The Ultimate Packing List for Any Family Vacation

toddler walking through aisle of an airplane istock
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If you are like so many other families, you are getting ready to hit the road or head to the skies in the next few months for a family vacation. Packing is one of the chores that pretty much nobody likes but we’re here to make this one thing easier for you. Traveling with a baby? You’ll definitely want a change of clothes for them and a change of clothes for you. Got a toddler along for the ride? It’s all about the snacks. Parents of teens and tweens: their packing list pretty much includes just a device and headphones.

Our team of editors has loads of experience traveling with kids of all ages and this is what we recommend you bring along to make your family trip more of a vacation for everyone involved. Just take a screengrab of the lists that fit your kids’ ages and get packing!

Packing List for Travel with a Baby

It’s our experience that kids this age don’t need a bunch of toys to keep them occupied on an airplane. Really it’s all about making them as comfortable as possible so that they (fingers crossed!) sleep for as much of the flight as possible. If you need things to keep them busy, plastic cups from the flight attendant will do in a pinch.

family with a baby in a carrier at the airport
istock

In your carry-on: 

  • an extra outfit for baby and parents (in a Ziploc bag to store the dirties)
  • diapers (more than you think you need), diaper cream, wipes, changing pad
  • more Ziplocs for dirty diaper storage
  • sanitizing wipes
  • feeding supplies like bibs, bottles, formula (more than you think you need), nursing cover/pillow
  • snacks (with a snack catcher) and squeeze pouches of baby food
  • pacifier with clip (bring extra pacifiers!)
  • hand sanitizer
  • soft books/new toys (bring an extra pacifier clip to attach these to baby or the tray)
  • lovey
  • water bottles to fill once you’ve passed security

In your suitcase: 

  • pjs/sleep sack, daytime outfits, socks, shoes/sandals
  • swimsuit, swim diapers, sunscreen, sun hat
  • sound machine (or use an app)
  • infant acetaminophen/ibuprofen and thermometer
  • diapers/wipes
  • snacks/food
  • paper blackout curtains (because sleep is KEY)
  • baby monitor

Other gear to bring (if you have the room):

  • baby car seat
  • stroller (with stroller bag if flying)
  • baby carrier
  • pop-up sunshade if going to the beach
  • pack n’ play with sheet if your destination doesn’t have a crib

Packing List for Travel with a Toddler

Flying with kids this age takes both mental fortitude and physical strength (as you might feel like you are wrestling a carp trying to get them to stay in their seat).

We feel like the key to traveling with kids this age is snacks. Lots of snacks. Snag one of those weekly pill containers (aka a “snackle box”) and fill each slot up with something your toddler will love. These are kid-proof and you only open one section at a time so you can minimize spills.

istock

In your carry-on: 

  • an extra outfit for toddler and parents (in a Ziploc bag to store the dirties)
  • diapers (more than you think you need), diaper cream, wipes, changing pad
  • more Ziplocs for dirty diaper storage
  • sanitizing wipes
  • snacks in a kid-proof container
  • lovey
  • new toys/books
  • a device with kid shows on it plus kid-sized headphones
  • lollipop for takeoff and landing to relieve ear pain
  • water bottles to fill once you’ve passed security
  • easy “craft” projects like water wow and window clings

In your suitcase: 

  • pjs, daytime outfits, socks, shoes/sandals
  • swimsuit, swim diapers, sunscreen, sun hat
  • sound machine (or use an app)
  • children’s acetaminophen/ibuprofen/benadryl and thermometer
  • diapers/wipes
  • snacks/food
  • paper blackout curtains (because sleep is KEY)
  • baby monitor

Other gear to bring (if you have the room):

  • car seat
  • stroller (with stroller bag if flying)
  • new toys/beach toys
  • pop-up sunshade if going to the beach
  • tiny potty or toddler toilet seat
  • pack n’ play with sheet if your destination doesn’t have a crib

Packing List for Travel with a Preschooler

Congratulations! You’ve finally reached the stage where your little traveler can be entertained with new toys, electronics, and craft projects. It’s a whole new world.

young child looking out window of airplane on family vacation
istock

In your carry-on: 

In your suitcase: 

  • pjs, daytime outfits, socks, shoes/sandals, hoodie/sweatshirt
  • children’s acetaminophen/ibuprofen/Benadryl and thermometer
  • paper blackout curtains (because sleep is KEY)
  • sound machine (or use an app)

Packing List for Travel with a Grade School Kid

For this age, it’s all about getting kids to carry their own stuff. Talk about a dream! Get them a backpack that’s comfortable for them. We love bringing an e-reader along so kids can cruise through books at their own pace.

older child at airport on family vacation
istock

In your carry-on: 

In your suitcase: 

  • pjs, daytime outfits, socks, shoes/sandals, hoodie/sweatshirt
  • children’s acetaminophen/ibuprofen/Benadryl and thermometer
  • paper blackout curtains (because sleep is KEY)
  • sound machine (or use an app)

Packing List for Travel with a Tween/Teen

Your older kids are pretty much experienced travelers by now. They have their own suitcase that they take care of themselves (yes, all the parents of littles are jealous). The packing list of this age is pretty easy: a device and snacks. We like to let our tweens and teens pack their own suitcases with a provided list and pick out their own snacks to bring along. That way you aren’t stuck on vacation with outfits they won’t wear.

teen pulling suitcase at airport on family vacation
istock

In your carry-on: 

  • snacks
  • water bottle to fill past security
  • phone or electronic device to watch movies/play games
  • headphones or earbuds (we like these less-expensive noise-canceling ones)
  • extra battery and cord for charging devices

In your suitcase: 

  • pjs, daytime outfits, socks, shoes/sandals, hoodie/sweatshirt
  • acetaminophen/ibuprofen/Benadryl and thermometer

RELATED STORIES
Our Editors’ Top Tips to Make Traveling by Air a Little Easier This Summer
28 Genius Air Travel Hacks Every Parent Needs to Know
21 Small Toys to Bring on the Airplane (for Under $10)
Amazing Packing and Travel Hacks for Your Next Trip
The Best Carry-On Suitcases & Luggage for Parents

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