13 Things You Absolutely Must Pack For Vacation

PinExt 13 Things You Absolutely Must  Pack For Vacation

windowslivewriterxthingsyouabsolutelymusttakeonvacation 65bfpacked car thumb 13 Things You Absolutely Must  Pack For Vacation Those that say you can’t take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip.  ~Author Unknown

We are packing to take a family vacation next week.  We are driving about five hours and staying at a nice resort on a lake in Missouri.  We are making lists and trying to be sure we don’t forget to pack anything important.  I think we do this every time we go on vacation.  We used to keep a list for camping trips that we used over and over, but I guess it is not as easy to do that for a trip.  So, I thought I’d share what I think are the top 13 things you absolutely must take on vacation. 

Hopefully, this will save you some time and heartache the next time you pull out the suitcases and begin packing.  These are in no particular order.  The items below just made the list in my mind!  Also, I left out the absolute obvious like clothes, toiletries and fresh underwear!

1.  A good digital camera.

You know there are going to be Kodak moments on your trip and a digital camera is the best way to capture them for posterity.  If you don’t have one, you might take a look at the Digital Photography School for some tips before running out to buy one.  We take a simple point-and-shoot camera to snap the quick pics that are so fun to look at years later.  Also, don’t forget extra batteries!

2.  Portable DVD player with car adapter.

As I said, we are driving five hours to our destination with our two daughters in the back seat.  Our portable DVD player is a lifesaver for occupying the kids.  We plan to rent some DVDs from Redbox before we leave and then return them in the city where we are staying.  This way we’ll have fresh movies for the kiddos going and coming home!

3.  A good book or magazine.

Actually, I’m taking both.  I am reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 13 Things You Absolutely Must  Pack For Vacation by Anne Lamott which so far is very good.  I also plan to take some back issues of National Geographic Adventure to read.  I love reading.  It helps me relax which makes it a perfect activity on vacation.

4.  Effective sunscreen (not all of them work!)

I highly recommend taking a look at The 2008 List Of Safe And Effective Sunscreens to be sure what you are using is good stuff.  This is especially important for children because a bad sunburn will ruin everyone’s fun.  Sunscreens are not all created equal and some of the most popular brands like Coppertone, Banana Boat, and Neutrogena are some of the worst to use.

5.  Your favorite sunglasses.

Whether you’re driving or laying by the pool, you are going to want some eye protection.  Of course, you also want to be stylish as well.  Who wants to look geeky on vacation?  As I’ve mentioned before, I bought some cheap sunglasses recently and I’ll be taking them along, but you might want to check out the Top Hot Sunglasses of Summer 2008.  Either way, don’t leave these necessities behind!

6.  Extra swimsuit and flip-flops for the pool.

We plan to spend a lot of time playing at the pool on our trip.  I like to take more than one swimsuit.  It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes for a swimsuit to dry when you are on vacation.  There is nothing worse than putting on a cold, wet swimsuit each morning.  By alternating, I usually avoid this issue.  It is also important to bring some good flip-flops to protect your feet from the scorching concrete and sharp rocks on the way to the pool.

7.  A cap or hat.

For the final layer of protection against the sun, I always take a cap to wear.  On vacation, you see people wearing all kinds of hats.  Being away from home seems to give people the license to wear their freakiest head gear.  For me, I prefer a simple baseball cap.  The brim provides shade for the eyes and the cap itself protects my head from the direct rays of the sun.

8.  Mobile phone and PDA.

I might be opening myself up for criticism by including the mobile phone and PDA on my list.  For many, this is a way of bringing work with them on vacation.  You control freaks out there just can’t seem to let go and trust others to get the job done. 

However, I find these devices handy for other reasons.  My Blackberry Curve includes GPS capability.  This combined with Google Maps Mobile gives me a low-cost method to find my way around to quickly locate restaurants and the like in unfamiliar areas.  In addition, the phone is a great safety device in the event of a breakdown alongside the interstate.

9.  Needed medicine and prescriptions.

Vacations take us out of our habit patterns.  As a result, it is easy to overlook packing necessary items like medicines and prescriptions.  Replacing these at your destination can be a big hassle and could possibly cost you some money if you aren’t able to find a pharmacy in your insurance network.  Doing without necessary drugs can be a definite health risk.  Always be sure to pack all necessary medicines and prescriptions in airtight zipper bags to protect them while traveling.

10.  Your preferred tourist guide information and maps.

Researching your destination in advance and taking along some good guides are a fantastic way to reduce stress and maximize your enjoyment.  Of course, the Internet is a wonderful resource for this type of information and most of what you need can be obtained for free.  You just have to remember to pack what you print.

11.  Hand sanitizer and wipes.

Especially with kids, hand sanitizer and wipes are indispensable travel items.  If you are a mom, then you probably already have these in your purse or diaper bag, but for us dads, this is worth a reminder.  As many of you know, wipes come in extremely handy for cleaning up after melting ice cream cones or the well enjoyed chocolate bar.  Hand sanitizer protects against various germs one can pick up in bathrooms along the way.

12.  An extra bag.

Isn’t it funny how what you took on vacation never seems to fit back into the same number of bags when you are ready to go home?  Of course, we usually acquire a few souvenirs along the way that adds to the heft.  I recommend packing a good size duffel bag in your suitcase to make packing up to come home all that much easier.  Duffels take up minimal in your suitcase and have ample space for new treasures.  They are the perfect extra bag to take along!

13.  Plenty of bug spray.

No one wants to be bothered on vacation with a bunch of itching bug bites.  In this case, a tad of prevention truly is worth a ton of cure.  I suggest taking along plenty of bug spray and use it liberally while outdoors.  This will help ensure a worry-free and pleasant trip for everyone!

I hope it all fits in the trunk!

Packing everything that is needed to take a family of four on vacation piles up.  I tend to be a minimalist, but as a father, I’ve learned that it is better to be prepared for everything rather than pay the price later for something that was forgotten.  I hope my list helps you pack all you’ll need to thoroughly enjoy every minute of your next vacation!

What did I forget?  Leave a comment and let me know!

PinExt 13 Things You Absolutely Must  Pack For Vacation

31 thoughts on “13 Things You Absolutely Must Pack For Vacation

  1. Great list. I took my Blackberry and laptop with me on vacation and actually managed to get some work done…but I have an ulterior motive. I want my boss to realize that I can be effective in or OUT of the office. My preference is OUT. Just planting some seed…

    • I took my family on vacaiton this at year at Lake Havasu and stayed at this rental. I cant say enough about how pleased we were with the rental. It was really one of the best vacaitons we have ever had largly due to the rental property and the variety of recreational activities just outside the door. We plan to come back during spring break next year 2012. As soon as we have nailed down the dates I will get in touch with you to reserve the place. What a beautiful rental and well worth the price we paid.

  2. I hope you have a great vacation. Great list, but I disagree with the DVD player – I have a nephew who is addicted to TV. It is frightening, actually. What about car games? – Bingo; Going on a trip and bringing something that starts with A (next person repeats, and says a B thing, etc); state map for each child and you to color in license plates each sees; books to read, historical information about where you are going; map for the kids to follow along; Table Tops “Questions to Start Great Conversations”, “It’s OK to be Smart” Series. Isn’t the point of a vacation togetherness? That Blackberry is a way to escape the kids. Mom would read Beverly Clearly books to us. Looking at the scenery. Fighting in the back seat with my brother and sisters – isn’t that the point? Dad saying “If I have to pull this car over..” (of course, he would have to, at lease once) Those are part of my great childhood memories. Kids expect to be constantly entertained, now. Off my soapbox. Thank you for listening. I am a stepmom, and I do take my own advice and use the above list. Happy Trip, Francine

    • I need help on my Eco vacation that i am doing in science it is due next Tuesday. 11-29-11 if you have good ides let me know please and thank you Sierra Jo Mckenzie

  3. Great list. One thing that’s been added to my list lately was migraine meds. Migraines have ruined too many of my vacations in the last few years, so now I take my drugs the moment I start to feel a twinge – no more laying in a boring hotel room praying the migraine will leave instead of playing on the beach!

  4. @Ron – I’m taking my laptop and Blackberry too! I hope to do some writing and then use them for researching more fun stuff to do.

    @Francine – Good point! We are taking several other things for our children to do, but the DVD player will be along too!

    @Evelyn – A mobile phone is definitely a valuable tool when you are on the road. Thanks for submitting this to SU for me!

    @Caveman – You are right that meds are very important. I’m glad to hear that yours work for you!

    Thanks for your comments!

  5. We keep a JIC bag in the car at all times, but it’s always come in especially handy on long trips. What’s in it?

    a few plastic grocery bags
    a small ziploc bag with bandaids, neosporin, orajel (great for taking the sting out of bug bites), tweezers
    a few juice boxes, small bag of peanuts & raisins
    sunscreen combined with bug repellant
    spare underwear
    portable container of babywipes
    some unopened McD’s kid’s meal toys

    Hope you have a great vacation!

  6. Don’t forget toilet paper…If you’re a female or are more picky about the public bathrooms that you go into, bringing your own tp is a great option. If you’re me, in the middle of the f’n desert and that cheap mexican hits you with nary a bathroom in sight, get to the side, pop a squat behind that cactus, and have something to wipe with…it’s better than your pants… Don’t judge me because everyone has wanted to do it at some point. I was just lucky enough to have brought toilet paper on my trip.


  8. cool list, I also have mine.. but you have listed more than what I have here.. it is good that I have seen your list to compare it..and add more items to my list.. great.. thanks

  9. I always get frustrated when nothing seems to fit in right on the way back. That duffel bag tip is genius! Thank you!

    My tip is – make a list and keep parts of it set for whenever you’re traveling (Like the contents of your toiletries bag). Then adjust the rest to where you’re going and your changing tastes. This only really helps scatterbrains like me but hey! I’m sure there are a bunch out there. Right? Right?? :(

  10. A couple of books, psp, netbook, blackberry and small back pack and I’m good to go. I always travel without a luggage and I like the feeling of freedom.

    Thanks for this wonderful post, very useful :)

  11. I would definitely do agree with the dvd portable player to be added on things to be packed. Since I travel most of the time, a portable player surely do make great entertainment on long road trips. And also yes with its adapter, since most portable players only do last for 2-3 movies then its empty. Bug sprays, oh I just would not forget these, I hate mosquito bites, they make me hasty and angry. I like this post of yours about things to bring. I do agree on most of the things to be packed.

  12. Great list has all our stuff on it. I like taking my own pillow. I can sleep anywhere but I NEED MY PILLOW. We seem to have our own little ritual a day or two before we leave, we put everything we are taking in our spare bedroom and pack the car the night before. We then do our walk through for anything we may have forgot. So far so good. I pack a couple of my old Army laundry bags. We put the dirty laundry in them during the week and it frees up any needed space in our luggage for the trip home. I used to load trucks for a living so packing is not a challenge. I agree with the Tp comment. When you are on a road trip you cant always plan when you have to go. When in the military I didn’t get to choose when or where and had to ration out that small piece of Tp that came in the MRE kit.

    Hope everyone enjoys there vacation trips.

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  14. Remember chargers and/or batteries for all the gadgets you take to entertain the kids…. we paid a lot of money at a quickie gas station ….. wish we had brought the batteries from home….

  15. Boo and hiss re: the dvd player. I traveled with my kids in a minivan all over the eastern US and southern ontario for years and never ONCE used a dvd player. These kids ranged from 1 – 13 yrs and they were engaged in the journey. Sure they got bored at times, but isn’t that also a skill to learn…how to positively manage boredom?

    Each was allowed to ask one time “how much longer” (or some variation of that questions) on each trip (not leg of he trip), so this allowed them to learn cooperation skills (“you ask now and I’ll ask later” or “I’m not going to ask yet because it’s only been 2 hours since you asked” etc).

    They each packed their own “busy bag” of things to entertain themselves and learned responsibility (crayons melt if left in the sun, markers leak onto the cloth seat if they aren’t capped and then you have to tell to mom about it, batteries eventually run out in book lamps, etc). They played games: travel games, card games, talking games, etc. (My favorite was the alphabet game looking for letters outside the vehicle, and their favorite was the quiet game which I ALWAYS lost because I forgot we were playing).

    Whoever sat in the coveted front seat learned how to read a map, pay attention to road signs (esp when our exit or junction was nearing), plan a new route when an exit was missed, and keep an eye out for things like gas stations or washrooms.

    Everyone learned geography by looking around….reading signs, seeing the land, asking to stop at interesting-looking attractions/events/places advertised on billboards.

    Two of these kids have grown up to be world travelers and one is planning to be. They are very engaged in life, actively seeking what is available to them. None of these kids are content to live in a false reality fed to them from a screen or monitor. They LIVE!!!

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