What to Pack: When Your Kids Travel Without You

A really fun and memorable part of childhood — and parenthood! — is the dreaded and anticipated trip away from home solo for the kiddos. Whether your little ones are being whisked away to the beach for a week with grandparents, or spending a few days with a friend's family on vacation, it can be an exciting and scary time for both kids and parents! Here are some tips on what to pack to make the trip more fun.

Besides the standard overnight packing list (clothing, pajamas, toothbrush, etc.), plus the location specific needs (swimsuit? jacket? hiking boots?) here are some extras you may want to consider:

• sunscreen
• sunglasses
• insurance cards, phone numbers, and important medical information (given to adults)
• small toy or stuffed animal as a "traveling buddy"
• disposable camera or inexpensive digital camera (depending on age): let your child document his or her travels to show you when they return!
• journal or notebook to record experiences, thoughts, and feelings (check out this Travel Journal Roundup for ideas on buying or making your own!)
• spending money (given to adults, or kids, depending on age)
• pillow and blanket for car ride; check out this post for inspiration on making a travel pillow for kids!
• plenty of books, travel games, and scratch paper for long car trips; or check out some suggestions from our readers for toddler-age kids.
• washable, refillable water bottle or canteen

Being separated from parents — especially for days at a time — can be a frightening, yet empowering experience for kids. It's important to encourage them to be independent, take on new adventures, and above all — have fun!

(Image: Sarah Dobbins)

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Sarah is a freelance writer and photographer and mother of four boys. Her hobbies include writing emails at 4 am, fixing up her century-old home, critiquing superhero spin kicks, and trying not to kill her garden.