I will not leave home without

  • DH is an IT consult specializing in management/organization of ginormous computer projects. He and I have a private challenge about packing efforts I will endure to get our family off the ground to an exotic location this summer. I told him “no worries; I have it completely under control”. However, to ease his mind, he needs to see my mental plan laid out in project management style to relieve his travel anxiety. He wakes in the middle of the night saying “Did we leave one of the kids behind?”

I jest.

Before disembarking we will spend time talking to the kiddos about the trip, explaining the stages of the boarding process and flight. Making sure they realize the bumpiness and engine noises are normal and part of the travel FUN. I am really excited about our trip and want it to be contagious.

To build on the excitement of the journey, we will create a countdown calendar and put it on the refrigerator.

Of course everybody’s different — very different—especially regarding the amount of clothes they think they need. Some folks recommend “traveling light”, and that’s great advice; I just don’t find it applies much to travel with kids. I prefer to bring enough clothes so I do not have to think of laundry (a cuss word in my mind). But the choice is yours!

I always bring favorite things which make me feel special. Sometimes I splurge on a few new wardrobe pieces so I can look at them adoringly in my closet after our return reminiscing about the day on vacation I wore it.

Also, plane travelers remember, the restriction in the amount of liquids you can bring on planes. However there are exceptions for baby formula, baby food, medications — see What Can I Bring On the Plane? and pack the rest of your toiletries in your checked luggage. That large bottle of La Mer will end up in a landfill if you try to bring it on your jet plane. When the kiddos were babies I purchased all their baby food jars, diapers, wipes, etc and shipped the box ahead of us to the resort. The concierge who was on look out for the box had it waiting in our room upon check-in. It saved us from trying to find the brands/food/formula we preferred once we arrive at our destination.

Finally, just in case your luggage gets lost, try to bring a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage. AND If you’re flying to a tropical resort, this happened to us in Hawaii, pack a set of hot-weather clothes, sandals, and a bathing suit so you can change immediately and enjoy the pool or beach. Often guests must leave luggage at the front desk and then wait until their rooms are ready hours after their arrival. This wait can take hours, sometimes! So why not play until then. Let the vacation begin!

So this is for you honey. I, raise my right hand, promise not leave home without…

Money and Documents:

  • cash
  • credit cards
  • debit/ATM cards
  • picture id – passport, picture id and/or drivers’ license
  • A photocopy of your picture ID, packed separately, just in case your ID is lost or stolen. (And leave a copy with someone not traveling, too.)
  • Membership cards: AAA; Costco, etc.
  • Health insurance cards
  • travel insurance documents (do this on cruise ships, a helicopter ride to port is very costly if a medical need arises)
  • Tolls Roads, you may encounter them on your trip, have at least 5 dollars in ones. Tolls around the area are usually $2.00 a car and require exact change.
  • All trip documents
  • address/phone contacts


  • airplane tickets, or confirmation number for e-ticket
  • car reservation number
  • directions to destinations
  • hotel/rental confirmation numbers
  • ALSO stop the mail via USPS online (click here it is safe)
  • Stop your newspaper
  • plan to have someone take out your trash cans and put them away while you are gone

Clothing for 10 days

photo gap.com

  • Clothes for Kids (boys)
  • 4 swimsuits (trunks and rash guards) it’s icky putting on a wet suit
  • 10 t-shirts / tops (including a few oldies that can be thrown away, reducing the need to do laundry)
  • 6 shorts and 2 pants (1 dress pant and 1 pair of sweatpants)
  • 1 fancy outfit for a nice party/dinner out
  • jackets for colder weather
  • waterproof jacket if needed
  • sleepwear 5 pairs
  • underwear 15 pairs
  • Pairs of socks 10
  • sandals
  • Tennis shoes
  • Clothes for Kids (girls)
  • 4 swimsuits again it’s icky putting on a wet suit
  • 10 tops
  • 6 shorts and 2 pants (1 dress pants and 1 pair of sweatpants)
  • 1 casual sundress
  • 1 fancy outfit for a nice party/dinner out
  • jackets for colder weather
  • waterproof jacket if needed
  • sleepwear 5 pairs
  • underwear 15 pairs
  • >14 nights of Pull-ups. (3.5 year old)
  • Pairs of socks 10
  • Tennis shoes
  • sandals

Clothes for Me and DH

Me and DH Sonoma

  • 5 pairs of Shorts each
  • 11 Hers Short Sleeve shirts / sleeve less
  • 11 guys shirts t-shirt or collar style
  • 1 Nice Long Sleeve shirt his and hers
  • 1 fancy dress top his and hers (okay add one more for her… just in case I change my mind. It’s my prerogative)
  • his and her dress shoes to match
  • 15 Under Garments each
  • 1 Pair of lightweight Jeans or khakis each
  • 1 Hoody or light weight Jacket each
  • 2 long skirts
  • Flip-flops/Sandals his and hers
  • 2 Sun dresses (umm hers)
  • 5 pairs of Pajamas his and hers
  • 5 pairs of work out gear his and her
  • 10 pairs of Socks
  • Running shoes his and hers
  • 3 bathing suits his and hers
  • Swim suit cover up
  • sun hat/visor hers
  • base ball caps his

Toiletries & Personal Care:

  • tooth paste, toothbrushes, dental floss, mouthwash (packed together, in a zip lock bag)
  • shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, hair spray, mouse – whatever usually use
  • hair dryer
  • curling / Flat Iron
  • hand Soap and Sanitizer
  • shaving gear Mommy and Daddy + his electric razor.
  • flushable wipes – self explanatory
  • contact lenses paraphernalia
  • glasses
  • reading glasses
  • sunglasses
  • makeup
  • Perfume/Cologne
  • Hair Bands/Clips/Head Band
  • Deodorant
  • nail clippers
  • children thermometer
  • tweezers
  • powder (perfect at the beach to remove sand from damp skin)
  • lip balm with and without SPF
  • ear plugs (that party next door is really loud)
  • wet wipes
  • cotton balls/Q tips
  • SPF for face-body & kiddos
  • skin lotion/Aloe/Sun Burn Soother
  • Desitin
  • first Aid kit ( Band-Aids, Derma blast, Neosporin, & Bactine)
  • children’s fever medicine, cold medicine
  • hydrocortisone One word – MOSQUITOES!
  • insect repellant
  • After bite, for insect bites
  • allergy medicine if needed
  • prescription medicines
  • sleep aids (whatever floats your boat OTC or Prescription)
  • motion sickness preventatives
  • Tums – antacids
  • birth control
  • vitamins
  • blister kit: moleskin for blisters, elastic tape to go over the moleskin, scissors, Band-Aids
  • any special mother nature items


Photo Igo.com

  • cell phone (Can also be your travel alarm clock)
  • cell phone charger – Buy an I-Go too!
  • iPod(s) with chargers, along with portable IPod travel stereo.
  • Digital camera, and batteries, and any cords needed, Memory Cards.
  • video recorder, batteries, cords
  • portable DVD player + a variety of movies, try to buy a newly released one no one has seen
  • laptop, charger, cord, flash drive
  • GPS (try to pay a little extra and have your rental car provider include on with your rental)
  • nightlight (this is vital for our family, one for each)
  • head phones for the kiddos to listen to there stuff in private


  • notebook/journal (Perfect for the 9 year old to practice her handwriting documenting the trip)
  • Guidebooks — buy the best! It’s a small investment, compared to the cost of your vacation.
  • Ziploc bags (that actually zip.) Use for toiletries, wet swimsuits, crayons, accidents with children, etc
  • maps
  • binoculars
  • flashlight & batteries
  • needle and thread
  • alarm clock (if your cell phone isn’t your alarm clock)
  • plastic food containers: fill with snacks such as goldfish to eat on the plane; later, bring one to restaurants in case your kids won’t eat their food
  • Wet wipes, for cleaning hands, faces, etc. There’s even a special brand for removing stains from clothes.

For On the Plane

photo Amazon.com

Stuff to amuse the kids. I pack a secret back pack filled with toys appropriate for each ages for each to explore and open after take off. Thank you Target!

  • 9yr – Girl
  • Harry Potter Book; version 6 and 7
  • Soduk/Word search puzzles
  • iPod with headphone
  • audio books
  • The latest card-based games or puzzle games
  • 5.5 yr – Boy
  • Legos – a new kit
  • post-it notes to write on
  • paper punch
  • Kindergarten Educational booklets
  • metal tray and magnets
  • 4yr – Girl
  • Stickers
  • stick on play set
  • Polly pockets
  • Pre-K Educational booklets
  • colored beeswax sticks to model (bendaroos)

For Parents on the Planes

  • snacks/meal all in a disposable bag
  • any medication the kiddos may need for ear pain, or sleep aids
  • lip balm, skin lotion
  • cash for in-flight cocktail
  • magazines or books I will be indulging in:

Beach Gear

  • beach towel (one per person)
  • aqua shoes
  • swim goggles (Check these out from Speedo, they have a Soft flexible one-piece frame, double band around the back of the head with added sunglass style tinting to protect their eyes, – PERFECT)
  • beach toys (with a mesh bag to carry the toys and not the sand around)
  • sunhats (this is a repeat. I realize, but I just do not want to leave them behind)
  • ear plugs for children, I like these (click here – it’s safe)
  • Sunglasses for everyone

Baby Gear Extras ( I’m past this stage, but if I had to do it again, I would bring)

fall 2007 027

  • diapers–carry lots on the plane in case of delay
  • diaper rash cream – Desitin
  • Ziploc bag for soiled clothes
  • baby wipes
  • blankets (lightweight, and soft)
  • car seat
  • stroller
  • backpack
  • front-style baby carriers
  • lots of clothes, even for the plane ride– and a change of clothes for yourself on the plane (think shirt after spit up), just in case
  • formula, juice
  • bottles, nipples, bottle caps
  • sippy cup
  • age appropriate snacks
  • pacifiers (if needed – I did, I really did)
  • waterproof bibs (they have both boy and girl styles, I owned 20 of them, they are splendid!)
  • burp cloths
  • baby food, spoons, bowl with lid
  • clothes for 20 days
  • pajamas for 10 days

A few more things on my radar. (We will find buy/rent these when we arrive)

  • Beach Toys – Who doesn’t love building a sandcastle?
  • Mini Cooler – Snacks anyone?
  • Marshmallow Sticks S’mores Makings!
  • Boogie Board/Surfboard/Kayak/Boats, whatever sport gear you prefer!
  • Water. When I settle in, Buy it by the gallon. It’s not very expensive, but is a necessity. Don’t drink the faucet water.


  1. WOW! What a list. DH will sleep soundly knowing you have covered everything. Where are you going and when?

  2. OK, I can eliminate half the socks for the kids – really, who wants to put feet in sneakers when you’re at the beach???
    Have a super wonderful time and send pictures!!

  3. Annalynn says

    Aside from leaving a copy of your passport and other travel documents with someone who is not traveling with you, I usually scan copies of said documents and email them to myself as well as upload them on Google Docs.

    Nice list, Kathleen!

    DH has been in the consulting biz a long time!

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