Top 5 Travel Take-Alongs

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Rachel at Useful Beautiful Home.

A quick Google search about organizing for vacation took me to dozens of packing & planning tips. From backyard camping to overseas travel and everything in between, I began feeling a little overwhelmed with the organizing possibilities.

Top-5-Travel-Take-Alongs at

Rather than overwhelm you with more to-do tips, I’ll share my 5 favorite travel take-alongs that have proven most helpful and simple in keeping our family organized while traveling.

Packing Lists

Yes, it’s the most basic of travel gear possible, but it keeps me on task. I made a customized list in Excel. I also included some common last minute reminders to do before leaving the house (water plants, hold the mail, etc.). I’ve gone as far as to create one for summertime travel and a different one for winter travel. Flip-flops and snow boots aren’t interchangeable. :)

UsefulBeautifulHome.com_Packing_List By the end of a trip; it’s been stapled, hole-punched, highlighted, scribbled on, check-marked, and folded. Maybe one day I’ll go digital, but for now paper & pen work just fine.

When we’re finished unpacking at home, I print a new copy and tuck it inside the empty suitcase for the next trip. I rely heavily on previously created lists because the less I have to remember while packing the better.

If you don’t want to design your own list, there are plenty of free options. Laura posted her packing list long ago. Click on the link below for her detailed list that organizes up to 6 family members!

CLICK HERE —> I’m an Organizing Junkie FREE Printable Packing List

Before we travel, I also print a packing list meant for children that looks like this…

checking off the picture packing list Recently, I answered an email from a young mama who used my children’s list in the past but was having trouble finding it again. So, I’m including the direct link below as a quick resource for helping children pack themselves.

CLICK HERE —> Vacation Picture Packing List for Children

Pop-Up Mesh hamper

Pop-Up Mesh Hamper for vacation

I try to avoid putting stinky socks & used undies back into my suitcase next to my clean clothes. The alternative is to create a messy pile of dirty laundry on the hotel floor – not my idea of organized.

My answer? Bring along a collapsible mesh hamper to contain all the used clothes until we’re ready to wash a load or pack them up and travel home. It folds flat for easy storage and easy travel.

Pop-up Hamper Collapses for Travel When expanded, it keeps dirty piles organized and also encourages clean-up routines (for my daughter) similar to what we use at home.

I found my collapsible hamper at Walmart years ago. I don’t know if they still carry it or not, but I did find something similar on Amazon HERE.

Car Activity Bag For long road trips, we use this…

activity bag I wrote a little more in depth about it back in May, you can read the details HERE.

Honestly though, any open bag or bin will work to fill with car games, activities, and snacks. My friends just traveled to our house with a large cardboard box that stored their entertainment items and fit perfectly between the car seats. Yes, almost anything will accomplish the same goal, but keeping loose items contained is the key to staying organized.

Re-usable Water Bottles

Insulated Travel Water Bottles I go everywhere with my stainless steel water bottle. I’m always trying my best to stay healthily hydrated.

Waterbottles with Individual Filters for Vacation Usually, I avoid plastic bottles. However, I fell in love with these BPA free re-usable water bottles that have their own filtration system inside. They filter unfamiliar tastes and even strong chlorinated smell from tap water, which make them ideal for fill-ups while traveling. Cooler Backpack This is my favorite take-along to keep us organized on vacation. Whether we’re walking around Disney World or biking along the shoreline, it keeps all of our perishable snacks cold when taking a larger cooler isn’t practical.

Cooler Backpack @ UsefulBeautifulHome It actually holds quite a lot of food & drink, has several divided pockets for important necessities, and wears comfortably. I found it at Target.

Cooler Backpack for Vacation There is enough exterior pocket space that it doubles as my purse when we’re on an adventure. However, unlike a purse, the load lightens as you eat rather than your wallet. :)

How about you? What are your favorite travel take-along traditions to keep your family organized on vacation?

Rachel In the professional world, I’m a nurse by trade. But, around our house, I’m known as Mommy to our young daughter. My two worlds collided and began shaping into a blog. Useful Beautiful Home represents the hours I’ve dedicated to managing my household as efficiently as possible. I offer you motivation to keep your home healthy, organized, and welcoming. My goal is to share what I’ve implemented in my home to inspire you with fresh ideas and to encourage you to keep up the good work in yours! Learn more about me HERE or visit me at

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Rachel, Travel/Auto Organization


17 Responses to Top 5 Travel Take-Alongs

  1. 1
    Cathy says

    Would you be willing to share your excel sheet? I need something I can edit, as there will soon be a grandbaby to travel with……and I can’t do excel from scratch!! I love your blog and utilize many of your tips!! Thank you.

    • 1.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      Yes, of course I’m willing to share! You’ll have to contact me via the email submission on my blog site. That is the only way I can share an editable version with you. Here’s the link ——>

  2. 2
    Kay says

    Hi, love the kid’s packing list. I’m going to take that idea and make a “girl’s” packing list for my little niece who is 4 with dresses, girl shoes etc. Another tip I have in terms of packing list is to bring it with you and when it’s time to go home, you can make sure you have everything that you started out with (in theory). That doesn’t preclude forgotten items but might help!

    • 2.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      Yes! I always take my packing lists along to use as a re-packing guide for the trip home. They look pretty tattered by the time we get home. :)

    • 3.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      Great idea to have a dedicated bag for chargers!

  3. 4
    Briana says

    I use popup hampers for my daughter’s rooms and for sorting laundry in my basement and I found them all at the Dollar Store!

  4. 5
    Pam @Mommacan says

    We use popup hampers for plusch Angrybirds as a game and storagel. lol Love some pop-

    up hampers.


  5. 6
    Becky L says

    I like to take ziploc bags with me, quart and gallon sizes with me. Use in a cooler when blue ice wears out and need to keep cool so I put ice in the ziploc bags. Also good to put other things in you find on the beach or so snacks that you don’t finish eating. I usually take plastic shopping bags as well for dirty clothes or wet clothes. I recently bought laundry bags for our trips. My daughter took one to camp with her for a week as camp staff, so it worked for almost the whole week. Washable as well. Just looking forward to trip to coast for a few days next month so am starting to plan. Just 2 of us now but still need stuff. Good post!

    • 6.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      Love those tips! Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. 7
    Raven says

    I love all of these ideas! We use PECS for our younger children who are ASD and that would work great for the packing list. I also love the car activity bag.

    My only question really is the puzzles for doing in the car – what kind of puzzles are these? I’d be finding puzzle pieces for years if one ever got loose in the car! Heh.

    • 7.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      Yes, puzzles are tricky in the car. :) I used small puzzles, each separated into it’s own baggie. The pieces are large and only about 4 per puzzle. They aren’t very challenging, just something to provide entertainment and a change from coloring or movie-watching. :)

  7. 8
    Insurance Hunter says

    Out of everything on the list, the pop up hamper bag is the one that I would have never thought of including. But, it definitely will be very useful, especially if you are on a lengthy trip with multiple stops. Its a great way to separate your clean and dirty clothes.

  8. 9
    Dreena says

    Love your kids packing list! My niece taught me this trick: Buy an extra pop-up hamper to use as a garbage can. We use clothespins to hold the bag in place.

    I take along a jelly roll pan for the kids to assemble their puzzles in; the sides keep the pieces in one place.

  9. 10
    Sabrina says

    I’ve been using Excel packing lists for trips as well, and think it’s a great idea. I started off using them for long vacations, but now that we have a baby we use it for all our trips so we don’t forget to pack enough diapers, wipes, outfits, etc. I, too, print them off so I can carry them throughout the house as I gather everything. I suppose there are smartphone apps that could do the same, though!

    The collapsible hamper is great, too – I always bring a laundry bag with drawstring. It folds up small and keeps the dirty clothes separated.

    One thing I’m always sure to do is put anything which could potentially leak into ziploc bags. It only takes one leaky bottle to make a mess of everything.


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