Five people. Two weeks. One minivan.
That’s us on vacation this year.
Have you ever noticed how little storage space is in a minivan? Even with removing a seat, there isn’t a whole lot of room to store the belongings of 5 people.
And when you have to stop at three different hotels before you get to your destination? All that stuff can be overwhelming!
So how do we keep organized?
Take Less Stuff
When taking a vacation that is longer than a week, I plan on doing laundry. This year we’ll be staying in a condo with a washing machine, but most hotels have coin operated laundry, too.
If worse comes to worse, you can always do what the Europeans do: wash your clothes in the sink. It’s how my daughter survived for three weeks with just a small backpack of clothing when she went to the Czech Republic.
Choose Your Suitcases Strategically
Before packing, think carefully about your itinerary. In our case, we are staying two nights at my mom’s, one night in a hotel, three nights in an AirBnb apartment, seven nights in a condo, then two more nights in two different hotels.
Instead of having every person in the family take their own suitcase, I packed by the day. One suitcase held all our clothing for the first four days. The rest of our clothes were packed into a big suitcase that went into the car first.
When we stay at my mom’s, the first hotel, and the AirBnb apartment, we will only have to drag in that one suitcase. I’ll do laundry the first night at the apartment, and the clothes I wash will last until we got to our condo.How to pack for a family vacation - 5 tips.Click To Tweet
On the return trip, we will only the clothes we need until we arrived home in one small suitcase. The big suitcase will be filled with clean clothes I’m going to wash the last day at the condo. Again, we will only need to take one suitcase into the hotels, rather than dragging all our stuff.
Choose Your Clothes Strategically
Another way to save packing space (and sanity) is to choose your clothing carefully. When I take a vacation, if I can’t wear a piece of clothing two to three different ways, it doesn’t come with me.
Packing versatile items means you won’t be up a creek if you accidentally wear your day one shirt with your day three shorts. Hopefully your day three shirt will also match your day one shorts.
This is also useful when your five year old spills spaghetti down the front of her shirt. It’s not a big deal if you’ve packed another shirt to match!
Roll Your Clothes
Folded clothing takes up space. A lot of space.
That’s fine when you have a dresser to fill at home. It’s not so fine when you have limited suitcase and car space.
Rolling your clothing tightly helps you pack more into your limited suitcase space. And if you’re careful about rolling, it helps prevent wrinkles in your clothing, too.
Stuff smaller items like socks and underwear in the nooks and crannies you find in the suitcase once the rolled clothing is put in. You’ll be amazed at how much you can fit in one suitcase!
Have a Dedicated Toiletries Bag
We don’t put any of our toiletries into our main suitcase. We keep a separate toiletries bag. With five people in the family, it’s not hard to imagine the space our various bottles of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and lotions take up.
Add to that curling irons, makeup, and feminine products, we can easily fill a bag.
The real benefit of packing a separate toiletries bag, though, is when you have an emergency on the road. Need Tylenol? It’s in the toiletry bag (yes, that’s where I keep our meds, too).
Have a womanly emergency? You know where to find your supplies.
The toiletry bag gets packed into the van last, so it’s right on top when we need it. And when we reach the hotel? We just drop it by the sink area. If we arrive at a hotel late, we can find the five year old’s toothbrush right away, so she can go to sleep.
Packing 5 (or more) people for a family vacation can be a challenge. But with a little organization, it doesn’t have to be a HUGE challenge!