BACK TO BASICS
• Keep your packing list in an electronic device. You can refer to it for each trip – simply modify as required. Highlight items that have been packed so it’s easy to see what you have left to do. Star t setting aside items for the trip or pack what you can up to a week in advance, says Livia Chan-Lai, 45, teacher with two kids aged 13 and 11.
• Try these packing apps:
Apple iOS: Packing Pro, Pack the Bag
Android: Packing List, Luggage Checklist, Pack the Suitcase
Windows: Trip Packing Assistant, Packing List
• Place important documents in a zippered folder. This makes it easy to find your passports, itineraries and hotel reservations. Take pictures of these documents in case you lose them, advises Isabel Yap, 33, analyst with two kids aged three and six months.
• Take a power strip. It lets you charge all your electronic devices at once using a single power outlet.
• Take a lightweight, collapsible hamper. It’s handy for keeping dirty clothes and for doing the laundry. Remember to pack powdered detergent in a ziplock bag.
• Use carabiners or snap-on clips to tote extra items. These keep your hands free while looking after young children at busy airports or while sightseeing. Snap them onto your carry-on and child’s backpack to hold items like extra clothing, toys and sippy cups.
• Take ziplock bags and a lightweight tote. Use the ziplock bags for packing snacks, carry-on liquids and wet or soiled clothing. They can also keep important items from getting wet. The lightweight tote will be useful for lugging back your shopping and souvenirs.
• Pack items for emergencies. Have a small pair of scissors, elastic bands, safety pins, bag clips, a first-aid kit with tweezers and a night light on hand, suggests Livia.
• When it comes to packing, less is more. If you tend to overpack, lay out all the clothing you think each family member needs, then remove at least half of it. Take clothes that are easy to mix and match. Remember that darker colours and prints hide stains well. Isabel says: “Don’t pack too much of anything that you can buy abroad, like diapers and wet wipes. Our first stop after checking into the hotel is the supermarket!”
• Maximise space. “Buy packing cubes. Use a small one for undies and socks, a medium one for T-shirts and shorts, and a large one for dresses and trousers. This makes it easy to pack up and go,” says Vidula, 50, lawyer with three kids aged 17, 14 and 10. You should also fill shoes with small items like socks or rolled-up belts, which can keep the shoes from getting crushed, suggests Livia.
• Quick-drying clothes are best. Thinner trousers trump jeans. If you’re packing for cold weather, polyester fleece is preferable to bulky cotton sweatshirts.
• Pack outfits. For short trips, use extra-large ziplock bags to pack a complete outfit for each day. This will save you time in the morning. Put the dir ty clothes back into the same bag at the end of the day.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
• In case of lost luggage or delays… Always keep a day’s worth of snacks, milk powder, diapers, medication and clothes in your carry-on luggage, suggests Isabel. For family members on prescription medication, take enough for the entire trip plus a few extra days’ worth, in case your itinerary changes.
• If the weather changes… Pack one off-season item of clothing for everyone, such as long pants when you’re heading to warm destinations or shorts when cool weather is expected.
KEEP KIDS OCCUPIED
• Take your kids’ favourite snacks. “If your kid is a picky eater, he won’t be satisfied with the kiddie meals served on planes. So pack his favourite snacks or get him to pack his own if he is old enough. A muesli bar often saves the day when your kid has a meltdown due to hunger or tiredness,” says Vidula.
• Pack books and compact toys. “Books or small toys like playing cards and Play-doh keep kids occupied when waiting in line,” says Livia. Tablets also come in handy, as movies, games and books are accessible on a single device that can be updated constantly.
GET KIDS INVOLVED
• Ask your kids to be responsible for their items. Kids always seem to lose small items like socks, so I get my helper to list the clothes each child has packed. Before leaving our hotel, I ask my eldest child to check against the list and tick the ones that are in the suitcase. If anything’s not checked off, the kids know what to look for, says Vidula.
• Give each child a small backpack to take on the plane and for day outings. “It helps foster independence and the bags are perfect for carrying water bottles, hand sanitiser, tissues and snacks,” says Livia.
This article was originally published in Simply Her September 2015.