The anticipation of a family vacation is enough to drive the sanest moms into a tailspin of frantic emotion. Wild thoughts of chasing our kids through the airport, followed by “will we be those people – with the screaming toddler – on the plane?” I’ve been driven to packing procrastination many a time out of sheer overwhelm with all the other things consuming my mind about traveling with kids.
Never fear. LUXYMOM is here for you. We’ve put together our ultimate family vacation packing list to help you out. And grab the printable we created! Keep it in your night stand or tape it up in your closet so you’ll have it every single time you travel. This has personally saved me many times. No one wants to be caught without a pair of pajamas because they’re rushing and didn’t write it all down.
This involves your underwear, bras, and socks. I’ll even throw pajamas into this category, because unless you like sleeping naked (I do not), then these are very basic. Pack enough for each day of your trip (with the exception of pajamas – a pair or two will do, depending on your length of travel).
Here’s a handy tip: If you’re going somewhere where you’ll be able to do laundry, or have laundry service – then pack half the amount of underwear, sock, bras, and pj’s you’ll need, and wash them halfway through your trip. You’ll be happy about the space you saved packing!
This is probably where most of us start to over pack. Don’t overthink this category, but give it some good thought.
Family Vacation Packing Tip: A great starting point is to decide what you want to wear on the plane – and commit to wearing it on the way there, and on the way back. Same goes for if you’re road-tripping. This saves you one day of outfits to pack.
Pack one top for every day, and pick ones that can do double duty by going from a daytime outing to dinner. And then add 1-2 more for security, just in case.
Here are some really cute basic tops to wear on a family vacation.
These tank tops also make great layering pieces, and are super stylish – and personally owned by me.
PS – Don’t forget to grab your FREE printable so you’ll always have this list handy for your next packing emergency.
Warning – if you overpack on shoes, your suitcase will be heavy. And you don’t want to go over those weight limits! So pare down your pairs to just 1-2 in your packed luggage.
Shoe packing tip: If you know you’ll want to wear a heavier shoe at your destination (like a bootie or a heel), but you want to travel in comfort (in say, a flip flop or a flat), then this is where shoe bags – these ones are $10.99 for 12 bags – which is enough for the whole family!) come in handy.
I like to wear a fashionable shoe in the airport (I’m crazy), and then change into a flat or flip flop for the plane or car, and change back to a dressier shoe at my destination. So I wear the dressier shoe, and keep the comfy shoe in a shoe bag in my carry-on – and change them out as I wish.
Note: this is much easier as your kids get older, and your bags aren’t so weighed down with bottles, diapers, creams, baby food, snacks, toys, you get it. So don’t fret if this is not in your sights right now. It will be.
Back to which shoes to pack – pack one dressier shoe (a pump or heeled sandal), one comfy but cute shoe (flats or booties), and one to travel in (sandals or cute sneakers). It may not be all the shoes you really want to take, but it’ll be all you need.
Keep this in mind as you’re packing your tops. Layers will get you through all kinds of situations. A great blazer will dress up even the most casual tank top. A soft sweater will keep you warm in the AC or on a chilly night. This one is $26.99 on Amazon and has been ALL OVER Pinterest! You can also click on the picture below.
Grab 2 layering pieces and add them to your bag.
Here are some cute blazers we are loving right now:
I’ll admit – I travel light on the accessories these days. Sometimes it feels like too much to add these little details for myself when I have a million other things (and people) to pack. But grab your favorite pieces that you know will go with all the outfits you pack, and enjoy wearing them.
It goes without saying that you need all your chargers, laptops, iPads, FitBits, etc. So grab 1-2 chargers that will work for all your devices, and put them in your carry-on.
Girl, wash your face! Ha ha, just kidding. But actually, it’s good reading material. But do make sure to bring an ample supply of your face wash and creams, make-up and glam products so you can still look your best.
Forego a hair dryer, as most hotels offer this standard. I also recommend only bringing a small section of your make-up products. Pick a face that you’ll be okay wearing the whole time and pack only those products needed to create it. Perfume? Get a roller-ball of your favorite from Sephora.
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My husband is a notorious over-packer. And I cringe when he just casually lays his crisply folded clothes into his suitcase. This is when I usually take over – frantically unpacking, and then rolling each piece (because they say that rolling your clothes really does save space) and re-packing it all for him. Here’s a list for the men who overpack and won’t listen to your clearly superior knowledge in this department.
Just as with yourself, pack his underwear, socks, and pajamas. Stick with the same rules as for yourself, too.
They don’t need a million and one t-shirts. No one does. Same rule goes for him as it does for you. One shirt for every day, plus 1-2 more for added measure. And it’s okay to wear the same thing more than once. Get him to buy into wearing the same outfit for each way of travel. And make sure he has a mix of casual and dressy shirts, depending on your itinerary. Bonus if you’ll have laundry services at your destination and can pack lighter.
Jeans are usually on my man’s list, but he does love a dress pant as well. Pare it down to 2-3 pairs of pants, and he should be good to go.
Handy Tip: And this goes for everyone in the fam – Stick with a color scheme in your packing, so everything can mix and match with each other. It’s essentially a capsule wardrobe – and it will save your life!
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A light jacket or a sweater are great options for a man’s layers. They both go nicely over a simple t-shirt, and both look great with jeans or dressier pants.
As with yourself, make sure he has his phone, laptop, chargers, etc. Don’t forget these important items!Family Vacation Packing Tip - Pack only items that can be mixed and matched. A travel capsule wardrobe is for everyone in the family! Click To Tweet
If your man wears jewelry – watch, rings, etc – pack them nicely with your own or get him a jewelry roll so he can store his niceties nicely.
Give him a small toiletry bag and let him go to town filling it up with his toothpaste, face lotion, deodorant, gel, and all his other man products.
As a rule of thumb, I like to pack one suitcase for my husband and I, and another for my two small children. Depending on the length of the trip, I can sometimes even get away with carry-on luggage (but not usually, lol).
Packing for the kids is usually where I over pack, because I always want to make sure they have a few extra pieces for those inevitable food spills, or messy park adventures.
I generally pack a casual shirt for each kid for each day of travel, plus 3 to 4 extra per child for those just in case moments. At least their clothes are generally small, so you can pack more pieces and they’ll fit in the same amount of space.
Then, I add 2-3 nice shirts (button down, polo-style) per child for dinners and nicer events.
Make sure you have one pair of bottoms for every day of travel. Shorts and pants get dirty SO easily with small kids, so you’ll want to have the bare minimum. Then, add in 2-3 extra pairs per child if you can.
Remember: Take advantage of any laundry services at your destination – whether a hotel offers them, or whether you’ll have access to a laundry room to do your own. This will save you a lot of packing!Vacation Packing Tip: To save space when packing a suitcase, commit to wearing the same outfit for travel to and from your destination. Click To Tweet
I always make sure my kids are wearing their most comfortable sneakers for the day(s) of travel. Kids don’t want their toes cramped, and half the time we’re in the car or on a plane, they want to take their shoes off anyway. So at least let them be comfy.
Then, pack a pair of nicer shoes for dinners and nicer outings.
They honestly shouldn’t need much more than that, unless you’ve deviated into multiple color schemes and not all shoes match all outfits – and in this case, once again, see this article on how to build a capsule wardrobe).
Now that my kids are beyond the baby stage, we like to let them bring a backpack filled with their favorite toys that are good for airplanes and car rides. This way, you’ll have a great shot at keeping them content for (hopefully) most of the trip.
I always pack a separate bag full of kid-friendly snacks. Granola bars, veggies, and airplane bribes (we are always armed with a bag of M&M’s for the plane, because my kids respond to chocolate).
Think about your bedtime routine at home, and try to make sure you can replicate it as closely as possible while traveling. Do they have stuffed animals? Night lights? Books they can’t live without? Try to find a spot to pack them.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive for every family, it’s going to be a great foundation for you. Keep it on hand and again, remember to grab our free printable – and PIN THIS ON PINTEREST – so you’ll always have it on hand for those packing emergencies.