When it comes to packing for a family vacation, less is usually more. I find on nearly every trip that we would have been fine without nearly as many clothes, toys and snacks that all need to be washed, put away, or vacuumed out of the carpet of our minivan when we return. Sometimes more is more. I have a family of four and most of our vacations are road trips in our minivan, so we usually have plenty of space for extra items. On every trip, I consider our planned activities and pack special items that can make them better. Here are some of the extra, and sometimes bulky, items that I have packed to make our vacations more fun:
- Pool noodles
- Sand toys
It doesn’t matter where we take our kids on vacation, because their favorite part will be swimming in the hotel pool. My kids love playing with foam pool noodles in the pool, so I often toss them in the back of the van on top of the luggage before we leave.
Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? If you have space to pack sand toys, such as buckets, shovels, sieves, or molds, they can make a beach trip even better. My nine-year-old loves playing in the waves, but my six-year-old prefers digging in the sand. With the right collection of toys, he’ll stay entertained indefinitely. Another toy that my children loved on our last trip to Carlsbad, California was a good nylon kite that I have owned for years. It was durable and easy to fly in a good beach breeze.
Beaches aren’t the only place to use sand toys. At Arches National Park in Utah, Sand Arch is a great place to break them out. Find a shady spot near the trail head to let kids play in the deep orange sand. It’s a nice place for families to take a play break and have a snack.
Our family recently visited a resort near Zion National Park where we had our own fire pit. Collecting firewood is prohibited in many places, so if we wanted a camp fire we would have to purchase firewood at resort prices or bring our own. We keep a few logs stashed in our backyard for just such an occasion. I packed the wood, along with newspaper, matches and s’mores supplies.
If you have a campfire, it’s a sure thing that you’ll want to roast marshmallows over it. I purchased our long handled camp forks at Walmart for less than $5 each. Bring marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers for s’mores. Success is in the details. On your next family vacation, consider what special items will make your trip even better. If you have the space to bring them from home, it will usually be less expensive to pack your own than to buy or rent them at your destination. What unusual items show up in your suitcase?
Meet the Author:
Allison Laypath is a family travel writer at tipsforfamilytrips.com, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She and her husband took their first child on a two-week road trip at four-weeks-old and they have been traveling as a family ever since. Allison loves all types of travel, but especially road trips, national parks and travel within her home state of Utah.