With 5 kids, packing for vacation requires a checklist otherwise someone forgets a swimsuit and someone else forgets their phone charger and did I mention that someone (okay it was me) once forgot to pack diapers?
For the first time, our entire family is flying (and not on Southwest) so the packing list has become even trickier--we have to fit everything into carry-on luggage. That is going to be quite a sight at the airport--2 adults, 5 kids, a double stroller, 2 car seats, 5 carry-on suitcases, 4 backpacks, 1 diaper bag, 1 laptop/camera bag, and a playpen (really hoping not to have to bring the playpen).
Usually my motto is less is more when packing. But less still has to cover all the bases (like remembering the diapers). So for our 11 day trip, we are each taking 5 outfits (plus the 1 each of us is wearing expect for the baby who gets a full 11 outfits but that is a different post). Each person also gets a pair of pjs (2 pairs for kids under 5), a swimsuit, a jacket, a hat, and a pair of sneakers (we will be wearing sandals). Don't forget socks and underwear (including diapers, wipes, and pull-ups).
Next is toiletries. This is where less is more is important. Because of the sheer volume of shampoo and sunblock our family will use, I will simply buy those items upon arrival as well as razors and a few other sundries like beach towels and beach toys. So the short list includes 4 combs, 2 brushes, 2 small make-up kits (1 lipstick, 1 compact eyeshadow, foundation, blush, and mascara), deodorants, electric razor, 7 toothbrushes, 2 toothpastes, floss, chapstick, perfume, 5 pairs of sunglasses, and 1 stress relief lotion.
The Other Necessities. I always bring a small first aid kit including nail clippers, band-aids, Neosporin, and Advil. A few dollar-store-ponchos, hand sanitizer, 4 cameras with extra batteries or plugs, my fitbit, laptop, nintendo ds, 4 ds games (including a "new" one purchased from a second hand store), 2 iPod touches (with 3 new downloaded apps), 2 iPhones (with chargers), an iPad (with 10 movies including a new movie), 5 reading books, 5 stuffed animals, money (including several quarters and single dollar bills for vending machines), 2 backseat books, 1 coloring book, crayons, pencils, 1 color wonder book with markers, a few small toys including matchbox cars, as many snacks as the kid's backpacks will allow, bibs, kleenex, 3 pacifiers, a baby sling, 2 sippee cups, a couple of necklaces, pairs of earrings, ponytail holders, 1 autograph book, and don't forget the Disney trading pins. Thanks to technology, I store all my reservations on my phone as well as a money tracker for expenses (each child gets a souvenir allowance) so I don't have to pack a small notebook like my parents did.
The other question I get asked is how long does it take to pack. That is harder to answer. Packing begins a few weeks in advance by making the list and gathering the right suitcases (in this case I am borrowing a few carry-ons). It also includes arranging for a ride to airport. The day before the trip, I will do all the laundry (that way everyone's favorite shirt is clean). Consequently, everyone wears their worst clothes that day including stained and mismatched outfits. With clean clothes, we then pack systematically starting with shirts, pants, etc working our way down the list. I call out an item and all the kids bring it me. They love this part, especially picking out their favorites clothes and proudly telling me which day they plan on wearing it. So, how did I miss diapers? I only wrote underwear on my list and in the mayhem of each child bringing me clothes I simply forgot to grab the baby's "underwear." This process usually only takes an hour. Electronics get charged and then packed. Lastly, we grab toothbrushes minutes before walking out the door.
Think this is nuts--you should see what we pack for car trips where space isn't quite so limited.