Are you planning a family vacation and feeling a little overwhelmed with the packing process? I have been there as a mom traveling with a family of five! Today I am sharing my best family vacation packing tips and specific tips for putting together your own travel with kids packing list.
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Planning a family vacation can be a bit stressful. It seems there is always something to remember and organize. I have found that having a vacation planning checklist can go a long way in easing the stress of packing for family travel, and ensuring you pack all the things you need for your family vacation.
Family Vacation Packing Tips
The first thing you should do is designate a place to keep a list of all the things you want to get done and pack before vacation. I prefer to write it out with paper and pencil, but your phone notes work just as well.
This family vacation packing list helps me stay on track and spend more time excited for some family vacation time.
I also designate a place in our house to collect and organize all the things we need for our family trip. Then when you are ready to pack, everything is in one spot.
Once I designate a place for everything, I like to sit down and write down everything I can think of that we may need for vacation. If you are not sure where to start, don’t worry, below I have packing tips for your family vacation.
Our vacation packing checklist may be a little different than yours but it can be easily customized to what works for your family.
Clothing for Your Family
Most people need the same basic packing list for traveling. Traveling with kids can have you end up with a little bit more “extra or just in case” items but for the most part you will need the basics for all travel.
This is the packing list I start with when planning our trips. I count the number of nights we are staying and add 1 or 2 extra. If we have a washer and dryer available I do not pack extra, but I do plan on doing laundry on vacation.
- Bathing Suits
- Dress or Nice outfit
- Shoes-Usually a sandal(or boots) and sneakers
We have designated a suitcase for each person when we travel. Our go-to for air travel is the American Tourister luggage. It fits as a carry-on and rolls, making it a great option for families. I try to stick to the rule: If it doesn’t fit in your luggage we don’t bring it.
At first traveling with less may make you nervous but I find it much easier to travel as a large family and keep everything organized.
Toiletries and Medication
Basic toiletries and medication are important when traveling. Some medication you may want to keep on you but the basics can be packed. This toiletries packing list should get you started and you can add things specific to your family.
- Body Wash/Soap
- Hair Brush + Hair Products + Accessories
- Make-Up + Lotion
I have found as the kids get older it makes sense for each of them to have a small toiletries bag for their own needs.
Keep Your House in Order
Preparing your house before you leave helps keep everything in order and provides peace of mind while you are away.
- Have your mail held by the post office. You can set it up here. They will deliver all your mail the day your return or whenever you set it up. You also have the option to pick it up at the post office. If you have any other house deliveries like newspaper or packages place a hold on them or arrange a friend to pick them up.
- Check that all doors and windows are locked. If you have a home alarm system set that up and call to let them know you will be out of town.
- Lower your heat. Do NOT turn it off in the winter months because your pipes could freeze. We typically turn our heat to around 58 when we are out of town. If you have AC turn it off. Most thermostats have a timer. Set it to a few hours before you return home and your house will be ready for you.
- Tell a neighbor or friend that you will be gone and ask them to drive by your house or stop in and check things out.
- Turn off computer/appliances. Unplug anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in. If you have a DVR set leave that plugged in!
Check Weather at Destination & Pre-Pack
- Take a look at the expected forecast and plan accordingly.
- For Summer Travel(Warm Climate): I always have my kids try on their bathing suits and flip-flops a few weeks before we leave so I have time to go out and get them new sizes if they need them. Don’t forget to do the same for yourself. My hat from last year was really beat up and I needed to go out and get a new one for our next vacation.
- For Winter Travel (Cold Climate): You will need hats, gloves, boots, and maybe even snow gear. Give yourself time to go out and purchase(or order) what you need.
- Do a once over of your toiletries so you can pick everything up at once.
Electronic Up-Keep & Charging
- Download games and books that you may need on your devices. Wi-Fi may not be available when you are out and it is good to be prepared.
- Clean up your phone, especially if you are using it to take photos. Save and delete photos and delete apps you don’t need on vacation. You don’t want to be in the middle of taking a picture and see you have no storage. Consider a storage saving app like Google Photos or Shutterfly. You can set them up to automatically upload your photos. I have always used Shutterfly but am trying google photos for the video option during my next trip.
- Charge all devices and cameras. Do this the day or night before you leave. Pack all chargers in a bag for easy access during your trip. Most airports have charging stations available. Also consider purchasing a portable charger.
Pack Your Family Travel Bags
When traveling with a family you need an awesome bag to fit all your stuff for a full day of travel. I like to have a crossbody so my hands are free as well as a backpack for myself.
My Travel Bag Essentials:
- Travel Documents
- Ziplock bags
- Hand Sanitizer
- Everyone’s Sunglasses/Glasses
- We are out of diapers but you may need few diapers and even a small change of clothes for a potty training child. Bring a few gallon size Ziploc bags just in case there is an accident. You may also need bottles and other baby supplies.
For the kids I have them help pack their backpack. We try to keep it light and not overstuffed with things they will not use.
- Small Stuffed Animal
- Coloring Books
- Small toy
- Change of clothes packed in a Ziploc bag(gallon).
Double Check Attraction Times/Events
I always check the websites of the attractions we are visiting to make sure nothing has changed. I purchase tickets ahead of time as well to save time and money.
- Check the event page!! At times places close early for special events.
- Theme parks have been known to extend hours depending on crowds.
- Make sure the day you are visiting the park/attraction is open.
- Travel Documents-Passports, etc.
- Tickets for theme parks or other attractions you are doing.
- Print all your tickets or take a screen shot of your confirmation numbers.
- Check in early for your flights on-line if you can. All airlines have different rules, so check it out ahead of time.
When traveling with kids by plane or car you need to have an idea of how you will get around. I find it a smart idea to think about these things before you arrive at your destination. Here are a few transportation things to think about.
- What is your drive time to airport?
- Are you renting a car?
- How far is hotel to airport?
- Do you need car seats on the plane or upon arrival?
- How early do you need to get to the airport?
- Is it a long flight? Check out Tips for Long Flights with Kids.
- What is your drive time?
- Will you stop during the drive at any attractions?
- Do you need a hotel for the night?
- Where will you eat on the road?
- Are you packing a cooler? Snacks, etc.
Prepare Your Home for After Vacation
This is a bonus tip that I have recently started doing and I love it! The day we return from our family vacation we put in an instacart order to be delivered when we arrive home.
This means you won’t have to run to the grocery store and you will have food waiting for you at home. It’s an added extra that can make easing back into your normal routine a little easier.
Now that you have done all the planning for your family vacation, you can feel a little less stressed knowing everything is ready to go. Being prepared will help you focus on you family and enjoying all the moments.