Our packing list

Packing for a trip, especially one with kids and most particularly a long trip with kids, is a pretty personal thing.  What works for one family, or even for one child within that family, wouldn’t work at all for another.

That said, we’ve done this a lot at this point, and I think our packing ideas have evolved a bit.  In our family, I do the majority of the packing.  I select and organize the items for the family (the only exception is that Dan chooses his own clothes and any toiletries that aren’t shared — i.e., I pack the toothpaste, but he packs his toothbrush) and then I put everything into the suitcases, selecting what goes in checked baggage versus carry-on, as well.

If I’ve developed an overall philosophy, it’s that less is more, except when it comes to clothes for the littlest travellers.  I try to be as minimalist as possible, but Liam, by far, brings along more clothes than the rest of us.  I generally feel like vacation is a time to stretch the idea of what “clean enough to be worn again” really means, but Liam’s still at that age where a single meal (or overfull diaper) can destroy an entire outfit to the point that it can’t be washed out adequeately in a sink, so I try to be prepared.

Keep in mind that probably 70% of the suitcase space we use is dedicated to the kids.  I can pack for the entire family in two small suitcases (the size that used to count as a carry-on, but no longer quite does), one carry-on sized backpack and two child size backpacks.  And that’s for a 2 week trip.  I could put all of my own stuff in a single small backpack, if I had to.

For this trip, I was particularly strict on our packing, since we were flying EasyJet, and they’re incredibly picky about number and size of carry-on items, as well as the weight of the checked baggage.

So, here’s what we brought:

packed in checked luggage:

  • liquid ibuprofen for children
  • antibiotic ointment
  • baby soap (small, travel size)
  • band-aids
  • barrettes
  • bibs (3)
  • diaper cream (I used to put this in the carry-on, but it can be a hassle at security, and no one is going to develop a sudden diaper rash that can’t wait 3 or 4 hours to be treated, so I only put it in carry-on if there’s an existing case of diaper rash)
  • jewelry for me (minimal)
  • comb for the kids
  • cord to connect the ipods to the tv (great for hotels with little or no cable)
  • personal toiletries for me (deodorant, makeup — only a little, I can wear the same, neutral colors for a few days in a row, facial soap, face lotion with spf, shampoo, hand/body lotion, razor)
  • diaper bag (didn’t want to use it for one of our carry-ons, so I actually took everything out and packed it in our suitcase)
  • “doos” (Benjamin’s special lovey cloths, 2 — he’s past the point of typically asking for these, but I worry about the consequences if we didn’t have one and he wanted it, and they don’t take up much room, so it seems worth the space)
  • floss
  • gloves
  • hairbrush (for me)
  • hats (in this case, I went for warm ones, but in the summer, we do sun hats)
  • hotel reservation info
  • washcloth for kids (1, because some hotels don’t provide one)
  • nail clippers (only if the trip is longer than 10 days or so, or if it’s been a while since I’ve done them when we leave)
  • underwear (1 week worth)
  • sweatpants/comfy pants (2 each)
  • warm, cozy socks (1 pair each)
  • 6 onesies for Liam (white, plain, short-sleeved — I wish I’d brought 10)
  • pants (2 pair for me, 4 for the boys, including at least one that isn’t jeans, in case we decide to go someplace fancy . . . which has never actually happened)
  • pack & play sheet (Liam is still small enough to use a portacrib, although we prefer for him to have a bed, but I bring the sheet along, just in case)
  • pajamas (3 sets per kid, 2 for me)
  • phone chargers
  • power adapters
  • rain boots (Dan & I wear our waterproof boots, since they’re so big to pack, but the kids wear their regular shoes and we pack their boots; we don’t always bring rain boots, either, depends on when/where we’re going)
  • shoes (my and Dan’s regular shoes, the kids wear theirs — 1 pair each)
  • rain coats
  • shirts/tops (6 each, mix of long and short sleeves)
  • socks (4 pairs per child, 7 pairs for me)
  • sunscreen
  • thermometer
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpastes (one for kids, one for adults)
  • umbrella (1, small)


  • wallet/credit cards/ATM cards/cash
  • Aleve/ibuprofen for adults
  • nose drops for children
  • baby wipes (about 1 package worth, divided up between the 3 carry on bags, like diapers, we bought more as we needed them)
  • light weight blanket (I actually brought a swaddling blanket from Liam’s younger days — it doesn’t take up a lot of room and will work to cover over a sleeping child, as a cushion for a diaper change, or as an impromptu diaper change screen)
  • books for kids (4, small; we also bought 4 new books while in the UK)
  • bottles with milk
  • coloring books
  • crayons
  • diapers (only enough for the first 24-36 hours — we bought the rest as we went)
  • earbuds for ipod
  • fleece/sweatshirt (1 each)
  • hand sanitizer (small enough for security check)
  • ipad
  • ipods (2, fully charged)
  • lip balm
  • stroller (gate checked)
  • pacis (2, also 2 more in checked baggage)
  • paper towels (about a dozen, folded up, stuck anywhere)
  • passports
  • phones (fully charged)
  • rain cover for stroller (either attached to the stroller — ours has a snap-on bag — or in checked luggage)
  • sippy cups (with water, which will probably have to be poured out at security and refilled, but I’m surprised at how often they haven’t seemed to care)
  • snacks for flight
  • sunglasses
  • tickets/boarding passes/flight info
  • toys (2 each, they get to choose but they have to fit into their carry-ons, and we also got each of the boys a few small things on our trip)
  • ziploc bags (10-12, small ones are useful for messy diapers or leftover snacks, large ones are good for messy clothes)

I also pull out one outfit per child for the carry-ons, just in case they need a change during the trip and/or the luggage doesn’t make it to our destination along with us.  (This is all not counting Dan’s clothes and personal toiletries.)

This definitely requires either washing clothes at some point or rewearing stuff.  We did a little of both.  B, who tends to want to wear an outfit over and over until it’s socially unacceptable, didn’t go through half the clothes we brought for him.  I had to do Liam’s laundry twice.  I intentionally chose a place, midway through our trip, that had a washing machine, and then we made an additional unscheduled stop at a Dublin laundromat after the kids were both sick.

We’re still dialing it in, but we’ve come a long way.  We used to bring too much stuff, and a lot of it didn’t suit our purposes.  For the clothes, I’ve found dark colors are best, as well as fabrics that will tolerate a variety of washing conditions and that won’t look awful if they’re hung to dry (washers are rare on vacation, and driers are rarer).

The one thing that I always forget and regret not having — a pen!

Leave a Reply