Koffer packen: Staying Organized

Last year, I posted some printable packing lists for kids in German. As we prepared for our first summer trip, I printed them out for Froggie & Hippo.

You would think with all the travel we’ve done as a family — and all the travel I did when I was single — that I’d have this whole packing thing down to a science. But I don’t! Every time we go somewhere, I forget something. And often when we pack up to come home, something gets left behind – or almost does.

So for our coast-to-coast trip, I decided to use the kids’ packing lists to try to stay extra organized. The German packing lists were a great place to start. We gathered everything on them and checked the boxes as they went into the suitcase. But of course, there were other things we needed for this trip that weren’t on those basic lists. So I scribbled them down on the papers. Everything that went into their suitcase is on those lists somewhere!

And when it was all zipped up, I slipped the lists into the outside pocket. Now when we are ready to pack for home, I’ll know exactly what came with us and what has to go back into those suitcases. It sounds very simple, but it’s one extra little step that I’m hoping will make a huge difference!


You can see what I mean when I say I scribbled the items on the papers! You might not be able to read it at all ­čÖé┬á If you can read some of it, you’ll see that I forgot to stick to German on some of them. I also used a “W” on the clothing list if they were going to wear an item on the plane. Hm, I guess that should have been a “T” for tragen instead! Well, it’s always a work in progress!

Gute Reise!

Summertime = Traveltime!

Summer’s here! For our family this year, that means it’s time to take to the air and hit the road! So I’ll be sharing some of my travel experiences and tips we pick up along the way ┬á– ┬áfrom traveling with kids to places to go.

Our first trip keeps us Stateside to visit family. But we are traveling coast to coast. So while I don’t expect to get much German work done this week, I can still share some of my favorite travel tips.

Do you use packing cubes? I love these things! We each get a set of 3, in different sizes, and they are color-coded for each member of the family!!


For the kiddos, the large one holds tops & bottoms, socks & underwear. The medium cube is for pajamas, raincoat, and hat. This time, I used one of the small ones for shoes and the other for a mini diaper bag with pull-up, wipes, and change of clothes. Luckily we didn’t need it!

The other thing I like about packing cubes is that I can start packing days ahead of time and then just throw the cubes into the suitcases. Sometimes I’ll admit, they can be tricky to fit. It’s kind of like a mini game of Tetris! There might be other versions out there that have solved this problem, but I don’t know.

Happy travels!

Traveling Abroad, Part I: On the Plane

Not only are we traveling by plane to Europe, but we have a 4 to 5-hour drive once we arrive. So I pack the kids’ backpacks with activities to keep them busy on the plane. And then I pack another set of things in one of the suitcases. It takes a lot of organization!

I try to sneak in German where I can. But there is a mix of English and German materials. I didn’t actually create any of the things below. But there are still some good resources!

Some of the things in the boys’ backpacks are the same:

  • a set of headphones in the backpack (We got these headphones that are meant for kids.)
  • a couple of snacks
  • a set of pajamas and nighttime diaper/pull-up
  • an extra set of clothes

But then they have different things to keep them busy. Here’s what’s in Hippo’s backpack:

  • a folder with coloring pages that I printed (some with Van Gogh images, since we might go to the museum in Amsterdam; some German ones I found here)
  • books – Hippo chose two (Bist du meine Mama? and Das kleine Gl├╝hw├╝rmschen)
  • a drawing pad with plain paper
  • a foam giraffe sticker kit (from AC Moore)
  • an activity pad
  • 2 Dover Little Activity Books
  • 2 busy bags
  • box of crayons
  • pencil case with colored pencils (the case is personalized, but I wiped out the name on the picture)
  • a pencil case with a pencil, sharpener, and eraser

He has two busy bags:

  • a dinosaur puzzle (This is from the Melissa & Doug set that comes with 4 puzzles. I made a colored photocopy of the finished puzzle, so he would know what it was supposed to look like.)
  • stickers (I cut up some card stock and folded it, so he has something to put the stickers on. There are also several Dover Little Sticker Books.)

Froggy’s backpack is a bit bigger and so it is stuffed with a bit more!

  • a folder with coloring pages that I printed (some with Van Gogh images, since we might go to the museum in Amsterdam; some German ones I found here)
  • a drawing pad with plain paper
  • a foam giraffe sticker kit (from AC Moore)
  • 2 puzzles: alphabet & the US (in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag)
  • a magnetic game similar to Chutes & Ladders (also in a large Ziploc bag)
  • a sticker book – World Atlas
  • mini pinball game
  • 3 books (Mars, Planes, & Die kleine Raupe Nimmersatt)
  • Dover Little Activity Books
  • Carlsen Sticker-Malb├╝cher (I found these at a bookstore in Frankfurt last year)
  • 2 busy bags
  • box of colored pencils
  • pencil case filled with markers (we had to really pare these down – he wanted to take every color!)

He also has 2 busy bags:

  • stickers (Again, I cut up some card stock and folded it, so he has something to put the stickers on.)
  • a set of strip puzzles – you have to first figure out which pieces go together, but they are color-coded and numbered at the bottom (I found them in the red dot section of Target)

Are you familiar with busy bags? Do a quick search on Google or Pintrest and you’ll find innumerable ideas from a whole variety of mommy blogs. Last year, I ordered a case of 24 pencil cases with mesh windows and zipper closures for about $29 on Amazon. (I had bought a bunch at a dollar store the year before, and the zippers broke almost immediately, so I thought this was a pretty good deal!) One activity goes into each busy bag to help keep things organized. I keep them in a small closet near the mud room, and we only use them on our travels.

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Koffer Packen: Kids’ Packing List

Koffer Packen GitA-page-001

Last year when we went to Europe, I found some great packing lists for kids online. But of course, they were all in English! (See for example: this one from Lemon Lime Adventures; or this one from Stuffed Suitcase with images for non-readers.) They worked great for our preparations last year. But this year, I just had to make my own!

Here is what they look like:



There are three packing lists:

  • Kleidung (Clothing)
  • Toilettenartikel (Toiletries)
  • R├╝cksack (Backpack)

You can download all three of them here: Koffer Packen GitA (PDF)

Only the Kleidung page has images. I haven’t decided yet if I want the images on there or not ­čÖé┬á For Hippo (age 3), the images make sense. But if the goal is to get Froggy (age 6) reading as many German words as I can put in front of him, then the pictures may be doing him a disservice. We haven’t actually done the packing yet, so I’ll see how it all goes! If I think they could use some adjusting, I’ll edit the pages and repost.


Travel Games for Germany and the Netherlands

We’ll be heading back to the Netherlands and Germany this summer. We fly in and out of Frankfurt and then have about a 5-hour drive to and from the Netherlands. So in addition to packing things to keep the kiddos busy on the airplane, I have a separate stash of things to keep them busy in the car.

I just finished creating a set of cards that can be used in a variety of ways. You can play Memory, I Spy, Go Fish. Or laminate an entire sheet and mark off the things you see with a dry erase marker (did you know they make washable ones?!) or a small post-it. There are two pages of various items – one for each of the boys (that way there is no competition over who sees what first!). And there is also a one-page set of just vehicles. At the end, there is an additional sheet to help count up a few of the things you might see on a long drive.

2016-07-04 15.37.23

Items included are:

2016-07-04 15.38.09

The vehicles page includes: das Flugzeug, der Bus, der LKW, das Fahrrad, ein gelbes Auto, der Bagger, der Traktor, der Kipper, das Motorrad, der Hubschrauber, das Feuerwehrauto, & der Zug.

I’d love to hear how you use the cards!!

Update – August 2016:

Froggy really enjoyed the game of looking for items on his page. Hippo lost interest after finding just a few. We went with the option of covering the found items with post-its (the 1 7/8″squares worked perfectly):

2016-07-21 16.47.19