What to Pack For - A Family Vacation

I am a planner. I have always been that way and I hate waiting for the last minute to do things. It makes me feel frantic and then I don’t become the most pleasant person (advanced apologies to my family!)

When traveling – especially with kids – forgetting essentials is the worst feeling. There are many things we can live without when we travel if we forget them. But forget your kids’ special lovey or item that helps them sleep well at night and your entire vacation is over! Below are some tips and tricks I have gathered over the years to help packing for a family vacation a little bit easier. Hope they can help you as well and make the vacation process a smoother one!

First step is to make a list. I make a new list for every vacation because as the kids get older, they have different needs. When my children were babies, at the top of the list were diapers, bottles, swim diapers, wipes, formula, etc. Those are the most essential because you don’t want to get stuck on a tropical island without the formula your baby is used to or the wipes you know won’t cause a diaper rash. When they were toddlers, the Puddle Jumper was essential for any relaxing time at the pool. Now that they are older, they can't sleep without their sound machines or clock that tells that what time they are allowed out of bed. Different ages = different needs, so adjust your list every year that you travel. 

Make sure to always pack any medications you MIGHT need. My son gets cold related asthma and uses a nebulizer. For almost a year he did not need the nebulizer, so when we went to Puerto Rico 2 years ago, I did not pack it. Of course, on the plane I started to notice him coming down with a cold. Two days later he had a full-on asthma attack and I did not have his nebulizer. Thankfully we were able to call a hotel doctor and had a nebulizer shipped to the hotel. Now, I will never travel without it again.

Once you are past the essentials, you can start packing your clothing. Plan out your entire itinerary so you know what pieces you need for each day. Are you going to swim every day, go to an amusement park? Knowing your schedule helps you envision the outfits you want to wear and items you need to have with you on those days.

When I first started packing for family vacations, I completely overpacked. An outfit for each day, each night - with shoes and a bag to match each outfit. I quickly learned that I did not use half of those items. Family vacations tend to be much more laxed and now I pack outfits that are easily re-usable. A maxi dress that I packed for dinner could easily be worn the next day to the pool. Remember, whatever you pack, you have to bring home and wash. Packing less = less laundry! The only bags you need are a pool/beach bag and a bag for the evening.  

Before you pack any clothing in your suitcase, try it all on! Make sure that bathing suit still fits and style all of your looks. Just like my clothing, I like to re-use accessories and shoes as much as possible. Pick a neutral necklace, earrings and a bracelet. If you want to add a pop of color here and there, that’s fine, just try to limit it. Pick a neutral pair of flip flops that will go with every bathing suit and a neutral shoe that will go with every outfit. Shoes are heavy and with the luggage weight limit, it is ideal to keep shoe options down to a minimum.  You can wear sneakers on the plane, so you have those as well if you need them.

Last but definitely not least are the toiletries. Make sure you have your sunscreen, aloe (just in case you didn’t apply enough sunscreen) and make- up essentials. Just like everything else, try to limit your make-up options. Pack 1 eyeshadow palette and then the basics – leave those fake lashes at home!

Once your luggage is packed, it's time to pack the most important bag of your entire trip – the carry on! When you are traveling with children, this bag is essential! Make sure their ipads are up to date with the latest shows or games that will keep their attention. In addition, load that bag with snacks and any toys or activities they enjoy. My daughter loves LOL dolls, so we throw them all in her bag. Anything you can think of that will keep the kids busy on the plane and help you keep your sanity, throw on in!

That’s it! You're all set for your family vacation. So go enjoy with those kiddies and hopefully you can get some R&R on your vacation as well!