Visual Packing List for Kids + the BEST Packing Hack for Kids

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I’ve made packing lists for my kids for years, but it was really a game changer when I started making kids visual packing lists. It allowed even my young kids to start participating in the packing process, and getting them accustomed to helping out with preparing for travel.

What is a visual packing list for kids?

A visual packing list is a packing list that uses pictures instead of or in addition to words . This means that even non-readers are able to start helping out!

This is great, because younger kids tend to really love to help. A visual packing list takes advantage of this interest when it’s at its peak. And it’s great when they can contain everything in a packing cube! (We love these and these.)

When can kids start using a visual packing list?

I usually start having my kids use a visual packing list when they’re about 2 years old. It’s important to note that a two year old will generally NOT be able to follow the list perfectly! They likely can’t read numbers yet at that point (to know the quantity of the items), nor are they generally comfortable with one-to-one association (meaning counting definite objects is still tricky). That’s okay!

The visual packing list for young kids is really for practice – it’s to get them in the habit of helping and caring for their own belongings. Then once they get a bit older, they’re already familiar with the process. It eliminates the need to learn all the steps at once, and instead takes a progressive approach – starting with joining in with finding items alongside a parent. They will eventually be able to do the whole process independently!

What is the maximum age for a kids visual packing list?

There’s not a maximum age for a visual packing list. In fact, I still provide them to my older kids who’ve known how to read for years. I even like using them myself! Sometimes, it’s just easier on the brain to see an image of something than to read a long list of words. I usually still do a quick peek to make sure my older kids haven’t missed anything on the list, but years of practice means they’re usually very on top of it.

I’ve also found that a visual packing list is especially helpful for my child who has ADHD. The concrete steps and images are really helpful for directing a brain who struggles to remain attentive.

How do we use the visual packing list for kids?

I like to print out a copy of this visual packing list for each of my kids to use. Once printed, I fill in the number of each item (e.g., number of pairs of undies) either next to the item or in the checkbox itself, since that number usually changes a bit for each trip. Then my kids can check things off as they go, either by putting an “X” in the checkbox, crossing out the item, coloring in the checkbox, or whatever they’d like.

I usually circle which items they need for certain steps, such as pants or shorts, rain jacket but not pants, etc. I may also cross out things that don’t apply to that particular trip (such as a hat/gloves for a beach vacation). It’s easier and takes much less mental energy for me to have all the various options on the checklist and then cross out what we don’t need, instead of adding in new things each time. Use it however works for you!

I like dividing the packing list into two sections – one for what goes into the luggage (generally clothes and possibly an extra pair of shoes) and what goes into their travel backpacks.

Get the visual packing list + the BEST packing hack with kids

I put together our visual packing list in a FREE printable – just pop in your email below and it’ll come right to your inbox. Plus, I’ll share the BEST packing hack with kids, along with our favorite luggage (including packing cubes) for families. I hope it helps make the whole packing process smoother and simpler for your crew. Happy packing!

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