We haven’t always been experts when it comes to making a family vacation packing list for travel – in fact, Dan and I used to be pretty terrible packers!
A year after we got married, we built in a summer of travel before we had to return to school and jobs. And we took two large checked suitcases. Plus backpacks. For two people. When traveling across multiple continents and using multiple modes of transportation.
I’m horrified just writing it.
When packing for kids, it can be so tempting to every thing for every potential situation. I know I’ve been overwhelmed trying to figure out how to pack light with kids and have definitely been tempted to pack kitchen sink when packing for babies.
A family travel packing list for kids and babies has been really helpful in not forgetting essentials and also resisting the temptation to overpack.
Packing List for Family Vacation: Baby Travel Essentials
After 11+ years of lots of travel with kids, we’ve managed to get our family packing system down pretty tight. Having a kids packing list for a trip has been so helpful in feeling confident we have all the baby travel essentials.
One summer, we spent 10 weeks in Europe with our family of 6 and took 1 large suitcase & 2 backpacks, plus a lightweight stroller and car seat. Another time, we spent almost 3 weeks in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. We fit our entire family and kids packing list in 2 carry-on suitcases and 2 backpacks plus stroller/car seat/baby cot – largely because we stuck to our family vacation packing checklist.
If you’re wondering what to pack for a family vacation and looking for a family packing list that has every single thing you could possibly need, this is not it. Because honestly, if you really end up needing that Ace bandage or whatever, you’ll probably be able to buy it wherever you are. This baby travel checklist gets us through 95% of situations on trips ranging from 3 days to 3 months.
Kids and Baby Travel Checklist: Minimal Packing List with Kids
Here’s the minimalist kids packing list we always use to cover our needs but still stay super lightweight and agile. I love knowing we have all the baby travel essentials while sticking with minimal packing for babies.
Regarding number of outfits, we typically pack 3-5 per person for our family and baby travel essentials. We personally feel comfortable wearing outfits a couple times if they’re not dirty, and sometimes handwash an outfit and air dry if we need something before we can do a full load. That way, we can minimize the number of outfits we pack. Between 3-5 is enough that you have options, especially when mixing and matching, but a small enough number that everything gets plenty of use.
We typically pack the smaller number if going to cold weather destinations (easier to rewear outfits, we often wear base layers under, and have coats on top so they don’t get as dirty), and have more options when traveling to warm destinations.
More detail on what items I chose for her little girl packing list for a summer of travel HERE.
Family Vacation Packing List: Clothing
Here’s our full family travel packing list for kids and families!
Family Packing List: Clothing
- Packing cubes. Absolute must for organization and for fitting everything into a small amount of space. We love these for the kids, and Dan and I sometimes share THIS luggage organizer
- 3-5 outfits
- 2 pairs of pajamas
- These are our very favorite pajamas for kids
- 1-2 pairs of base layers
- Though they’re pricier, I strongly prefer wool base layers. They’re super comfortable as pajamas, or for layering when it’s cold. And since wool can be reworn several times without washing (just air out in between), they’re perfect for a minimal packing list for kids. My favorites for adults & kids.
- These synthetic base layers are inexpensive and also very warm
- 1 swimsuit
- 2-3 sweaters in cold weather
- I again prefer wool if possible because it doesn’t require as much cleaning (this one is a favorite)
- Slouchy cardigan
- Kids sweater outfit
- Kids sweatshirt (easy to wash & dry)
- 5-7 pairs of undergarments (we try to take quick-dry ones if possible, and can hand wash if needed)
- Most comfortable women’s bra
- 3-5 pairs of socks
- 1 jacket
- If we’re traveling somewhere not too cold, we love the Uniqlo ones for adults and kids – they smush down well, add barely any weight, and are perfect for layering or wearing alone)
- For colder weather, this is my favorite jacket – super lightweight and packable but also very warm and great for layering. Pricey but worth every penny.
- If we’re going somewhere warm and wet, we love this long and waterproof rain jacket for women, this men’s rain jacket, and this kids rain jacket
- Knit hats/gloves if it’s going to be cold (I also like these mitten clips)
Baby Packing List
Babies do have some unique needs so we follow a slightly different packing list for babies. Namely, we take an extra couple outfits because you never know what will happen!
- 5-6 bodysuits
- 5-6 outfits
- 3 pairs of pajamas (our favorite pajamas for babies)
- 1 pair of base layers
- 2-3 sweaters
- 1 swimsuit
- 5-6 pairs of socks (our favorite socks that don’t come off)
- Diapers (If we’re traveling somewhere and staying in one place, we’ll take enough for one day, then buy them there. If we’re going to be moving around a good bit, we take about a week or two worth, since we’d have to make room for them in the luggage at some point, anyway.)
- Swaddle or sleep sack
- 1 jacket (I like the one piece coveralls like this for babies)
Family Packing List: Shoes
We really try to limit shoes as much as possible since they’re bulky and heavy! We don’t usually worry about dress shoes when packing for kids and do our best to limit our family packing to 1-3 pairs of shoes per person, depending on where we’re going. Here’s more about our favorite travel shoes for men & women.
- One pair of walking shoes
- These are, hands down, the very best walking shoes for women
- One pair of sandals if warm (these are my very favorites because they can dress up or down, are super comfortable, and very packable)
- If we’re traveling in snow, we have subbed a pair of waterproof shoes or rain boots instead of walking shoes and managed with just one pair before!
Kids Travel Checklist: Toiletries
- Wipes (trust me, you’ll want some even with older kids)
- Toiletries case (THIS is my very favorite)
- Face cleanser (in a mini bottle)
- Shampoo/conditioner (also in a mini bottle)
- Aluminum-free deodorant
- Face moisturizer, night serum, & oil (I pack mini versions; more about my skincare here)
- Hand sanitizer
- Mini hair brush and hair cream
- Mini dry shampoo
- Lip balm
- Ziploc bags (a few each of quart size and gallon size)
- Small resealable plastic bag of powdered detergent (for hand washing) or a few laundry pods
- A couple small hair accessories
- I love this bandana in my hair, around my neck, etc.
Baby Travel Checklist: Medical Items
We don’t go crazy with the medical items when we travel with kids. We’ve found that we’re able to purchase most things in most places, and the likelihood of needing them is slim. Still, we do take along a few things that get more regular use and helpful in emergencies.
- Bandages (the only kind worth buying)
- Anti-bacterial ointment
- Prescription medicines
- Any required vitamins (like prenatals)
- Glasses/contacts/contact solution/contact case
- Pain reliever (baby, children’s, and adult) – we often put these in labeled plastic baggies stored safe from children so we don’t have to carry all the bottles
- This kind is the same exact dosage as the children’s specific ones, but is much cheaper and smaller than most kid chewable tablets
- Icy Hot (growing pains come up more when you’re walking a ton)
- Anti-nausea ginger chews or kid’s dramamine if prone to motion sickness
- Insect repellant (we love THIS lotion with Deet when in tropical areas; this also works well)
- Sunscreen (these are my favorites for face & for kids/bodies)
- Lice comb (Trust me, it’s one of those things you hope isn’t one of the baby travel essentials. But it’s small and you’ll be so glad to have it if you need it.)
- Small thermometer
Family Travel Packing List: Electronics
- Photography gear
- Portable charger + charging cord
- Laptop + charger
- Cell phones + charger
- Car vent cell phone mount if you’ll be driving (to view GPS)
- USB car charger (we love our 4-port one)
- Aux cable (in case your rental car doesn’t have Bluetooth, then you can still play audiobooks/music; here’s one that goes Aux to lightning port)
- Travel power adapter
Baby Travel Checklist: Baby & Kid Items
- One stuffed animal for each child
- Baby carrier (THIS is our very favorite carrier and has been since our oldest was a baby)
- Car seats and/or booster seats (all about our favorite car seats for travel)
- Stroller (our beloved lightweight one apparently no longer exists, but this looks similar)
- Baby cot if needed (THIS is our favorite super lightweight one)
- Nursing cover if needed (THIS is my favorite kind that can also cover a car seat, burp cloth, blanket, etc.)
- Bib (THIS is the only bib that does a thing – we just take one and wipe it down)
- Breast pump if you need it
- White noise app on your phone (one that will run in the background so you can still use your phone if needed)
- Pacifer + clip
- Bottles + formula if needed
- SNACKS. So many snacks. More snacks than you think you could ever consume in a lifetime.
- Reusable water bottles (THIS is my favorite, and we like THIS and THIS for the kids – leave them empty and fill them up in the airport)
- Carry on backpacks
- Each of our older kids carries a foldable backpack that can fold up with their travel necessities – snack, Kindle, stuffed animal, jacket, etc.). It’s also great to have one or two extra of these in case you need to rearrange luggage or carry food or something.
- Dan loves THIS for all it holds
- I usually carry something like this or this as a diaper bag
- Inflatable foot rest (these are so great for kids to sleep on planes…definitely a kids packing list essential)
- Suitcases (more about our favorite luggage for families)
- 1-2 small quick-dry travel towels if visiting the beach or a hot spring
Kids Travel Essentials: Entertainment
- Kids Kindle for each independent reader
- One small bag of Click-a-Bricks or LEGOS
- One small bag of paper and crayons
- Small bag of toy cars
- 2-3 small board books and/or early readers
- If we’re going on a road trip or have extra space, the Cinemood is really small and SO fun
Family Vacation Packing List: Travel Documents
- Driver’s license
- 2 credit cards
- 1 debit card
- Some cash
- Copies of passports stored digitally and in a separate bag
- Copies of birth certificates stored digitally or in a separate bag (airports occasionally ask for proof of baby’s birthdate even when flying domestically so this is good to have on your baby travel checklist)
- Confirmation numbers for airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc.
FREE KIDS PACKING LIST PRINTABLE
I love having a printable kids travel checklist to print for each of my kids. I just fill in the number of items that they need to pack, and cross of anything they don’t need (like gloves if we’re going to a tropical destination, for instance).
Pop in your email below and the free family packing checklist will come right to your inbox!
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