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When taking a family vacation with young kids, especially babies & toddlers, I used to feel like I was packing everything but the kitchen sink. So many things are obvious when packing such as diapers, toys, bibs, appropriate clothes, etc. But after traveling with six little kids over the years, I’ve realized some must have items that I wouldn’t have originally thought of. I’d love to share some of my best family vacation tips with you starting with the 8 essential items that took a permanent spot on our packing list.
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Must Have Items I Always Bring on a Family Vacation
1. Travel Potty Seat
At home, our potty set up is dialed in and our toddler knows the routine. Then we go out in public and I have to squat down holding my terrified child, who is afraid of falling in the huge toilet. Multiple that situation by a dozen times a day while on a family vacation — but at least you got your squats in! To avoid the tears (and sore thighs), we always pack a potty seat. Personally, I love the folding seats like this Graco Folding Travel Potty Seat because it is compact enough to carry everywhere. It’s good to keep it in a ziplock bag so it doesn’t bump against other items; for obvious reasons. Also, if you have the room in your luggage, you can bring a donut-style seat to keep in the hotel room.
2. Drawstring Bag
When on a family vacation, you often only venture a short ways from your hotel room for swimming, exploring, eating, etc. In these instances, I prefer to leave the diaper bag in the room and only bring the necessities. Drawstring bags are a great item to have on hand that can be easily folded up and stored untill needed. Then just throw in a diaper, wipes, sunblock, phone, room key…and you’re off.
3. Wet Dry Bag
Oh, help me if I didn’t have a wet dry bag when on a family vacation with littles! From diaper blowouts to wearing their dinner, a wet dry bag is essential for storing soiled and wet clothes. Many times we’ve had to check out of our hotel room with time to kill and, if your kids are anything like mine, they wanted to spend it in the pool. A wet dry bag has come in so handy for keeping wet bathing suits contained so the rest of the luggage doesn’t get soaked. I prefer ones made from PVC (like pictured), but there are also fabric bags that are lined with waterproof material.Oh, help me if I didn't have a wet dry bag when on a family vacation with littles! From diaper blowouts to wearing their dinner, a wet dry bag is essential for storing soiled and wet clothes.Click To Tweet
4. Shout Wipes
Speaking of soiled clothes; I love Shout wipes. It’s pretty amazing the stains that you can get out with these! On our last family vacation I, not the kids, spilled coffee on a sweater I needed to wear with lots of outfits. Using the Shout wipe, the stain basically disappeared with little effort. Even for tougher stains, like wine or ketchup, it acts as a pretreatment so you can get the stain out when you get home.
Along with kids comes lots of stuff, right? Although I like them to carry some of their own belongings as they get older, it doesn’t always work out. I remember one family vacation, my son was excited to carry his new sand toys, but after 50 feet he was done. So I scooped up the toys and hooked them to a carabiner I had hanging off my bag…and voila! It’s great to be able to hook their hats, jackets, or anything else they might lose or drop eventually.
6. Fitted Sheet
If you are going to be using a crib provided by the hotel than a fitted sheet is definitely a must. For all the family vacations we have took, it’s unfortunately been hit or miss for hotels providing us appropriate infant bedding. Usually they give you a standard flat sheet to try to wrap around the crib mattress. The first time the sheet came untucked and covered my baby, I was like “this is not safe”. You will want to get a sheet that fits a mini crib or pack n play; which are all similar sizes around 24″ x 38″. In addition, having a sheet with the smell and texture that your child is used to can help them sleep better when away on a family vacation.
Another item that can help your child in a different sleep situation, is a night-light. You can use them near the crib if your baby is used to having some light when sleeping. Also helps to put one in the bathroom for potty trained kids. Even if your child doesn’t need a night-light, I think bringing one on a family vacation is helpful for parents. Believe me, you don’t want to be searching for a light switch while your baby’s wails are waking up all the other guests.
8. Collapsible Cup
Once my kids out grow bottles or sippy cups, I like to bring collapsible cups on a family vacation. They are small and easy to toss in a bag to use at the pool or restaurant. Another reason is because hotels usually only provide you with glass cups. Glass and kids in a tiled bathroom are an accident waiting to happen.