We just got back from a wonderful (and a little exhausting) family cruise vacation. You can see highlights at my previous post. If you’ve ever packed for a cruise, you know how easy it is to overpack. This is the first cruise that I can say that I actually didn’t overpack- for me or the kids. Is it cheesy that I’m actually really proud if that?!?
However cheesy it may be- I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some tips to pass on after packing for the trip for our family of six. This is part one and will consider overall considerations before you start the process. I feel like preparing helps you to avoid overpacking quite a bit.
You’ve got a few things that contribute to overpacking tendencies when preparing for a cruise:
- No charge for checked bags
- So may activities across the spectrum- from formal dining to trips to the beach to working out.
- Because of the many wardrobe changes, it can be really easy to pack lots of shoes if you’re not careful.
Here’s a few reasons not to overpack for the cruise:
- Space in your stateroom is limited, depending on what size room you get.
- Space for your suite cases are limited, depending on what size room you get.
- The more bags you take, the more you’ll need to tip the porter and shuttle drivers. We typically tip a dollar each bag. That’s not really that big of a reason but it can add up if you have a big family. As a side note, using a porter is worth every penny if you have more than one bag per person with small kids, in my opinion.
- The more bags you take, the longer it will take you to check in and out. It’s just like on an airline with security. You’ll need to put tags on them, etc.
- This one is pretty obvious- the more you pack, the more you have to carry- even if it’s just far enough to check your bags or to the porter. Just like on airlines, you have the choice to check a bag or carry it on. We did both. When you have four kids to keep corralled you’ll probably need to consider whether your kids are old enough to help carry bags and, if so, what size/kind of bag are they able to carry? This should be a determining factor in how many bags and the size you take for your family.
- Our littles (2.5) carried their backpacks that contained a few toys, wipes, diapers, and boogie wipes to have accessible. They both also insisted on helping roll on a little toy bag that also had their cozy blankets.
- Our bigs were responsible for carrying their check-in bags until we got to the check-in point.
- I packed a family carry-on for the first day/night in case the checked bags didn’t get there quickly enough for activities and dinner. This had:
- Meds- because who wants to pay twice as much for something you
- Makeup/cosmetic bags for Garen and I
- Swimsuits- the girls and I were able to use our dresses we wore onboard for a coverup if we needed to
- Dinner outfits for everyone- it helps to plan this outfit to go with the shoes, accessories, and jewelry you wore onto the boat to minimize the amount of space you need in the carry-on. Keep in mind the first night’s dinner is usually casual- our family still dresses nice (non-formal dresses for girls and pants and button-up it polo for boys). You will see an array of dress each night so you can choose what works for your family. We just like to take the opportunity to dress up like we’re going out to eat.
- Another obvious point but worth mentioning- The more you pack, the more you wear. The more you wear, the more laundry you’ll have. And what you don’t wear you still have to unpack and put away. And after a family vacation (especially with a big family) this takes forever at a point when you may be wanting a vacation from your vacation. Trust me….I’ve been swimming in laundry since we got home.
There you go- my humble opinions on why it’s worth not overpacking. Now the next post: Plan Your Days and Organize to Avoid Overpacking (Part 2).
Until then, happy packing and planning for your family cruise vacation!