Family Vacations: Essential Must-Pack Items

Summer is right around the corner, which means many families are counting down the days until their vacations. Oddly enough, the relaxation of a vacation is often overshadowed by stress. A study from Mastercard found that 89% of parents stress out over planning a vacation.

Well, this guide will make packing one less thing you have to worry about. After many, many travels I’ve learned a few tricks that make vacation packing stress-free.

4 Considerations Before You Bust Out Your Suitcases

Choice overload is often the cause of vacation-related stress. An easy way to narrow your selection while packing for each family member is to consider these four things:

1. What You’ll Be Doing

Going to a resort with a waterpark is a completely different experience than camping at a national park. As such, you have to pack accordingly. Before you start packing, put together a rough itinerary. This can be one of the stress inducing parts of vacation planning, but it doesn’t have to be. Get the family together or discuss the vacation plans over dinner to get a better idea of what everyone wants to do.

If you know you’ll be walking around a lot (which usually happens on vacation) pack comfortable shoes and plenty of socks for your kids and yourself. The last thing you want is for anyone in the family to get blisters and sores. It’s a big bonus if they wick moisture away like the socks for kids at SmartKnitKIDS. Foot comfort is crucial on vacation.

2. Where You’ll Be Going

The location of the vacation is also a big factor. For instance, a Florida vacation during the summer is going to be hot and humid. That means it’s a good idea to pack plenty of loose, lightweight clothes and sandals. And you’ll need a gallon of bug spray.
If you’re vacationing someplace you’ve never been before, take a little time to research the climate and environment online. You may be surprised to find that it’s nothing like what you expected. Hawaii is one spot where people often get fooled. The islands are each unique in their terrain and climate, even though they’re right next to each other.

3.  When You’ll Be There

The time of year is going to have the biggest impact on the wardrobe you pack. It can also determine whether or not you need to pack rain gear. Here again it pays to check out the area online if you’ve never been there during the season you’ll be vacationing.

4.  How You’ll Be Traveling

How you plan to get to your final destination will influence how much you can pack and what everything will be packed in. Getting to your vacation spot by car gives you a lot more flexibility than traveling by plane. Taking a cruise will also affect how many suitcases you can bring. Figure out how much space you will have for suitcases and then pack accordingly.

The Packing Essentials for Any and Every Family Vacation

The four points above will make packing much quicker and help make sure you’ve got everything you need to enjoy your vacation. But here’s an insider tip: the lighter you pack the less stressful it will be. As long as you have the essentials below you’ll be covered during vacation.

  •  Identification – licenses, passports, etc.
  • Medications/prescriptions
  • Head covering – hats, visors, etc. to block the sun
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Glasses/contacts
  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Socks
  • Band-aides
  • First aid kit
  • Deodorant
  • Toiletries
  • Books, magazines, puzzles
  • Phones and chargers
  • Outlet converter (if traveling out of the country)
  • Camera (if you don’t use a phone camera)

A Word for Parents With Toddlers and Babies

When you have wee little ones you’ll need to pack a few additional essentials. Even though they are the smallest family members, they usually need more stuff when they’re away from home. Here are extra items to add to the packing list if you have kids aged two and under.

  • Formula and food
  • Breast pump
  • Bottles
  • Diapers
  • Pacifiers
  • Wipes
  • Bowls and utensils
  • Sippy cups
  • Burp towel
  • Bibs
  • Baby shampoo
  • Storybooks
  • Coloring books

Pack as many of those items in the diaper bag as possible. Babies and toddlers will be completely dependent on you, but tweens and teens can handle their own packing. Just make sure the essentials are packed and let them handle the rest.

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