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The Complete Vacation Travel Packing List + Tips

Getting ready for a fun trip and want to be organized with what to bring? Then grab The Complete Vacation Travel Packing List + Tips and get started! For more printables like this one see my free printables page.

The Complete Vacation Travel Packing List + Tips

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Getting ready to go on vacation is so exciting. You are dreaming of the great adventures you will be going on and all things you are going to experience. Then there is the food! That’s my favorite part.

Getting ready to leave on vacation, however, can be overwhelming. For that very reason is why I created a great free printable travel packing list to keep everything organized. Just use this trip checklist and mark off each item as you pack them!

We travel as a family 3 to 4 times a year. I am usually the one who packs the extra necessities and makes sure the kids have packed the correct amount of clothes and toothbrushes.

Here are some of my tips, tricks, and things that I do to get ready for vacation. Hopefully, they will help you get organized too.

The Complete Vacation Travel Packing List + Tips

When Booking our Vacation: 

Book Hotel and/or flight. Our Tips: We look at Tripadvisor.com’s reviews for hotels and activities so we choose the right place to stay or explore but we always book the rooms through the website of the hotel because we use points.

Travel Money Idea: A great way to save money is to get a credit card with hotel or flight points. There are some with hotels like Marriott, Hilton Honors, or flight cards like Delta SkyMiles and Southwest. Then use that credit card to pay for everything such as bills, gas, groceries, etc. Pay it off each month with your paycheck.

This way you will accumulate points to get free rooms and fights so the bulk of the vacation money spent will be for food and activities. We literally have not paid for a hotel room in years using cards like this.

  • Book boarding or petsitting for the pets. Update any vaccinations or shots they may need to be boarded.
  • Research activities to do on vacation and book any necessary tickets ahead of time.

Travel tip: Try to get a hotel near the activities so you do not have to drive everywhere in busy areas. Then use Uber drivers, trolleys, or light rail systems to get around.

A few weeks before we leave on vacation:

  • I check out our wardrobes and see if we will be needing any new items like bathing suits, shorts, flip-flops, etc. for our trip. If so, we shop around and get what we need.
  • Send items to be dry cleaned that you may need while you are away.
  • Make hair or nail appointments. Get all the grooming out of the way.
  • Check the car for maintenance needs. Change the oil, rotate tires, check the air pressure, and wash and clean the car out.
  • Stop your mail online for the time you are gone with the USPS.

Start Packing:

  • Check your packing list and check off everything you need.
  • Wash any clothes as needed to be packed.
  • I usually spend the day before a vacation packing. I pack my suitcase and then check each child’s suitcase to make sure they packed enough clothes and not just stuff.
  • Count the days you will be gone and pack enough clothes for each day. Wear some things twice if possible to cut down on packing a ton of items.

Travel Trick if Your Flying: I pack one of my kid’s clothes in a large suitcase so I will have room left over to pack souvenirs. You can also pack a collapsable duffle bag to fill up with souvenirs and check it on your way back. I have even gone to a thrift store and bought a large suitcase to check on a plane when I packed way too much and needed extra space.

  • If you’re like me and absolutely have to take a ton of clothes: roll thin items like undergarments and tank tops to save space.
  • Place socks or small items inside of shoes.
  • Wear bulky items like jackets, jeans, and boots on a flight. This way you will have more room in your suitcase.

Backpacks, Extra Bags, and Handbags:

When I go on vacation I do not take my large bulky handbag. Everyone ends up making me hold everything and my purse straps take a beating and it becomes too heavy to handle. Instead, I take a zip-top tote-type handbag that will fit everything but still look like a cute purse.

When the kids were smaller we used a backpack and took turns carrying everything. These days the kids are older and we carry less so the tote works just fine. I also pack a crossbody bag to wear in the evening. I have a small wallet I carry as well.

I have a large thin lightweight bag I pack or fill with snacks and I use it when we go to the beach to carry towels etc.


The night before and/or the day we leave the house:

My personal favorite thing to do: Get a spray tan the day before you leave! My fav is Mystic Tanning Booths. Find one in your area. Try Fake Bake Tanning Spray or Neutrogena Tanning Spray and do it yourself the night before.

I am self-conscious being so pale in the spring wearing shorts and tanning just makes me look better overall and thinner in my clothes.

  • Check with the pet border and make sure they are ready for your pets and drop them off.
  • Check the weather and pack raincoats, umbrellas, jackets, coats, etc. as needed.
  • Put gas in the car.
  • Make sure you have all of your travel info, passports, credit cards, boarding passes, and ID’s.
  • Plan meals and pack any snacks or quick breakfast items.
  • Do the last once-over check for phone and computer chargers, important medications, etc.
  • Water plants, lock doors & windows, turn on security lights, or set a timer for lights.
  • Set alarm system.
  • Check traffic reports, and routes for delays, and set GPS.

When we arrive at our destination:

  • Find a grocery store to get any items to keep in the hotel room that you could not pack, like food, cocktails, snacks, bottled water, paper plates, cups napkins, sunscreen, etc.
  • Check into the hotel, grab activity flyers in the lobby, and enjoy your stay!

My printables are for Personal Use Only. Please see my Printable Disclosure for more information.

Looking for a fun vacation with the kids beside theme parks? Check out my Places to See page for the vacations we have taken since I started blogging. Last year we went to Maui, Hawaii. It was my all-time favorite place to visit! For now, anyway!

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 Ultimate Vacation Travel Packing Checklist


  1. Oh my gosh, I had to laugh about carrying a big handbag. It’s so true! I always end up carrying everyone’s crap…lol. I also forget to check in with USPS, so having it on a checklist will help me remember :-)

  2. JaneEllen says:

    Want to thank you so much for several wonderful printables. Especially in the Summer months I change my art several times to different themes. That is if we’re not going to the State park lake 7 1/2 miles from our house. It’s a small lake but big enuf to have fun, cool off in the water, have a picnic. We used to go much more often but in past years Mr.Furry has been stubborn. I used to go with 2 grand daughters when they were younger but one is off to college and youngest will be graduating high school this May. Why do grand kids have to grow up?
    Anyway I love to change my art often. Thanks to generous talented bloggers like yourself I can change as often as I like and can find good frames at thrift stores. Love every one of the printables you have shared and will be making very good use of them. Thanks so much.
    Happy daze

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