Travel: 10 Unexpected Items I Always Pack

Traveling with kids comes with its own set of joys and challenges. Being prepared helps ease the tricky, painful moments immensely. Beyond the basic snacks, wipes, and spare changes of clothes, here are ten unexpected items I always pack for a trip.

  • Extra luggage tags with information already filled out. Ours have a way of disappearing off of our luggage somehow. When we landed in Santorini, exactly none of our bags had luggage tags on them anymore. I prefer sturdy, bright luggage tags with a flap that covers your personal info.
  • Resealable freezer bags in various sizes. I use these for things that need to stay dry, treasures found on walks, items that have broken, etc. I prefer freezer bags to sandwich bags or storage bags simply because they’re thicker and more durable.
  • A classic black Sharpie. Because labeling is key when you have multiple kids involved.
  • Reusable, flat-bottom, large zip totes. I can set them up in our apartment or hotel room and the kids know to throw their dirty clothes in there. When we get home, all I have to do is toss the bag into the laundry room. It’s also served as a makeshift additional bag when our luggage was overweight. We use this bag from Ikea.
  • A fully stocked first aid kit. I know a first aid kit isn’t exactly unexpected, but a fully stocked one is. This has saved us (and other families) more than once and is worth every extra square inch it takes up in our pack. It’s so nice to have what we need exactly when we need it. We all know how quickly a belly ache, headache, bug bite or scraped knee can sour a moment. Unexpected items I include in our kit – small tubes of saline solution (great for flushing eyes or wounds), pain relief spray, and rubber gloves.
  • If traveling domestically, postcard stamps and a paper list of addresses. This makes it easy for the kids to sit down and write postcards. If traveling internationally, I still pack the paper list of addresses, I just go to the local Post Office for the proper postage. (Tip: if there’s a language barrier, take your postcard addressed and ready to go so they know exactly what you want to mail and where it’s going.)
  • Markers, pencils, and drawing paper. I keep this to a minimum, though, not more than can fit in a standard pencil pouch. Easy to whip out on a long flight or while waiting for your meal at a restaurant.
  • A hard copy of our itinerary, including all confirmation numbers, phone numbers for airlines and hotels, addresses for any stops, phone numbers for people we’re visiting, etc. Yes, you can keep this all on your phone, but a piece of paper is a great backup.
  • A plastic zip pouch for travel documents. I keep this in my backpack so important info is always handy.
  • Finally, something that smells nice. Recently, it was a wet wipe our restaurant gave us in Greece. It smelled heavenly, so on our last night there, I saved one for our flight home. It’s so nice to have something pleasant on long, stuffy flights. Other choices include essential oils (just a bit) or lightly scented lotion (be kind to your neighbor).

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