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When Traveling 

Choose wisely when packing.      

Deciding what items to take with you on your travel (and what to leave behind), is an important part of good travel planning. The climate of your destination (hot), the activities you plan to participate in, and the duration of your trip will determine what you should pack. Resist the temptation to pack non-essential items. You will probably be able to find any things you may need in Mexico, though perhaps not the brand names you are used to.

Here is a list of things you may consider taking with you. This packing list should be used only as a general guide. Don't take every item on this list; determine what you will need based on the considerations mentioned.


Besides your suitcase or backpack/duffel bag, you should also have a day pack or shoulder bag to carry snacks, bottled water, maps, a camera, and anything else you may need on your excursions.

A money belt is a good idea to keep your documents and money on you while traveling, but do make use of your hotel safe when you can. Pack an extra light-weight bag if there's a chance you may purchase handicrafts or other souvenirs.

Hopefully, the packing list below will help you remember all the things you need to stuff into your luggage: Money and Documents; Toiletries and Health Items; Beach Gear; Theme Park Gear; Baby Gear; and more.

Money and Documents

  • cash (have some in the destination currency)

  • credit cards

  • debit/ATM cards (make sure these work in the country you're visiting)

  • picture id - passport, picture id, and other ids if needed.

  • a photocopy of your picture ID, packed separately, just in case your ID is lost or stolen. (And leave a copy with someone not traveling, too.)  Emailing the scanned IDs to yourself is also a good 

  • membership cards: AAA; Disney Club; etc.

  • calling card or special phone number for long-distance phone calls (-some phone services have such products for out-of-country travel)

  • health insurance documents

  • travel insurance documents

  • drivers' license if you'll be driving on the trip; international driver's license if required

  • vaccination documents if needed for foreign countries

  • address/phone book


Trip Documents:

  • itinerary, airplane tickets, or confirmation number for e-ticket

  • directions to hotel(s)


Toiletries & Personal Care

  • toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss (packed together, in a ziplock bag)

  • shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, etc.

  • shaving gear

  • sunglasses

  • skin cream, makeup

  • nail clippers

  • tweezers

  • foot powder

  • lip balm

  • earplugs

  • sleep aids


Health Items

  • Band-Aids

  • children's fever medicine, cold medicine, etc.

  • allergy kit, if needed

  • blister kit: moleskin for blisters, elastic tape to go over the moleskin, scissors, bandaids

  • feminine hygiene products

  • prescription medicine

  • vitamins

  • health boosters such as Airborne


First aid kit:

  • Band-Aids

  • Water Purification Tablets

  • Motion sickness tablets

  • Diarrhea tablets

  • Aspirin or acetaminophen

  • Small sewing kit


Technology Stuff to Bring

  • cell phone

  • iPod(s) or other music players

  • digital camera and memory card

  • video recorder

  • laptop, netbook, iPad, Kindle...

  • GPS

  • for all the above: batteries, chargers, cords!


"Miscellaneous" Extras:

  • notebook/journal

  • guidebooks--buy the best! It's a small investment, compared to the cost of your vacation.

  • Ziploc bags (that actually zip.) Use for toiletries, wet swimsuits, crayons, etc.

  • maps

  • binoculars

  • flashlight & batteries

  • needle and thread

  • handy to have: nightlight if this will help your child

  • alarm clock (if your cell phone isn't your alarm clock)

  • plastic food containers: fill with snacks such as raisins to eat on the plane; later, bring one to restaurants in case your kids won't eat their food (though they' be hungry ten minutes later...)

  • -cereal! Save money and time by eating cereal in your room for breakfast. Buy fresh milk, or use powdered; don't forget the plastic spoons.

  • wet wipes, for cleaning hands, faces, etc. There's even a special brand for removing stains from clothes.


Extras for On the Plane

To keep kids happy on plane trips, bring along:

  • stuff to amuse the kids

  • iPods or iPads

  • magazines or books

  • snacks and drinks

  • any medication that might be needed, (e.g., for ear pain on planes)

  • lip balm, skin lotion-- planes are dry habitats!


Also, just in case your luggage gets lost, try to bring a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage. If you're flying to a tropical resort, pack a set of hot-weather clothes, sandals, and a bathing suit so you can change immediately and enjoy the pool or beach. Even if you get fast transportation to your resort, often guests must leave luggage at the front desk and then wait until staff delivers that luggage to the guestroom. This wait can take hours, sometimes!


Beach Gear Extras

  • swimsuits (two, per person)

  • sandals

  • aqua shoes

  • swim goggles

  • face masks, snorkels

  • beach toys

  • waterproof disposable camera

  • sunhats

  • sunglasses

  • lip balm with sunscreen

  • earplugs if your child needs them when swimming


Rain Gear

  • umbrellas or ponchos (especially handy for theme parks)

  • raincoat, rain-pants for outdoors vacations

  • appropriate footwear

  • extra socks


Outdoors Gear

  • insect repellent

  • Afterbite, for insect bites

  • allergy medicine if needed

  • good shoes for hiking

  • layers of clothes, especially fleece

  • socks that will "wick" (draw moisture away from the skin)

  • blister kit (below)

  • wool hat and gloves for chilly weather


Theme Park Extras

  • blister kit: moleskin for blisters, elastic tape to go over the moleskin, scissors, bandaids

  • good footwear. Some people recommend socks and sneakers, but in hot Orlando my family always wears sandals

  • sunhats

  • sunscreens

  • lip balm

  • bandana, to soak with water for a cool-down

  • frozen juice packs, if you have a fridge available

  • water bottle

  • water spritzer/fan gadgets-- available at Walmarts for $5; or pay three times the price and get the souvenir version at the theme park of your choice

  • umbrella or poncho, if thunderstorms are expected

  • camera, batteries, etc., as per general packing list

  • snacks


Baby Gear

  • diapers--carry lots on the plane in case of delay

  • diaper rash cream

  • changing pad

  • Ziploc bag for soiled clothes

  • baby wipes

  • receiving blankets (lightweight, and soft)

  • waterproof sheet

  • car seat

  • stroller

  • backpack

  • front-style baby carriers

  • lots of clothes, even for the plane ride - & a change of clothes for yourself, just in case

  • formula, juice

  • bottles, nipples, bottle caps

  • sippy cup

  • snacks

  • pacifiers if needed

  • bibs

  • baby food, spoons, bowl with lid

  • lots of amusements


Plane travelers with babies: remember there are restrictions on the liquids, gels, etc., you can carry with you on the place; BUT there are also exceptions to the rules for baby formula, baby food, medications -


Last But Not Least: Clothes
Some travel experts recommend "traveling light", and that's great advice; I just don't find it applies much to travel with kids.

I prefer to bring along enough clothes that we never need to waste time doing laundry. But the choice is yours!


Clothes for Kids

  • two swimsuits per person (-it's icky putting on a wet suit)

  • lots of t-shirts or other tops (including a few oldies that can be thrown away, reducing the need to do laundry)

  • for boys, pants than become shorts when the bottom part of the leg is zipped off

  • fleece vests or jackets for colder weather

  • waterproof jacket if needed

  • sleepwear

  • underwear

  • socks

  • extra shoes


Clothes for Grownups
Of course, everybody's different -- very different-- regarding the number of clothes they think they need. Here are just a few tips:

  • pick two colors, and coordinate around them

  • don't forget belts, scarves, other accessories

  • two swimsuits are nice for grownups too

  • washable silks are the lightest, most convenient fabric for hot climates: shirts weigh nothing, can be washed in the sink, and dry in a few hours

  • avoid heavy slow-drying pants like jeans

  • check out Tilley Endurables travel clothes: they last forever, dry overnight, never wrinkle, have secret pockets, and look pretty stylish too

  • even in a hot climate, bring a jacket or sweater: air-conditioning can get cold.


Now that you're all packed, try to remember: this is a vacation!



A step-by-step list of things you should do when trying to pack for budget travel.

  1. Make three piles: Essential, Probably Essential, and Lower than Essential. Eliminate the 'lower' and half the 'probably'.

  2. If at all possible, commit to putting what remains in one carry-on-sized bag.

  3. Don't pack items that can be purchased for nominal prices at your destination. Know the exceptions, such as buying a film abroad.

  4. Minimize the amount of clothing you need to pack. Choose a color scheme and stick to it. Commit to doing a load of laundry during the trip.

  5. Assign some items 'double duty'. For example, men's swim trunks can double as sleeping attire or a pair of shorts.

  6. Pack a nylon bag for soiled laundry, which can double as padding for fragile items.

  7. A separate bag for shoes is also good. Use shoe interiors as storage for small items that can become 'lost' in the larger suitcase.

  8. Pack all documents, maps, and other items last, so they are 'on top' and easy to find.

  9. Be certain your luggage is clearly labeled with contact information at your first destination. Lost baggage can be expensive.

  10. Always carry on anything that you cannot replace immediately: prescription drugs, organizers, important documents and the like.



  1. A sad but accurate travel saying: Pack half as much clothing as you think you'll need, and twice as much money.

  2. If you won't be in any formal setting, consider taking cheap shirts and pants that you discard rather than clean.

Be safe! Enjoy your trip!

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