Ultimate Family Travel Packing List
This ultimate family travel packing list will help keep you organized and ensure you don’t forget anything before you leave on your next trip.
There are so many things to think about when travelling with kids.
To make the process easier, it’s always best to have a packing list handy.
It can be hard to remember everything you need for an overnight trip or long flight, let alone all of the little details that will keep your family happy and comfortable!
That’s why we’ve created this blog post – packed full of useful tips and items that will help you pack like a pro next time you’re travelling with kids.
This family travel packing list covers everything from your clothes and travel gear to all the little things that will keep your kids happy while you are travelling.
To make it easy to read, we’ve included links in each section so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
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Before You Go
Before you even start packing, there are some preparations to be made. In addition to the obvious ones like booking travel tickets and accommodation and ensuring passports are up to date, there are a few other things to do before you leave.
- Book travel tickets
- Check if visas are needed
- Ensure passports are up to date and valid for 6 months past your return date
- Check if vaccinations are up to date, or needed for travel
- Purchase travel insurance
- Organize documents and photocopy an extra set
- Book accommodations, at least for the first few nights
- If you own a home, turn down the heat, close and lock all windows and doors, arrange for mail to be picked up, empty the garbage and arrange for someone to check on your house
Read more | 16 Things to Do Before Leaving for Vacation
How long of a trip is this family travel packing list good for?
This family travel packing list is perfect to use for any length of travel, whether you are going away for one week or a few months.
We’ve noted where things may be added or not necessary, depending on how long you are travelling for.
For instance, if you are travelling for a week you won’t need to bring laundry soap, but if you are travelling for a few months, laundry soap will come in handy!
Family Travel Packing List at a Glance
Documents: Passport, ID, Driver’s License, tickets, flight/train/hotel reservations, visas, International Drivers license, health insurance, travel insurance, credit card, emergency contact info
Carry-on Essentials: phone, book/magazine, gum, pen, snacks, water bottle, lip chap, sunglasses, tissues, activities for kids
Luggage: backpack or suitcase, carry on or personal bag, packing cubes, travel organizers
Clothing: tanks, tees, sweater, pants, skirt, dress, shorts, bathing suit, hat, scarf, undies, bras, socks
Shoes: walking shoes, hiking boots, shower shoes or flip flops
Accesories: coat, hat, mitts, warm scarf
Toiletries: shampoo, soap, toothpaste & brush, hairbrush, elastics, face moisturizer, makeup, deodorant, quick dry towel
First Aid Kit: – bandaids, gauze, ointment, scissors, tweezers, thermometer, pain relievers
Electronics: camera, lens, memory card, battery charger, USB Flashdrive, portable speaker & cord, laptop & charger, phone & charger, external hard drive, headphones/ear buds, tablet
Other travel accessories: door stop, water purifier, travel clothesline, clothespins, laundry soap, laundry bag, Ziploc bags, umbrella, sunscreen, aloe vera gel (for after sun!)
Apps: booking.com, airbnb, google maps, google translate, maps.me, XE currency, whatsapp, skype
Read more | 15 Great FREE Travel Apps for Families
Types of Luggage
You will also need to decide what kind of luggage you are using.
This may depend on how long you are travelling for – if you are heading away for a week, you may only need a carry-on bag but if you are travelling for a few months, you may want a larger suitcase or backpack.
Read more | How to Travel with Carry On Only: 11 Tips to Pack Light
Other things to consider are the ages of your kids. Can they carry their own things or you need to pack their clothes as well?
Depending on the answer, you may need a bigger suitcase or if your kids are carrying their own suitcases, you may only need a smaller one.
We travel with either a 55L Osprey backpack (that holds all the clothes as well as the extra travel stuff), or a small carry-on size backpack, two small carryon suitcases (for the boys’ books and toys), two small backpacks (boys’ carryon bags) and a larger carryon (mom) with the camera and carry-on things.
Travel Gear for Family Travel
Adult Luggage: Backpack versus suitcase is a great debate and it really just comes down to personal preference. I’ve used both and prefer having a backpack, especially with young kids, so that my hands are free.
The Osprey Fairview is what I use now.
I love that it opens up similar to a suitcase so you can access everything inside, not just what’s at the top. It also has a handy day pack that zips off when needed.
I have both the 40L and the 55L and use the larger one when we travel for more than a month.
Kids luggage: Kid luggage is a bit trickier. Depending on the age (and size) of your child, traditional carry-on luggage may be too heavy and awkward for them to use.
There are plenty of suitcases designed for kids, but some aren’t practical for travelling.
We’ve found that wheeled suitcases are good, but two wheels work better than the 4 wheeled suitcases.
The boys use these lightweight fabric suitcases, which are a touch smaller and lighter than a regular carry-on size suitcase. They’ve been carrying their own suitcases since they were 4 and these were perfect size for them to manage.
Read more | The Best Carry-On Luggage for Family Travel in 2022
Daypacks: We all have a carry-on backpack that doubles as a daypack. Mom carries a Neewer Camera Bag that holds the cameras, while the boys carry their own daypack with the things they need (activities, change of clothes, water and some snacks).
I also take this carry-on bag that holds the camera bag, plus anything else we need to keep handy. It’s pretty large and can also double as a day bag on our travels, if we aren’t taking the camera bag.
Packing Cubes: We love compression packing cubes and everyone has a different coloured set, which makes it easier for us to stay organized.
If you’re not using packing cubes yet, here’s a whole post on why you should use them.
Cord Organizer: This Bagsmart cord organizer has been a lifesaver for me! It holds all the cords, chargers, USB sticks, SIM cards and earphones and it zips closed, keeping everything neatly in one spot.
Passport and Document Organizer: This travel wallet is handy to keep everything together, all the passports, tickets, boarding passes etc. We also carry a few other documents, including a reference card and emergency contact card. You can find a list of essential documents here.
Other Gear You May Want to Pack
Laundry Bag: We just use an extra pillow case to hold the dirty laundry but you can find specific laundry bags to use. Really, anything that will keep the clean and dirty clothes separate works!
Wet Bag: If you’re planning on spending some time at the beach or a pool, a wet bag may come in handy! We use ours to put wet bathing suits in, whether to come back from a day at the beach, or if we are leaving the hotel before our bathing suits are fully dry.
Clothespins: Clothespins are handy for a few different things! Many places won’t have a dryer, so you might need to hang laundry to dry. Clothespins are also great for clipping curtains together to keep out the light!
Travel Towel: If you’re staying at a hotel, you may not need a travel towel, but if you’re staying at a hostel or other type of accommodation, you may need one!
There are so many different options, from a small, compact travel towel to larger, but AMAZING, Turkish towels.
Decide which works best for you, depending on how much room you have in your luggage!
Dishes: We travel with two small bowls, two plastic plates and two plastic cups.
If you’re staying in apartments or airbnb’s on your travels, they probably have dishes, but they may not have kid-size dishes.
I always feel better taking our own non-breakable ones for the boys to use.
They also come in handy if you are eating a meal in a hotel room!
Laundry Soap: While we don’t always carry this, if you’re planning on being away for more than a few weeks and need to do laundry, you can always bring a bit of your own laundry soap.
We used to carry a small Ziploc bag of laundry powder, measured out to do a few loads while we are away, but recently I’ve switched to using these amazing laundry sheets!
Reusable Bag: Many places are not providing plastic bags anymore, so having your own reusable bag is a good idea!
There are many small bags that fold up into a small pouch and easily fit in your purse or daypack.
They’re great for getting groceries or to use as an extra bag when your kids decide they don’t want to wear their sweater/hat/sunglasses anymore!
Door Stop Alarm: As a solo parent travelling with kids, I feel much safer bringing this door stop alarm along! We’ve used it in hotels as well as apartments and it just makes me feel a touch safer!
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Clothing to Pack for Family Travel
Much of this list will depend WHERE you are travelling to and the climate there.
Use this family travel packing list as a basic list, omitting what you don’t need.
Keep in mind that you will inevitably overpack and you won’t need everything you pack!
You can always do laundry or rinse clothes out in the bathroom sink.
Tops: Aim for 7 tops, a mix of t-shirts, long sleeve and tank tops, depending on the climate
Bottoms: 4 or 5 bottoms, a mix of shorts and pants (jeans, dress pants, comfy pants)
Sweater: one zip up sweater (if you’re flying, wear this on the plane!) and one fleece (depending on climate)
Coat: Chances are you will need at least one type of jacket, whether it’s a rain jacket or thicker winter jacket. I like the puffer style winter jackets, as they pack really well.
Scarf: I always bring a scarf with me. It’s great for those chilly airplane drafts and can be worn over the hair/head if needed in certain places.
Underwear: 7 to 10 underwear – This is where we overpack a bit, but it saves me doing as much laundry and underwear is small enough that I think it’s ok to bring a bit extra!
Socks: 2-5 pairs of socks. Depending on the climate that you are travelling to, you may not need socks at all, but I always pack at least one pair to wear with my running shoes.
Shoes: Everyone will have different ideas about how many shoes are needed! We travel with at least 2 pairs, wear one and pack the other. We usually try to bring a pair of sandals and a shoe or boot. The boys take a pair of keen sandals and a pair of crocs (lined in the winter, unlined for the summer). I love my Birkenstocks and will wear them unless it’s snowing! A pair of flip flops or water shoes are also a good idea if you are heading to the beach or a pool.
Hat: sun hat or baseball cap for warmer weather and a winter hat for colder temperatures.
Sunglasses: Winter or summer, sunglasses are a good idea to pack!
Bathing Suits: If you are heading somewhere with a pool, be sure to pack a bathing suit! Googles are also a good idea for kids, and a travel towel. My guys have this microfiber towel from Dock & Bay that’s great to travel with!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo/Conditioner – many hotels will provide shampoo (but not all!) and if you are staying at an apartment or airbnb, you will need to bring your own.
- Soap – again, most hotels will provide some, but you will need to provide your own at some other accommodations.
- Other daily care items – deodorant, brush, moisturizer, qtips, hairdryer, etc.
- Travel Towel – most places WILL have towels, but I still carry one, just in case!
Optional: You may also want to bring sunscreen or bugspray, depending on where you are travelling to.
**Keep in mind that any liquids, shampoos, etc that are larger than 100ml (3.4oz) will need to be packed in checked luggage. If you are travelling with only carry-on, make sure to have travel size containers and have them readily available in a Ziploc bag to pass through security.
First Aid Kit:
If you don’t have a first aid kit for travelling yet, head over to this post to see what you should have in a travel first aid kit. You can also find some premade on amazon.
- Charger for everything!! Laptop, phone, camera, tablet, whatever device you bring, make sure to bring the charger too!
- Camera and charger
- Laptop and/or tablet and charger(s)
- Phone and charger
- Universal Travel Adaptor
- Optional: USB Flash Drive, extra memory card, earphones
**We use this electronics organizer to keep all the cords, memory cards, SIM cards and USB cards together in one place.
Extras Items to Pack when Travelling with Kids:
Blanket: It’s great for the plane and to provide a bit of comfort away from home
Books: yes, you can get books online, but we still enjoy paper books as well!
Colouring or activity book – and crayons!
A few small toys if your kids are young
Read more | What to Pack in a Carry-on When Travelling with Kids
Snacks: I always pack a few snacks in the carry-on bag for the beginning of the trip, but also bring a few extra in my bag. While you can buy snacks wherever you are travelling to, it’s nice to have a few ‘from-home’ snacks that you know your kids will like, and it will save you from having to go shopping the first day or two or your trip!
Car Seats: Depending on the ages of your kids, you may or may not need car seats. If you are planning to rent a car while you are travelling, you may want to bring your own car seat! Here are some of the best car seats for travel, including booster seats and alternatives to car seats. We love the mi-fold – it’s really compact and lightweight, easy to install and safe for kids 4+ who are over 40lbs.
Documents to Pack:
- Credit Cards, debit cards
- Travel Insurance – take the pocket size card with the details and contact info
- Visas – check ahead to see if a visa is needed
- Drivers License
- Birth Certificates for kids – **Bring a photocopy and leave the original at home!
- Emergency Contact Info
*Both of the boys carry a photo copy of their birth certificates and a copy of all the passports, as well as an emergency contact card with several phone numbers, just in case….
After having my purse stolen once, including my wallet with the photocopy of their birth certificates which meant we had a hard time re-entering Canada, I now keep an extra copy of birth certificates, passport numbers and health card/travel insurance in each of the boys backpack, as well as a copy in my backpack.
Read more | Essential Documents to Travel
Other Useful Packing Tips:
- Less is more! Plan what you think you need to pack, then cut it in half. You can always pick up things along your travels.
- Practice before you go. And I don’t mean the hour or two before you leave. Pack a few days ahead of time, make sure it all fits AND that you can carry it!
- We’ve used this list for everything from one week vacations to 3 month trips in several climates.
- Be sure to pack any liquids larger than 100ml/3.4oz in checked luggage. If you are taking a corkscrew or pocketknife, that needs to go in checked luggage as well!
I hope this family travel packing list was helpful!
If you’d like to know more about any of these items or if there’s something missing, be sure to reach out and let us know! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Have a great trip with your family!