Family Vacations,  Recommendations,  Traveling

8 Must-Have Items to Pack When Vacationing with Young Kids

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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.

Must have vacation items
Must have vacation items

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.
Folding Travel Potty Seat
A folding potty seat is easy to carry around.

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 until needed. Then just throw in a diaper, wipes, sunblock, phone, room key…and you’re off.

Drawstring Bag
Use a drawstring bag instead of lugging around a diaper bag.

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.

Wet Dry Bag
Bring a wet-dry bag for soiled & wet clothes.
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.

Shout Wipes
For unexpected stains, pack some Shout wipes

5. Carabiners

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.

Carabiners are great for hooking multiple items for carrying.


Hook your child's bag to yours with a carabiner.
Hook your child’s bag to yours with a carabiner.

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 taken, 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.

Fitted Crib Sheet
Bring a fitted crib sheet from home.

7. Night-Light

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. It 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.

Don’t forget a night-light!

8. Collapsible Cup

Once my kids outgrow 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 that hotels usually only provide you with glass cups. Glass and kids in a tiled bathroom are an accident waiting to happen.

Collapsible Cup
Bring a collapsible cup to use instead of the glass ones provided.

These 8 essential items should take a permanent spot on your packing list when traveling with little kids ~ ~ #familyvacations #traveltips #momhacks #packinglist


  • tcleland88

    No kidding, I take Shout Wipes and a Tide Stick when we travel, and my husband and I are empty-nesters. I love the pack and play sheet tip–we’ve been in that situation with the grandkids where no fitted sheet was provided.

  • mombrite

    We are traveling to France in the summer so this list is extremely helpful for us! Definitely will need to pack these items.

  • ThePrivateSchoolMom

    This guide is fabulous! I’m totally bookmarking this for our next exotic vacation. I’m totally going to share it with all of the other private school moms. They’ll be so jealous of how knowledgeable I am. Then, my kid will get invited to all of the birthday parties (as a mom, you know how important that is). So, thank you not only for the post, but for helping me climb up one more rung on the social ladder at my private school.

  • Puja

    I think all these items are on my list as well when we travel. I think a carabiner is a very creative idea for all those stuffed toys.

  • CARMEN |

    You mentioned some great products here. Sometimes I am way behind with all these new products since we didn’t have those growing up. lol. I sounded too old. didn’t know about travel potty seat until my son was already potty trained. too late. I fly a minimum six times a year with kids, I could have used one of those. I use ‘mommy hook’ instead of carabiners, though. Again, collapsible cup – something I didn’t know again. lol. I stick with classic sippy or straw bottle. But I might try this because it doesn’t take much space in the bag.

  • aisasami

    Great ideas for families with young kids, especially the night light and the wipes! I know moms will love this list as it can help them prepare for that next big trip!

  • Veronica

    Absolutely love this post. As a mom who will have 2 under 2 come February 2019, this list is essential. You showed me a couple things I would have never thought of, but are genius! And I agree, it’s amazing what Shout can do! Thanks for the tips… Great post!

  • Matija

    The list is really good, I don’t have a need for it at the moment, but one day in the future I probably will, so it will be a good thing to get back to it.

  • Alexandra

    I am not a Mumma, but I can imagine this list would be very helpful for those who are. I have a friend travelling soon with two small kids, so I will send your post to her 🙂

  • Brenda S

    Great ideas! One that has carried with us as she has grown is the “Hotel Fairy”. She has a small bag to leave on her bed, and we have one hidden in the luggage with a small toy for each night (if she goes straight to sleep). The “fairy” leaves her a prize if she sticks as close as possible to her normal bed time, and we sleep easier too.

  • Erin

    Great list! We are going on planning a vacation and with two toddlers, I have been trying to think of everything we will need. I will definitely be getting a travel potty thanks for the reminder! Have also been looking into the MiFold Booster Seat and those headphones for kids that are soft and headband-like (blanking on the name).

➳ Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you in the comments ♥