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How to Pack For a Family Vacation

Packing for a family vacation can be overwhelming. Between getting your own suitcase in order & making sure your kids have all their essentials, it's not uncommon to get stressed out, & that can put a huge damper on the excitement of luxury travel. Still, over-packing can be a major nuisance when you have kids in tow. You also don't want to forget those key items that will keep your children happy throughout the trip & ensure a comfortable stay at your final destination.

Next time you're preparing for a family getaway, use these tips to guide you for a well-packed suitcase:

Carry-on essentials: Whether you're taking a one hour flight to Mexico or a four hour one to Costa Rica, there are certain items you'll want to bring on the plane for a more pleasant ride. First of all, never rely on the airline to provide adequate snacks. Soda & complimentary bags of pretzels are hardly filling, so it's best to bring your own. Protein & complex carbohydrates are the most satiating combination, so try a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, or string cheese & multigrain crackers. For a morning flight, you can even bring granola or individual packets of oatmeal & add hot water on the plane – topped with a sprinkle of trail mix they're both an optimal way to fuel up.

You'll also want to keep your children entertained. USA Today recommended bringing along a drawing pad & markers or colored pencils for them to doodle. A pack of playing cards is great for older kids, & you can even join in on the fun. Books & puzzles are other good options. If you're bringing an iPad or other electronic device, remember to pack the charger or extra batteries. 

Not all airlines offer blankets & fingers crossed, your kids will want to take a nap on the flight. Consider bringing your own small blanket for a cozier experience.

Clothing: How much apparel you bring along obviously depends on the length of your luxury vacation. As a general rule, USA Today noted that eight tops & several bottoms is sufficient for a week-long trip if you're not doing any laundry. For a shorter getaway, consider four tops & two pairs of shorts, pants or skirts. You'll also want to make sure you have plenty of socks & underwear for your children, particularly when you're continually changing in & out of bathing suits. While you can certainly hand-wash swimsuits on the trip, you'll still want to bring at least two options just in case.

Even if you're heading to a tropical climate, remember to pack a few layers such as a light jacket or sweater for cool nights. It's also best to bring along one formal outfit for each person if you'll be dining at one of the finer restaurants around your destination. Plan to do a lot of trekking? USA Today recommended packing comfortable sneakers with adequate support for hiking or any other adventures. You should also remember a pair of flip-flops for beach frolicking & a dressier pair of sandals as well.

Key extras: There's no doubt that you'll want to remember some of the happiest moments from your trip, so be sure to bring a camera to capture them. A journal is also a great idea for kids to write down their favorite experiences.

In Condé Nast Traveler, Kyle McCarthy, co-founder & editor of My Family Travels, suggested bringing along an inflatable plastic ball, which takes up little room in your suitcase but can instantly provide a fun way to exercise on the beach or even in the hotel room.

Since some resorts have limited electrical outlets in the rooms, McCarthy also advised packing a power strip so you can charge more devices. If you're going to be sightseeing, consider bringing along a backpack for everyone.

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