Family

Your Family Travel Packing List: Leave No Essential Item Behind!

Filed Under: Family, United States
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Summer is well underway and so is the height of travel season for many Americans. Whether you’re traveling to a secret beach or heading to a waterpark, hopping a plane or packing up for a road trip, it can be hectic keeping track of everything that you’ll need. And unfortunately, when you don’t use some type of list, things get forgotten in the madness.

When we first started traveling as a family, I was charged with packing everyone’s luggage. Although I considered myself fairly organized, I didn’t use a packing list … and inevitably, I’d forget someone’s goggles or after-shave lotion. Eventually, I created a system and made individualized packing lists for everyone in my house. Not only did having these lists keep me organized, reminding me of what to pack, they also took the pressure off me to pack for everyone else. 

True, your overall summer packing list can vary, depending on destination, slated activities and mode of transportation. However, there are essential items that are constant for every trip -- check out my suggestions to keep your family organized while traveling.

Packing for Infants  
Packing for a baby requires the most attention and pre-planning. Formula, Pampers, baby wipes, onesies and bottles are necessities that you can’t leave home without; you also don’t want to forget your baby’s pacifier, nightlight or favorite blanket either. 

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Don't forget: As you’re packing your baby’s footies, clothes, swim diapers, visor, swim wear, cup, bowl and utensils, you may want to also consider grabbing his washcloth and towel as well. Your baby’s sensitive skin isn’t ready to be exposed to the hotel’s commercial laundry detergent. And while you’re thinking about their skin, it’s also a good idea to carry a tube of A & D ointment, baby powder and a thermometer for extra precaution.



Packing for Toddlers and School-Age Kids
The key to packing for an infant, or any young child, is to carry any and every item that will keep them happy during the journey. This is where your Gerber snacks, Baby Einstein toys and Disney storybooks become your best friend. Thankfully, your toddler or school-age child is less dependent and can help you with the packing process. Giving them this responsibility helps build their excitement for you family vacation and also teaches them organizational skills early on. 

Don't forget: Where your kids may remember to pack their toothbrush, goggles, clothes and socks, they may forget their swim shoes or even Band-Aids for those potential vacation mishaps.

Packing for Teenagers
Teenagers can be fun to travel with because of their independence and helpfulness. No longer babies (for the most part), they can pack their own bags filled with all the necessities to keep them entertained. 

Don't forget: Your teen on travel may say that all they need to keep them happy on vacation is their camera and cell phone but aside from our previous list of essentials to keep them clean and clothed, you may want to remind them to also carry their charger or a book for when the batteries run out.


Packing for Mom
Mom’s packing list is probably the most intricate list aside from the baby’s packing list. Personally, where my boys and my husband can share their multi-compartment American Airlines suitcase, I have to pack and carry separate luggage for myself. 

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I faithfully use my Kathy Van Zeeland set because not only is it cute, it’s expandable and can work as either checked luggage or a carry-on. It has half a dozen compartments so if any of them are empty, without looking at a packing list, I can determine that I may have forgotten something. The external compartments are perfect for slipping in a pair of shoes or liquid toiletries, thereby keeping my clothes protected from dirt or mishaps. In addition to what everyone else is carrying, my luggage is filled with makeup, nail care, perfume, a flat-iron and a miniature bottle of hairspray. 


Don't forget: If traveling overseas, carry an outlet converter, global phone, an external cell phone battery and a small roll of toilet tissue. You never know when you’ll walk into an empty bathroom.

Packing for Dad (and Everyone Else)
One could argue that Dad probably has the most streamlined of packing lists in the family. My husband can fill up the compartments of a Scottevest travel vest, backpack and be happy. However, while Dad is trying to keep things simple, he may overlook non-obvious items like a miniature flashlight, hand sanitizer, bug repellant or cleansing cloths, in case his hands get dirty. 

Word to the wise: Before you pack your luggage, make sure you grab the most important items you’ll need for your trip, especially if you’re flying. Identification, tickets, passes and any other documents that require entry into a building, destination or attraction aren’t things that can be purchased or easily replaced. Packing for a flight requires a more strategic packing list than packing for a road trip. 

Don't forget: Our carry-on is always filled with our electronics, a change of clothes, essential miniature toiletry items and a Tide detergent pod, just in case our luggage is lost or delayed.

About the Author

Tawanna Browne Smith is the founder of MomsGuideToTravel.com, a site that provides destination ideas and stress-relieving strategies for family travel, and also writes at 10Best USA Today. Follow Tawanna at twitter.com/momguide2travel.

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