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Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with your summer travel plans? Could you use some family travel hacks? Would you like an ultimate travel packing list for families with children?

Family travel can be stressful. Whether you are flying overseas or doing a mini road trip close to home, there are a lot of things to think about. Over the years, I’ve figured out a few ways to make it easier on myself. For me, planning is key. I like to feel organized and prepared. Here are my top summer travel tips for moms: May contain affiliate links.

Do KonMari on Your Home (or at least your closet)

If you haven’t heard about KonMari, it’s basically a method of organizing your home by purging anything you don’t need (or like) and then finding a place for everything. We tried it last fall and it’s made our life so much easier.

The first step of KonMari is to pile up all your clothes from your entire house. That means go through your closet, the laundry room, the coat closet, your car, seasonal clothing packed away, anything in your donation pile, etc.

Then, you pick up each item of clothing and decide if you really love it or if you are ready to let it go. There is no maybe pile.

When my husband and I did this, we ended up with 17 bags of clothes, shoes and accessories to donate. I could finally see what was in my closet. It’s made packing so much easier to know what I have and what I need.

Plus, I’m very careful when I shop to only purchase items that I truly love and know I’ll wear.

And if you’re able to fully do KonMari on your home, you’ll see that packing takes so much less time when you actually know where everything is located.

You won’t be running around your home looking for charging cables, camera equipment, noise cancelling headphones, your favorite travel bag, travel-sized items, etc. Instead, you can go to the one spot that has everything you need.

Clean Out Your Car

If you are heading on a road trip, this is a no brainer. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your car and you’ll want it to feel as nice as possible.

Our cars tend to amass toys, preschool artwork and snack wrappers. So, it’s a good opportunity to escort them out of your vehicle. We like to get our car washed before/after a road trip.

Photo of someone cleaning a car in preparation for a family road trip #roadtrip #familytravel #travelwithkids #summervacation #summertravel
Cleaning out your car yourself (or getting it detailed) is a great way to ensure a relaxing space for your family road trip!

But, this also makes sense if you are heading to the airport. You’ll want as much trunk space as possible for your luggage. You’ll also want to make sure to get all the trash out of your car so that it won’t smell when you’re gone.

My son left a straw cup of milk in my car while we were on a summer trip and it exploded…all inside my car. It was one of the most disgusting smells ever.

Start Your Travel Packing List Early

For most of us, life is busy. When we prepare for a family trip, we’re doing massive loads of laundry and dishes and trying to get everything done in a hurry. Chances are, you start packing for your family the night before your trip. And, chances are that you forget a few items that you really need.

So, you spend the first day of vacation running around looking for the items you’ve forgotten. Is that really how you want to start your family vacation?

Photo of luggage for summer family travel with kids #luggage #summervacation #summertravel #travelwithkids #packinglist
Packing smartly can save you a lot of stress when traveling with kids.


  1. Write down all the dates you’ll be in a destination.
  2. Fill in each date with any scheduled activity.
  3. Then, add in potential activities.
  4. From this list, you’ll be able to figure out which specialty clothing items, shoes, gear, etc you’ll need to pack (or purchase at your destination.)
  5. Next, add in the rest of the clothing for everyday wear (keeping in mind whether you’ll be doing laundry on your trip or will need enough changes of clothes for each day.)
  6. Think about any medications, sleep machines, diaper cream, or personal items you need to pack. This includes specific brands for pacifiers, bottles, formula, wipes, etc.
  7. Do your kids have a special routine for bed? Should you bring a favorite blanket or stuffed animal? Do they use a sleep sack? And where will your kids be sleeping? Sometimes I bring my own sheet for a pack and play.
  8. Think about how you are getting to your destination. Do you need a carry on bag for the plane? Do you need road trip activities?
  9. And what about meal times? Should you bring your own sippy cups? Do you need a portable high chair?
  10. Finally, buy snacks ahead of time! No matter how you’re getting to your destination, you’ll want to have food on hand to keep your family happy. It’s cheaper to buy at home. I like to stock up on pouches, granola bars, mixed nuts, etc and put in my checked luggage. Then, I keep more fragile snacks (like crackers, pretzels, and whatever else my kids are obsessed over) in my carry on bag.

Create Busy Bag Activities

I’m fortunate that my kids are usually okay just looking out the window when we drive up to Vancouver, BC or down to Portland, OR. However, on drives longer than that, they get a bit restless. That’s where road trip activities for kids come in.

Photo of toddler and preschooler busy bags for family travel #ziploc #familytravel #busybags #activitybags #flyingwithkids
My kids love seeing what busy bags I’ve packed for our family trips. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I like to use Ziploc bags and put individual activities in each bag. Then, I can just pull out a bag to give to my kids. I usually hit up Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Spot to get some of their ready-made items.

These are inexpensive and our hearts aren’t broken if they get lost. Insider tip: Don’t leave crayons (or any meltable items) in a hot car. Trust me.

We recently started bringing LEGOs with us. You can make a travel Lego kit using that Lego tape on the inside of a travel diaper wipes case. It’s an easy way to keep them all together. And you can change out the LEGOs for each trip to make it a different activity.

Or add instructions to make different color patterns/combinations.

For long flights, I like to bring plane activities for kids that work well with the tray table. That means individual coloring sheets with triangular crayons (that won’t roll off the table.) I also like to bring Play-Doh, Silly Putty, stackable toys, etc.

Get Active

One of the best tricks I learned as a new Mom was to put on workout clothes as soon as I woke up. Let’s be honest, most of the time I SLEPT in my workout gear. It’s kind of a mental trick.

Since I was already dressed to go for a walk or do some stretching, it made it that much easier to just do it. And physical activity is great for clearing your head so you can stay focused.

Photo of a mom and boy chasing each other in a park in Withrop, Washington #playingtag #playingchase #familyexercise #active #exercise
My son and I love playing tag and racing each other when we find parks on our family vacations. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

I’ve found with little kids, I’m much more likely to sit on the floor and play with them if I’m wearing my yoga pants. It makes me feel like a more engaged Mom.

Plus, I can also chase them around the house at a moment’s notice or head to our neighborhood park without changing. Dressing in yoga wear makes me active all day.

When I did KonMari on my closet in the fall, I realized that I own a ton of yoga wear. However, I wore most of the pants when I was pregnant and the waist bands are all stretched out.

Plus, the clothes that I wore pre-pregnancy, just don’t fit the same. So, I was walking around constantly fidgeting with clothes that didn’t fit correctly.

YogaClub sent me a sample subscription box and I totally get it. First of all, they send you a questionnaire to get a better sense of your style. I usually tend to buy black or neutral yoga wear. I’ve been too nervous to try something more bold.

But, that’s why YogaClub is fun! I said that I’d be open to patterns and they sent me some yoga pants that were bolder than I’d normally buy, but not too crazy.

They also sent me a cute athletic bra and top. These items are much trendier than anything I would normally try on at the store. For me, that’s a really good thing. I never know what’s fashionable and always think I can’t pull it off so I don’t even try.

Take Time for Yourself

One of the most overlooked things you need to do to prepare for a summer vacation is to take time for YOU. With all the running around, planning and packing, don’t forget about self-care. You don’t want to run yourself ragged and then get sick on your trip. That happened to me when we went to Spain last year and it sucked.

Photo of a mom drinking coffee in yoga wear from <a href=

Personally, I really like to sit and meditate. It’s something that I started doing when dealing with fertility issues years ago. It did wonders for my mental health, so I try to do it as often as I can.

It’s especially helpful when preparing for a long flight with kids or when going on a trip with people who might stress you out. Here are the steps I take:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes.
  2. Find a quiet spot.
  3. Listen to Marconi Union’s “Weightless” song (you can find on Youtube here.)
  4. Get into a comfortable position.
  5. Breathe and relax your brain.

And in between trips, make sure to carve out time for you. Hire a babysitter to watch your kids while you get a massage, go to the spa, shop kid-free, or do whatever makes you feel taken care of.

YogaClub sent me product for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Are you ready for your family summer vacation? See how moms can prep for summer travel with my top tips, including my ultimate packing list. Click to read more or pin to save for later. #familytravel #packinglist #travelwithkids #roadtrip #flyingwithkidsWorried about how to prep with a vacation with kids? Get my top tips for staying sane when flying with kids, packing for your family vacation, prepping for a road trip and more! Click to read more or pin to save for later. #familytravel #packinglist #travelwithkids #konmairAre you heading out on a family vacation with little kids? Check out my mom's survival guide for traveling with kids. Click to read more or pin to save for later. #familytravel #travelwithkids #roadtrip #summervacation #summertravelAdditional Family Travel Tips

Tips and Tricks For a Safe Summer in the Pool With Your Family
KonMari Packing Tips for Families
Summer Family Travel Tips from The National Children’s Cancer Society
Self Care Tips for Moms after Family Travel with Kids
My Top Tips for Flying with a Baby


Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.


  1. I definitely agree that organizing your home makes packing for travel so much easier!

    • It’s easy to overlook this and then find out later you didn’t pack the right stuff for your planned activities.

    • Yes, I am usually so busy making sure everyone else is taken care of. It’s important to take a few moments (or more!) for yourself!

  2. Great post! I love the KonMari idea! I know I need to do that with my closet……..well everyone’s closets to be honest, lol! Thanks! xoxo

  3. This is super helpful! I loved all your ideas and advice, perfect to organize ourselves and enjoy the trip!

  4. Amen to cleaning out the car! I think it helps you start any trip feeling fresh and organized. I also like to do a deep clean and quick clean up of the house so that we can come home to a neat, clean space after a long trip!

  5. Some things are universal like clean out the car that is something I always do and also to start the travel packing list early is a good way to don’t forget things that essential for the trip eheh

  6. Good tips! I love the idea of cleaning out one’s car and starting to pack early. I started to pack for my next vacation (in about a couple weeks) yesterday. This way I will be less likely to forget packing something that I may potentially need.

    • It really helps to make sure you know where all your stuff is, that clothes are clean, and reminds you what you still need to get.

  7. Packing for a trip is already difficult but having to pack for kids is even harder! Thank you for the tips, I’ll definitely have to look back on this on our next vacay.

  8. I love the busy bags idea! We’re going on a road trip at the end of June and my 7-year-old would love that.

  9. We travel frequently with our young children, and these are great tips! I hadn’t heard of the KonMari method before but I really need to try that, especially with my closet! I’m pretty sure I would be down to maybe four tops! lol

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