Written by Cara Sayer
Packing for a family vacation can be so stressful that you might think it's easier to just stay home. But don't go canceling your trip to Disney World just yet. Just get yourself organized and follow these easy tips for effortless packing (without hives or anxiety!). Unfortunately, we can't say the same about the dirty laundry you'll be bringing back home.
10 Tips to Pack for Your Family Vacation
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- The Packing List. Before you pack one thing, create your own packing list or search for one online. It will give you a basic checklist to print off. These are incredibly helpful and remind you of the smaller stuff you might have forgotten otherwise.
- The Luggage. Your goal is to take the least amount of baggage possible without under-packing. Rolling clothes takes up less space and leaves them less wrinkly. Stick shoes into plastic bags so they don't get your clothes dirty. Aim to take fewer bags than people.
- The Important Stuff. You'll need your flight itinerary or driving directions, a driver's license, photocopies of everyone's birth certificate and passport (in the event yours are lost or stolen), hotel and car rental confirmations and credit card contact information. It's also helpful to have copies of things you plan to do and guidebooks.
- Entertainment for All. For everyone's sanity, leave the Legos and noisy toys at home. This is the perfect time for new drawing supplies and activity books, finger puppets and small toys, card games and books, portable DVD players and LeapPads (remember headphones and chargers!). Don't underestimate the oldies like "I Spy", Tick Tack Toe and Hangman. And most important, don't forget the blankie and lovey!
- Clothing. Think comfort, layering and coordinating. Pack two pair of well-worn shoes for each person. Also pack enough outfits and underwear for each person per day plus two extra. Try and coordinate as best you can so they are interchangeable. If you'll be swimming, pack two swimsuits per person and a cover-up. With the exception of babies, keep the pajamas to a minimum as they can easily be reused. Throw in an appropriate jacket for the climate you'll be going to. No matter where you're going, remember comfort is key unless you're meeting the Royal Family.
- First Aid & Medications. Depending on where you're headed, you may need more or less than some travellers. Pain relief for adults and children, itch relief cream, allergy medicine such as Benedryl and asthma inhalers, sun screen, meds for diarrhea, constipation and motion sickness, as well as, basic first aid items such as Band-Aids and antibacterial cream, Just keep in mind that some of these items may not make it through bag check if you're flying. In that case, you may need to pack some items in a zip lock bag and stash in your luggage or buy at your final destination.
- Baby Gear. Plan on the essentials, car seat/booster seat, playard and stroller. If you're staying at a hotel or friend's home, try and borrow a playard and save yourself the hassle. Bringing a stroller along is helpful for so many reasons. It holds a sleeping baby if your flight is delayed and doubles as a bag carrier when walking through an airport or shopping. Don't forget to throw in the SnoozeShade for infant carriers, strollers and playards so your little one gets the rest he needs while away from home.
- The Emergency Bag. Don't leave home without it! Fill it with must-haves you can grab in a jiffy. If you fly and your luggage is delayed, you'll breathe a sigh of relief with emergency supplies close at hand. Include extra underwear for kids, diapers, wet wipes, Kleenex, prescriptions, pain relief meds, a small first aid kit, large zip lock baggies (they come in handy for many things), a small container or bag of powdered laundry soap and snacks.
- Pack One Extra Bag. Tuck a small duffel bag or backpack in your suitcase. This will come in very handy for dirty clothes or souvenirs.
- The Misc. Stuff. Think cell phone chargers, keys and daily medications. Don't forget to grab these items on your way out the door. These are some of the most important and most forgotten items. Also, if you have a family member who suffers from food allergies or has special needs, you'll also need to account for this by packing extra food and needed items.