Smarties, we’ve almost made it to spring break! We all know that after spring break it’s a quick downhill slide into summer so making it to spring break is a big deal! I’m known for being a very meticulous packer when it comes to preparing for trips. I love the thrill of thinking through all the scenarios where you might need a particular item while also trying not to over pack. Every time we travel I’m asking myself “did we absolutely need to bring this?” or “what didn’t we bring that I wish we had?” I keep my family vacation packing list saved on my phone and update it each year as our kids grow older. Over the years there have been plenty of things we didn’t need to bring but here are five things I highly suggest packing as you head out for spring break vacation.
1. Sound Machine
Sleeping somewhere other than home means new sounds at night and the potential for disrupted sleep. I always make a point to pack our kid’s sound machines when we travel so at night we can drown out any unwanted ambient noise while also keeping their night time ritual semi-normal. There are plenty of small travel sound machines if you are flying and don’t have room in your bag, but if you’re driving trust me it’s worth the packing space to bring your sound machines from home.
Speaking of sound machines, ours have a light built in so when we travel with our sound machines we also have our kid’s nightlights as well. I always keep an extra nightlight in our toiletry bag to plug into the bathroom as well. Then when someone needs the bathroom during the night they are able to find their way a little easier. There have been countless times where I have brushed my teeth by the glow of our nightlight in an Airbnb while trying not to wake a sleeping kid up with the overhead light. Nightlights are always handy but not always provided when you travel.
3. Basic medical supplies
Most places you go in the world you can find medical care or supplies, but when someone inevitably gets a skinned knee or spikes a fever overnight it’s very helpful to have a few necessities from home for immediate use. Pack the thermometer you use at home so there are no questions about what the reading is. Bring a small amount of Tylenol or Motrin to get you by until you can get more from a nearby store. I love when I come across travel size medicines or even better the dissolvable powder that takes up little space but has a big impact when you need it. Grab a few different sized Band-Aids and a small tube of antibiotic cream for injuries. Everything should be able to fit into a small pouch and not take up a lot of room but will be immensely helpful if you need it.
4. Laundry detergent
Vacation is not the time to experiment with new products especially if you have kids. You never know if someone will have a reaction to a different type of soap or product, particularly laundry detergent, which is why I always try to pack a small bottle of our regular laundry detergent. It’s always nice to be able to do laundry when you are away so you can pack less and go home with clean clothes. Even though many rentals or hotels will provide laundry detergent, I still think it’s best to use what you know works for your family. If you’re worried about space or TSA rules, laundry detergent comes in powdered travel packs!
5. Water Bottles for everyone
Whether you’re flying across the country or just driving to the beach, always pack a water bottle for each family member. Chances are each of your kids has a bottle labeled for school so it’s helpful when you travel to have everyone use their regular water bottle. You won’t get cups mixed up at meal times or have to worry about unnecessary spills. Everyone having their designated water bottle (including Mom and Dad) will ensure that the whole family will stay hydrated on all your adventures.
Let’s remember that traveling with kids requires a LOT of stuff and these are just a few of the essentials that you’ll want to bring. Depending on the ages of your kids you’ll need any number of assorted things. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from traveling with four kids, it’s that multi-use items are always appreciated. One year our daughter ate almost all her meals in our Veer wagon- inside and outside our beach rental. Instead of packing a travel high chair we just used what we already had. Another favorite is to bring one big book with multiple stories inside or borrowing digital library books to pare down on bulky books but still be able to read while away. As you pack, get creative and see if you can do more with less!