The Family Vacation: A Comprehensive Packing Guide

When it comes to your family vacation, there are so many things to be excited about. You’ve planned out a whole host of things that you’re going to do, the hotel or villa is booked, and the flights are sorted. You feel like you’ve sorted everything out. But wait. In the corner of your eye, you can see the thing that you’ve been dreading the most. The suitcase. There are so many things that you need to pack for your trip, and when you’ve got kids, you need to pack for them, too. Argh, responsibility overload! To get rid of the stress of packing, we’ve created a comprehensive guide for those heading off on a family vacation. Here’s our take on what to bring with you.

The serious stuff

OK, so first things first. You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t pack all of the serious stuff that you need: the documents, the passports, your driving license, and all of the flight details. You don’t want to get to the airport only to realize that your passports are actually in your bedside cabinet. Not cool. It’s a good idea to put all of this stuff together in a wallet and keep it safely in your hand luggage at all times. These are the fundamentals of any trip, and if you lose them, you’re going to be pretty stressed out. Keeping all of your currency and credit cards together is also a good idea, as losing them - even for a brief second - is enough to increase your blood pressure to dangerous levels. Get your document wallet in order before anything else!

The clothes

Naturally, the next thing that you’re going to think about is your clothes. Whilst this seems pretty easy (just throw a few things into the bag, no?) it’s actually a lot more stressful than you’d imagine when you have to pick out enough outfits for all of your kids. Then, you have to try and predict what the weather is going to be like, and you have to try and bring those clothes that your kids are actually going to be happy to wear. There’s nothing worse than your child throwing every single pair of shorts onto the floor, and categorically refusing to wear them. If you’re going for a week, try to bring around 4 or 5 outfits for each person, as well as something a little fancier for the evening. Fit in what you can, but don’t overdo it!

The swimwear/snow gear

Another thing that you need to think about is the appropriate clothing for the activities that you’re going to be doing. If you’re planning out a poolside vacation, then that’s pretty easy to sort out; you just need swimwear, and towels, for each member of your family. If you’re heading out to do some skiing (or some other adventure-based vacation) then you’re going to need to squeeze a lot more into that suitcase. Think about everything that you’re going to require here, as most kids need to have armbands, and enjoy swimming with goggles and snorkels. You can buy some of this stuff when you’re in the country that you’re visiting, but it may be a lot cheaper to buy it in your hometown or online, so check out your options here.

The skincare

Depending on the climate of the place that you’re visiting, you’ll need to bring some type of skin care products with you. If you’re heading out to a hot country, then sunscreen is obviously going to be at the top of your list, and it’s a good idea to take a range of SPF factors with you. Some days you won’t need to use such a high protection level, but sometimes, it might be required! Check out for more skin care advice, but in general, you’ll need some good quality sunscreen, as well as after sun lotion and moisturizer. Getting some facial SPF cream is also a good idea, as putting regular sunscreen on your face can lead to acne and greasy skin, alongside a whole host of other skin-related issues.

The medication

When you’re going on vacation with your kids, you need to think about the medication that you’re going to bring with you, too. If your kids usually take things like Calpol for headaches and other ailments then it’s a good idea to throw it in the suitcase, alongside some other first aid items. Band-aids are useful, too, as you never know what your kids are going to need when they’re running around and potentially getting minor grazes as a result! If you or your partner use any form of medication, including contraceptives, don’t forget to bring these too. We know, it sounds a little excessive (and you don’t need to bring your entire medicine drawer) but you’ll be glad that you have these things if you ever need them during your vacation.

The cosmetics

Whilst you’re packing all of the other bathroom essentials, don’t forget to include your cosmetics, too. Cleansers, wipes, hairbrushes, shampoos, and conditioners should all be on your tick list, and whilst you can buy these things pretty much wherever you’re heading to, you may need them on the first night of your stay before you manage to get to a store. If your cosmetics containers are larger than 100ml, then they will usually need to be in your checked baggage if you’re flying, so check out the rules for the countries that you’re going from and to. Don’t forget to pack toothbrushes and toothpaste, too, as many people accidentally leave these behind, after using them right before they head off on vacation!

The entertainment

If you’ve been on vacation with your kids before, you’ll know that you sometimes have to stand (or sit) in long queues, and there can be a lot of waiting involved. On top of this, you have to deal with flights that are sometimes many hours long, and kids simply don’t deal with this very well unless they’ve got a lot of things to entertain them. It’s a good idea for all of your kids to have a hand luggage bag, full of books, pens, pencils, paper, and perhaps a games console or a way to listen to music, too. This sounds like it’s not much of a priority but trust us here. If you’re on a long flight with your bored kids, you’ll be wishing that you brought a few more methods of entertainment with you. Playing cards are also a good idea for the whole family.

The right equipment for young kids

If you have younger children, you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve got all of the things that they need, as this can make traveling a lot easier. A baby carrier and a stroller are both indispensable, and the carrier is particularly important during those long and mundane stages of traveling, as it’s easier to carry up flights of stairs. Travel cots are also useful, although some hotels and villas will provide these for you. On top of this, it’s a good idea to bring a booster seat if you’re thinking of hiring a car, but again, check whether the company that you’re using will offer these things. A backpack for diapers, food, bottles, and baby wipes is also essential, so look for one that is practical enough for you to carry around on a daily basis!

The devices and chargers

When you head out on your vacation, you’ll usually have your phone with you, and a few other devices for the kids, like iPads and games consoles. Perhaps you’re also taking an electric shaver or a charging port for an electric toothbrush. Whatever you’re taking out with you, make sure that you’ve brought all of the chargers, too. We know, it sounds like a no-brainer, but you really don’t want to get to the airport, only to find that your phone charger is still right next to your bed, where you accidentally left it. Remember that many countries have different plug sockets, so you’ll need travel adapters in most cases, too. Forgetting about this could mean that you have to pay out more when you get there, which isn’t ideal for families!


If you’re thinking about heading out on a family vacation, then make sure that you remember these things! Whilst most of them seem pretty obvious (it would be a bit worrying if you didn’t bring any clothes) a lot of us do actually forget these things in the midst of the vacation packing chaos! However, if you’ve ticked off all of these items, then you should have everything that you need to start off your trip, whilst being as prepared as possible. If you do forget a few things, then you’ll just have to buy them out there, and that’s OK. We can’t remember everything now, can we? Enjoy your family vacation, knowing that you have everything (or most things…) sorted!

1 comment

  1. Traveling with multiple children is so difficult. We always seem to pack twice what they should need and run out several days before getting home. They seem to be messier away from home.