five pairs of shoes plus at least three extra "what if" outfits in for the past 20-odd years? Those extras are now a thing of the past. Plan to pack your baby things in your suitcase; do not bring a separate one for them. Their clothes are small. Take out a pair of shoes and an outfit and your baby's clothes will now fit. If dad has a suitcase, too, throw the diapers and extra baby stuff in there. There is no reason two adults traveling with a baby should have more than two checked suitcases. Better yet, see if you can do it with only a carry-on suitcase and diaper bag.

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6. Gear that pulls double duty

No baby gear that can't work at least two jobs should go with you on a trip, especially if you are flying. Your stroller is a great ride, high chair and kid safety zone in a new hotel room or rental condo. Swaddling blankets are now a cozy retreat, seat cover, car seat shade and changing pad. Look at every piece of gear you want to bring and figure out what you can eliminate or replace with something else that can be used twice. Infant seats are great play zones and high chairs, while that pack n' play you thought was only for sleeping is actually good for a day at the beach, at the park or safe play zone at the hotel. It is a pack n "play" after all. Use it.

Photo by Twenty20/ali__dover

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