I think this is probably the most vague area of our packing list. I do have some suggestions before we get started though:
We are a small family of 3: 2 adults, 1 baby. With that in mind, I normally pack all of our clothing together in the same bag, and some other miscellaneous things in our bag too. It makes it much easier having everything in one spot, and not only that, but also saves a lot of space in the car with having only one suitcase. BUT having only one suitcase has it’s limitations: you can’t bring as much. In the past I have packed a full 7-days worth of outfits, with a few extra ‘just in case’ items as well. Only to find that by the end of the week, I had only worn 3 of those outfits and not even touched the ‘just-in-cases’. And, keeping in mind, we pack laundry detergent, so we can do laundry while we are there. So, my list is VERY scaled back. Maybe you want to add more, and this set-up isn’t going to work for you, and that’s totally okay! This is just what has worked for our family.
A lot of packing websites will tell you that you should pack extra jeans and a sweatshirt, just in case it’s cold. We routinely go to OBX in July/August, and I can tell you in the 25 years I have been going to North Carolina, I have NEVER worn a pair of pants. I have worn sweatshirts. I think overall, look at your situation. If you are generally a colder person, you may want extra layers, but if not, I think you’re safe with just a sweatshirt, or just one long-sleeve shirt.
Same thing with shoes: a lot of websites will tell you to pack a casual pair of shoes, some sandals and sneakers, too. In the 25 years I have gone I may have worn sneakers once. If, however, you run in the morning, then maybe you should bring those with. Both myself and my husband, have never had a use for them, and instead just pack some flip-flops for the beach and some nice (worn in and comfortable) sandals for sight-seeing, etc. Another tip: we frequently take our bikes with. I always make sure to ride a lap with my ‘casual’ sandals to make sure they are ok to ride with.
And that goes for accessories, too. I’m of the opinion that if I don’t wear it on a regular basis, I’m not going to wear it on vacation. If we were childless and planning to go to some very nice restaurants the whole week, then I would think very differently of my wardrobe. However, I am chasing around a toddler, and comfort is key. Dangly earrings don’t look so pretty when your toddler has ripped them out and you’re bleeding everywhere. Just saying.
- shirts-we typically pack 3 each
- sweatshirt/light jacket
- shorts-go for comfort, if you plan on going out to eat, pack one nice set
- bras/undies-enough to last 3-4 days, since you’ll be doing laundry
- shoes for beach and for ‘going out’
- bathing suits-this is something I do pack two of. One may be drying from the beach, but you want to go in the hot tub/pool later. It’s a pain getting a wet or even damp swimsuit on.
- beach cover up-I use just an old T-shirt and mesh shorts. Half the time I forgo the T-shirt on the way back, but it’s nice to have in case you need it
- sneakers and socks
- beach hat
On the kid front: I don’t have older kids yet, so some of this may be irrelevant. Once again, I encourage you to make some of your own adjustments to this list and use it more for guidance than anything else.
- shirts-3-4, keeping in mind we will be doing laundry
- shorts-3-4, doing laundry
- light jacket-2, as tots make messes easily
- pants/jeans-again, 2, as tots make messes
- sturdy shoes-this is more important for kids, especially the younger ones
- socks-they’re so small and easy to pack, just bring a bunch, they’re also easy to lose!
- crocs/swim shoes (or something similar)-these are perfect for beach shoes for kids, because they keep their feet from getting burnt, but also easily wash out
- diapers-SWIM DIAPERS and regular diapers, if your tots a little older, you will likely be able to figure out about how many you will need for the week. But add in about 20 extra, because you just never know what will happen!
- bathing suits-take 2-3, we also have used a reusable swim diaper and a long sleeved ‘rash guard’ for sun protection
- sun hat-imperative for babies!
MISCELLANEOUS BABY/KIDS STUFF:
- toys-see my first post about swapping toys with a friend
- books/DVDs-good in case you have a rainy day
- pack ‘n’ play/sheet-optional, if your kid is young enough, or if you don’t want to rent one
- booster seat-optional, check to see if your place has a highchair available
- baby food-A LOVES food pouches, and although I normally make my own, the store bought ones are much better for traveling
- baby snacks
- sippy cups-at least 2, so you can rotate, pick two different colors, so you can remember better which was used last
- snack cups
- bibs-we have a plastic-y one that we can use wipe off and call it a day, if using cloth, bring a few more
- Tylenol/Motrin-this should go in your car first aid kit, but is 100% necessary
- baby monitor-it’s pretty small to pack, but if you don’t think you’re going to need it, then don’t bother. We use ours for the evening when we are outside after A has gone to bed. If you are going to bring yours with, remember to bring extra batteries/chargers.
- nail clippers
- diaper creams-keep in mind, they are going to be sitting in a wet dipper for much of the day while you are there. Be prepared, and even if they don’t seem to be getting a diaper rash, use it anyow
- baby sunscreen
- baby lotion/bubble bath/shampoo
- washcloths/towel and a few small bath toys-better to keep them entertained after a long day on the beach then have them grumpy
- baby wipes-bring TONS of these. They are useful for more than just wiping a baby butt!
- blankies/special toys, etc.
- special items-A has a CD we play for her every time she goes down for a nap or to bed. I uploaded it onto my phone, and I leave it playing for her to fall asleep. When it is over, I go get my phone again. This saves us from bringing a CD player!
- any travel specific items-i.e. highchair cover (for eating out), disposable placemats (we have these)
- stroller-when sight seeing on a hot day, you don’t really want to carry your sweaty and cranky toddler, get a small umbrella stroller (we have this one). Ours fits on the floor of our backseat, which is otherwise wasted space.
Anything I missed? Anything to add?