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Less is More When it Comes to Family Travel Packing

by Elyse Glickman

Sep 15, 2017

Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang) | Dreamstime


With all you’ve invested in planning a family vacation, it would be a shame if a few oversights led to unpleasant hassles at the airport or a financial shortfall that may eat away at money budgeted for park admission fees, a good meal or souvenirs. In spite of pervasive media reports about rising airline baggage fees; however, some families learn the hard way that not factoring packing into planning can bring stress and inconvenience into an otherwise lovely trip.


“Strategies I use come from my experience and talking to others who travel frequently,” says Joe Wilson, an Atlanta wealth management advisor and host of the Progressive Voices Radio app’s nationally broadcast Joe Knows Money segments. “When I go to New York, for example, I won’t pack an umbrella as I know that many shops on the street sell inexpensive umbrellas I can discard at the end of the trip, and some hotels make loaners available to guests.”


If you’re planning to visit a cool or cold climate, Wilson suggests dressing in layers and wearing heavier-weight garments and shoes or boots onto the plane. He also suggests researching a few airlines’ websites to find out what’s permitted in terms of the sizes of the familiar “one carry-on and one personal item,” noting the personal item can be a diaper bag or computer case instead of a small handbag that can accommodate more items.

packing mens clothing for a trip

Photo: Andrea De Martin | Dreamstime

“I am surprised about how many people don’t know how they can make carry-on rules work in their favor,” says Wilson. “Doing your homework with your airlines is important so you can find the ones that are more generous in their carry-on dimensions and check-in weight policies. Southwest Airlines, for example, offers its popular bags fly free policy, while with other airlines, you can take your larger carry-on to the gate, and if it is slightly too big, they will check it for free.”


Other packing techniques Wilson suggests are rolling up garments instead of folding them flat and stacking some items inside others (i.e. storing socks inside shoes) to create space without over-extending the suitcase or adding additional bulk.


According to Andrew Schrage of financial advice site Money Crashers , the balancing act of what to and not to pack can be achieved with a mix of advance prep and getting kids involved in the process. He says that while overpacking proves costly, forgetting some essential items can also cost money if they need to be purchased at higher prices from a hotel gift shop or resort general store.


“All family members should put thought into the list of items to pack,” Schrage says. “Do as much research as you can on your destination, starting with finding out from the resort what amenities are included in the room, such as shampoo and sewing kits. If any of your kids have dietary restrictions, have them or an older sibling research local grocery stores and restaurants.”


He adds that while it is common sense to discourage your kids and spouse to not bring any valuables and make sure the room comes with a safe to protect essential valuables like passports and cell phones, that discussion marks the perfect opportunity to get your kids thinking about why favorite electronics and toys are best left at home beyond one or two items.


“Tell them that if they want to spend a lot of time with their electronics or toys, they’ll miss out on all the destination has to offer,” he adds. “Usually after the first day, they’ll see what you mean. If you must stay connected with your workplace, this is where bringing one iPad or tablet instead of a full laptop proves to be a smart choice, especially as it can be locked in the safe.”


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