How do you pack for so many people?

I have a ton of kids and love to travel! I have always loved traveling, leaving the country for the first time when I was sixteen and my children have no memories of a time when we did not travel.

Traveling started out simple when they were younger….zoos nearby, zoos in different cities, museums, amusement parks, and water parks. My goal was for them to have several different experiences and be exposed to a variety of information, activities, and cultures so they could be well-rounded adults. When I met my husband, I got the joy of introducing him and his children to travel, and life has continued from there.

So many zoos and so many zoo trips!

How is it even possible to travel with so many people?

One of the many questions I have gotten about traveling with my large family, besides how do you afford that, is about how we pack for so many people and what I take with us when we travel.

For most of our trips, there are at least five of us going now, but when the children were younger we often traveled with nine of us! Due to having so many children, they had to pack for themselves, with supervision, and carry their own belongings. With seven children I was unable and unwilling to carry jackets, water bottles, individual snacks, and whatever else each child wanted. I gave up the idea of me toting all of their belongings after too many water park trips where I carried nine wet swimsuits and nine wet beach towels up an enormous hill to the only exit from the park.

I had originally thought one bag was the best idea because then I only had one bag to keep track of. Later, I realized I would much rather make sure each child had their own belongings rather than me carrying everything! So, from a very young age, my children had their own small backpack to carry with their own personal necessities, like their own water bottle, beach towel, snacks, or whatever else they might need.  

Packing for Longer Trips

When it came to packing for longer trips, such as week-long vacations, we taught the children how to pack their own belongings and pack them well. When the children were young there were often seven to nine of us going everywhere when we traveled. We also often drove ten to twelve hours on our trips. Due to this, the children had to learn to pack tight and be organized.

I have some of the best memories of us clearing floor space in the living room so everyone could pack downstairs. This way, I could make sure everyone had everything they needed.

We did a grid on the floor consisting of each day we would be gone on top and each kid down the side. Each pile had one complete outfit for the day (socks, undies, shorts, shirt, etc…). Once the entire grid was filled and everyone had everything, they rolled each day’s clothes into a gallon-size zippered bag. They wrote their name and day of the week on the outside of the bag in permanent marker to help us all stay organized. This also helped to separate clean clothes from dirty clothes on the trip!

These might also be helpful if you are looking for something besides gallon size zip bags:

My Backpack

Additionally, I always had my “mom-bag” with me. Some people refer to it is a travel backpack or “Disney bag”, but whatever you call it, it has my essentials. At the present time in our lives, we tend to travel to Disney once or twice a year. I use the same bag and its same contents for all of our trips and adventures, both long and short.

This is similar to what I carry when we travel:

I also keep the same essentials in my bag when we travel. Here is what I typically take with me in my backpack (and my kids carry similar in their backpacks):

  • Band-aids
  • Chapstick
  • Disney pins (when we are at Disney)
  • Lanyards (when we are at Disney)
  • Gallon size zip-closed bags
  • Sandwich size zip-closed bags
  • Hand wipes
  • Snacks
  • Facial tissues and/or napkins
  • Small ointments
  • Ponchos (On more than one occasion traveling other places besides Disney we have been asked where we got our ponchos and people are shocked to learn we brought them with us from home and had them with us!)
  • Advil/Tylenol
  • Sunscreen
  • Wallet with cash, credit cards, and driver’s license

Traveling really is possible with children!

It takes some planning and organization, as well as knowing the needs and personality of each child. You need to be prepared for rain, hunger, thirst, and any other typical needs that will present themselves. However, the memories made are well worth the time and effort!.

TAKEAWAYS

  1. It is possible to travel with kids
  2. It is possible to travel well with a LOT of kids
  3. How you pack is important for keeping life less cluttered and squeezing in as much as you can into small spaces when you travel
  4. Taking things you are likely to need with you saves time, energy, and money since you already have it with you (like ponchos)!
  5. To save money on food and to save room packing snacks check out restaurants with Kids Eat Free Nights!

6 thoughts on “How do you pack for so many people?”

    1. I always like the bags because the smelly things can go back in the bags, zip up, and help keep the hotel rooms cleaner!

  1. I love the idea of packing and separating by outfit! I use packing cubes but still always separate by item, which usually ends up with me rummaging through my bag to make an outfit in the morning

    1. Labeling the bags helps so much! My teenagers still do this when we travel as a family and when they go on camping trips with scouts!

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