Obviously, packing for a trip is largely influenced by the destination. The key topics I want to discuss today are what to bring on the plane and a basic strategy for packing in general. I always try to make it simple & easy; I bring only what I think we’ll all need. Kerry & I disagree quite a bit on this issue. I say less is better she says she would rather have too much than not enough. I say my way is right; I am the one carrying most of the stuff anyway so I should have more decision power right?!

We recently went on a vacation for a week with the kids and here is how it unfolded. I get all the bags down. I have already decided that I am brining the bare minimum – I literally could have fit my clothes in a generous shoe box, and I still could have packed less! Anyway, I start strategizing about how to eliminate two bags when I see what Kerry has laid out for the kids: was way too much! So we reduced and I was able to pack all the kid’s stuff along with mine into one bag. I did it. That’s right! We flew United and they charge $25 a bag now . . . I’ll show them.

It worked. However, I definitely could have reduced what the kids brought; next time. So, all was well until we got to the airport for the return flight.  Both bags were overweight. We bought a few things, you know. So we get charged for that. So, my great strategy fell apart at the seams. What did I learn? My strategy was fine; I just needed better execution.

Overall packing strategy:

  1. Keep it simple and bring just what you ABSOLUTELY need. Do a load of laundry on the trip if needed (and possible).
  2. Minimize the number of bags but make sure they meet the weight requirements (usually below 50Lbs & remember to leave room for shopping).
  3. If you can’t succeed at meeting the weight requirement, split the bag into two smaller ones – the $25 bag fee is less than the overweight fee.
  4. Checking the car seat? Buy our car seat protector bag and throw a few, hard-to-notice items in; car seats are free—just don’t exceed the weight requirement! (Yes, another shameless plug)
  5. Finally, and perhaps the most important strategy point: Take out as many things from your wife’s suitcase as possible while she isn’t looking!

What to bring on the plane for the kids:

Again, Kerry & I may disagree a little bit but here is my list of things to bring in two bags, one for the kids and one for the adults.

  1. Something to read. A book they can read and one you can read to them
  2. Snacks – nothing too messy or sticky for example, . . . 
  3. A small entertaining toy. Obviously, this will vary greatly per child our kids really like . . .
  4. A coloring or activity book
  5. A game like magnetic checkers or something
  6. And, the life saver . . . a hand held device; yes, this is the age we are in (PSPgo)

Keep in mind that this should easily fit in to a small backpack. Flight length will definitely play a role, but anything three or more hours should have these items. Yes, give in and get a handheld. I know, we didn’t have video games or DVD players when we were kids and we were fine right?! Fine, but this is a new generation and we must embrace the technological advances of our time. My recommendation for this is the Sony PSP Go – It is worth every penny! You can load games, movies and probably more. The screen looks small but the picture is clear. This is great for kids and adults (thanks to John for turning me on to this product). It is easy to use and very compact, unlike portable DVD players. I think we have gone through four of those things, each one with an average life of three trips.

Hope this helps. Each trip gets a little bit easier for us, and I hope all my stress, anxiety, and mood swings during my travel experiences can make yours better! Remember, please share this with others and share your tips, tricks and thoughts with us right here on the blog and Facebook..

– Kevin Williams
  VP & Dad