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10 Must-Have Items When Packing for Family Vacations

From bubbles for entertaining the kids to denture cleanser tablets for disinfecting pacifiers, be sure to add these 10 things to your packing list before your next family trip.

When you're packing for a family vacation, what won't you leave home without? The readers of recommend 10 items that can make your trip that much easier.

Tip #1: Whenever I travel with my baby and toddler, I always bring along a box of denture cleanser tablets. They are amazing for cleaning pacifiers, baby spoons, sippy cup lids, and anything else that is hard to sterilize on the road. I just fill a glass with warm water, drop in the item, and pop in a tablet. We're good to go in five minutes. --Amy from Burlington, VT

Tip #2: I use those nylon mesh lingerie laundry bags for packing little items, such as my baby's socks or my 3-year-old's undies. I can see what's in the bags, the small items stay organized, and I don't lose any tiny socks! --Maura from Berkeley, CA

Tip #3: Keeping your hands free is handy anytime you have a little kid in tow -- but especially in a busy airport. Before my last trip, I bought a pack of inexpensive carabiners (D-ring snap-on clips), which are available in most grocery and big box stores. I snapped a couple of carabiners on to my carry-on bag (and to my 5-year-old son's backpack) and I was able to tote extra items of clothing, small toys, and sippy cups while still keeping my hands free. Best yet, everything stayed within easy reach. When we arrived at our destination, I transferred the carabiners to my daypack. --Eileen from Gilbert, AZ

Tip #4: One of our favorite bring-alongs is those small bottles of bubbles that come in packs (the kind that kids get in goodie bags at birthday parties). Whenever we're waiting in a long line, I blow bubbles for the kids to pop. All of the parents around us always think it's such a great idea because it keeps everyone entertained. Their kids always call me "the bubble lady." --Jennifer from Owassa, OK

Tip #5: If you're going to a resort with a kid's camp, bring a package of inexpensive, new white T-shirts -- I typically can get a three-pack for around $11. Inevitably, the kids will wind up making tie-dye shirts as an activity one day and you'll end up paying $10 for each if you buy one on the spot. --Diane from Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Tip #6: Pack a "permanent" toiletry bag. Buy trial sizes or doubles of your shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, contact lens solution, deodorant, lotion, and so on for your toiletry bag. Don't forget a hairbrush, toothbrush, tweezers, and mini first-aid and sewing kits. Use a gallon-size Ziploc bag for anything like makeup or medication that needs to be unpacked when you get home. Your fully-stocked toiletry bag can stay right in your luggage for your next trip. This helps you not forget anything when you're packing to leave, especially if you have to pack in a hurry. --Heidi from Sibley, IA

Tip #7: I've discovered that a 6-foot extension cord can be very useful on a cruise. Quite often, there's only one pair of outlets in your cabin and they're usually not positioned in a handy spot. --Lynn from Peoria, AZ

Tip #8: Right after our flight home from a wonderful family vacation, I arrived at the baggage carrousel to discover that my suitcase had been opened during a random security search. The lock had been cut off. Since then, I have purchased a TSA luggage lock. I know the combination, and TSA officials can open it with a universal key if they need to. --Roberta from Morrison, NJ

Editor's Note: Great tip. Transportation Security Association-approved locks are designated with one of two logos. You can find TSA locks at Target ( and Eagle Creek (, among other retailers.

Tip #9: I've found that blue, low-tack painter's tape is a handy take--along. This can be used to child-proof electrical sockets, hang up kid's artwork in your hotel room, and prevent a camera lens from opening while you travel (just place tape over the closed shutter). --Beverly from San Diego, CA

Tip #10: Want to pack lighter? When my family goes on trips that are longer than three days, I always bring two key items: a Ziploc bag filled with powdered laundry detergent and a sink stopper. The laundry detergent always comes in handy for washing out favorite items of clothing, like my toddler's beloved bear T-shirt. I bring the sink stopper because, in my experience, so many hotels have leaky sinks and tubs. I use the stopper in the sink to wash clothes and in the tub to make sure that my kids can take a nice long bath. --Anna from Wilmette, IL is an award-winning family travel site. It features reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, vacation deals, and more. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.