The Ultimate Packing List for Traveling with Kids

Traveling with kids can be stressful enough. You have the stress of keeping track of them in unfamiliar surroundings. You have to make sure they’re hydrated, fed, and slick with sunscreen. You have to keep them clean, safe, and entertained… all while trying to work in their afternoon nap.

Sometimes we’re so busy fussing over these kids that we forget to enjoy our vacation! Well, today I will ease some of that stress for you (at least for the packing portion of your vacation). Let’s get right to it and take a look at the Ultimate Packing List for travelling with kids!

Clothes

Photo Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

I know, clothes are a given, right? Actually, you’d be surprised how many times I’ve panicked on the last day of a vacation looking at the sparse remains of the week’s wardrobe in my kid’s suitcase. No bueno!

The most important thing to remember when selecting and packing vacation outfits is to OVER-PREPARE! Kids. Get. Dirty. Whether it’s due to food spills, bathroom mishaps, or just plain old dirt, know that you’ll need more outfits than you think. Here is my guideline for how many clothing items to bring on a 5 day vacation for each person, kid or adult (note that I’m assuming you’re going somewhere warm…I’m from ice-cold Milwaukee so I tend to gravitate toward warmer climates for vacays):

  • 8 tops
  • 8 bottoms
  • 8 pairs of underwear
  • 1 dressy outfit
  • Bras and other necessary undergarments (shapewear, anyone?)
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • 7 pajama sets
  • 2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes
  • 1 pair of sandals or flip flops
  • 1 pair of dressy shoes
  • 2 swimsuits
  • 2 beach towels
  • 1 beach cover-up
  • 2 hats (I brought only one for my daughter on a trip to D.C. and she left it in the Uber on day 2)
  • 2 light sweaters
  • 1 lighter winter coat (if you’re going to be returning home to cold weather)

Toiletries

Photo Shiny Diamond via Pexels

This may seem like a TON of stuff to bring, but this is a more comprehensive list that covers items outside of standard shower needs, etc. The last thing you want is to be stuck without something like bug spray – that will cause some major discomfort for your kiddos on the rest of the trip.

You also don’t know what to expect when you take your kids to an unfamiliar destination. They could react poorly to the food. They could get a cold from breathing the recycled air on the plane. They could suddenly develop motion-sickness and vomit all over the taxi as you’re pulling up to the airport in Miami (no, that’s definitely never happened to us, what do you mean?).

Take a look at my standard packing list for toiletries when travelling with kids:

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Bar soap/body wash
  • Face wash
  • Skincare products (toner, face lotion, eye cream, etc.)
  • Makeup
  • Makeup brushes
  • Make-up remover
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Eyewear (glasses, glasses cleaner, contacts, contact case, contact solution, etc.)
  • Q-Tips
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe (Even when we’re diligent with the sunscreen, sunburns happen. I like Solarcaine since it’s an aerosol spray and has Lidocaine for pain relief)
  • Bug spray
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Benedryl / Claritin
  • Children’s’ ibuprofen
  • Bandaids (stock up on these for blisters, etc.)
  • Neosporin
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Kids’ Pepto or antacids
  • Kids’ Dramamine (For road trips or boat rides! This chewable option is the best)
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription medication
  • Thermometer
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Baby wipes (these are so handy. They’re not just for babies!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Chapstick
  • Chewing gum (for plugged ears on the plane)
  • Tissue
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Hair products (remember to pack these for the kids too if they use them – I can’t get through my girl’s mop without detangler, for example)
  • Hair ties, clips, and bobby pins
  • Bath towels & washcloths (if you won’t be in a standard hotel)
  • Bath robe/slippers
  • Portable laundry detergent packets (if you’ll have the ability to wash your swimming things)

Electronics and Entertainment

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from taking kids on vacation, it’s that they’ll need to be entertained more often than you think. There’s more downtime than you might expect, like waiting to board the plane, waiting for the show to start, or waiting for the food to come.

And sometimes, they’re just not that into whatever activity you’re doing. I remember sitting on a gorgeous private beach in Cozumel and everyone was living the dream: surfing, building sandcastles, jet-skiing, and swimming. My daughter looked at me and said, “I’m bored.” Typical.

  • Phone
  • Tablet/portable electronics
  • Headphones
  • Notebook/travel journal
  • Pens/pencils/markers/crayons
  • Coloring books
  • Books
  • Binoculars
  • Toys
  • Stuffed animals
  • Kids’ camera (Believe me, it will be so much fun to see your whole vacation from their perspective. Super adorable! My daughter had this one from Prograce. I liked it because it was chargable by USB instead of battery operated)
  • Games
  • Playing cards
  • Dollar store toys (these come in handy if you want some new trinkets for your kiddos for a long car or plane ride but you don’t want to spend a fortune)
  • Chargers for phone, tablet, and camera
  • Portable chargers (because you may not always have access to an electrical outlet)

Miscellaneous Items

Photo Pixabay via Pexels

When traveling with kids, it’s always a good idea to remember to pack some of the below items. These are items that you don’t always think of since they don’t really fall into a specific category. Take a look:

  • Kid’s regular or shoestring backpack
  • Adult backpack for yourself
  • Reusable water bottle (make sure it’s spill-proof as it may be bouncing around in their bag)
  • Sunglasses
  • Passport/document organizer (I like this one that you can wear around your neck under your clothes)
  • Snacks (hangry kids are no fun)
  • Travel blanket & travel pillow
  • Ziplock baggies
  • Grocery bags (I use these to pack wet swimsuits on the way home)
  • Pop-up laundry bin
  • Your own comfy pillow (if you can’t sleep without it)

Important Documents

Photo by Omar Markhieh

These are the things you ABSOLUTELY CAN’T FORGET! You can purchase pretty much everything else in every other category when you get to your destination. These are the things you can’t buy:

  • Passports & photo copies
  • Insurance information
  • Vaccination records
  • Driver’s license
  • Credit card
  • Cash (remember to tip your bellmen, folks!)
  • Membership cards (AAA, hotel rewards, etc.)
  • Copies of booking reservations for hotel, flight, events, etc. (digital or paper)

For Baby or Toddler

Photo Burst via Pexels

My daughter is almost 10 now so, while I don’t have to worry about these items anymore, I certainly still remember traveling with her as an infant/toddler. If you will be traveling with itty bitties, first I’d like you to go ahead and nominate yourself for sainthood. Then, I’d like you to take a peek at the below essentials for any family trip that includes babies or toddlers. You’re welcome, hero!

  • Car seat
  • Stroller
  • Portable crib/playpen
  • Baby carrier
  • Diapers (like, a lot of them)
  • Pull-ups
  • Baby wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Changing pad
  • Kid’s toilet seat
  • Bottles/sippy cups
  • Formula
  • Nursing pads
  • Baby food
  • Bibs
  • Juice
  • Snacks
  • Booster seat
  • Extra onesies/clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Sun hat
  • Pacifiers
  • Plastic/waterproof mattress pad
  • Blankets
  • Toys

Which bag?

Photo Dids via Pexels

You’ve now compiled everything you could possibly need on your vacation and you’re probably feeling pretty good. Or maybe you’re still stressed that you’ve forgotten something – we’ve all been there. Just take a deep breath and double check your list against your items. You’ll be fine, I promise!

Now, between your carry-on bags, your checked bags, and your go bag (ie. backpack for carrying along everywhere when you get to your destination), where should you pack these items? To determine which items to carry on and which items to check, be sure to check out my recent blog post, “To Check or Not to Check” for some advise on what you should always have in your carry-on bags.

For now, let’s talk about your go bag. This is the bag you’ll be carrying around throughout your trip so you want to make sure it’s light enough to lug around, but also that you carry the right things so you are prepared in an unexpected situation. Note that while you can certainly use the same bag that you carried on the plane, there is some extra stuff in your carry-on that you won’t want to lug around (hello, spare underwear! Didn’t expect to pull you out while paying for a snow cone). Here are the items I recommend carrying in your go bags:

Kid’s go bag (yup, make them carry some of the burden if they’re old enough)

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Chapstick
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Binoculars
  • Entertainment (book, tablet, charger, headphones, etc.)

Your go bag

  • Phone & portable charger
  • Important documents (if they’re not around your neck)
  • Wallet (credit card, driver’s license, cash)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Snacks & gum
  • Sunscreen
  • Bugspray
  • First aid items (bandaids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, benedryl, pepto, antacids, Dramamine)
  • Chapstick
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baby wipes

Now that you’re hyper-prepared for any situation that may come your way, sit back and enjoy your vacation (between tantrums, of course)!

Are there any items missing from this list? Leave a comment with which item you could never live without on your vacation.

Happy travels!

Photo by Porapack Apichodilok via Pexels

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