What to Pack on a Vacation for Teenagers

Easy Packing Tips for Travel with Teenagers

There is an effective way to pack for teenagers to keep them comfortable, happy, and engaged in the adventures.

Just like most things in life, keep it simple when packing for vacation with teenagers. There is nothing worse than listening to teenagers complain their luggage is too heavy while scrambling through an airport.

First, keep them responsible for what they pack. Teenagers are perfectly capable of following a suggested list of items to pack for any adventure. The organization may not look the way you want it to, but they are the ones that have to deal with it.

Second, have your teenagers pack everything if possible in a carry-on. It can be cumbersome to carry it all, but also nice to have everything they need the moment they hit the ground.

Third, have them use packing cubes, but allow them to organize them they way they want to.

I hope these packing tips for travel with teens is helpful and minimizes any stress that can start before you even take off for your adventure.

Top 10 Things to Pack for Vacation with Teenagers

10. Water Bottle: Keeping everyone hydrated keeps everyone happy and healthy

Our go-to water bottle brand is Nalgene. We love the durability and the attached lids. John and I still have Nalgenes from more than 20 years ago!

9. Ebags Backpacks: soft-sided for maximum adaptability

These ebag Mother Lode backpacks are no ordinary backpack. Not only do they come in a variety of colors (each kid gets their own color), but they are durable beyond belief, which is what every teenager needs. They provide adequate internal pockets and are easy to store while traveling. Ours have traveled the globe! These are the best suitcases for teens.

8. Snacks

In case you haven’t heard, teenagers eat all the time and when they are hungry they are even more moody. We have learned that quality snacks are really important. Two of our favorites are Country Archer jerky and GoMacro bars. If you can keep your teenagers fed with fuel and not just calories everyone will be happier.

7. Soft-Sided Cooler-Our Number 1 Thing to Bring on Vacation

Always pack a soft-sided cooler no matter how long you are gone. This will save you money and give you maximum flexibility with cold drinks and heartier food. Teenagers love to eat fast food, but having a soft-sided cooler will keep them healthier and allow for a picnic just about anywhere! Our favorite after testing many is the REI Pack-Away.

6. Towels

Even if you aren’t planning to intentionally get wet, your teenagers will find a way. It’s not fun to say no to an adventure because you aren’t prepared. Have each teenager pack a micro-fiber quick dry towel to have with them no matter where you go. If you’re like us, you will always manage to get wet somehow someway! Our go-to towel is from Wise Owl Outfitters.

5. Extra Change of Clothes

It’s the worst to spend a car trip or continue with a fun activity if you are soaked to the bone. Bring an extra change of clothes to have as a spare when you do excursions or hikes or water activities. Your teenagers will appreciate the comfort and flexibility.

4. Binoculars/Camera

Give your teenagers something tactile to keep them engaged. With a camera or binoculars in their hands, they will be more involved in whatever you are doing together and they get more out of the experience. They love to be the first to discover wildlife or the one to take that amazing capture.

3. Map/Guidebook

Not only are maps and guidebooks just downright helpful, but putting these into the hands of teenagers gives them some responsibility and helps build their confidence. Teenagers desperately want to prove their worth. Let them learn how to read maps and find treasures in the destinations you travel to. We have gotten hooked on the Moon guidebooks especially for our U.S. National Parks.

2. Sleep Masks & Earplugs

Teenagers need their sleep. Parents need their teenagers to sleep well. For us that means being able to block out light and noise. It used to be a joke that we brought these two items along, but after one really bad night of sleep in a noisy spot in Boston we never heard another joke about it. You may not need them, but it’s good to have them.

1. Headphones

This may seem counter-intuitive, but hear us out. Teenagers do need their space and alone time even while traveling. We encourage them to pack headphones so they can tune out the family at designated times for a re-set. We own several sets of Bose noise cancelling headphones for either white noise or bluetooth connection to music.

Pack for Happy Traveling Teenagers

The more prepared your teens are, the more they will relax and enjoy the ride. You can’t erase the moodiness of teenagers, but you can increase their joy. Traveling near or far allows teens to get out of their every day environment and get after something new and exciting. Don’t put a damper on the adventure by not being prepared!

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