When are our kids old enough to pack themselves? According to them, that time came several years ago when they started to express their “I-can-do-it-myself” independence. However, after a couple of recent trips and the experience of some missed items that should have been packed, maybe that time when kids can completely pack themselves has not quite come yet.

Sophia and Ava have had their own suitcases since they were old enough to pull them through the airport. When they were little, we were saddled with schlepping our luggage along with theirs, as well as the diaper bags, strollers, car seats, special blankies and teddies, pillows and god knows what else just HAD to come along for the ride. There is most definitely a reason why they call it LUG-gage. Ugh.

Now? They just overpack, but still forget important things.

Teen Items Recently Missed When They Packed Themselves

A few of the things that never seem to make it, but are of extreme/vital/OMG-cannot-live-without importance:

  • phone charger – every. single. time.
  • swim suit (no silly, not any of the ones they already brought)
  • coat/sweater/sweatshirt that is actually weather-appropriate
  • nail polish remover, because evidently mid-vacation is the time for teen girls to change nail colors
  • hair brush (“I can’t possibly use my sister’s!”)
  • not enough underwear, forcing parents to do laundry while on vacation
  • shoes appropriate for dinner at a nice restaurant, forcing them to wear adidas with a fancy dress
  • toothpaste – never, ever makes it into the suitcase

Whatever goes into this suitcase will be missing something vital.

Packing For Kids

When we packed for our kids, the list of stuff remained the same regardless of the trip length – more days just meant more days of clean underwear, etc. Our list looked something like this:

  • tops
  • pants/leggings
  • underwear for each day (or a shit ton of diapers if they were still needing them)
  • shoes for walking/hiking
  • sandals
  • water shoes if it was a beach vacation
  • dress shoes if we were doing something fancy or big city-like
  • coats/sweaters
  • swim suits and sunscreen of at least 1oo power, because the dads were paranoid about a sunburn that never came
  • accessories like gloves or hats or sunglasses, etc.
  • bathroom needs like toothbrushes/toothpaste,
  • a whole bag of hair stuff like bands, bows and tiaras (kidding about the tiaras) ((kind of))
  • special food, etc.
  • medicine as needed (since one of them always seemed to get a cold the day before we left)
  • favorite blanket/teddy bear for comfort in a strange place
  • maybe a book or two for bedtime reading

Even at the last minute, things can get shoved into an already overpacked suitcase.

Kids Pack Themselves

Despite gentle and not-so-gentle reminders of important items to bring, their suitcases usually contain a mix of the following:

  • tops – various choices depending on mood
  • pants/leggings – see above but waaaaay more than needed
  • dresses rolled in balls which then need pressing at hotel
  • underthings (not enough though)
  • shoes that make no sense with any of the outfits
  • swim suits regardless of weather, “just in case”
  • hairbrushes
  • hair straightener
  • curling iron
  • blow dryer – in case the hotel one doesn’t work)
  • shampoo – in case the hotel supplied options are unacceptable to teen standards (and if we knew what ever-shifting “teen standards” actually meant we would be very rich men)
  • makeup of wide assortment and largely inappropriate/unnecessary
  • maybe a coat or sweater  – only as an afterthought

So my question remains. When can kids pack themselves?