How to Pack for Summer Vacations Like a Pro

How to Pack for Summer Vacations Like a Pro

Packing for your summer vacation is exciting but can also lead to much second-guessing and stress.

And that’s where this guide will help you!

Whether this year's summer vacation is a short city break for just the two of you or a once-in-a-lifetime trip with the entire family, here's how to pack for a summer vacation like a pro without overwhelming yourself – or your luggage allowance!

Summer Vacation Essentials for Everyone


- Focus on lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics like cotton and linen. Depending on where you're going, your packing list should include T-shirts or loose-fitting button-downs, shorts or slacks, sundresses, and swimwear.

- Take a stylish layer if you're heading somewhere summer evenings can be chilly. Think light jackets, cardigans, thin hooded tops, or a blazer if you want something smarter.

- When packing footwear, focus on comfort. A sturdy pair of walking shoes is perfect for a city break, while sandals or Crocs are best for hot destinations and sitting around the pool or on the beach.

Personal Care Items

Sunscreen is vital in protecting your skin from UV rays. Remember to buy a higher SPF sunscreen for children and check out our guide to staying safe in the sun.

Neutrogena Sunblock Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 70 - 3 Oz

- Sunglasses are another essential for protecting yourself from the sun. These days, it's easy to find a stylish pair that offers maximum UV protection, so you don't have to worry about sacrificing style for function.

Antiperspirants and deodorantswill keep you feeling and smelling fresh throughout your trip.

- A small first-aid kit is a must, especially if you're headed overseas and don't want to go to a pharmacy if you don't speak the local language. Take along some antacids and aspirin, too, so you can easily deal with any vacation-related illness.

What to Pack for a Summer Trip When You’re Taking the Kids

Add these to your packing list if your summer vacation involves the whole family.

Entertainment Options for the Journey

The easiest way to avoid the inevitable "Are we there yet?" 50 times during your journey – and that's just in the first hour! – is to ensure you have plenty to keep little ones entertained. Books, magazines, comics, travel games, and tablets or handheld consoles are always helpful. Just remember to keep an eye on any valuables!

Comfort and Personal Care Items

Children love familiarity. That’s why they’re more likely to get homesick quickly and be counting down the days until you return home.

- If you're going somewhere you won't be able to get your child's favorite food or snack, take some with you. Pack enough for both journeys and your stay!

- Pack their favorite blanket, soft toy, doll, or action figure to help them feel at home as well as keep them entertained during the journey.

Everyday Items We Often Forget to Pack

It's easier than you might think to forget the essentials! Here are some of the most common items we typically fail to pack and then end up paying more than we'd like to buy in the pharmacy when we reach our destination.

- Our toothbrush and toothpaste, both daily hygiene essentials.

- Hairbrushes and combs. You might be able to make do without them, but they're often a lifesaver if you've young ones with you!

Lip balm – choose a lip balm with SPF protection to protect your lips from the summer sun.

Mentholatum Natural Ice Lip Protectant/Sunscreen Original Flavor SPF 15 - 12 Ct

Insect repellent is vital if you're going somewhere with mosquitoes and other pesky bugs.

Feminine hygiene products are better to have and not need than to need and not have them!

How to Adapt Your Packing for Different Trip Lengths

One great way to bring order to your packing is to adjust what and how you pack based on the length of your vacation.

Here are three tips covering three lengths of trip.

If You’re Away for Less Than a Week

Go as minimalist as you can. Two pairs of bottoms and a top for every day should do it. Only consider taking "spares" if you expect it to be sweltering or you'll be participating in specific activities.

Travel-sized toiletries should be sufficient, and you should aim to fit everything into a small bag. If you're taking a flight, think carry-on; you'll save money and time when you reach your destination!

If You’re Away for a Week

Plan outfits for each day and allow for a change if you’ll be participating in activities or taking excursions, and also pack an extra pair of shoes or other suitable footwear if you anticipate a pair getting wet.

If the whole family is going on vacation, take full-sized toiletries.

If You’re Away for Longer Than a Week

Check if you'll have access to laundry facilities during your vacation. This can help you avoid packing extra and incurring additional luggage fees, although if there isn't a laundry option, you may have to bite the bullet.

Pack travel-sized toiletries as a backup, and take spare contact lenses or glasses if you use them.

10 Strategies to Make Summer Vacation Packing Easier

Follow these tips to guarantee a stress-free packing routine ahead of your vacation.

1. Create a Packing List

Making a list ensures you remember everything - scroll to the bottom of this guide to find a ready-to-go packing list.

2. Group Items Together and Use Packing Organizers

Use packing cubes or zip-lock bags to group similar items. This keeps things tidy, saves space, and makes unpacking much easier upon arrival.

3. Fold Your Clothes Properly

If you don't follow our second tip, rolling your clothes can save space and reduce wrinkles, meaning you won't need to press them during your trip.

4. Have Bags for Dirty Laundry and Footwear

If you won't have access to a laundry room on your vacation, take a laundry bag to keep dirty clothes together and separate. Buy shoe bags or use separate bags for your shoes, too, to avoid dirt transferring to your clothes.

5. Buy a Tech Organizer for Your Chargers

This might be one to file under essentials we often forget to pack, too! The easiest thing to do here is to create a sub-checklist of your devices and buy a tech organizer to ensure you take all the relevant plugs and cables with you - and keep them tidy!

Depending on the nature of your vacation and where you’re going, you take all of the following with you:

- Smartphone

- Watch

- Tablet

- Handheld games console

- Laptop

If the entire family has the same device, you probably don’t all need to take your chargers. But we’d definitely suggest taking more than one!

6. Start Packing Early

We're not talking weeks before, but setting aside your clothes and starting to pack a few days before your trip can help you avoid last-minute stress.

7. Check the Weather

Summer vacations don’t always mean bright sunshine and scorching heat. Check the weather forecast so you can prepare and pack approximately.

8. Think About What Your Accommodation May Provide

Depending on where you’re staying, you might be given products like shower gel, shampoo, and maybe even toothpaste – these places know what we often forget to pack better than we do!

So get in touch and ask what's in the bathroom - you might save significant space in your suitcase.

9. Weigh Your Luggage

The last thing anyone wants to do is start their vacation by handing over their credit card at the check-in desk or posting things back to themselves. Weigh your luggage at home before you head to the airport so you can simply check your bag and head off to the lounge.

10. Leave Space for the Return Trip!

It's rare to go on vacation and not buy anything! Leave space in your bag so you can easily bring back souvenirs or gifts for loved ones.

Your Summer Vacation Packing Checklist

By following this guide, you’re all set for your summer adventure!

Packing doesn't have to be overwhelming, and with a bit of planning and organization, you'll wonder why you ever found it so stressful in the first place.

For your convenience, we've included the complete checklist below.

Safe travels!


- T-shirts or button-downs

- Slacks or shorts

- Sundresses

- Swimsuits

- Layering options

- Walking shoes

- Sandals/Crocs/Boat Shoes



- Sunglasses

Antiperspirant or deodorant

First-aid kit, including antacids and aspirin



- Hairbrush or comb

Lip balm

Insect repellent

Feminine hygiene products

Kids’ Essentials

- Travel entertainment – books, magazines, comics, tablets, handheld games consoles, travel games


- Toys

- Comfort items like a blanket or stuffed animal

Higher SPF sunscreen


- Chargers for all electronics and tech organizer

- Packing cubes or zip-lock bags

Laundry bag

- Shoe bags

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