Taking a family vacation is a fun and exciting time. However, packing for a vacation can seem like a daunting task. Gathering clothes, toiletries and other necessities for a vacation requires some forethought and careful planning. As with most things, if you have a plan, packing will be easier and less stress inducing meaning you can focus your time at the beach relaxing instead of wasting time and money at the store buying items you left at home.
Here are some great tips for how to pack and what to pack for your next Outer Banks Vacation:
Packing Tips Before You Get Started...
- Check the local forecast. While bathing suits and shorts are normal staples for your Outer Banks summer vacation, you will likely also end up needing a sweatshirt (cool nights), a rain jacket, etc.
- Make a list of all the activities planned for the vacation. Include outings and day trips, beach-specific activities like fishing or biking and events like special dinners or meetings. Make sure you list any special clothing and equipment that's required.
- Make a list for the family of all the items they need. Start making your lists a couple of weeks before you leave so that you can be prepared and aren't packing haphazardly the last minute.
- Organize a wardrobe on paper for each day. Write down everything individually including underwear and sleepwear. Be specific about items of apparel: short black skirt, linen blazer, white sleeveless tee, etc. Then review each day's wardrobe needs and start to consolidate. Arrange for clothing items to do double and triple duty to reduce your chances of over packing. Nearly all homes have laundry on site so its easy to wash clothes to wear again later in the week.
Tip: Try and pack a couple days before your trip. The less rushed you are when packing, the less likely you are to forget something important.
Beach Packing List - What To Take
Beach clothing should consist of sandals, flip flops or water shoes, sun hats and/or baseball caps, swimsuits or swim trunks (at least two for each person) and beach cover-ups. Swimwear with UV protection is recommended for infants and toddlers. A sarong is also a great idea - as it can double as a skirt, dress, shawl, beach towel, top sheet and a tablecloth.
In addition to beach wear, each person should have one pair of clothes for every day of vacation plus a couple extra pairs for emergencies. Weather in the Outer Banks is subject to change, so a jacket and long pants should be included for breezy walks on the beach at night. (Note: most Seaside Vacations homes include a washer/dryer - so you could get by with packing less clothing.)
Shoes - shoes are always tricky as they can sometimes be heavy and bulky. Try to limit yourself to three pairs: a comfortable pair for walking extended distances, a pair of sandals or flip flops and a dressier pair for evenings out. Keep the elements in mind - your shoes may get sandy or damp from ocean water. Water shoes are great for entering the ocean or sound.
Don't forget pajamas and underwear! (Note: Don't forget about the youngsters who may require a few extra pairs of underwear.)
Make a checklist of toiletry items you use every day and refer to the list when you pack your suitcase. Your list should include: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap, shaving cream, razors, deodorant, make-up, hairbrushes, hairspray, sunscreen and anything else you will use on vacation.
3. Identification and Money
Make sure you know what kinds of identification will be required on your trip. Your driver's license will be sufficient in most cases if your destination is domestic. It's also a good idea to travel with some cash in case of an emergency.
If you are on a prescription, pack enough medication for your entire vacation. You should also bring extra - enough for another few days - in case your itinerary changes and you need to stay longer. Bring along certain over-the-counter drugs in case you get sick while on vacation. It is easy to pick up a cold while traveling or have allergies flare up in a new city. You might also want to bring something that helps with motion sickness. Aspirin, antihistamines, Dramamine and Tums are all good to have on hand.
5. Emergency Items
No matter where you will be vacationing, you should have first aid supplies with you at all times. Get travel-sized versions of antibacterial ointment, sterile bandages, sunscreen, motion sickness medication and gauze to carry with you in case of injury. Other emergency items may include a list of the emergency phone numbers in the area and your health insurance cards.
Besides the items mentioned above, be sure to also check out our Things to Bring on Your Outer Banks Vacation page. Our knowledgeable Vacation Specialists have put together a helpful list of things you'll need for your week at the beach - including items for the kitchen, the bathroom, the beach, etc.
Tip: On the day of your trip, wear a swimsuit underneath your clothes so if your vacation rental home isn't ready when you arrive, you can easily hit the beach.
Selecting the Proper Luggage
Now that you've decided what to pack for your Outer Banks vacation, let's discuss the appropriate luggage you should use.
- Your bag should fit what you need to take--don't pack to fill your bag. Decide on how much you will need before choosing which suitcase to pack.
- Over the shoulder bags are quick and convenient but not good for long distance carrying when heavy.
- Any soft sided bag can be more vulnerable to theft than a rigid, locked suitcase. A rigid suitcase will probably give the best protection for delicate items.
- Use your beach bag as luggage. Having your beach bag do double duty is a smart idea for efficiency and space. By loading a roomy beach bag with your beach towels, sunscreen, books, etc., you ensure that you know exactly where these items are when you arrive and you don't take up valuable luggage space in the process.
Tip: Make sure you spend some time thinking about how you'll transport wet and sandy items back home. There's nothing worse than a suitcase full of sand.
Tips for Travel Day
- Line up the prepared bags in a hall or living area the night before you leave for the trip. Double-check that everyone has included everything they need.
- Give someone you trust the contact information for where you will be staying and a copy of your travel itinerary. This allows you to be contacted in case of an emergency.
- Think about any bills that may come due while you are away and make arrangements. You don't want to come home to discover the power has been cut off.
- Check the fridge/kitchen for perishables and dispose of them. You should also take the garbage out.
- Consider your home's security. View our article Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation for helpful tips.