suitcases with passports

The Essential International Travel Packing List For Families

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Are you planning an international vacation with your family? If so, make sure you pack everything you need with this international travel packing list! This checklist will help ensure that you have everything you need for a safe and enjoyable trip.

Depending on your destination, there may be some travel checklist items that are specific to your needs. But in general, these are the essentials that every family should bring with them when travelling abroad.

international travel packing list

International Travel Packing List For Families

International travel with kids is both exciting and daunting if you are heading off on your first family trip abroad.

To make international travel packing easier, use this travel packing list as a guide to making sure you have everything you need for a safe and memorable trip.

Whether you are visiting Europe in winter with the kids or heading to South East Asia or simply enjoying a relaxing island vacation, this checklist will help you prepare ahead and feel much calmer in the lead-up to your flight.

Things To Consider Before You Start Packing

Before you start packing for an international trip, it is important to consider a few things that will ensure you are packing the right gear for your particular vacation.

After all, a swimsuit and goggles aren’t much good in the middle of a European winter! Not do you need high heels on an international road trip!

So before you dig into our ultimate packing list, here are the essential things to consider:

Where Are You Going?

The first thing to think about is your destination.

Are you headed to a big city or spending your time in nature? Are there any vaccination requirements you need to consider? Are you visiting just one destination or many?

Where you are travelling will also help you plan for certain travel accessories you need such as bringing the correct travel adaptor for charging your electronics.

PACKING TIP: We prefer to use universal travel adaptors so they work no matter how many destinations we visit on a single trip.

suitcases with passports

When Are You Going?

The time of year you travel will play a huge role in what you need to pack!

Are you going in the middle of summer or during the winter months? Will you be spending time at the beach and in the mountains?

If your holiday takes you to multiple destinations that have significantly varying temperatures, you need to account for this!

Make sure you do your research on the average climate for the time you are visiting and the current temperatures in the lead-up to leaving home.

What Type Of Trip Are You Taking?

Are you going on an adventure vacation where you’ll be hiking and camping? A beach vacation where you need swimsuits and sunscreen? Or a city break exploring different cultures with loads of walking?

Your itinerary will also help shape your packing list. If you are planning on doing a lot of activities, make sure you have the right gear.

How Long Are You Staying?

Are you going on a long international trip or just a short getaway?

The duration of your trip will determine how much you need to pack. If you are putting together a long-term travel packing list, it helps to research what laundry options you have while abroad and how often you can clean your clothes.

How Will You Be Getting Around?

Another thing to consider is how you’ll be getting around while on your trip.

If you are renting a car, you’ll need to make sure you have a vehicle that is big enough to fit your luggage and family members comfortably. You also need the proper paperwork and an international driver’s license if required.

If you are relying on public transportation, find out what type of tickets or passes you need in advance and choose luggage that is easy to wheel or carry through busy transport stations.

Taking a guided tour or a road trip? If taking a guided tour, you can check ahead what suitcases are recommended.

You might consider choosing a soft bag over a traditional suitcase as it can pack easier when limited in space. We thankfully did this for our 2 week New Zealand campervan road trip, which meant we could store our soft bags in the small storage spaces.

Does Your Family Have Any Special Needs Requirements?

Do you or your family have any special needs requirements?

If so, make sure you have everything you need to make your trip more comfortable. This might include packing extra medication, bringing medical documents or renting equipment like a wheelchair.

International airports offer assistance for passengers with disabilities so it is worth checking in advance what services are available.

Travel Insurance

Before you start packing for international travel, make sure you have the proper travel and health insurance! You never know when something might happen while abroad, from losing your luggage to getting injured.

Travel insurance can help cover the costs of unexpected medical emergencies, trip cancellations and more. When travelling abroad, this is always essential to keep you and your family safe.

SafetyWing is a great option for travel insurance as it is designed specifically for digital nomads and international travellers. You can buy and extend your policy online in minutes, which is perfect for last-minute trip changes or extensions. Also, up to 2 children under 10 per family (1 per adult) can be included on your insurance free of charge.

Packing List For International Travel

Now that you know what to consider when packing for international travel, it’s time to start packing those travel essentials. Here is our ultimate family travel packing list:

Documents To Bring

Passports – Make sure everyone in your family has a valid passport, and that all passports are up to date. If you’re travelling with children, check the expiration dates on their passports as well. Some destinations will have a requirement that your passport must have at least 6 months of validity remaining.

Visas – Some countries also require visitors to have a visa, so be sure to check the requirements of your destination country before you travel.

Insurance Documents – For travel insurance, be sure to bring a copy of your policy and contact information for the insurance company in case you need to file a claim while you’re travelling. It also helps to have a list of everything that is and is not covered so you are prepared for the unexpected.

Flight Itinerary – Airlines no longer require you to have a printed copy of your flight itinerary when you check in for your flight, however, this can be helpful for your own reference. Flight times can often change, but at least you will have your booking and flight numbers with you.

Tickets & Passes – If you are planning to visit any attractions or take any tours while you’re travelling, bring a copy of your tickets and passes. While you may not be required to show these, it will make it easier to show proof of purchase and ensure you are in the right place at the right time.

Extra Passport Photos – It’s always a good idea to bring a few extra passport photos with you in case you lose your passport while you’re travelling. This will make the process smoother when applying for new documents in a hurry from an unfamiliar country.

Vaccine Card – If you require any vaccinations for your international trip, be sure to bring along your vaccine card or medical documentation as proof.

Digital Back Up – Before you leave home, scan or photograph a copy of all your travel documents in a cloud drive such as OneDrive, DropBox or Google Drive. Alternatively, save a copy in an email folder. This means you can easily access all your travel documents no matter where in the world you are, in case something doesn’t go to plan! Add a copy of birth certificates here too.

Clothing

Depending on the time of year and your destination, you will want to pack clothes that are appropriate for the weather.

PACKING TIP: Layering Clothing – Even if you are travelling to a warm climate, it’s always a good idea to have a few layers on hand. The temperature can often drop in the evenings, or you may find yourself in an air-conditioned room. A light scarf or cardigan can also double as an extra blanket on long flights!

Men

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Dress shirt/collared shirt
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Jeans/pants
  • Belt
  • Sleepwear

Women

  • Underwear & bras
  • Socks
  • T-shirts/tank tops
  • Dress/skirt
  • Shorts
  • Cardigan or sweater
  • Jeans/pants/leggings
  • Sleepwear
  • Scarf/shawl

Kids

Depending on the ages of your children, you may need to pack additional items. As a rule of thumb, we always bring a couple of spare outfits for kids since they are more prone to getting dirty clothes.

  • Underwear
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Pyjamas
  • Going out outfit

Footwear

  • Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers
  • Flip flops
  • Dress shoes (optional)
  • Hiking boots (optional)
  • Water shoes (optional)

Hot Weather Essentials

If travelling during summer or visiting hot destinations, don’t forget to back these extra items:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Rash vest/sun vest
  • Beach cover-up or sarong
  • Beach towel

Taking a beach vacation? Grab our free printable beach packing checklist for day trips and longer beach stays.

having fun in the snow

Cold Weather Essentials

If travelling during winter, don’t forget to pack these extra items:

  • Coat
  • Hat/beanie
  • Scarf
  • Gloves/mittens
  • Thermal underwear
  • Snow boots (for destinations where there is snow)
  • Extra sweaters and jackets
  • Raincoat or lightweight rain jacket
  • Any activity-specific items such as ski gear

For more winter packing tips, check out our Europe winter packing guide, winter camping and New Zealand winter packing guide.

Accessories

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Jewellery
  • Watch
  • Day bag
  • Purse or wallet
  • Tie
  • Belts
  • Cufflinks

Toiletries

If you are only taking a short family vacation, you might like to pack travel-sized toiletries or use empty containers to fill with your favourite products. This can be a great way to pack light, especially if you’re worried about your baggage allowance!

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Deodorant
  • Q-Tips
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Soap
  • Skincare products
  • Body lotion
  • Makeup/cosmetics (optional)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray (for tropical destinations)
  • Lip balm
  • Tampons or pads
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Medication
  • Pain relief
  • Band aids
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Contacts and contact solution
  • Glasses & case
infographic with toiletries to pack for vacation

Travel Accessories 

  • Purse/wallet
  • Travel card/credit cards/debit cards/cash
  • First Aid kit – Even for short international trips, it is worthwhile taking a mini first aid kit that includes bandaids, antiseptic cream and pain relief at the minimum.
  • Travel pillow
  • Eye mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Phone/tablet/charging cables
  • Portable charger
  • Earpods or headphones
  • Day bag
  • Backpack
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Books/Entertainment
  • Pen
  • Umbrella
  • Camera and charger
  • Memory cards – bring more than one memory card in case one malfunctions

Baby Packing List

When travelling overseas with a baby, there are quite a few extra items on your international travel checklist that may or may not be required, depending on the age of your baby and the time of year you are travelling internationally.

Clothing

  • Onesies/rompers/playsuits
  • Sleepsuits
  • Tops
  • Leggings/pants
  • Cardigan or jacket
  • Socks/booties
  • Sun hat
  • Beanie (for cold weather)
  • Bathing Suit (for warm weather)
  • Swim diapers (for warm weather)

Baby Travel Essentials

  • Swaddles/blankets
  • Nursing Cover (if breastfeeding)
  • Diapers
  • Wet wipes
  • Diaper bags (for disposing of dirty nappies)
  • Nappy rash cream
  • Change mat
  • Pacifier (if using)
  • Formula/breast milk (if not breastfeeding)
  • Bottles & bottle brush
  • Sippy cup (for older babies/toddlers)
  • Baby food and snacks
  • Baby feeding items (bowl, spoon etc)
  • Travel toys & entertainment
  • Medication
  • Diaper bag or backpack with nappy changing essentials
  • Bibs
family at airport with carry on bags

Carry On Bag

When it comes to your hand luggage, the last thing you want is to forget something important before you set in for a long flight, knowing it’s on the plane with you but in your main luggage.

You can read our complete hand luggage packing list, but for the basics:

  • Passport, visas and travel documents
  • Purse/wallet
  • Water bottle
  • One outfit (just in case)
  • Entertainment (earphones, tablet, book, magazine etc)
  • A jacket or shawl
  • Travel pillow (many will clip onto the side of your bag to save space)
  • Plastic bags or zip lock bags
  • Personal items you want on board
  • Snacks
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Medications
  • Warm socks
  • Earplugs
  • Sleeping mask

Kids Carry On Essentials

  • Keep the kids entertained by packing plenty of fun stuff into their carry-on bag if they are old enough to bring their own. We always put together a travel activity kit for our kids for every long flight or road trip.
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Travel toys and activities
  • Change of clothes
  • Warm layers (jacket and socks)
  • Travel pillow

Baby Carry-On Bag

When flying with a baby, often your nappy bag is a good option for hand luggage, since it already has most of the onboard essentials packed in it.

  • Nappies/diapers (enough for a full 24 hours)
  • Baby wipes
  • Nappy rash cream
  • Pacifier
  • Nursing cover or swaddle
  • Sleepsuit
  • Baby food and feeding essentials
  • Formula essentials (enough for 24 hours)
  • At least two pairs of spare clothes
Woman packing suitcase with baby on bed

Extras You May Need

When putting together your family travel packing list, there are some larger items that will be essential for your vacation, while others you might be able to leave at home or hire once you arrive.

If you are bringing a lot of large baby items, check with your airline for limits and exclusions.

  • Pram/stroller – We used this one which folds down small enough to be stowed in the overhead luggage compartment
  • Baby carrier – If visiting a destination that is known for uneven footpaths or being extremely populated, this can often be a better option than a stroller
  • Baby car seat
  • Booster seats
  • Travel high chair
  • Bouncer/rocker
  • Travel cot or playpen
  • Tummy time mat

Read our guides on choosing the best travel baby carrier and travel stroller.

Best Packing Hacks For Travel With Kids 

Here are some of our favourite packing tips and hacks for your next trip to make the whole process easier.

  • Use packing cubes – Packing cubes are a game changer when travelling with kids. They make packing and unpacking so much easier and help to keep your suitcase organised. We love using them to keep all of our clothes sorted by person and type. We each use a different colour of packing cubes so that when do share a suitcase, it’s easy to find each of our clothes.
  • Pack plastic bags & zip lock bags – These are great for packing wet swimwear, dirty clothes or to keep your toiletries from spilling in your suitcase. A zip lock bag will help store half-eaten snacks during your day trips or keep your phone dry in your pocket when it’s raining.
  • Roll your clothes – Rolling your clothes is a great way to save space in your suitcase compared to folding everything flat.
  • Fill shoes with small items – This is especially one of my favourite travel packing hacks when returning home. If you purchased some fragile souvenirs during your stay, wrapping them in socks and packing them into shoes can keep them protected in your checked luggage.
  • Use a carry-on backpack – It’s light, comfortable to wear and has enough space for everything we need when travelling as a family. Plus, it frees up our hands so we can wrangle the kids!
  • Wear your heaviest items – If you are able to, wear your heaviest items of clothing on the plane. This will free up some space in your suitcase and help to keep you warm during the flight.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or this is your first time venturing out of the country with your family, make sure to use our travel packing list as a guide to making your new adventure more enjoyable and stress-free. With a little planning and preparation, you can be sure to have a wonderful time away with your loved ones.

Do you have any favourite packing tips for when you travel as a family?

For more packing tips: