What Should I Pack for Vacation?

What Should I Pack for Vacation? Suitcases.
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Do you loving going on vacation but hate packing? That’s because packing requires making a LOT of decisions, and most of us don’t like having to make decisions. But having a system for packing makes the whole process easier.

Below you will find a “basic” packing list. Feel free to copy this list and keep it on your computer. Then, adjust it for your destination, family size & ages, mode of transportation and duration of trip (you can add a number to each item…for example “8” next to underwear for a 7 day vacation).  Some items may not apply to your family, so delete them before saving. Each time you personalize a list, save it as a separate document, such as “Packing List: Beach Vacation.” Print this list and take it with you on the trip. If while away you think of items you forgot, write them onto your list. When you get home, update the list. Next time you take a similar vacation, the process of getting ready will be much easier.

Once you use this list, and adapt it for your needs, you’ll find the process quicker and easier. If you can keep some toiletry items set aside specifically for travel, this helps too. You can also email older children a “suggested list” before the vacation so they can start forming a good packing routine, and build a folder of packing lists that they can take with them when they are adults.

Bon Voyage!

The Seana Method’s “Basic” Packing List

Clothing:

Layer 1
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Bras/Camis/undershirts/dressy undergarments (sports underwear if needed)
  • Pajamas, robe
Layer 2
  • Casual clothing – bottoms (shorts, jeans, sweat pants, leggings)
  • Casual clothing – tops (short sleeved, long sleeved)
  • In-between clothing (capris, casual dress, nice pants, collared shirt)
  • Dressy Outfit (dress, shirt, tie)
  • Belt
Layer 3
  • Sweatshirt/Fleece
  • Rain Jacket
  • Sports Coat/Sweater for nicer clothing
  • Hat/Gloves
Footwear
  • Slippers (if desired)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Athletic shoes (sneakers, golf shoes, tennis shoes, hiking boots, etc)
  • Sandals/loafers/nicer casual shoes
  • Dress shoes
Recreation (will vary by type of vacation)
  • Bathing Suit & cover up/flip fops
  • Tennis/golf/fishing/skiing/etc. clothing

Non-Clothing:

  • Sunscreen/Bug spray
  • Baseball cap/Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Computer*/iPad*/Cell phone* (each with labeled charger)/earphones or Airpods
  • Book/Kindle*/Nook* (with labeled charger)
  • Small games (e.g. cards)
  • Passports*/ID*/Driver’s License*/Medical Insurance Card*
  • Jewelry*/cuff links/collar stays
  • Hair Dryer (if not going to a hotel)/Hair Straightener/Curling Iron
  • Empty refillable water bottle (one for each family member)
  • Baby supplies (diaper bag, toys, bottles, wipes, car seat)
  • Electrical adaptors if traveling out of the country
  • Hostess gift if staying with friends or relatives
  • Umbrella
  • Luggage Tags
  • Money Belt/Collapsible Tote/Day pack
  • A couple empty plastic bags (for wet items)

Toiletries:

  • Prescription Medicines*/Vitamins
  • Feminine Protection
  • Hair Bands
  • Contact Lenses & Solution/Glasses
  • Toothpaste & brush/floss
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Chapstick
  • Make-up
  • Deodorant
  • Soap/shampoo/conditioner (if not staying in a hotel)
  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Retainer*
  • Nail Supplies (clippers/polish/polish remover)
  • Birth control

Travel Information:

  • Itinerary (including confirmation numbers for car/hotels/tours/etc.)
  • Membership cards (e.g. for Airline clubs)
  • Copies of passports/credit cards
  • Travel insurance documentation
  • Vaccination Card
  • Emergency Contact Information
  • Tickets/e-tickets

Other:

Here is where you write in what you need for this particular family and vacation. For example, a holiday visit might include gifts or photos to share. Traveling with babies might include a stroller. Traveling with an older family member might include a walker.

* Always carry these items on, do not check.

* * *

Do you keep a packing list on hand? What would you add to this list?

17 thoughts on “What Should I Pack for Vacation?”

    1. So glad it was helpful, Susie! Packing can be a real drag, especially if you feel like you are starting over every time, right?

  1. Pingback: Making Vacation Work | The Seana Method

  2. I love packing for trips, although it’s been a while since I’ve gone anywhere. I’m looking forward to a beach vacation with my friends coming up next month. It’s an annual trip. And guess what? When it’s time to pack, I will pull up my list (a Word doc) from the last time. It will be a starting point for packing this time because I won’t have to reinvent the process. And it will cue me in to items I might have forgotten.

    Somet other items I typically include on the packing list are snacks, a lightweight backpack or tote, journals, pens, eyeglasses, laundry bag, wipes, hand sanitizer, mask, and wrinkle spray (for clothing). If we’re renting a house vs. staying in a hotel and driving there, I’ll also pack food/pantry/household items.

    Now you’ve gotten me to think about traveling again, and I’m excited!

  3. Great packing list, Seana! I love that you mentioned having different packing lists. We went on a long vacation and I found that I had to customize the list for that trip since we were doing a cruise and on land vacation. This list is separate from my other packing lists.

    I also have a beach packing list. That one includes things like meals/towels/sheets since they are usually not in a rental property.

    I had a client who would go to Florida in the winter and we made her a checklist just for that trip.

    The trick to having these packing lists and utilizing them effectively is to know where to find them when you need them. A convenient place like Dropbox and Google Drive will allow everyone to have access to them while on the go.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…The Best Ways To Do Nightstand OrganizingMy Profile

    1. Love that idea of putting them in Dropbox or Google drive so you can access them anytime. That way, if you think of something you want to add when you aren’t in the process of packing, you can simply log on and add it!

    1. I think I have about 10 lists now. Some are for specific locations, and others are for specific trip durations (e.g. a weekend getaway vs. a weeklong vacation).

  4. Really great, comprehensive list here – it’s funny, I never think about taking a robe on vacations! I’m also reminded of something we say in our family just to keep things a little less stressful – “We’re not traveling to Siberia!” Meaning, if we DO happen to forget the contact lens solution or a toothbrush, worse comes to worst we can figure out how to replace it in the place we travel to. Still, it’s always good to check the list over twice and save yourself some trouble!
    Sara Skillen recently posted…Unproductive?My Profile

    1. As long as you go somewhere with a CVS or equivalent, you are usually ok. COVID rocked me on this one, as suddenly I couldn’t count on things being available. If nothing else, this list provides a starting point, and then you can customize it for your family and destination needs.

  5. I love helping OTHER people pack for trips, and I’m delightedly organized (with my own list, much like yours) for everything useful and practical. I’m fine with weather-wear, sleepwear, and foundation garments. But outfits? I live in colored v-neck t-shirts and jeans 9 months of the year and sweaters and jeans the rest of the time, but when I’m on vacation and taking selfies, I want to look more exciting…but then I’m not comfy in anything. For me, packing is easy, dressing is hard. 😉

    I’d be keen for a video on how you layer, as I use packing cubes, which is a different approach. But I still haven’t reached Sara’s level of zen re: not going to Siberia. Delta once lost my suitcase on the way to Disney World, and while a voucher covered a few Target essentials, that was a 24-hour period I’d rather not relive!

    Great advice/list!

    1. I love that point about dressing being hard. Me too! Frankly, dressing nicely is complex… different heights of shoes, different lengths of pants, undergarments, jewelry, etc.

      I live in jeans and shirts or fleeces as well. That’s the work uniform for me, since I’m crawling into interesting and often dirty spaces. It’s easy and carefree.

      I’m not going to Siberia either LOL!

  6. Seana,
    What a great list to keep on hand. I keep some travel items already packed in small bags (mostly shampoo, and bath items) so I can grab and go when the time comes. Keeping a printed list in my suitcase is a good reminder to check off anything I may have forgotten.

    1. I have the “travel toiletries” bag as well, Janet. I keep a few makeup items in a travel bag too. It just makes life simpler to have duplicates of these items if you travel.

  7. I have a packing list too. I have specialty packing lists – skiing etc . I like to pack as little as possible so when I come up with combinations of clothing that pack, wear and wash by hand easily I put them on the list so I take those outfits. I find travelling in the fall can be tricky. I learned to pack my travelling pants that are lightweight and a pair of leggings that are comfortable to wear underneath if it is cold. Now I don’t need to take as many different types of pants for every temperature that I might have. I have a raincoat that looks nice and now I pack it as a windbreaker and it is my raincoat. One less type of jacket to pack. I pack a small handbag in my luggage. Usually, when I am in the process of travelling I have a larger bag or backpack. The smaller one in my suitcase I use in the evening or when I arrive and don’t need a big bag. I like packing to be quick and easy so it even has what games to bring, snack to pack etc.

    1. I also pack a small handbag in my luggage when I’m traveling by air as I use a backpack as my smaller carry on. Thinking through this once, with mindfulness and taking notes, means it will all be easier next time! Love the tips you shared 🙂

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