The Pack has a free family travel packing list download for you, courtesy of our years of travel with and before kids.

We’ve taken lots of trips, from single overnight stays to three weeks on a cross-country road trip. As a family, we know by now what we need to take and how to prepare for travel.

There are plenty of packing lists online by other expert travelers to help you get ready for your trip so you don’t forget anything. But the problem with many packing lists is they’re not individualized to you.

Our download is actually more of a worksheet. Don’t let the word “worksheet” scare you off, though! This is how we plan and pack for a family of four, and it’s become a great way not only to pack but think through other aspects of our trip as well.

Family travel packing process

To help you get your family packed and ready for a trip, here’s an example of how we have prepared for our travels. As you’ll see on the free download, start by thinking through each day of your trip. I’ll show you two days from our most recent trip.

Day and Date: Friday, August 30

Weather Forecast: 83/94, partly cloudy

Activities for this day: Just driving and checking in to cabin

Clothes and gear you need for these activities and the weather:

– T-shirts and shorts for sitting in the van.

– A throw for each person for when the van gets chilly. (Dad usually keeps the van at a cool temp.)

– DVD players, charging cables, DVDs

– Books/magazines

Food plan:

Dinner — picked up sandwiches, we’ll eat on the way

Beverages — everyone brings their own drink cup, plus a 32-oz water refill


Day and Date: Saturday, Sept. 1

Weather Forecast: 87/96, partly cloudy with chance of afternoon shower

Activities for this day: Paddleboarding in the spring; driving to other springs to swim; hiking trails

Clothes and gear you need for these activities and the weather:

– Swim wear and a dry change of clothes; towels; shoes for trails

– Snorkel gear/goggles

– Underwater cameras

– Paddleboards, PFDs, floating dry boxes, paddles, fins, sunscreen

Food plan:

Breakfast — homemade granola for breakfast; bring milk in small container (cabin has servingware). Protein powder. Instant iced coffee packets.

Lunch — finger food picnic in the park, already in reusable containers

Dinner — eat out

Snacks — apple slices, cheese sticks, crackers

Beverages — everyone brings their own drink cup filled in the cabin for the day, plus 3 32-oz water refills


Now copy these items in the following categories for your ultimate list:


T-shirts and shorts for everyone for x days

Swimwear for everyone




Sandals and walking shoes


Snorkel gear bag

Swim goggles




Dry boxes




Underwater cameras

DVD players, charging cables, DVDs

Phone charging cables and camera battery chargers



Regular stash of toiletries (I keep shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, soap, saline, and deodorant in a large plastic bag inside a shoulder bag I use to carry these and other personal items like hairbrushes, toothbrushes, etc.)


Dinner sandwiches for Friday night

Granola and milk

Protein powder

Instant coffee packets

Finger food picnic I already packed

Apple slices

Cheese sticks


Drink cups

Refill bottles

Water filter pitcher

Cooler with frozen cold packs

I find organizing my thoughts about our plans for each trip and writing down the items we’ll need for the things we want to do really helps. It’s completely customized to what your family is doing and what your family needs. After thinking things through, the packing list almost writes itself.

I have two versions of the packing worksheet: plain text and artistic. Get the plain text packing list/worksheet here and the artistic packing list here and here. If you use the artistic lists, you’ll want both — one for the worksheet (print as many as you need) and one for the whole list of things you need to pack.

More tips for family travel packing

  • The weather might not seem that important to note on a packing worksheet, but it really is. For example, if we had seen the forecast called for thunderstorms in the morning, we would have had a plan B while we waited for our chance to paddleboard. That might have required us to pack different/more gear. On our last big road trip (12 days), we knew it was going to be cold and rainy — but by keeping an eye on the weather, we learned the forecast changed to snow. So I added snow gear to the packing list.


  • Another note about weather forecasts: The big weather sites (, AccuWeather, Weather Underground, etc.) let you check forecasts that are months out. These long-range forecasts aren’t precise but are historical averages. They are still useful if you are planning in the long term.


  • If you are taking a long trip that requires more clothing than you can pack, plan on spending part of a day of your trip doing laundry. We have done this partway through our road trips, either at the vacation rental where we were staying or at a coin laundry. Look for places to stay that have laundry facilities — even some campgrounds do.


  • We’ve found that on road trips where we are staying somewhere different every night, it’s best to put what everyone needs for that night and the next day into one suitcase, if possible. This way, there’s only one suitcase to haul in and out of your vehicle.

If you like the art in the artistic packing list, check out the designer’s work. She has a whole kit of travel-themed digital images that are perfect for making scrapbooks of your family travel photos.