This simple trick will dramatically simplify packing for a family trip, save you money in checked baggage fees, and get your family through airport security in record time. I stumbled onto this tip as we headed on our vacation (those are my family's suitcases, plus a bonus peek at @PDXCarpet).
1. Each person's clothing goes into a separate suitcase.
Assuming a) your kids are old enough to pull a small carry-on, and b) the trip is long enough to merit a full case per person. The fewer cases the better.
2. One person packs a larger suitcase that gets checked.
EVERYONE'S toiletries go in this suitcase, along with bulky stuff that doesn't fit into the carry-ons. Since this case will get checked, you can bring full-sized toiletries and other items that would need to be fussed with or discarded if you were to put them through airport TSA screening.
Now, when you head through airport security, you won't have to open your carry-on bags or deal with quart-sized Ziploc bags full of tiny travel bottles.
3. (Optional) When you get to your departure gate, gate-check the carry-on bags.
To conserve overhead bin space, most airlines allow you to check bags through to your desination for free. This is good. You save money plus you don't have to schlep your bags onto the plane.
(Usually, gate-checked bags show up on the carousel with the rest of the luggage at your destination, but sometimes they'll get delivered to the tarmac on a cart. Be sure to clarify these details with the gate attendant.)
When you get to your destination, pick up everyone's bags, and you're on your way.
How do you simplify packing for a flight? Post your tip in the comments or on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile with the tag #parenthacks.