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You Need This Packing List For Every Family Vacation

You Need This Packing List For Every Family Vacation

Given how much I travel for work and for fun, I pack a suitcase on autopilot, to some extent. Nevertheless, I always use a packing list. Otherwise, it’s easy to forget something I really need, like the right shoes or outwear for my destination.

There the reliable clothes and accessories that I pack regardless of where I’m going. For example, I always pack flip-flops. They don’t take a lot of space and they’re handy to wear around the hotel, say, to breakfast or to pop down to the front desk.

I have a toiletry kit that’s always 85% ready to be tossed into my suitcase. I usually need to refill or replace something I’ve run out of. And there are things I don’t keep in my dop bag, like fresh sunscreen, my favorite moisturizer and make-up.

Then there are the trip-specific items that vary depending on whether we’re heading to a winter vacation in the Adirondacks, a Caribbean cruise or a summer week in a European city.

Tiny Traveler started packing her own suitcase as soon as she was old enough to read a packing list, around 6 or 7 years old. Back then, I’d check over what she packed to make sure there weren’t 10 dresses for a weekend trip, or several stuffed animals but no pajamas.

As a teen, she still asks for a packing list. I now give her the same one I use and she adds items to it, like her favorite skin-care products and stuff for taking care of her braces.

Below are my two Basic family vacation packing lists, one for teens and adults and one for children. Some items on the latter one will change as little ones get older and some items are gender-specific.

Use it to pack for your preschoolers and kindergartners, then hand it over them when they’re ready pack their own bag, giving you one less thing to do.

Pair this basic list with my lists for specific trips. I have lists for beach-house getaways, winter vacations, adventure trips and cruises. There’s also one for traveling with babies and toddlers. And one for all the critical things in your carry-on bags.

Together they make it a snap to get the family ready to head off on vacation.

My Essential Family Vacation Packing List For Families

My two best packing tips:

First; if you make sure all your tops coordinate with all your bottoms you can make many outfits with fewer clothes. Solids and dark colors are boring, but they match easily and are less likely to get dirty.

Second, don’t pack an umbrella. They’re heavy and there is no place on earth where you can’t buy one if you need one.

Use of these 13 Travel Bags That Are Ideal For Families

Essential Items for Mom & Dad

  • Long pants/Capris/shorts
  • Jeans
  • Tank tops
  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Long-sleeve t-shirts
  • Casual dresses or skirts
  • 1-2 evening outfits
  • Sweater or fleece (light or heavy weight depending on the season and destination)
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Rain jacket (I like the packable ones that come with their own compression sack)
  • Walking shoes (sneakers are not always the best walking shoes)
  • Dress shoes
  • 2 bathing suits (some take a 48 hours to dry; this way you’ll always have a dry one)
  • Cover-up
  • Flip-flops
  • Light scarf or Pashmina (they can have 1001 uses)
  • Jewelry/accessories (versatile pieces; don’t bring anything you wouldn’t mind losing)
  • Toiletries (keep in mind that lots of things about travel make your skin drier)
  • Make-up
  • Sunscreen
  • First-Aid/medicine kit
  • Sun/baseball/winter hat
  • Contact lens kit
the complete familiesgo! vacation planner & organizer
Use my inexpensive vacation planner & organizer to have all my packing lists and planning sheets in one handy place.

Essential Items for Kids

  • Jeans/pants/shorts/sweatpants
  • Short sleeve tops
  • Long sleeve tops
  • 1-2 dressy outfits
  • 2 bathing suites
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Sneakers
  • Water shoes or flip-flops
  • Dress shoes (if needed)
  • Fleece or hoodie
  • Rain jacket
  • Sun/baseball/winter hat (if they pick it our they’re more likely to wear it)
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • A favorite snugly (not the favorite snugly; just in case you forget it somewhere)
  • Anything they absolutely need to go to sleep

Mostly For Girls

  • Leggings
  • Tank tops
  • Casual dresses/skirts/skorts (skorts are handy for girls who like to climb and tumble)
  • Tights
  • Hair accessories
  • Beach/pool cover-up

Print the list here!

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Have I missed anything? Send me an email and I’ll add it to the list!