When I travel alone I almost always forget at least one thing that I need. It’s easy to do, especially if you tend to pack at the last minute like I do. Traveling as a family requires more planning and thought, so I rarely leave that to the last minute. I’m the one who handles the majority of the packing for any of our family trips, and from what I understand Mom is usually the one in charge of this task. I will spend days doing laundry, setting items aside, getting bags ready and checking things off my list. Then travel day arrives and my husband will run upstairs, throw a few things in his suitcase and say he’s ready…why aren’t the rest of us?! The funny thing is, he will always forget his swimsuit and toothbrush but I will have packed them for him!

There are a lot of things that you need to keep in mind when packing for an entire family. Depending on when you are traveling, how long you will be gone and how old your children are, all of these items may not apply to you but I bet at least a few of them will.

family travel packing

Here are 30 things that families forget when going on a trip:

  1. Stuffed animals – these can be vital when sleeping in an unfamiliar bed or going on his/her first flight.
  2. Homework – Junior probably didn’t mention the folder of work his teacher assigned for him to do on the trip, so you may want to check his school bag before you leave.
  3. Toothbrushes – at least one of them will get left behind, so pack a couple of new brushes just in case.
  4. Electronics – while you don’t want the kids to spend the vacation looking at screens, the distraction will be welcome during long drives and flights.
  5. Chargers – you will need chargers for everything: phones, cameras, computers, ipads, ipods, handheld games, etc. Here’s a tip, don’t pack any electronics unless the charger is with them.
  6. Toys – if you hope to have any down time in the hotel or vacation home, bring along some toys for the kids. They come in handy in the airport too.
  7. Pool floaties – my youngest won’t swim unless he has his floatie on, and they aren’t easy to find in a pinch.
  8. Shoes for all occasions – if it’s mid-winter, get the kids to try on those summer flip flops. They just may need new ones!
  9. Sunscreen – it’s easy to forget sunscreen if you live in the north and it’s mid winter, but you’ll wish you had it once you reach your sunny destination.
  10. Pillows – when driving especially, the kids will settle down faster if they have their own pillows.
  11. Nightlight – a nightlight can be the key to a good night’s sleep while you are away.
  12. Security blanket, toy, etc – if your child has something that gives him/her comfort, be sure to bring it on your trip. A week away is not the time to break them of their security habits.
  13. Stroller or baby carrier – this is easily solved because you can rent strollers most places that you go, but it’s pretty inconvenient in a busy airport or shopping mall.
  14. Booster seat or car seat – it may seem obvious, but I recently forgot the booster seat when traveling with my 6 year old. I was thinking about flights, not car rides once we reached our destination!
  15. High chair – portable high chairs are handy in vacation homes and even some restaurants.
  16. Medicine – obviously you need all prescription medicine, but don’t forget the non-prescription meds! Allergies, stomach bugs and headaches can and will happen while you are away.
  17. Water bottles – it will save you money to have your own water bottles with you.
  18. Sunglasses – much like sunscreen, they can be forgotten mid winter, but they are a must have.
  19. Hair elastics – unless you all have short hair, you are going to need one while you are away.
  20. Screen Cleaners – they may not seem like a necessity, but picture yourself in the middle of a very hot theme park with sweaty clothes and a dirty phone…you’ll wish you had one.
  21. Children’s Shampoo – hotel shampoo is not tear free!
  22. Band-aids – don’t ever leave home without them.
  23. Umbrellas or raincoats – almost every umbrella I own has been acquired because I was on a trip and needed one.
  24. Stroller Rain Cover – you have your umbrella, so make sure the stroller is kept dry too!
  25. Extra socks – socks get dirty, wet and lost. You will always need more.
  26. Beach toys – of course you only need this if you’re heading to the beach!
  27. Headphones – a pair for every child, and adult.
  28. Batteries – it never hurts to have them on hand.
  29. Baby wipes – these are not just for babies! They take stains out of clothes, work as an impromptu washcloth and can clean up spills.
  30. Patience – traveling with children is a test in patience. Remember that things won’t go as planned and everyone won’t be perky and happy the entire time, and that’s okay!

Is there something that you typically forget when you travel?