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Let's Get Packing: My #1 Hack for Packing for a Family Vacation

Is spring break coming up? Going on a work trip soon? Daydreaming about that summer family road trip? Whatever the reason for your travels... I've got you. I'm sharing my number one hack for how I never forget anything on a trip, as well as 14 of my must-have travel accessories that will make packing for a family vacation a breeze!

Packing Traveling Kids Hacks Tips Organized Travel


I shared this hack on Instagram recently and was blown away by the responses I got. I use the Notes app on my phone, but Google Keep would work in the same way. My travel hack is this: I keep a master packing list in checklist form (so each item can be visually checked off). It is divided into categories for easy navigation. When I start to plan for a new trip, I copy the master packing list and rename it for my upcoming trip. I then do a quick edit of the list according to my needs for the trip.


I usually change quantities of clothes based on how long the trip is or add specialty items (like the slippers I took on my latest girls' winter cabin trip). I have kid and husband versions of the master packing list, which are simpler versions, and I do the same for their lists. I rename a packing list with the specific trip and family member name so they can access their updated and blank packing list on their Notes app.


As items are packed, the items get checked off the list. Last-minute toiletries, cords, and laptops never get forgotten because everyone checks their list before heading out of the house. This practice has simplified packing so much for me! Gone are the days of writing a packing list for each trip for every family member and then realizing I forgot to write toothbrush on one of the kids' lists or thought my toiletries were packed, but the curling iron never made it in the bag.


Here is my personal master list (for those who requested it). You can copy and paste the contents straight to your Notes app or Google Keep.


  • Purse/wallet

  • Pen/post-its/notebook

  • Passport

  • Carry-on bag

  • Fanny pack/cross-body bag

  • Lightweight backpack

  • Phone charger cord, portable battery

  • Phone

  • AirPods

  • Airplane headphones

  • Sunglasses

  • Jewelry

  • Laundry bag

  • Drink packets, vitamins

  • Water bottle

  • Gum

  • Travel pillow

  • Laptop and charger

Clothes (add quantity of each):
  • Underwear

  • Bras

  • Socks

  • Tennis shoes

  • Casual shoes

  • Leggings

  • Exercise clothes (shorts/tanks/sports bras)

  • Jeans

  • T-shirts

  • Tops

  • Jumpsuit

  • Dress

  • PJs

  • Jacket/sweatshirt

  • Scarf/hat/gloves

  • Baseball/sun hat

  • Deodorant

  • Perfume roller

  • Sunscreen

  • BB cream/blush/bronzer/mascara/eyebrow brush

  • Makeup brushes

  • Face wash/face lotion/makeup remover wipes

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/flossers/retainers

  • Hairbrush/hair ties/dry shampoo

  • Curling iron

  • Personal cleansing wipes

  • Razor/tweezers/Q-tips

  • Lip gloss

  • Melatonin

  • Snacks

  • Shampoo/conditioner/body wash

  • Gold bond powder (if going somewhere hot, trust me ;)

Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments below! This list has served me well and has been a great launching point for every trip I've been on in the last few years.

Bonus Packing Tip!

One other hack that has saved me is I keep my travel toiletries bag almost completely stocked. The only items I need to put in my bag before a trip are my makeup, retainers, hairbrush, and curling iron. It takes so much mental work out of my trips and has been super handy.


I love sharing my favorite travel finds with you and wanted to have them all in one place. Here are my favorite tried-and-true products for traveling:

My Must-Have Travel Products

Packing Cubes: If you haven't tried these yet, you are missing out. They are a game changer. You can fit so many more items in your luggage and stay more organized while on your vacation.


Water Bottle with Filter: I love this water bottle because it has a built-in filter and helps me feel better about the water I am drinking while traveling. I leave the house with it empty and then fill it up once I am past security at the airport.


Phone Stand: This phone stand is awesome and works in the car as well as the airplane. Set it up and watch your favorite show hands-free!


Travel Pillow/Blanket: I love that this is a pillow AND a blanket. It's soft and zips up and attaches to carry-ons.


Hat Magnet: Have a big sun hat that you don't want smashed in your bag? These hat magnets are awesome for carrying your hat through the airport hands-free.


Jewelry Case: I love this little jewelry case because it fits in my toiletry bag. It is the perfect size for a few necklaces, small earrings, and a few bracelets.


Cord Case: This is the perfect travel product for keeping all your cords in one place.


Toiletries Bag: I love that this toiletries bag can hang anywhere and has four clear sections. I separate the sections into hygiene (dental/deodorant/skincare/shower), makeup and jewelry, and hair.


Silicone Makeup Brush Case: These silicone cases are awesome, easy to clean, and keep makeup brushes not only clean but keep everything else in my toiletries bag free from makeup messes too.


Easy to Fold Sun Hat: I love that this sun hat can be rolled and stored easily. You don't have to worry about the hat getting bent. Plus, it's such a space saver.


Dark/Light Laundry Bag: Having a place for dirty laundry to go (and stay separated) while on vacation makes resetting after the vacation so much easier!


Sunglasses Holder: I love that this case holds and protects multiple pairs of glasses and sunglasses.


Zipper Pouches: I use these travel pouches for everything--to hold sunscreen, kid activities for the plane, important documents when things aren't digital, games, etc.


Luggage Tag: It might seem like a silly thing, but not having to deal with airport tags breaking and falling apart feels like a little luxury. AND it acts as an identifier when picking out which bag is yours at the baggage claim.



I hope these family vacation packing tips and essential travel accessories are helpful. For more advice on how to pack for your next vacation like a pro, check out my 8 Vacation Packing Tips!


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Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing business in Utah (Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, Logan, Utah County, and St. George), California (Bay Area, Los Gatos, Hillsborough, Atherton, San Jose), Denver, CO, and Phoenix, AZ. She loves creating order and systems out of chaos. Her specialty is finding a way to continue the aesthetic of any home to every cupboard and drawer. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.


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