What to Pack for a Family Vacation

Passports? Check.

Plane tickets? Check.

Packed bags …? 

Before you can check your bags at the airport, you need to make sure they’re adequately packed and prepped for your family vacation. 

Thanks to the family at one of our cherished dealer partners Stinnett Outdoors for the fam photo!

First, make a list of everything you need the week before you leave. This way you can give yourself time to think and edit overtime. And spend some time investigating different packing methods, like rolling your clothes, bundling outfits together, or packing cubes. When you start off by being a bit more intentional about what goes in your suitcase, you’ll be able to squeeze in a lot more necessities — and be a lot more prepared — for your family getaway.

But even with all the preparation in the world, it’s still easy to forget about the must-haves. So, we’ve created a list of the little odds-and-ends that you might otherwise fly off without. (We trust socks and bathing suits are already on your list!)

Keep reading for our top tips on what to pack for a family vacation.

  1. Prep for the plane, not just for fun. Layovers, delays, and just plain waiting on the runway can make kids get antsy. Prepare by bringing things like reusable water bottles, snacks, puzzle books and make sure to download some movies onto your devices. You’ll keep everyone occupied and quiet so you don’t have to answer “are we there yet?” for the fifth time in a row.

    Pro tip: If you have little ones, bring earplugs and kid-appropriate headache medicine to ease with the transitions in altitudes.

  2. Live by the rule of 3s for accessories. One piece of outerwear, one functional accessory and one for-fun add on will help limit the amount of checked bags your family has by keeping things simple. The key is really all about function over fashion. A lightweight jacket is great for unsuspected rainy days or chilly nights. Durable, floating sunglasses will protect your family’s eyes from the ocean’s glare. And for everything else? Put it all away and pick just one must-have (like a sunhat).

    Pro tip: Don’t worry about your kids dropping the most important accessory down to the bottom of the deep blue sea. Our kids line of sunglasses make sure your little minnows enjoy the most out of the water, without losing valuable UV protection. Get a pair for the kids, or a Captain’s pack for the whole family.

  3. Cameras
    Yes, your phone has a great camera and plenty of storage. You’re probably already an expert at perfect candids with the kids. But this tip isn’t actually for you, Mom and Dad. It’s for the kiddos. Grab some disposable cameras from the corner store, and pack them in your kid’s backpacks. Let them snap away! Just wait and see the interesting photos and perspective they have.

  4. Brightly colored wristbands or lanyards. It’s hard not to run away and explore every new nook, cranny and corner when you’re on vacation. Chances are, your kids will have an even harder time staying by your side when there’s so much to look at. So give everyone in the family (including you grown-ups!) a colorful bracelet or lanyard to wear at all times. Make sure it has important information on it, just in case, like an emergency contact or your hotel’s address.

  5. Laundry detergent powder and dryer sheets. The whole point of going on vacation is to get away from the household chores, right? While no one expects to throw things in the wash until they get home, the fact is that kids get messy. Instead of overpacking outfits in anticipation of spills and sticky fingers, just pack some detergent powder. A quick rub of soap under the sink and an overnight air-dry can help you make sure everyone gets the most out of their outfits.

    Pro tip: It might help to bring along your tried-and-true washcloth or towel that you’re not afraid of staining. This way you won’t have to add a new set of bath towels to your hotel receipt when you check out.

  6. Bring a backup backpack. Okay, so it doesn’t have to be a full-sized backpack but you do want to take some sort of sick and safety bag. While you might be able to tough out an upset stomach or altitude sickness, kids aren’t so prepared. Having medicine on hand, along with bandaids, aloe vera for sunburns is a guarantee for smooth sailing while on vacay.

    Pro tip: Childproof electrical sockets in your hotel room or AirBNB by bringing along washi tape or painters tape. You can tape over the outlets you aren’t using and prevent little fingers from getting shocked — all without damaging the walls

Above all else, the most important thing to remember is that you and your family are about to make memories that will last a lifetime. Even if you forget something on this list — just remember vacation is all about having fun.

Bon voyage!