4 (or 5) Packing Essentials for Summer Vacation


As we dive headfirst into summer vacation, I want to take a minute to share 4 (or is it 5?) not-so-typical but essential items that are on my packing list for every trip.

4 (or 5) Packing Essentials for Summer Vacation4 (or 5) Packing Essentials for Summer Vacation

1. Carbon Monoxide Detector

It’s so easy to throw into your bag and it is literally a lifesaver. Just this week, 3 travelers died of carbon monoxide poisoning while staying at a resort in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, these stories are very common and completely avoidable. It is recommended that you have one on each floor of your house, but when we travel, I just make sure we have one for each room we will be sleeping in.

2. Airhorn

I know it sounds silly but hear me out. A few years ago, I was sitting in my chair on the beach, watching my husband and girls play on a sand bar not too far from the shore, but ever so slightly far enough to be out of earshot of a normal yelling voice (especially with the sounds of the ocean). Suddenly, I get a call from my brother (who is on the balcony of our house) and he tells me that there’s something big swimming in the water pretty close to the sand bar. Could it be a shark? Could it be something else? In any case, not the best idea to be blindly playing there, right? I yell and wave my arms from the shore but they don’t hear me. I went into the water to get closer until they finally heard me.

It ended up being a manatee so it was totally fine (and really cool!), but it made me think of what could have happened if it HAD been something dangerous. That’s when I decided a $12 air horn would become a beach bag staple from now on. It is so small and so easy to pack…why not?!  If you’re not headed to the beach, these air horns are still great ways to get your family’s attention or in some cases could be great for scaring away scary land animals (gasp!).

3. Disposable Slippers

I hate the idea of stepping out to the shower and walking around a rental or hotel. We tried flip flops but they aren’t much cleaner than the floor. We tried socks but who wants to put socks on straight out of a shower? I tried regular slippers but then it really grossed me out to think about bringing those back home with us after we’ve been traipsing around the rental or hotel for a week. That’s when I discovered disposable slippers. They are good enough to last 1-2 weeks…perfect! Side note, I also keep them at my house for guests because we are a shoe-free home.

4. Garbage Bags 

TWO kinds! I’m not sure if this should go into 2 categories because they serve 2 very different purposes. Of course, you use garbage bags for garbage. But I also put a clean bag in everyone’s suitcase. I try my very best not to do laundry on vacation so we end up taking dirty clothes home. We are also guilty of overpacking (we like choices!). When we return home, I don’t want to wash the clean clothes we didn’t wear but if it’s been mixed in and marinated with the dirty laundry for the week, I have to! So, I have everyone put their dirty laundry into their garbage bags and then they put it back in their suitcases for the return trip home, and then all they have to do is drop the bags off in the laundry room and unpack the clothes that were not worn.

5. Or 4 continued – Black Garbage Bags and scotch tape 

This was more important when my littles were really little, but we have yet to encounter a rental with actual black-out curtains. I like it dark when I sleep and my kids always sleep better (and longer!) when it’s dark. I use the black garbage bags and scotch tape to cover the windows in the bedroom for an instant black-out shade. When my girls were infants/toddlers, this little trick spared me from 5:00 AM beach sunrise wake-up calls and helped them to be able to take good naps during the day.

In addition to these 4ish items that I consider packing essentials, here are some additional items that are worth tucking in your bag if you have room.

  • Liquid hand soap (why do hotels only have bar soap??)
  • A small inflatable kiddie pool (essential if you have kids younger than 2) – blow it up when you get there, fill it with some ocean water, and plop your kids in it, or beside it to play all day! Serious. life. saver!!
  • A bag of uncooked rice or silica gel packets – the number of times we’ve dropped a device in a pool or jumped in a body of water with keys in our pockets is embarrassing. If you’re like us, this is also an essential item.
  • Mosquito lamps – porch/balcony sitting is a must for us on vacation and sometimes we have lots of company. If we don’t pack it, we buy one there because we hate having to douse ourselves in bug spray to enjoy a little time outside.
  • Vinegar – if you’re at the beach, it’s worth checking to see if your rental has some or if it’s easy to come by. Jellyfish stings are no joke and you don’t want to have to wait long for relief if you are unlucky enough to get stung! Vinegar soothes the stings almost instantly (not pee like some might think! lol) so make sure you have some close by!

What packing essentials (and not-so-essential) are on your list?

Check out this beach trip packing list too!

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Sandra is a so-southern, second-generation Korean-American, born and raised in Rome, Georgia. She moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia Tech and never left! She and her husband, Alex, live in Smyrna with their two daughters, Mia and Emmie. They are a tight-knit family that enjoys adventures, travel, and pajama days at home! Sandra has a passion for celebrations, both large and small…from holidays to birthdays to random Tuesdays…she loves them all! She recently began sharing her passion on Instagram @sandracelebrates and is excited to share her entertaining, crafting, and family fun ideas on Atlanta Mom!