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Packing Tips for Moms and Dads with ADD

January 26th, 2011 by bsmith | Filed under Uncategorized.

Looking back on my previous blog posts I have to marvel at the fact that, until a few months ago,  I had no idea that I might have ADD.  The title of my first post was “Don’t Forget Your Shoes!”.  So far in the history of our family travels we have forgotten: the clothes we were planning to wear to a wedding,  shoes, a wallet,  cell phones, power cords, and the list goes on.  Now I do not claim to be an expert in packing with ADD and there are no guarantees that I will be able to avoid all packing mishaps in the future. However,  here are a few strategies that have reduced the number of trips to Walmart and Fed Ex packages filled with wallets for our family.

Start  Early With Clean Clothes and a Detailed Shopping List

If I want to be successful at packing I need to start early with all of my family’s clothes clean.  That way I will be able to pack what I have, then can put together a detailed shopping list for anything I need.  Without the list, impulse buying can go a little crazy.  I try to limit last minute additions and wash to only a few items even if that means we look scruffy the week before a trip.

Create and Save a Detailed Packing List

Every ADD family should have a detailed packing list with all the things they usually pack  for vacation saved on their computer.  For each trip you can add or subtract items.  Be sure to cross out items  as you pack them, then have another family member take a separate  copy  and double check your work.

When Possible Multiple Small Suitcases are Better Than One Big One

When we get to the hotel, keeping track of everyone’s stuff is almost as challenging as the packing itself.  One way I solve this problem is by packing multiple suitcases.  Depending on the trip, I pack a suitcase per person or a suitcase per hotel.  This makes the initial packing process simpler (It’s much easier to “check my work” e.g. count underwear, socks, etc. in a small bag rather then a big one).  The suitcase per hotel model also helps keep the dirty clothes separated from the clean clothes.  If we do a suitcase per person, then that person is responsible for getting clothes out and returning them to their own bag.

Let the Kids Pack Their Own Stuff

For the little guys this means being responsible for putting together a tote bag with their lovey and a few  books and toys (Be sure to be clear about number and size!).  For bigger guys try the whole packing list, with a double check from Mom or Dad.  My eleven year old is a Boy Scout, and I have him pack for every campout all by himself.  If he forgets something he deals with the consequences.  After seeing my son come home as a lobster, I now double check for sunscreen!  I am always amazed by Justin’s self sufficiency and his tendency to pack light!

Staging is Key

EVERYTHING should go directly by your front door in one place.  We have forgotten everything from tent poles to pillows when we have neglected to use this technique.

In a few weeks I need to start packing for a ski trip in Vegas.  (I’ll probably start inventorying our ski stuff this week.) Let’s see if I can follow my own advice ;)

Happy Trails,


P.S. Anyone else have packing tips for absent minded travelers?

P.P.S. For more info on the Smith’s Family forgetfulness check out “Don’t Forget Your Shoes…and Your Wallet” and of course Family Adventure Guidebooks inaugural post, “Don’t Forget Your Shoes!

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