8 Planning Tips You Need for Your Next Family Vacation

Do you love taking vacations but dread the packing process? There is so much to do. From things at home to take care of to all the packing, it can become a huge process just to get your family out the door. We are always on the go and having a way to organize it has helped my sanity and made me a more relaxed mom. I have put together the 8 planning tips you need for your next family vacation to help keep you organized and excited for your next family adventure.

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To get started designate a place in your house you can collect things you will need for your family vacation. Add to the spot as you go so you are ready when it is time to pack. Also keep a sheet of paper close by to make a list about last minute things. I  have a great vacation planning guide for you to print at the end of this post or sign up for it here.

8 Steps to Pack for an Easy Family Vacation

Keep Your House in Order

  • Have your mail held by the post office. You can set it up here. They will deliver all your mail the day your return or whenever you set it up. You also have the option to pick it up at the post office. If you have any other house deliveries like newspaper or packages place a hold on them or arrange a friend to pick them up.
  • Check that all doors and windows are locked. If you have a home alarm system set that up and call to let them know you will be out of town.
  • Lower your heat. Do NOT turn it off in the winter months because your pipes could freeze. We typically turn our heat to around 58 when we are out of town. If you have AC turn it off. Most thermostats have a timer. Set it to a few hours before you return home and your house will be ready for you.
  • Tell a neighbor or friend that you will be gone and ask them to drive by your house or stop in and check things out.
  • Turn off computer/appliances. Unplug anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in. If you have a DVR set leave that plugged in!

Check Weather & Pre-Pack

  • Take a look at the expected forecast and plan accordingly.
  • For Summer Travel(Warm Climate):I always have my kids try on their bathing suits and flip-flops a few weeks before we leave so I have time to go out and get them new sizes if they need them. Don’t forget to do the same for yourself. My hat from last year was really beat up and I needed to go out and get a new one for our next vacation.
  • For Winter Travel (Cold Climate): You will need hats, gloves, boots, and maybe even snow gear. Give yourself time to go out and purchase(or order) what you need.
  • Do a once over of your toiletries so you can pick everything up at once.

Electronic Up-Keep & Charging

  • Download games and books that you may need on your devices. Wi-Fi may not be available when you are out and it is good to be prepared. Need ideas for Family Fun Apps? Check out my post that my daughter helped me put together of her favorite apps when on the road.
  • Clean up your phone, especially if you are using it to take photos. Save and delete photos and delete apps you don’t need on vacation. You don’t want to be in the middle of taking a picture and see you have no storage. Consider a storage saving app like Google Photos or Shutterfly. You can set them up to automatically upload your photos. I have always used Shutterfly but am trying google photos for the video option during my next trip.
  • Charge all devices and cameras. Do this the day or night before you leave. Pack all chargers in a bag for easy access during your trip. Also consider purchasing a portable charger.

Planning Tips for Family Vacation

Stock up Your Travel Bag

When traveling with a family you need an awesome bag to fit all your stuff for a full day of travel. I like to have a crossbody so my hands are free. For my next trip I am using the new messenger bag from Neatpack. I am so excited to use it because it has the perfect amount of room to fit everything I need. When traveling, I am also looking for comfort and this bag has straps that are great for all day wear. All of the compartments zip too, which offers a great safety feature.

Planning Tips for Family Vacation

My Travel Bag Essentials:

  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Travel Documents
  • Sharpie
  • Snacks
  • Ziplock bags
  • Gum/Lollipops
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wipes
  • Everyone’s Sunglasses/Glasses
  • Notebook/Pen
  • Tickets/Itineraries
  • Medication
  • We are out of diapers but you could also fit a few diapers and even a small change of clothes for a potty training child. Bring a few gallon size Ziploc bags just in case there is an accident. You can also fit bottles and other baby supplies.

Planning Tips for Family Vacation

I’m really excited about this bag. It is a little larger than a small cross-body but perfect for all day travel. Even a trip to the zoo or museum would work great! You can fit everything you need without feeling weighed down with heavy bags. If you are traveling soon or planning a day trip I suggest you take a look at this bag. You can purchase your own at Neatpack and use the code ROAD10OF to receive 10% off any of the amazing Neatpack products. They also have great looking backpacks! I am so happy I found this for our upcoming travel adventures!

Get the Kids Involved

  • You all know I love including my kids in the planning process so we always make a fun vacation countdown. You can check out all my favorites at Family Fun Activities to Countdown to Vacation.
  • Pack their backpacks. My kids are old enough to bring their own backpacks. This makes it easier for us to travel and they like to help out with the planning. I always help them pack and make sure it is not too heavy.
    • Stuffed Animal
    • Coloring Books
    • Tablet
    • Books
    • Snacks
    • Change of clothes packed in a Ziploc bag(gallon).

Planning Tips for Family Vacation

Double Check Attraction Times/Events

  • Check the event page!! At times places close early for special events.
  • Theme parks have been known to extend hours depending on crowds.
  • Make sure the day you are visiting the park/attraction is open.


  • Travel Documents-Passports, etc.
  • Tickets for theme parks or other attractions you are doing.
  • Print all your tickets or take a screen shot of your confirmation numbers.
  • Check in early for your flights on-line if you can. All airlines have different rules, so check it out ahead of time.

Transportation Essentials


  • What is your drive time to airport?
  • Are you renting a car?
  • How far is hotel to airport?
  • Do you need car seats on the plane or upon arrival?
  • How early do you need to get to the airport?
  • Is it a long flight? Check out Tips for Long Flights with Kids.


  • What is your drive time?
  • Will you stop during the drive at any attractions?
  • Do you need a hotel for the night?
  • Where will you eat on the road?
  • Are you packing a cooler? Snacks, etc.
  • Have you read Essential Tips for a Family Road Trip?

Now that you have done all the planning you can feel a little less stressed knowing everything is ready to go. Being prepared will help you focus on you family and enjoying all the moments. Have fun planning your next family adventure! Want a nice little printable to help you keep it all organized? Sign up and receive my Vacation Planning Guide free to your inbox.

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pack for your family vacation


  1. Pam Gann | 14th Jul 17

    Love all these tips! I ALWAYS forget to clean my phone off. So glad you included that one! I need to be more proactive with that!
    Also, love the new bag! Give me a crossbody any day!

    • Leah | 14th Jul 17

      Yes! I can never have enough crossbody bags! So happy they were helpful!

  2. Momma To Go | 1st May 17

    I must have missed this post, it was a really good one! Cute bag too! I actually sometimes miss the stroller bc you could stash lots of crap on it while out and about!

  3. Tyler Meredith | 4th Apr 17

    I like what this article recommends about double checking the schedule and event times. It makes sense that double checking the schedule would be a good way to make sure you’re able to get to everything you want, especially with a vacation package. I’ll have to remember this for my vacation because I wouldn’t want to miss out on anything just because I didn’t plan enough time for driving, etc.

    • Leah | 6th Apr 17

      Thanks for reading!! I hope you have fun on your next vacation!

  4. Steph | 3rd Apr 17

    These are great tips! Definitely some good reminders for me!

    • Leah | 4th Apr 17

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Latasha @ Arts and Budgets | 1st Apr 17

    Great tips!! Trying to make sure I stay on top of #1 in this post! 🙂

  6. thekeeledeal | 1st Apr 17

    Great tips! It always seems like we are trying to download new movies to the ipad right before we need to leave. It would be smarter to do this a couple days before we leave!

    • Leah | 1st Apr 17

      Less stress for you too!

  7. babiestobookworms | 1st Apr 17

    These are such great planning tips, and I love that countdown! Great points about the electronics. I feel like that is an area I always forget to plan!

  8. Emily | 31st Mar 17

    Great checklist! And that bag looks amazing with so many organizational pockets!

  9. Megan @ The Many Little Joys | 31st Mar 17

    Great tips. I need to turn this into a checklist that I can print every time I go out of time. I have a simple one, but I would love to add a bunch of your tips to it!

    • Leah | 31st Mar 17

      Thanks for reading! I have a printable that goes with it! Hope you check it out!

  10. lisabenavidez | 31st Mar 17

    #1 is the best tip ever!! I try so hard to do this, but packing gets out of hand sometimes. When I’m able to keep order I feel so much better coming home! 🙂

    • Leah | 31st Mar 17

      Thanks!! Yes keeping things organized makes everything much easier!

  11. Amy Crooks | 18th Mar 17

    Love your great planning tips and the bag looks great! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  12. Kim | 17th Mar 17

    Those are great tips! And I LOVE that Disney countdown board, it’s so adorable!

    • Leah | 17th Mar 17

      Thanks for reading!! We love making countdown calendars!

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