How to Prepare for a Family Trip Without LOSING. IT.

Amanda Blume

One summer several years ago, when my boys were two and four, we went on vacation that was a six hour drive from our home. After this long haul and even longer day, I realized I’d made a huge mistake. Upon arriving at our vacation condo and unpacking the car, I realized we had forgotten all of the boys’ clothes! So I spent the first hour of our official vacation at the nearest discount store and bought the bare minimum of what they needed in order to make it through the week. As I lay in bed that night, I thought about how this should not have happened, and vowed to be more organized going forward when preparing for vacation. Here’s my vacation process now; it hasn’t failed me yet.  


  1. Live By the List
    That fateful summer is when I started living by the motto "Live by the List" when preparing for vacations. There are really several lists per vacation, and they vary depending on weather, the availability of laundry facilities, and mode of travel.

  2. Compile a Master List
    About two weeks before any vacation, make a master list of everything you need for every person. Each person's individual sub-list is extremely specific; include, for instance, every article of clothing needed. Also create a shared family sub-list that includes all toiletries, medicines, chargers, beach towels, tablets and goggles.

  3. Shop for Missing Items
    Once all lists are made, survey everyone's things for what you need to purchase. Inevitably someone has outgrown their swim shorts or sandals. It might be you don't have the toiletries you need. Verify that you have enough of all medications you will need for the time away. Try to get all the items you’ll need before you get into the throes of packing.

  4. Pack One Person at a Time
    When it’s time, pack for each person individually. Lay out all the items you need from your lists and ensure that you have everything before you put it in the suitcase. If you have older kids, you can have them lay out the items, then double-check that everything is there before they pack their bag. Continue going through your master list until everyone is packed and ready for departure.

  5. Enjoy a Cocktail
    This whole process seems super tedious and maybe a little annoying, but for me it is well worth the extra time carefully planning things, in order avoid spending the first hours of vacation shopping for things forgotten. This will hopefully allow you to begin enjoying your vacation even before it starts, fancy cocktail in hand and everything ready to go.

What are your best tips for preparing for a smooooth family trip?

lifestyle, parenting.newComment