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Ultimate Packing list for family vacation

Having a packing list for family vacations is the best way to make sure you have everything you need. Consequently, when you pack your car or head to the airport its better to make sure you have everything you and your family will need.

Because families come in all shapes and sizes of course, but the average family size in the United States is two adults and two children.

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Packing list for family vacation

With children it is always hard to remember everything you need to bring even for short hikes much less for a long trip. For this reason lists are always my best friends when traveling.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a packing list for four-person families planning a standard eight-day vacation. Therefore make sure you have these items with you before you leave for your vacation. This family travel packing list covers everything from your clothes and travel gear to the little things you didn’t realize you needed. But first, let’s answer some questions.

How do I pack our family of 4 in TWO carry-ons for 9-14 trips? Today I’ll share with you my top 3 tips for packing light whether it is a weekend trip, week long getaway, or a two-week backpacking excursion, these tips will help you pair down and pack lighter next go around. 

Why You Need to Use in you Packing List for a family vacation

Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at your vacation destination and discovering that you have forgotten something.

While some items can be picked up at a local store, this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re planning an international trip. For example, something seemingly insignificant that you leave behind may cost three times as much if you pick it up at a convenience store in Mexico. Instead of risking not being able to find what you need, or finding it and paying an exorbitant price for it, use a packing list during your vacation planning.

Are There any Packing Tips and Tricks?

Whether you’re flying or driving a long distance, there are some packing tips and tricks to keep in mind. Space is limited, especially if you want to avoid carrying a large amount of luggage through an airport. When packing your belongings, try not to leave any “dead space” in your luggage. When possible, place items flush against each other. Every bit of space counts.

Additionally, try not to pack too much. While we’ve established that you don’t want to arrive at your destination without everything you need, most vacationers overpack. You probably don’t need 16 outfits per person if you’re going on an eight-day vacation. While it’s fine to have a few extras on hand, there’s no need to pack your entire closet into your suitcase.

Finally, try to plan for any unexpected events. While it may seem counterintuitive, considering potential weather changes can save you a lot of trouble. If you’re visiting a place where the days are hot but the evenings are cool, pack a few items to keep you warm.

Essential tips for your Packing list for family vacation:

essential in Packing list for family vacation

1. Start with a list:

Make sure to include everything you will need for your trip.

2. Pack your essentials firs

This is important, since these are items you will need access to right away, such as your passport and medications.

3. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space

Rolling your clothes saves space in your luggage and prevents wrinkles. This saves you luggage space! Smart travelers will attest to this!

Use the following method: Lay the item of clothing flat, then fold the bottom 2 inches inside out (creating an envelope/pocket). Roll the item tightly from the opposite end of the fold until you reach the pocket. Then, to secure it, fold one side of the pocket over the roll.

4. Use packing cubes:

Packing the clothes in packing cubes helps to keep them organized, and using packing cubes can also help you stay organized if you change locations frequently.

Also, while gathering all of your clothing, try to sort different types of items into different bags or suitcases. For example, keep all of your bathing suits and bathing suit coverups in one bag and all of your dressy outfits or clothes for going out to dinner in another. While this will increase the number of bags you have, it will make life much easier when trying to live out of a suitcase on your trip.

You can also pack socks and underclothes inside of shoes to save space. Pack shoes, toiletries, and other heavy items at the bottom of your bag. This will keep them from wrinkling or damaging your clothes.

5. The Secret to Packing Shoes

Make everyone put on their largest pair of shoes, which should be comfortable. On days when you’re flying, I prefer to wear casual/athletic shoes. On the suitcase, sandals can be easily stacked on top of one another. Also, I put shoes in a bag before putting them in the suitcase to avoid getting dirty clothes.

This will save space and keep them from paying extra fees in airline.

7. Pack an extra bag

This can be used for dirty clothes laundry or souvenirs.

8. Pack enough clothes to last you the week.

Do this calculation to pack accordingly to your vacation time. Packing for 7-5 day vacation, you will want to bring 2-3 pairs of shorts or pants, 3-4 tops, a light jacket (or a heavy jacket, depending on where you are traveling), and 1 formal outfit if you are planning on attending a nice restaurant or event. However, if you are going to the beach, pack 2-3 swimsuits/trunks.However all this depend on your destination.

9. Gather your luggage and everything you want to pack in one place.

You should be able to fit all of your clothes and necessities into one bag or suitcase for a 5-day vacation. Putting everything in the same place will help you stay organized as you pack your bag.

I usually open my luggage in my bedroom a week before and start putting clothes I know I’ll use after washing them there so they’re ready when I’m ready to pack.

10. Pack Clothes that Match and Limit colors

It is better to bring less to avoid baggage delays and extra charges, and if you do, bring clothing that mixes and coordinates.

However, if you bring a jacket or blazer, make sure it matches all of the shirts you’re bringing.Packing accessories should also be done with caution. Choose colors and patterns that will complement all of your outfits.

11.Don’t forget to bring kid medicines if needed and a travel kit aid.

12. Don’t forget sun hats and sunscreen.

13. Forget formality.

Packing list tips

Preparing for a trip and packing for a family vacation:

Pack light :

If you want to avoid paying extra fees for luggage, travel only with a backpack (a big one). If you want to save money, you don’t need the large carry-on luggage, and you certainly don’t need checked bags. Life is too short to waste time waiting at the baggage claim.

If you are unable to bring a backpack, bring a carry-on with enough room for you to suvernir on the way back. But seriously, no bag fees are fantastic. Give it a shot. You’ll be grateful.

Wash your clothes

Plan on doing laundry for a couple of hours in the middle of the week. While no one wants to do laundry while on vacation, scheduling a laundry day will help you reduce the amount of luggage you must bring.

Yes. However, before you travel, do some research on where and how to do laundry in a particular country. Bring powdered laundry detergent if you can.

Be prepared for the weather

Check the weather forecast few days before your trip and pack accordly. Plan your clothing so that you can dress in layers

Keep in mind activities you are doing

What you plan to do will have an impact on what you pack. Bear in mind If you want to go hiking in the mountains, you will pack differently than if you want to go to the beach.

Even if you are not a serious hiker or climber, mountain activities usually necessitate the use of special equipment and clothing. The key is to layer. Because most mountain towns are small, they may not have everything you need or in your size if you forget to pack something essential.

A little planning ahead of time, whether for a week or a weekend, is always beneficial. It is a good idea to make a list of the activities you intend to do during your vacation.

Download electronic versions of books and magazines to save space

If you have an iPad, Kindle, or similar device, you can download books and magazines to read without taking up valuable luggage space. Many magazine subscriptions also include free electronic access, so if you already subscribe to a magazine, look into that option.

packing and preparing

Backpack or carry on in your packing list for family vacation

Choosing a backpacking or carry on can be tricky. Here are the things to keep in mine when choosing the right bag. It depends on a couple of things:

  1. How long your vacation will last 

2. How much you bring (which I will help you with, in this post)

3.What mode of transportation are you taking (plane, train, or car?)

4.Can everyone carry a pack realistically ?

You can bring a small backpack or carry-on size backpack to Europe, which will allow you to travel to different countries without having to wait for your backpack. If your kids are in age to carry one great if not you can bring a carry on for them to drag or a small backpack.

The Osprey Farpoint 40L bag is a good choice. I roll my clothes and use packing cubes to keep dirty clothes separate during the trip.

A backpack will save you a lot of money because you won’t have to pay baggage fees on every mode of transportation! You don’t have to, but if you bring a backpack and need extra space, take a pair of pants or jeans that you don’t mind getting rid of and donate or toss them at your final destination. This will free up some space in your bag for last-minute souvenirs!

You can pack for two weeks in a backpack; it just takes planning and practice. You must consider what you truly require. Every three days or so, you can wash your clothes in the shower or sink.

Alternatively, a small overhead bag and another small carry-on. The Gregory roller is my favorite I have had one for years and it is still sturdy and fits anywhere.

backpack or not

What Clothing You Need to Pack

Let’s start by deciding what clothes you’ll need to pack for your vacation. While you should pack some luxury items if need it, you should also bring enough clothes for everyone. You can probably get away with packing enough clothes for four days for each family member if you watch your clothes. You can keep an eye on your clothes at the hotel laundry service.

If you are traveling somewhere cold, you can wear heavy items as a coat. If I need to bring one and put it on my lap during the flight, I usually wear a sport jacket.

Divide tops and pants into separate packing cubes for each family member (gallon-sized Ziploc bags also work for children’s clothing). Put everyone’s swimsuits in one packing cube and their pajamas in another. When living out of a suitcase, this makes it easier to find clothing.

If you’re packing for more than one person, keep luggage and clothing/toiletries piles separate so you don’t get confused and misplace something.

what clothing you need to pack in Packing list for family vacation

Plan on taking enough of the following items to last each member of your family for four days:

  • Underwear
  • 4 Base Layer Tank Tops and tops for women, men, and kids
  • 2 Pair of Shorts or a Skirt
  • 1-2 Pairs of Pants including a yoga pant for the airplane my favorite is this
  • Bathing Suits
  • Activewear
  • 1 Dressy Outfit
  • Pajamas (one pair can usually last 3 days)
  • A Sweatshirt or Jacket
  • Hoodie or Cardigan
  • Jacket/sweatshirt
  • Socks
  • Pack one or two nice outfits
  • A pair of shoes and flip flops

*it helps to sort your clothing into individual outfits to make sure you’re not over-packing!

For Warm weather

Bring two pairs of shorts and one pair of long pants if you expect warm weather. Bring two or three long-sleeve shirts if you’re going somewhere cool, but four short-sleeve tops if you’re going somewhere hot and don’t want to re-wear them

For Mountain adventure:

Bring hiking shorts and shirts, as well as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, a waterproof jacket, and a pair of well-worn waterproof hiking boots. Pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes for exploring the picturesque towns of the Rockies.

Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial and can be worn several times. Get three or four pieces of that for tops and a small scarf or two for color, and you’ll be set.

Don’t forget to consider the type of footwear you’ll require. Hiking requires a sturdy pair of boots. Flip-flops are ideal for the beach. Consider whether you’ll need dress shoes for more formal occasions.

Layers: If you have extra room, pack an extra layer.


Bring at least 4-5 pairs of underwear, socks, 2-3 undershirts/bras, and any slips or specialty items you may require (for example, if you need a backless bra for a dress). Bring fewer pairs of underwear and plan on washing dirty clothes in the sink where you are staying if you have limited packing space.

The Secret to Packing Shoes and socks

Is there anything more difficult than cramming everyone’s shoes into a suitcase? Shoes are difficult to pack due to their various sizes, odd shapes, and a variety of other issues. There’s a good chance that everyone in your family will require a different pair of shoes. These are some examples:

Here are all the kinds of shoes you might need to bring on a trip:

  • Casual shoes
  • Dressier shoes
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Athletic/hiking shoes if needed for mountain
  • Water shoes if needed sometimes in touristic destination can be double off their price.(assuming you’re going to a beach or other area with water)

If you go to mountains pack only two to three pairs of shoes: one for hiking and outdoor activities, one for day wear, and one nice pair for dinners.

Wear heavier, larger shoes on your trip, usually casual/athletic shoes to fly in. Regardless of your activity plans, you will most likely spend more time walking during your mountain trip, so tennis shoes are a better investment than two pairs of high heels.

Sandals can be easily stacked on top of one another and Socks are stuffed into shoes.

Never bring new shoes on a trip until they are “broken in.”; instead, bring versatile, comfortable shoes that don’t cause blisters. Also, put shoes in a bag before putting them in the suitcase because they can get dirty on our trips even if they are clean when we leave.

This is vacation. No one really cares if you wear your running shoes with a pair of jeans when you go out to a casual dinner. Looking for opportunities to minimize is a must.

checking the Packing list

Taking Your Medical Necessities

It can be difficult to get a prescription transferred to a pharmacy at your vacation destination. Even more importantly, if you’re traveling internationally, you may be unable to obtain the prescription medications you require.

Begin by placing everyone’s prescription medications in a bag labeled with their name. This will allow you to take a more organized approach and ensure that each family member has access to the prescriptions they require. You can also go to your pharmacy and get a “travel bottle” to put the amount of pills you need in it. It’s against the law to transport medicine that isn’t in an approved, labeled container, but you also don’t want to bring a month’s worth of medicine on a week-long trip.

Once you’ve gathered everyone’s prescription medications, make sure to bring some OTC medications with you. This requires you to consider any scenarios that may arise during your journey. Gather some antacid tablets in case anyone experiences heartburn after eating unfamiliar foods. Anti-diarrheal and anti-constipation tablets are also recommended. Finally, have bandages and antibiotic ointment on hand in case anyone gets a cut or scrape during an activity. Most of those items can be found in a travel first-aid kit, so investing in a small one that will easily fit in your luggage is a worthwhile purchase.

Bring extras of any prescription medications or over-the-counter medicines that you need like Advil or Tylenol. Pack a copy of your prescriptions for medications!

taking your medication

Don’t Forget to Pack Toiletries

Convenience stores that are in vacation destinations are notorious for stocking toiletries so they can sell them at an inflated price. Unless you want to pay triple the amount for a bottle of shampoo, it’s a good idea to bring along your own.

Then, you can pick up travel sized bottles at any local store, so they won’t take up a lot of space in your luggage. remember that buying travel-sized versions can help minimize spills and save space. Toiletry lists should include:

  • Shampoo and Conditioner (if you staying at hotel use those at least you need a special one. I have to bring mine but my kids use the hotel’s one)
  • Comb/Brush
  • Toothbrushes and Toothpastes
  • Razors and Shaving Cream
  • Hair Accessories
  • Deodorant
  • sunscreen
  • Makeup
  • Lotion
  • Contact Solution
  • Cases for Eyeglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer (keep one hanging on your backpack at all times – and the spray version is especially good for kids!)
  • lysol’s wipes if needed for the remote control and airplane trails. No every airline provide them and You never know. Also there are great travel sizes

Do You Plan on Spending Time Outdoors?

A vacation that involves a lot of time outdoors doesn’t just mean a trip to the beach. For instance, many people who live near the beach choose to vacation in the mountains so they can enjoy a different type of nature.

Whenever you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in a wooded area, there are some items that you need to add to your packing list. These items include:

  • Bug Spray (non-DEET bug spray is a great option and won’t damage your clothes if there’s a leak)
  • A Hat for Each Family Member
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip Balm
  • Aloe Vera Gel

If your outdoor vacation is going to take place during colder weather, you obviously need to make some changes to your packing list. Be sure to include these items if you plan on being outdoors in a cooler climate:

  • Wool Hat/Beanie
  • Earmuffs
  • Gloves
  • Handwarmers

Tech Gear

No matter how nice the area where you’re going to vacation is, you’ll be spending at least part of every day in your hotel room or renting a house. While almost every vacation destination has television, it’s a good idea to make sure that everyone in your family has access to the items they need to enjoy the hours when they aren’t participating in local activities. At least one bag should contain only luxury items that your family requires. This list should include the following items:

  • Phone + Charger
  • Camera + Charger
  • Laptop + Charger
  • Travel adapter
  • Headphones
  • Cellphones
  • Tablets
  • Chargers For Cellphones and Tablets (make sure every family member has at least one charger)
  • Headphones or Earbuds (for airplanes or devices)
  • Outlet Adapters (these are necessary if you are traveling internationally)

Documents to Pack: 

  • Passport Valid 6 month since day of trip.
  • Driver’s license
  • Health insurance
  • Credit Cards, debit cards
  • Travel Insurance – take the pocket size card with the details and contact info
  • Copy of Birth Certificates for kids
  • Emergency Contact Info
  • Copy of passports in case of emergency. 

Other Things You Shouldn’t Forget

Finally, there are a few things you should bring with you. The following items should be included:

  • An Emergency Supply of Cash
  • Earplugs
  • Eye Masks
  • Neck Pillow (for airplane specially if you fly red eye or long distances)

Just to ensure that you have an exhaustive, printable list of everything that you should take on your family vacation, here is every item that we’ve discussed in a single, printable list:


Taking the time to carefully pack everything that you need for your vacation will ensure that you are able to enjoy this time with your family. Happy travels!

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I am Rocio

Hello there! Thank you for stopping by. My name is Rocio, and I’m a Latina mother with a wanderlust. I believe that family trips are important in forming well-rounded kids. Even when you have kids, you can still travel, so I help busy parents figure out how. Through my blog, Real world Mami, I want to give you tips that will help you plan epic trips to both well-known and less-known places around the world. Happy Travels!

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