Turn your tween into a pro-packer with this vacation packing list!
Your pre-teens are reaching an age where a little extra responsibility can go a long way. As frequent travelers, one of the areas we’ve been working on is having our tweens pack their own luggage for our vacations.
Now we don’t expect them to get it spot-on every time. However, we do expect them to put some thought into it; the type of weather we’ll experience, practical items they may want when they’re away from home, and how many days they will be without a washing machine.
In this post, we will guide you through all the aspects of vacation packing you and your tween need to think of.
Print off and work through the checklist together and talk about the items they will need, cross off anything that you definitely won’t need, and use the spare spaces on the checklist to add any important items of your own.
Tween Vacation Packing Checklist
Here’s a detailed guide of what we pack for our tweens, or you can grab the PDF version for easy printing HERE.
Tween Packing List – Carry On Items & Entertainment
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- Electronics – For most tweens, this will likely mean a smartphone or small tablet. You’ll want any valuable tween tech to have smashproof cases and screen protectors as, unfortunately, accidents still can and do happen with this pre-teen age group.
- Headphones – Tweens are probably on to earbuds, but noise-cancelling wireless headphones are still a popular choice if you’ll be flying.
- Charger Cord – A small but essential item easily forgotten on the move, make sure you have the right connections for either end to match your brands and power sockets.
- Battery pack – Don’t let a flat battery ruin your tween’s journey; get your tween a pocket/purse-sized charger pack for the journey.
- Books/magazines/e-reader – Whether your tween has discovered the joy of magazines, or loves the compact convenience of their favorite books on an e-reader, reading material for a long journey always comes in handy.
- Water Bottles – We love Ecovessel insulated bottles on the move, but if you are heading anywhere with questionable water quality, try the Brita Water Filter Bottle, available in lots of stylish colors.
- Travel Pillow – Comfort on the move, train, plane, or car; this will help them get some rest. We love BCOZZY wrap-around neck cushions, or try their new inflatable neck supports.
- Wallet/Purse – Whilst we hardly expect your tween to be paying their own way, they may enjoy being in charge of their own small wallet or purse with just a few notes and essentials.
- Coloring/Puzzle books – Older kids need road trip entertainment too! Think mindfulness coloring books, logic puzzle books, anything to keep hands and mind occupied that doesn’t need batteries.
- Card games – Good old playing cards or UNO cards are a great way to pass the time, solo games, or whip them out for a quick family challenge.
- Notebook and pen – Not necessarily journaling, but we love starting every trip with a fresh set of notepads and pens. Your tween can journal their adventure or just some good old-fashioned doodling to pass the time.
- Tissues – We never stop needing tissues and wipes when we travel, but do start entrusting your tweens to take care of this element of health and hygiene on their own!!
- Lip balm – Nobody wants dry and cracked lips on the move, a small and easy essential your tweens should start carrying for themselves is little lip balms.
- Sanitizer & face mask – Our tweens are so 2020s! Let’s hope hygiene never goes out of fashion, especially when we’re on the move it’s important we keep those germs at bay, always have little clip on sanitizers nearby and a reusable mask.
- Snacks – Time to start entrusting your tween with carrying a few more items on their own. Think of relatively healthy little treats they can hide away for when the munchies hit. If you’ll be flying, some small suckable sweets for take-off and landing.
- Emergency details card – They may be too embarrassed to wear a bright-colored wrist-band with your phone number on it these days, but DO still keep your phone number written down somewhere – don’t rely on their memory or just having it saved in their phone – tweens can still get separated from family too!
Optional – If these functions aren’t all included with a smartphone or other device:
- Camera – You know, the old-fashioned type!
- Small flashlight – Camping, lost items under chairs, you name it, always a handy accessory when you travel
- Multitool – Especially if you’ll be camping or on an outdoor adventure, the extra accessories you’ll get in a small multitool always come in handy, equipping your pre-teens with dealing with any of those little snags and situations you can come across on the move (just careful not to pack anything like this as a carry on item if you’re flying)
Tween Packing List For Clothing
Quantity and type of clothing are highly dependent on location – and fashion needs, of course! As a list of basics to think about then, you can expand on accessories as need be:
- Short-sleeve tops
- Long sleeve tops
- Short bottoms (skirts, shorts)
- Long bottoms (jeans, capris, leggings)
- Dressy outfit (if required)
Tween Packing List Footwear
This will really depend on what sort of vacation you are on, but do consider whether they’ll need:
- Comfortable athletic-type shoes for walking – will their everyday trainers suffice, or will a hiking boot be required?
- Casual everyday shoes or sandals
- Flip flops or waterproof shoes/sandals
- Dressy shoes (think family events or a nice meal out – a step up from their beach wear!
Tween Packing List For Beach Vacations
If beaches, waterparks, lakes or any water adventures are part of your family vacation itinerary, here are several extra items they’ll want to pack, preferably in their own beach bag.
- Swimsuit – Think of something practical and age-appropriate. There’s a huge range of swimwear choices for this age group, but what they need for competitive swim meets might be quite different from fun at the beach. Remind your girls if they’ll be in crashing waves or powerful waterslides, they’ll want to remain dignified and covered! Consider period swimwear with tween girls.
- Microfiber towel – Wrapping up small and drying fast, think lightweight microfiber towels that will fit in their bag.
- Hat – Highly dependent on your tween’s style, but don’t let your growing kids forget to protect their heads in the sun. A broad-rimmed hat will always provide more sun protection than a cap, even if they resist! Boys could try a wide-brimmed Boonie Hat.
- Sunglasses – We know style really starts to matter to some pre-teens, but always put some safety first; check that any sunglasses still include UV protection
- Sunscreen – Even tweens still need constant reminders to cover up! An important age to be teaching your kids the importance of good skin care, keeping your skin protected with a reef safe sunscreen, and after sun treatment, if required.
- Swim cover-up – Your pre-teen girls might like a nice swimwear cover-up for modesty and skin protection.
- Goggles – For underwater swimming, or for snorkeling, you’ll want a full facemask to appreciate life below the surface.
- Flip flops – Think casual beach footwear, water socks for slippery or rough surfaces underfoot, or easy slip on shoes for hot surfaces.
- Pool toys – Pre-teens certainly haven’t outgrown water fun! Think Novelty floaties, shooting games, or throwing games.
- Bug repellent – Location dependent. Your tweens may need a mosquito patch or bug spray to keep the bites at bay.
- Waterproof phone case – If your tween wants to capture some snaps with their own device, make sure their phone stays protected with a waterproof case they can sling around their neck.
Tween Packing List for Winter
In addition to the above clothing items, if you’re traveling to a cold and wintry destination, your tween will also want to consider:
- Thermal layer – An extra layer to go beneath their day clothing, think warm microfleece thermal Long Johns to keep the chills away.
- A winter coat – The thickness and material may depend on where you are traveling to with your tween. A European city break may require a thick wool coat or hitting the slopes something appropriately waterproof but still breathable.
- Boots – Comfort over style every time when selecting winter boots! Again, it may depend are you tackling snow-filled city streets or need a more robust winter hiking shoe for your pre-teen.
- Extra thick socks – Feet are always the first to feel cold; pack plenty of extra wool socks in case they get soggy.
- Scarf – This is where your tween can style up in winter! Fun and colorful designs through to stylish and seriously warm!
- Beanie – Extra head warmth is essential. A full-head cover beanie is best, or if they love their hoody, maybe an extra bit of coverage from ear muffs.
- Gloves – Thinner gloves for city trips or hiking or a thick waterproof sports glove for snow sports.
Tween Packing List Toiletries & Accessories
Let’s make sure your tween has packed those essential items for hygiene and keeping themselves looking good on vacation. Even if their beauty routine is far from complex at this age, they will nonetheless not want to scrimp on their hygiene and daily skin care routine when they travel.
- Comb or hair brush
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hairstyling products
- Scrunchies/hair ties
- Body wash, liquid soap, or soap
- Face wash/scrub
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Girls’ sanitary products (pads, tampons and a small carry case)
- Basic first aid needs (band-aids, antihistamines, painkillers)
- Small clippers/scissors and tweezers
- Glasses case or contact lens case & solution
- Prescription medicines
TOP TIP: If you are traveling carry-on only, make sure all your toiletries are kept in a see-through bag for customs in bottles under 3oz/100ml
Some Final Tween Packing Tips
As much as we’d love to pass them the vacation packing list and set them to work while we finish all those other important pre-vacation jobs, tweens will still need a fair bit of guidance and double-checking when packing their suitcases.
What sort of luggage should your tween use?
Is this just a short weekend away where everything they need can neatly fit into a tote bag or a duffel, or will they require a larger suitcase, as well as a backpack or small travel purse to keep with them?
There are lots of options when it comes to tweens taking their own luggage, so we have a separate guide over here that describes the best sort of luggage for a tween – keeping them stylish whilst practical in size and most importantly carrying capability.
Don’t forget, in addition to their main luggage, they may also need:
Remember to check if there will be any weight or size restrictions. Particularly if you’ll be flying do you need to fit into cabin size only or have an overall weight limit rather than a piece limit if you’re flying internationally?
Check the fine print before you set your tween to work packing their own bag!
What sort of weather are you expecting on vacation?
There’s no point packing the beachwear if you are nowhere near water or taking up room with raincoats if they won’t be required. Help your tween with how to read weather forecasts and pack appropriate items for the conditions.
Crossing off any items from this list before you begin to avoid overpacking can be helpful.
Space-saving techniques for packing
We all know it’s not as simple as simply throwing a few items in a suitcase. Talk to your tween about technique; how they can save space putting socks in their shoes; rolling, not folding; using the packing cubes to pack for different days of your trip, and keeping cleans and dirties separate.
We hope this will help prepare your tween for their next family vacation. We have more great ideas for your next family vacation, including:
- The Best US & Worldwide Destinations for a Tween-perfect Family Vacation
- Fun games and activities for a road trip with tweens
- Ideal gifts for a traveling tween
- Perfect outdoor gifts for tweens who love adventure