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Your Checklist for Preparing for a Family Trip

by Barbara Rogers

Mar 12, 2024

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Travel Tips

All of the usual pre-trip tasks that apply to a solo trip apply to family vacations. However, traveling with kids does requires a few more items on your to-do list.


Refer to this checklist and you’re on your way to a seamless trip:


1. Make an itinerary with flights, all addresses and contact info for hotels and tours. Print copies and put them on your phones. Include mobile phone numbers for everyone. Not only are these handy while traveling, but they are also good to leave with family or friends at home. And having it all on a list helps you keep the trip details in mind as you prepare and pack.


2. Print itineraries for everyone and make sure kids have safe, hidden places to carry them (small around-the-neck wallets are good for this). If lost, anyone assisting them will know where you are staying and how to reach you. It’s a good idea for adults to have itineraries too, especially if you’re staying in multiple places. Even if all this is on your phone, it’s good to have a backup.


3. Check destination weather and climate so you can pack appropriately. No need for dress-up clothes on a ski vacation or to take heavy sweaters to the tropics. Think of layering clothes instead of packing a wide variety and stick to a few compatible colors that can be mixed.


4. Pack light and for the location and activities you plan, but don’t try to take everything. Remember almost any destination has shops. You can always buy basic items if you forget or need them, but it is a good idea to take familiar brands of sunscreen, stomach upset and headache medications, etc.


5. Pack a few days ahead. This gives you time in case you need to repair or replace something or discover your son doesn’t have any socks that match.


6. Make sure all pieces of luggage are tagged, not just your primary suitcases. This means kids’ backpacks, camera bags and even tote bags for coats or snacks.


7. Do some pre-trip research on your destination so you arrive with ideas of things for everyone to do there.


8. If you’re going to a foreign country, introduce kids to the destination with books, movies, music or pictures before you travel. Involve kids in planning so they know what to expect and have input on choosing some activities.


9. Prepare kids for the travel itself (what it’s like to fly, getting through airports, what to expect, etc). Be sure kids understand the value of their passports if they are old enough to carry these themselves.


10. Review safety plans (what to do if you’re separated — a good tip for adults, too). Review safety issues, such as the importance of staying together and noticing where everyone else is.


11. Make sure you have airplane and rainy-day activities for kids (quiet individual games or toys for the flight and easy-to pack family games for evenings). Remember to bring a favorite sleep toy for young children.



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