The transition from being a solo traveler, or traveling with a group of friends, to becoming a parent traveling with small kids can be confusing for some people. I remember that back when I traveled alone, packing was left to the last minute; it was a 2-hour process. Now that I have a husband and two boys, packing can take 4 days or more. One of the best tips for traveling with kids is doing right the packing! That’s why I have gathered the ultimate essentials to pack for a family vacation.
No matter how much experience you have, there is always something. It seems almost impossible not to forget something. After many long weekend getaways and even more 1-3 week vacations of constantly forgetting stuff, I’ve ALMOST got the hang of this packing business.
This is how we break up responsibilities: My husband looks out for himself and I do the rest! Believe me; this is better than it sounds. The packing process is faster if I take care of the kid’s stuff.
Does that seem fair? Not really, but after many times of recruiting my husband in helping me pack up the kids, it’s proven more work than for him to just do his thing and let me take care of the rest.
Related Read: Ultimate Traveling Internationally With Kids Guide
What to Pack for a Family Vacation?
Since I’m pretty organized, I’ve come up with some lists that are easy to follow and have minimized my packing time down to a couple of hours per person.
The first thing I worry about is having the right clothes for the destination we are about to visit. If I think I need anything, I go to online stores. Once I am sure that our clothing will be weather appropriate, I move on to actually packing.
Which Clothes Should You Bring?
When packing for a family vacation, it is important to keep in mind that you are not just packing for yourself. You should think about the needs of your children, as well as any special considerations that might affect your clothing choices.
For example, if your child is allergic to certain fabrics or materials, then you will want to avoid bringing clothes made from those materials, also, you should consider the weather you’re traveling to.
Some families also like to bring along a few extra outfits for the kids, just in case they get dirty or wet during their vacation activities. It is also a good idea to pack some extra clothes for yourself in case something happens.
But some general clothes to pack are:
- At least one dressy outfit
- Active or workout clothes
- Casual Clothes
- Bathing suits or winter outfits (depend on where are you traveling to)
- Sweatshirt or a Jacket
Shoes are often one of the most overlooked items when packing for a family vacation. They get lost in the mix of clothes and other items. Also, they are kinda hard to pack, but there are certain shoes that are essential for a family trip
To make sure that you don’t forget anything when packing for your next family vacation, here is a list of essential shoes to pack:
- Sneakers or casual shoes
- water shoes
- Flip-flops and sandals
- Athletic shoes
- Dress Shoes
Medical Stuff to Pack
The first thing you should pack for your family trip is a medical kit. This includes things like bandages, pain relievers, and allergy medicine. You should also be sure to pack any prescription medications that you need to take with you. If you have any special needs or allergies, you need to make sure to bring them with you as well.
Here are some medical items that you should pack for your next family vacation:
- A first-aid kit
- Anti-diarrhea medication and anti-nausea
- Hand sanitizer
- Rehydration salts or oral rehydration solution packets
- Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen
In order to make a family trip as enjoyable as possible, it is important to pack toiletries that are appropriate for the members of the family. It is important to be mindful of what everyone needs. If you’re traveling with a child make sure that you bring all of their specific toiletries!
If you are traveling with children, you may want to pack their favorite bath toys, shampoo, and conditioner. It is also a good idea to have baby wipes on hand in case there aren’t any available in the hotel.
The list of toiletries needed will depend on the duration and nature of the trip. For a short stay, it is enough to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. For a long stay or if you are going somewhere with different climate conditions, you should also pack sun cream and insect repellent.
General toiletries to pack:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hair supplies
This may be an obvious one, but since packing for a family vacation is always a difficult task, it is not a bad thing to remember all the personal items you should bring. It’s hard to list some of the personal items of each one of the family members since it will vary depending on the person, what you need is not the same as the personal things your husband needs.
But here are some personal stuff to pack:
- Passports and all documents
- Sunglasses and glasses
- Chargers for all electronics
- Outlet adapters
- Game Consoles
What To Pack For A Trip With Toddlers?
For the Baby
Day pack or carry-on
- 6 diapers
- 3 portions of the formula
- 4 Cleaning cloths and bibs
- 2 water bottles
- 1 full baby bottle, 1 empty
- Sippy cup with water or juice
- Baby wipes
- Change of clothing
- Baby Tylenol
- Saline solution for nose drops
- Fruit and snacks
- Toys to keep him busy – this is creativity time. I tend to bring a bunch of little things still in their wrapping so that we go through the process of opening it slowly, even tape, wooden sticks, whatever your kid would be into to make the driving or flight time pass somewhat painlessly.
- Book for babies to look at
Big Boy’s Kid list for Packing (around 8 to 10 years)
They are old enough to help pick out their toys and of course, the use of electronics is unavoidable. This is what we pack up in his day pack or carry-on:
- One pair of clothes to change into
- Choice of toys for him to play with
- Ipad with a car mount and packed with movies and music.
- Nintendo DS
- Kid-friendly camera
- Drawing book or coloring book and colored pencils/pens/markers/crayons (whichever your child likes the most)
- Snacks – cereal, cookies
- Milk or Pediasure
- Water bottle
Mom’s Packing List for the Family
So where do all the other essentials go for the family? My bag of course!
- Fanny pack – Everyone’s passports and other legal papers necessary for international and even domestic travel
- Flight or road trip info – reservation numbers and phone numbers
- Guide book
- Baby wipes just in case we run out
- Sunscreen for the adults
- Snacks that my kids would like if they run out
- Lip balm
- Emergency kit
- Notepad and pen to jot down my big ideas while baby is crying on my lap
- Change of shirt – in the highly probable case my baby vomits on me
- Keys to the house
Tips For Packing For A Family Vacation
Think about the Climate
One of the most important things to consider when packing for a family trip is the climate. If you are going on a summer holiday, you will need to bring lighter clothes that are suitable for hot weather. If it is winter, then you will need to pack clothes that are suitable for colder temperatures.
Inquire about Luggage Regulations
Most airlines are fine with you taking baby food and formula, but there is also a limit. Also, most won’t charge you for car seats, cribs, and strollers, but you don’t want to risk having to leave them at the airport so don’t take it with you before you ask. All of these things are also important if you are traveling by land. Some borders might not allow food or certain items.
I would recommend doing your inquiries at least a couple of weeks before you travel. Or even better, as soon as you book.
All Essentials Should be in the Same Bag
At first, I made the huge mistake of leaving some of the stuff for my boys separate. Thinking that they would need them at different times. Or that it was a good idea to keep a bag for each of them. But I soon learned that when you are going through the madness of the airport, border crossings, bus stations, etc having to figure out where I put what was not very practical.
Make a List
This one might sound so obvious, but I know that a lot of us tend to think that we know what we need for our kids and don’t need to be checking off things from a list. But when you are thinking about taxis, hotels, car rentals, reservations, plane tickets, and more, chances are, you will forget something. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot stuff of not having a list.
Prepare Enough Clothes and Then Throw in Some More
Kids get dirty and love to run around, ruining their clothes. That’s a fact we all know. But I hate having to keep constantly stopping them from enjoying the trip and running around while exploring new places. That is exactly what allows them to learn and grow.
Instead, I do three things, pack more outfits than the ones I think they might need, go to sites where I can find, durable clothes like young Versace and get versatile pieces that can be used on more than one occasion.
This pretty much covers the essentials. If these items are in our bags at hand, the trip will usually run smoothly!
Now the key is not to lose the list!
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