When it comes to traveling—and especially with kids—layers are your best friends. Things that pack compactly and fold neatly are perfect essentials for any new or seasoned traveler. And when it comes down to the reality of traveling with children, there are a few things that are inevitable: spills, messes, and the favorite sweatshirt that was forgotten by the front door. Life happens, so plan as best you can for every wrong turn, delayed flight, or flat tire that may happen. From experience, we’ve found that packing a combination of basic bottom layers (think an alternating uniform of tees and blouses with jeans) with easy-to-pair top layers (like fleece jackets, sweatshirts, jackets or vests) make even the bumpiest flights just a little more palatable.
A sweater that can be dressed up or down makes for the perfect versatile piece when it comes to packing for kids. Equally easy to put on over a T-shirt or polo, boys sweaters are not only easy to pair with nearly anything they’ve packed in their suitcase, but also folds neatly and flatly—the best complement to an organized suitcase there is.
The kids’ puffer jacket is the insulated down alternative that’s so lightweight that you’d never know the warmth and comfort it packs. But that’s only the beginning of its endless list of highly covetable qualities. When it comes to traveling, this jacket practically packs itself. With a ready-made bag for any such occasion, the puffer jacket smooshes compactly to fit the bag. And once packed—voilà!—you have a pillow for sleepy car rides and plane rides.
Girls’ cardigans play as the perfect counterpart to boys’ V-neck sweaters. Because they’re easy to fold up and stow away is only half the appeal. These sweaters also happen to go with nearly any vacation genre, creating an entirely new layer of charm. The answer to leggings, dresses, skirts, and denim, the cardigan delivers flawless style and endless function no matter the mode of travel or the final destination.
Most kids’ trips are not without parents. And on many such family occasions, moms (and dads) are sure to experience their fair share of messes. But as the old mantra states, there’s no crying over spilled milk. Instead, find a top layer that coordinates with every item in your suitcase—the perfect piece to pop on over leggings, jeans, or that favorite T-shirt that just took the full brunt of a flying cup of orange juice. A tunic pullover is the longer-than-average top layer that doubles as the ultra-cozy travel accessory you’ll never want to leave home without again.
Dad’s found his way into some serious spillage in his time, too. But even if, best-case scenario, he’s avoided a major mess during a trip, comfort is still a priority when it comes to wrangling a family through the security line at the airport. For comfort that pairs well—and packs better—with small luggage and its contents (such as jeans, sweaters and the like), an easygoing men’s flannel shirt is the way to go. Sure to keep you looking cool, calm and collected even when you’ve barely made it to your gate, the shirt that pops on over anything in your to-go closet makes any travel day an effortless affair.
Sometimes you need a mix of comfort and versatility, which comes best when in the form of the easy and effortless vest. For moms, dads and the kids too, the vest is the most packable item in your closet, making it ready to go no matter where you plan on ending up. The easiest layer to consider, it goes well over your lightest layer and fits comfortably under your biggest and bulkiest layers, too. Perfect for travel that promises unpredictable weather—and perhaps an unexpected bit of chill—it’ll be the quickest and easiest way to stay warm and look cool.
You’ll never stumble on what to pack again—even the most seasoned travelers can get caught up in what goes inside a suitcase. But for trips near and far, sometimes the answer to a sensible packing list is knowing what goes inside has to be as versatile as it gets. So pack accordingly, with the pieces that fly by the seat of their pants in that ready-for-anything, I-can-take-on-the-world kind of way. You catch our drift.