Family Travel

What to Pack for a Beach or Lake House Vacation With the Kids


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family vacation packing list"
family vacation packing list

There’s a reason week-long stays at beach houses or lake houses are a popular summer vacation choice for families with kids: they’re essentially a home away from home with no need to hop aboard an airplane or worry about squeezing your life into a few suitcases.

You can pack the car to the brim complete with groceries for the week and all your baby gear. Turn on your favorite podcast or playlist and hit the open road knowing a relaxing, waterside vacation awaits (sure there might be traffic, spilt milk, and a few meltdowns on the drive to get there, but trust me, it’s worth it). Plus the savings of being able to cook your meals and split the cost of the house rental with other family or friends doesn’t hurt!

My family and I have been renting a house up in Michigan every other summer for the past decade and as more and more grandkids enter the picture, it continues to get more fun. We’ve usually kept the drive to just a couple of hours, choosing a location on a small lake that isn’t too far away. But this will be our second summer with a baby in tow, and this year we’re venturing to the northern part of the state—a six hour drive—and I’ve already started preparing even though we are a couple of weeks out. I plan on using this checklist to make sure we’ve got it all before our trip rolls around!

Our Everymom editors banded together to compile the “everything but the house” packing list for a week-long stay (or longer!) at a beach or lake house this summer. We included some of our favorite product recommendations. Plus a printable packing checklist at the end and check things off as you pack up the car. Have safe and fun travels!


family vacation packing list


Items to Keep on Hand for the Car Ride

  • snacks, snacks, and more snacks
  • water bottles (this for toddlers and this for kids)
  • hand wipes and napkins for inevitable spills
  • books, toys, iPad
  • teethers, pacis (recommend having a case so you know where extras are for when they get thrown and get lost between the seats)
  • car adapter chargers
  • sun shade for windows
  • any medication people might need
  • diapers / wipes / toilet paper / hand sanitizer (you never know where you have to pull over)
  • extra clothes
  • small soft cooler for milk, drinks, packed lunches, etc.
  • bag for trash to keep the car “clean” as you go
  • disposable gloves for restroom/gas station stops
  • disinfecting wipes, face masks for everyone, and extra hand sanitizer


Gear to Pack

a lot of this is often provided by most rentals so be sure to check with the management company so you don’t overpack if you don’t need to


Clothes to Pack


family vacation packing list


Food & Drink to Bring

  • bottles / plates / utensils for kiddos and babies
  • spill-proof snack cups
  • bibs
  • groceries
  • beverages of choice: milk, wine, juice, etc.
  • olive oil / herbs / sauces / condiments
  • sponges / dish soap


Sleeping Gear


Health & Hygiene Supplies

  • SPF (kid and baby-safe sunscreen options)
  • face masks for the family (plus extras just in case)
  • hand sanitizer minis for on-the-go
  • disinfecting wipes and spray
  • diapers / wipes
  • bug repellant (sprays or bracelets)
  • baby powder to wipe sand off
  • body soap (especially if you prefer certain organic / baby brands)
  • shampoo / conditioner
  • any skincare items you want to bring
  • hair brush and comb
  • baby nail clippers
  • toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • travel first aid kit
  • necessary medicines, vitamins, thermometer

Most rentals provide the following but be sure to check! Otherwise don’t forget:

  • toilet paper
  • hand soap
  • dish soap
  • laundry detergent
  • blow dryer
  • bath towels


Click here to download our printable packing checklist!

family vacation packing list


This article was originally published on July 2, 2019.