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10 Must-haves when vacationing with kids

Some minimalists believe that less is more when packing the kids for a vacation… and then there are those who are still figuring out how to fit the kitchen sink into their acceptable carry-on luggage. Whichever camp you fall into, you should have certain items on hand when traveling with kids in tow.

Family on beach vacation


If you are traveling internationally, the law now requires all children (including infants) to have a passport or other acceptable ID upon re-entry into the US. It’s always a good idea to bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate even if you are only traveling domestically.


Ward off boredom by having the kids pack their favorite activities into their backpacks. Some great traveling activities include books, playing cards and coloring books, and entertainment such as a portable game system or DVD player (make sure it’s fully charged!). Audio books are a great way to engage the imagination, and some are now even available for download onto an iPod or other MP3 device.


Everyone gets cranky when hungry, so be prepared with some easy-to-deliver snacks such as popcorn, fruit or granola bars. If you’re not nursing, prepare the right amount of formula for your baby’s bottle. Invest in partitioned plastic containers that hold several servings of snacks.

Underwear or diapers

Skivvies aren’t “unmentionables” — they are “unforgettables”! Pack enough for a change each day, and then add two. Figure out how many diapers you average each day so that you can bring the appropriate amount, factoring in whether you are able to purchase diapers at your destination.


Daily and emergency medicine is usually one of the first things parents pack when preparing the kids for a vacation. Aside from prescriptions, don’t forget a first-aid kit that includes such items as bandages, ibuprofen/acetaminophen and antibacterial ointment.

Digital camera

While the top reason behind bringing a camera may be to document the experience, digital images may come in handy for other reasons, too. For example, you can take a picture of your parking spot at the airport to make finding your car easier when you return! Some cell phones also take high-quality images, so that can save space in your bag rather than lugging around another camera.


Whether you are going to the beach or for a hike in the mountains, packing layers of clothing makes it easier to adjust to fluctuations in temperature. Pack breathable fabrics such cotton and add a hoodie or jacket that can be removed if the weather is warm.


Clean water obviously works best for drinks, quick wash-ups and cleaning scrapes. Remember to adhere to the liquid policies enforced by the TSA if you are traveling by plane.


You know the drill: Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. But if that’s not possible, sanitizer works well. Remember to read the safety precautions about using sanitizer with young children.

Plastic bags

Clear plastic bags serve well for collecting trash and storing laundry or wet swimsuits after a long day at the beach.

Family vacations are an important and exciting opportunity to expand your child’s experiences and view of the world, so make the most of it by being prepared!


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