The best way to pack for your next family holiday

Packing is a difficult skill, but planning ahead can help you to focus on getting excited instead of stressed. These packing tips will provide you with simple ways to make packing more efficient and effective, so you can relax and get ready for your next family holiday.

Create a family holiday packing checklist (or three!)

You’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you’ve arrived at your rental, ready to bathe in the sun but hang on … where’s that sunscreen? Checklists for various types of holidays can prevent forgetting any essential item or overpacking another. These are really helpful for packing light for the whole family, and can be prepared way before a trip and reused at any time.

Working with a list can help you to plan the space in your luggage beforehand and know what to grab more quickly. And while the stress of packing can be daunting, dreaming about different future trips and writing down the necessities for each is a fun activity that can be enjoyed together!

Be selective about which clothes to bring on holiday

When planning the contents of your suitcase, it helps to think strategically about which clothes you need and want to wear. Shoes often take up a lot of space, so reuse a pair for different occasions to limit the number you pack (those hiking shoes might also be perfect for sightseeing in town!) It’s also good to pack neutral-coloured clothes, so you can mix-and-match and have new outfits without packing as much. Consider things like scarves and sarongs that are not only a useful item but can also be made into a pretty dress for dinner. Focus on comfortable clothes that you’re happy to wear every day (because don’t forget, it’s a holiday!).

Consider doing laundry at your accommodation

After narrowing down the clothes you’re bringing, it also helps to think strategically about the laundry situation while you’re on your trip. A shirt for every day, fresh socks and an extra pair of pants for your kids after outdoor playtime? Packing enough for every potential scenario can be tricky and lead to overpacking, especially for longer trips. Check with your accommodation — many holiday rentals offer washing machines and supplies so you can make the most use of your clothes and wear your favourite shirt a few times.

Buy some things on-site

It’s great to show up prepared, and it’s sustainable to bring your own things instead of buying one-time-use items. But when it comes to longer trips, think of essentials you can make the most use of while on holiday, especially if the whole family will need them. Usually sunscreen, toothpaste, shampoo or even a new pair of thongs can be bought abroad, saving you valuable space in your luggage. This hack also leaves some space for local shopping, souvenirs, and treats from craft markets.

Roll with it: learn the best way to pack clothes

Have you ever tried to pack for your kids and ended up having to ask them to sit on top of their bags because the zipper just wouldn’t close? Packing a lot of items is sometimes unavoidable, but there are ways to maximise space so you can make the most of each suitcase. Practise different folding techniques at home that will make packing a breeze. In particular, rolling your clothes instead of folding them will save you a lot of space, enabling you to use even the little corners of your luggage while keeping your outfits mostly crease-free ⁠— an absolute winner.

Pack using all available space

Struggling to fit your sun hat, the beach ball and towel into one suitcase? There’s a solution! Get creative and see what items fit into each other ⁠— you’d be surprised what can actually fit into your stylish summer hat! This doesn’t only save space, but also prevents items from breaking or becoming misshapen. You can even make a game of it, and see who in the family can fit the most into a suitcase with this new Tetris packing strategy. 

Invest in some packing cubes

Organising luggage doesn’t need to be daunting: packing cubes do a great job keeping items compact, separate, and crease-free. The cubes fit nicely into your luggage, allowing you to save space, and you can order them in different sizes for different types of clothes, which makes packing even more efficient. Unpacking will be easier as well, since everything is already sorted and folded. Gone are the days of spending ages looking for a packed item!

Share suitcases and make the most of your hand luggage

Does a family of four always equal four suitcases? Not if you pack smart! You might be able to fit everyone’s clothes in one or two suitcases if you pack light and use our tips. Take advantage of all of your hand luggage, and pack your lighter items in those cases. This will not only save you the hassle of carrying too many suitcases around, but you’ll also save money on flights by purchasing tickets with no checked baggage included ⁠— a win-win situation. 

Don’t stress about the little things

Packing can be daunting, but don’t stress too much about getting it right. Plan out your essentials in your trusty packing list, use your space as efficiently as possible, and get excited rather than worried. Remember that it’s always possible to buy any forgotten items while on your trip. After all, the most important thing is the amazing time you’ll have together once you’re out the door!  

Written by Sarah Heuser, Social Media Specialist at Vrbo