Hate to Pack? Try This “Hack.”


When it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, I just have to share.  Getting all three of my kids to agree to anything at the same time and in the same place is practically a miracle.  As my mother-in-law has observed, not just with her own grandkids but in other families as well:  one child is always unhappy.

Not this time.  And the task involved actual work.  A request.  And since the reward wasn’t a lego set (note:  it never is)…well, I still can’t believe this project went 3-for-3.

The only thing I hate more than unpacking after a trip is the planning and packing beforehand.  And in a momentum more difficult to alter than that of a 747, I have been using the same packing routine since my kids were babies.  Since my weary Mommy brain couldn’t handle remembering the diapers, and the stroller, and the three changes of clothes a day, more stuff than a boy scout headed to camp (no joke, those boys require everything but the kitchen sink, because, of course, even if there was running water they wouldn’t use it anyway)…I made a Microsoft Word packing list, saved it, and printed it out when it was time to pack.  Today I still make lists and  the kids’ packing has still been a one-woman show.

Until a couple weeks ago.

I decided to make a packing list for my kids and printed it off.  Then beside each item I wrote the number of each the kids would need to pack.  I handed them the list, labelled “Scavenger Hunt” and told them to have at it.  To whomever missed packing three items or fewer, a treat would be given.

You should have seen them scatter.

It was weird.  But in a good way.

I gave a time limit, too, because without it, distractions would certainly take over.  And made the whole process more of a challenge.  All I had to do was sit back and wait (glass of wine, anyone?) while my kids brought their piles to be checked off the list.  And you know what?  They collected every last item.

It was Twizzlers for all.  (I know, not a great reward…but hey, it worked.)  I suppose sugar is not the best choice of prizes, but off-the-cuff it was good enough.  As I think more about it, next time I’ll make the reward some extra spending money for the trip.

Here’s the kids’ packing list we used.  It’s still a work in progress*** and tailored to a summer vacation for my 9- and 11-year-olds.  Feel free to print it  if you think it would be helpful for you and your family:


Packing list/Scavenger Hunt for our trip to (fill-in-the-blank)!

(The number you need to pack is written after each item.)

Long-sleeved shirts

Short-sleeved shirts














Stuffed animal/doll


Pencils/Pens, etc.


Movie (for road trips)


Mom will pack medicines and a first aid kit

***stuff I just thought of to include on the list:  shoes (!), comb/hairbrush, camera, and of course, $$ (after all, that cash reward for a packing job well-done will be burning holes in their pockets…).

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