Your long-awaited family vacation is nearing—yay! And while the kiddos are undoubtedly excited, we know it can be slightly more stressful for Mom and Dad. Yes, there are memories to be made and fun to be had, but first, there are logistics.
So, how do you make traveling with kids as seamless as possible? We put together the ultimate packing list for a vacation with your family, so you can start sharing your wolf pack’s unencumbered excitement ASAP.
Pack it Up
Start with the Basics
Get set for vacation success by packing 2-3 outfits per day, per child. You know better than anyone that kids are messy. Our pro tip: mix and match. Pack interchangeable clothing items so if someone spills, you only have to change one piece of clothing, not the entire outfit. Parental disaster avoided.
And don’t forget the shoes! Bring two pairs for each child, and make one of them slip-on. Less time for tying shoes equals more time for having fun.
For bedtime, plan 2-3 sets of pajamas per week, per child. We like to pick sets they’d feel comfortable wearing in the lobby for some chill fun.
Get Ready for Any Activity
Planning on hitting the pool? Two bathing suits will keep them covered (and give you a backup for when the first is wet). And don’t forget the water toys, floaties, water shoes, and goggles, as well as some plastic bags to bring those swimsuits home in—so you can fit in one last lazy river ride before you go.
Exploring trails? Bring comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen to make sure you’re comfortable on a hike. We recommend having your children each bring a mini backpack where you can stash water, snacks, hats, and sunglasses (and take some of that pressure off your own back).
And if cold weather action on the ski slopes is what you’re after, don’t forget a hat, scarf, waterproof gloves, and ski goggles. Nothing kills good vacation vibes like, “Mom, I’m cold!”
If you forget, you can always do some shopping while on vacation, but there’s nothing like sliding down a water slide or cruising down a mountain in your favorite gear.
Plan for Comfort
Even when they’re having the vacation of a lifetime, sometimes your kids need some reminders of their home den. A favorite blanket or stuffed animal will make them feel more at ease in any environment (and is the perfect Story Time companion).
Leave it Home
The great thing about picking the perfect vacation spot is that there are some things you won’t need to worry about. Do some digging on the hotel’s website to see what items they have in your room so you know when to leave your hairdryer at home, playpen in the living room, or beach towels in the laundry closet, because the perfect vacation spot should have some light packing perks.
Okay, onto the nitty-gritty. Laundry’s done, list is ready, but now you have to actually pack. And probably while your little ones are jumping around you in vacation excitement.
- Get Your Kids Involved: Ask your children to pick out some of their favorite outfits they want to bring. Letting them have a say means less potential for arguments later. If they’re older, you can even have them pack their own bags—just be sure to double check that they’ve brought everything they need.
- Make Lists: Multiple lists can come in handy. One for what each person needs (including any medicine), one for what you want to have handy in the car (or airplane), one for electronics to bring, etc. This ensures you won’t leave anything important behind.
- Organize for Efficiency: If you have multiple kids, assign each of them a color. Put their clothes in packing cubes of that color so it’s easy for them to identify.
- Use Individual Bags: For older children, let them have their own small bag. For smaller children, combining clothing in one bag makes more sense but consider the packing cube trick above.
- Roll, Don’t Fold: It’s amazing how much more you can fit when you roll clothing instead of simply folding it.
- Charge Electronics: In that same vein, charge everything you can before you leave. There’s nothing like getting into hour 3 of a 6 hour road trip only to realize the iPad is already dead. Then, pack all chargers together so everything is in one place and easy to find.
- Pack Snacks: These will be a road trip lifesaver to avoid hangry kids. Give your kids snacks (a few of our favorites are here) while letting them play a few YouTube videos and the hours will fly by.
Packing for any trip (even without kids!) can be stressful. In the worst cases, it can even take the anticipation out of the adventure ahead.
But, you’ve got this. And, with our family road trip packing list, you’re practically guaranteed an easier time.