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What to Pack For a Family Vacation + Free Printable Checklist

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Wondering what to bring on a family trip? As a mom of 9, I can say that I have packing for a family of 11 down to a science. Family vacations are so much fun no matter your family size, but having to shop for forgotten items only takes away from the precious moments you have to spend as a family on vacation. I’ve got the perfect ideas for what to pack with this family vacation checklist with a free printable checklist with plenty of space for you to make your own notes.


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    Most times, our family is taking a road trip when we’re going on vacation. So we’ve got a list of family road trip essentials. You can read about that checklist for our family road trip must haves HERE.

    What I’ve got for you today is not only a packing checklist, but also the process we use to get everything together throughout the week or weeks leading up to the family vacation.

    What makes having a complete vacation checklist so essential is that the family is able to work together on getting everything packed. My rule of thumb is that anyone taking the vacation can help prepare for the family vacation with a heavy emphasis on the word family.

    Here’s what it looks like to be packing for a family road trip or vacation without forgetting anything!

    family vacation packing checklist

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    While my process starts with this printable checklist, that is only one small piece of making sure we get on our way with everything we need.

    Some of the things you see on our printable checklist wouldn’t apply if you are traveling via plane, train, or something else.

    But for the most part, this checklist is handy whether you’re packing for toddlers, adults, teens, or somewhere in-between.

    First, designate an area for things to collect

    Generally, I like to have all the kids clothes and things in one area, and all the adult things and clothes in another. Then I also have a separate place for foods, kitchen items, and other random things to collect.

    This makes it not only easier to live with since no one space is overrun, but it also makes it easier to check and double check once you’re ready to actually pack.

    Have a variety of packing essentials ready

    Typically, I find it’s easiest to pack clothing items in soft bags, totes, and backpacks. I prefer to pack foods and other things in Rubbermade totes like this one HERE

    I love packing clothes in totes like this one HERE and HERE

    vacation packing checklist

    Gather first, pack later

    Avoid actually packing anything until you’ve got everything together. Otherwise, you’ll likely be packing and unpacking several times as you gather more or less things than you originally thought. You’ll also figure out the most space efficient way to make everything fit once you have it all together.

    Pack family members’ things in a way that makes sense

    We have girls who share rooms, so we pack their things together. I also find that it makes sense to pack things like swim suits, sunglasses, and sometimes extra shoes and things like this all together rather than with each individual person’s things.

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    Think about packing for the trip home

    I like to bring dirty clothes home separately from the clean home. So, I plan for this ahead of time by making sure that I bring extra bags along. You can read more about the easy way to unpack from a family vacation HERE.

    family vacation packing list

    Start working with your packing checklist at least a week before leaving

    This gives you the most time to work through things as you go. It also allows you to get everything packed and ready without ever having to devote a large block of time to it.

    Packing a little bit each day helps the task to not feel overwhelming.

    Work with the checklist as you go

    I like to cross things off the family packing checklist as I go. That way, I’m not wasting time checking and rechecking. When I am certain I have something from the list in the gathering area, it gets noted on the packing checklist.

    Make sure that if others are helping pack, they are also marking things off the packing checklist as they go. Otherwise there will be just too much wasted time.

    Don’t forget to grab your free printable checklist by entering your email below.

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      packing list family vacation

      Pack efficiently

      Sometimes this means unpacking things or taking them apart to make them fit most. In most cases, I fid rolling clothes to save the most sense when packing.

      You can see some really good examples of that in my video about how to pack a suitcase like Marie Kondo.

      Smaller bags and toes are usually better for packing

      Not only are smaller bags, totes, and bins easier to put things into, they are also easier to fit into the car for a family road trip. We find packing the car for a road trip to be a bit like playing a game of Tetris.

      But, it is nice to have as much room as possible for the people in the car by minimizing the amount of “stuff” you’re packing and then packing it all in the most efficient way.

      Do you have a family vacation or a family road trip coming up. Packing for that family vacation efficiently and thoroughly takes time and effort, but it is time that will always be well spent.

      Looking for more help on taking a vacation or road trip with a family? Be sure to read these:

      How to Make Unpacking From a Family Vacation a Snap

      How to Pack For a Family Road Trip & Not Lose Your Mind

       

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