Vacation Packing for the Brave

Heading to Salt Lake City, Utah!

Packing for vacation, for us, is the most crucial part to making or breaking a trip (and why I chose this topic for my first post!). You don’t want to have too much stuff to lug around from place to place, but you also want to have everything you might need. Here, I’ll share some of our tried and true packing tips to make sure you have the essentials and nothing more!

Packing light for a family vacation is very important to us. We want to pack only exactly what we need for the weather conditions and time we’ll be there. That said, the essentials (read: what’s important) for us, may be different for your family. 

Some of our Non-Negotiables (with links!) : 

Portable Radio – BOSE Mini (we pack two: a nice one and a small waterproof one for water trips – we have music playing a lot) Find the Bose here and the Waterproof Speaker here

Organic Fire Starters (don’t want to be roasting food over fuel-powered fires) Find them here  

Camera (Nikon D5300) Find Nikon here

Kids Books (we are tech/screen-free travelers and love UsBorne!) Find the BEST Kids Books here (I could write a whole post on all of our favorites!)

Reusable Water Bottles (all 4 of us have our own that go everywhere with us!) Find my Favorite 4Ocean Reusable Bottle here

First Aid Kit (because, kids and brave) Find it here

Collapsible Bucket (we use this for many many things!) Find it here

Roasting Sticks Find them here

Paper/Foldable Maps of locations we’re visiting (lots of maps depending on where you’re going!)

2 Shoe Options for each person – for the kids TEVA or KEEN sandals are non-negotiable

Britax Travel Car Seat Cart Find them here

Ergo Carriers (our boys have grown up with these! Being worn on our chests as infants and still on our backs at 4 & 5) Find them here

Kids Headlamps (for nighttime exploring) Find them here

These items come with us on every single trip! Other items we pack include clothes and toiletries.

All that said, we pack so that we don’t have to check any luggage at the airport. Yep! Each of us gets one small suitcase that can be carried on to the flight. This ensures we pack light. We pack all of our camping essentials and our clothes and things in a way where we have everything with us at all times. Really, I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved us from lost luggage due to flight changes or airport issues. Our trip is unaffected completely by luggage issues!

The secret? Packing only enough clothes for 2-3 days and doing laundry! This is where our collapsible bucket comes in. On camping trips, I use the bucket to wash anything heavily soiled. Little soap, little water, little elbow grease, hang to dry, done! If we aren’t camping, I make sure to fit a stop in with a washer/dryer at least every couple of days. More on trip planning in a future post!

Packing light also requires knowing exactly what the weather will be where you are going. Layers are an absolute must for mountain trips. For the kids, I usually pack knowing they’ll wear their pajamas under pants and shirts. Double-layers. Plus, a jacket or sweater if needed for nights. We are not snow people so packing for snow trips is not my forte. But, we do travel to higher altitudes where daytime weather is warm and nights get cool. 

Packing for beach trips is a breeze. No layers there! Just swimsuits and sunscreen.

Tips for parents of babies and toddlers: don’t pack a weeks worth of diapers in your luggage. Pick diapers up when you do your grocery or store run after you arrive at your destination. 

Also, you may be surprised at what little you need for a baby or toddler when out exploring! We found when our kids were babies they were so busy exploring their new environment we rarely saw them! Our boys are older now, ages 4 & 6. But, they’ve been hiking with us since they were infants. We’ve had many a time where we just had to make best with what we had at the top of the mountain. And we always had enough! 

Try to forget the bottle warmer, too many extra pacis, extra burp cloths, extra bottles… chances are highly likely you won’t miss them. 

Traveling, for us, is a way to get out of our comfort zone. It’s a time to leave the comforts of home and try new things. Our kids are more likely to try new foods. Be on an entirely new sleep schedule. And realize how little they need to stay busy. Our most recent trips have been toy and screen free. Which means LOTS of time talking, exploring, and just enjoying the beautiful scenery and each other’s company. I’ll have another post on traveling with kids covering those topics soon! Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “Vacation Packing for the Brave

  1. Pingback: Itinerary: Texas Road Trip (From DFW) – Brave Family Adventures

  2. Stephanie

    How many books for a 6 hour flight 🤪😅😫 traveling to Hawaii with our 20 month old in May and I’m starting to get nervous about what to pack haha!!

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