We recently returned from 3 weeks in the South Pacific and had an incredible time. We feel so grateful to have seen the natural beauty and visited our 63rd (out of 63!) US National Park!
Here are some South Pacific vacation packing tips based on what worked for us. I’ll share 3 items we chose to leave behind, as well as 13 favorite family packing essentials for a beach vacation. I hope it’s helpful!
Items We Skipped Packing
Inflatable Seat Extender
We’ve used these on a few long flights and I find them helpful for kids ages 3 to 6 or 7ish. (After that, my kids tend to be a bit too tall for it to be very helpful.) We knew we’d be taking our convertible car seat for our 3 year old so it wasn’t as necessary for her, so it was really just for our 5 year old that it would’ve mattered.
On the way there, we had 2 flights about 5-6 hours each, with an overnight layover in between. Both flights were during the day. So it didn’t feel very necessary on the way there. We did have a long (10 hour) overnight flight on the return, but opted to skip it since we didn’t want to drag it around just for that one flight.
If you do have a couple of long overnights with little ones, it may well be worth it, especially if you’re not taking a car seat for a toddler/preschooler. These are the ones we’ve had for years.
We’ve had an OLD Maclaren single umbrella stroller for years and years and love it. But this trip was very outdoors focused with not much city exploration. We didn’t think we’d get much use out of the stroller so we skipped it.
Hanging Toiletries Organizer Case
We’ve traveled with (and loved) one of these for YEARS! But somehow on this trip, when we were trying to conserve a lot of space and with 8 of us traveling now, it just felt bulky. One of our carry on suitcases came with a thin folding zipper pouch where we stowed some toiletries and toothbrushes, and I had a small fabric pouch for cosmetics and skincare (very minimal). That said, if you have a bit more space, I do love this hanging organizer because it’s roomy and keeps things very neat.
Best Items to Pack for A Family Beach Vacation
Here are the items that were worth their weight in gold on our trip!
1. Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
Of course going to a very hot, humid, beach place meant we wanted to make sure to protect our skin, and I definitely wanted mineral-based, reef-safe sunscreen for the whole family.
I’ve loved the Tubby Todd sunscreen for years, especially for delicate baby skin. We extensively used both the sunscreen and the stick (sooo convenient for faces) throughout the trip. I also like the Sunbum mineral sunscreen, but I find it a bit harder to rub in.
A new find on trip and my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE facial sunscreen is the Kinfield Sunglow. It’s mineral-based, reef-safe, and has the most gorgeous very slight sheer rose gold tint. It’s especially wonderful for darker skin tones as there’s no white cast like there is with other zinc-based sunscreens. It is sooo pretty and I’m a little obsessed!
We also made sure to stock up on insect repellent. We tried to avoid Deet-based repellents when possible, especially for the kids, but wanted things that were very effective against insects. The two we used the most were Picardin lotion and the Kinfield Golden Hour (which is citronella-based).
2. Portable Lightweight Sleeping Tent
We’ve had a Kidco PeaPod for over a decade and love it as much now as we did then. It’s so lightweight and convenient and also helpful in buggy areas! We took two and stowed both in the same bag.
3. Kids Kindles
We LOVE having each of our kids have their own Kids Kindle for reading as many books as possible. It’s so nice to load more on over Wifi while traveling!
4. Child Restraints
Of course child restraints are a big priority for us. This time, our oldest two kiddos (ages 12 & 10) didn’t need a restraint. We took a Mifold for our 8 year old, a Ridesafer vest for our 5 year old, a convertible car seat for our 3 year old, and an infant car seat for our 6 month old.
5. Hiking Sandals
Hiking sandals were a lifesaver on this trip where we did a good amount of walking, outdoor activities, and water play. Even those of us who took a pair of other shoes wore our hiking sandals 90% of the trip. (Our 8, 5, & 3 year olds only took their hiking sandals for the whole trip and they worked great.) Here are the ones we have and love:
6. Soft Structured Baby Carrier
We LOVE this carrier and used it nonstop for Baby S for hikes and just walking around.
We always have a few carabiners hooked on each backpack to hook on water bottles, hats, and anything else.
8. Portable Chargers
Portable chargers are an absolute necessity for us when traveling. We have several that we love taking with us. My personal favorite this time as this charger because it’s so small and lightweight and doesn’t require a separate cord. I also like this lightweight portable charger, and this slightly bigger one is the BEST charge a couple devices.
9. Filter Water Bottles
This is the first time we’ve taken filter water bottles to places where you can’t drink the tap water and it was SO helpful, especially with kiddos. These bottles are pricey but are absolutely fantastic. They are head and shoulders better than any other filter bottles we’ve used, which only filter when you suck hard. Instead, these filter in the bottle and are so much more efficient. They were great for brushing teeth for younger kiddos who we weren’t confident would spit out all the water.
10. Infant Life Jackets
11. Kid Medicines
We always pack along a few basics, including children’s ibuprofen, our favorite bandages, and children’s dose melatonin. We somehow forgot to include infant acetaminophen this time, and really regretted it when we had to go hunting for it and it was VERY difficult to find.
12. Lightweight Hiking Backpacks
It was so helpful to have each of our 4 older kids carry their hiking backpacks for travel this time so they could also easily use them for our outdoor adventures. This size is the favorite for my 12, 10, and 8 year olds. This size is the best for my 5 year old. They also each keep one of these waterproof covers attached to their packs. My 3 year old carried her little toddler backpack – ours is very old but it’s similar to this.
I carried this pack, which was a great size and very roomy but not too big. Daniel carries this backpack, which is quite a bit bigger but AMAZING for holding tons of stuff, especially all our photo and video equipment.
13. Long Sleeved Rash Guards
Rash guards were a huge help in not needing to slather the kids in sun block and keeping them safe and protected even just walking around. I’ve loved the bright solid colors of these for my kiddos.
What are some things you could leave behind and others you can’t do without? I’d love to hear!