4 Ways to Keep Your Family Styling on Vacation

03/04/2014 at 02:00 PM ET

Shanelle Rein-Olowokere Family Vacation Packing TipsGetty

These days, it’s rare that my family travels altogether.

Not only is it ridiculously expensive, but it takes a lot of preparation. It also involves my least favorite activity — packing.

So imagine my dread last summer when I was tasked to make sure that I and four other people had what they needed for a 10-day vacation to Florida that included a 3-day wedding weekend.

Luckily, I was able to tap my stylist alter-ego to get us all packed up and ensure we all looked good while there. Check out my tips below:

Make a list for each person. It may seem silly, but this really helps. About two weeks before leaving, I write down everything each person needs, including my husband, as a starting point.

For my toddler, this includes multiple warm-weather outfits and of course, diapers. And as every good parent knows, it’s always smart to include a few light jackets and pants in case your little ones get chilly on the plane or in very air-conditioned spaces.

Lay out outfits. Okay, this is an old stylist trick. If you really want to know if that mini camo tee looks smashing with those orange trousers and checkered slip-ons, put it on the floor together. It’s also a great way to make sure you don’t pack more than you need. Once you have a stylish ensemble for each travel day, just add a few more essentials (extra tops, bottoms and underwear) and you should be good to go.

Get older kids involved. Why should you do everything? I have two teens, aged 12 and 19, who are very opinionated about what they wear. So before I even start packing their things, I ask them to make a first cut. Often, they forget the necessities (um, yes you need more than one pair of socks) but it’s a good way to avoid having to start from scratch.

Plus, it helps me get an idea of how they’d like to look while on vacation. For example, if my daughter throws in her bowler hat with the flower attached, I know she’s channeling Blossom and I try to make sure everything else works with that look. I’d rather not completely dictate what my kids wear while traveling because who wants to hear your kid whine about his fave sneakers you wouldn’t let him bring.

Opt for a simple, yet stylish travel outfit. We all want to “wake up” like Beyoncé, but us real moms know that’s not as easy as the pop star makes it look. But you can get close.

For your travel outfit, I suggest sticking with comfy basics (light wrap sweater, striped tee, jeans or chic sweats, and cool sneaks). This pretty much applies to the whole family. My other rule: wear the same thing to and fro. Why complicate things with two different travel looks? If it looked cute on the way there, it will look equally fashionable on the way back.

This article was originally published on Essence.com.

Shanelle Rein-Olowokere

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