Packing list for a mountain vacation with kids – and without
I decided to interrupt my Venice posts with a lovely little packing list for a mountain vacation.
The reason for that?
Well, let me tell you why.
We went on a weekend trip to Tatry – Strbske Pleso, to be exact.
Staying in a nice hotel, lovely room with a kitchen, breakfast. Nice and easy trails nearby, a couple of minutes’ walk to the lake.
The weather was supposed to be easy to pack for – all 2,5 days were supposed to be around 16C, overcast, chances of rain. Not pleasant, but easy to pack for.
So, since I was too lazy to print my essentials packing list or the self-catering vacation packing list (had to connect the printer to the computer, the horror!), I decided to wing it. I pack often, this is gonna be easy peasy! No need to write anything down!
And well, guess what?
I forgot so. many. things.
Passports for me and Emma to check in at the hotel? Forgotten. Luckily, kids almost never need an ID to check in and I had my residence permit, which was enough. (Have to renew my ID card, ugh).
Kitchen stuff such as oil, paper towels, rice, margarine, milk, coffee… well, luckily, we ended up not needing it. But still!
And the main thing? I forgot to pack socks and panties for Emma. Do you know how much socks cost in a touristy hiking place? Well, unfortunately, I know now. They are expensive. 7,99 euro a pair. Yes, they are hiking socks, but still!
As you can see, I’m still not over it, haha.
So, that’s why I’m presenting you with my mountain vacation packing list.
Full disclosure – this is a basic packing list for when you want to go on half-day or, maximum, full-day hikes, not on trekking tours
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Mountain vacation packing list – travel essentials
- Wallet, cards, and cash
- Entrance cards for national parks, if applicable
- Itinerary and maps
These are the travel essentials that you should always take with you, so obviously, a packing list for a mountain vacation contains them, too.
Most of these items are self-explanatory, right?
Let me just elaborate on the maps and itinerary, though.
If you’re planning on going on some harder hikes, it might be a good idea to have a paper map of the area in your backpack. You know, just in case. And maybe a compass as well.
As for the itinerary, as I usually say, have a loose itinerary of things you’d like to see and do, and for a mountain vacation – trails you’d like to check out.
Hygiene and cosmetics for your packing list for a mountain vacation
- Bug spray
- Shampoo/conditioner and shower gel
- Hand cream
- Lip balm
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Hairbrush and ties
- Period things
- Washing liquid for clothes
If you’re going to the mountains, sunscreen is a must even in the winter. The closer you get to the sun, the stronger it gets!
And, if you’re travelling in the bug months, that is, all the months that are not in winter, make sure to take some bug sprays with you. Mosquitoes and ticks are annoying!
I usually take at least some shampoo and a shower gel or soap with me, as the ones in the hotels are very rarely nice. Usually, my hair feels so dry and matted after washing it with the hotel shampoo that I cannot for the life of me brush it normally!
The air can feel a bit drier, too, so a lip balm and hand cream can come in, khm, handy. For the hand cream, I personally like the Loccitane travel sized ones called “delicious hands”. Somehow, they make my hands feel the best. And the lip balm – just any that I can buy in a local store.
On the same note, don’t forget to put a hairbrush and some hair ties on your packing list for a mountain vacation if your hair is longer. Nothing worse than having to fight with your hair in the mountains!
I love my little tangle teezer. I’ve been using it for years now, and it’s still working perfectly. Plus, it’s tiny and has a lid to cover the bristles!
I think toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant are kind of self-explanatory. You can look into some smaller, travel-sized ones so that they don’t take up a lot of space.
Remember, if you pack a deodorant spray bottle, it might get confiscated at the airport. So better pack a stick one.
Knowing how cheeky uteruses can get, it’s a good idea to have some emergency period products with you. You know, just in case.
And the last thing on my hygiene packing list for a mountain vacation might surprise you, but it doesn’t hurt to take a bit of washing liquid with you. That saves you from packing a lot of extra clothes for the trip, as you can just wash the ones that are dirty. Just pour some in those travel containers, and you’re good!
Hiking clothes for your mountain vacation
- Hiking boots – sturdy ones!
- Hiking socks
Hiking pants, waterproof and windproof jacket (soft-shell), middle layer (fleece jacket), long sleeve shirts, t-shirts, thermal underwear
Generally, the weather in mountains is very unstable and hard to predict, so I recommend having layers on your mountain vacation packing list. That way, you can be prepared for anything.
Pack some sports t-shirts that are breathable and light, a middle layer such as a fleece jacket or a long sleeve t-shirt, a wind- and waterproof jacket. I personally like soft-shell jackets, as they seem to be more breathable and good at regulating temperatures.
A good material for t-shirts is synthetics, and if you have one that is moisture-wicking or drifit, that’s even better. It’s because they help sweat evaporate, thus leaving you nice and dry.
If you’re going to the mountains during a colder period (or to a place such as Patagonia), make sure to pack winter things with you. That would mean a winter jacket – a warmer one.
When you buy thermal underwear, make sure to check what material it is. Merino wool will be the warmest one. I have synthetic ones, and they are nice as well,
Hiking socks, scarf, gloves, hat
There’s a bigger chance that you’ll need a scarf, gloves, and hat if you’re going to the mountains in the winter, true. But!
When we went to Tatras now in August (2022), the temperature was quite low. During the day it was raining and a maximum of 16 degrees, and in the evening even colder. I was happy to have my long sleeves, soft shell jacket, and the fleece jacket. I wouldn’t have said no to a hat, honestly.
But the hiking socks – it’s better to have them whenever you go hiking, as they protect your feet from blisters. They come in different materials, but in my experience merino wool, or at least a blend with merino wool, is the best. Just make sure to get thinner ones in summer, so that you’re not too hot.
When hiking, it’s important to have proper shoes that will protect your feet.
If you’re not planning to go on any crazy strenuous hikes, generally, even normal running shoes with a good grip will do. I’ve hiked more than once in those, including Corna Trentapassi in Italy.
If you’re hiking in tropical locations, even sandals with a proper sole could do.
If you’re able to afford them, it’s better to have proper hiking shoes with a sturdy sole, ankle support, and rubber toe cups if you’re doing rocky trails.
Just, you know, don’t go hiking in the mountains in flipflops or, even worse, heels. That’s not safe, people.
Hiking gear to have on a packing list for mountains
- Hiking backpack
- Hiking poles
- Rain cover for bags
- Microfiber towel
- Water bottle (with filter preferably)
The hiking backpack must be big enough and comfortable, that’s pretty much it. It’s definitely more comfortable to have straps that fasten either on the chest or waist. But you can definitely live without it as well, especially if someone else is carrying all the heavy stuff (snacks, water).
Unless you’re in quite a good shape or doing easy trails, hiking poles are definitely a good idea. They just help a lot with balance and saving your strength.
Related: Things to pack for your vacation in Patagonia
Many hiking bags have rain covers already built in, but if not, it’s always a good idea to have one with you. Unless your bag is waterproof, of course. It’s just not pleasant when you get wet from rain and find out that your change of clothes is wet, too.
The microfiber towel is definitely optional, but it’s a nice thing to have on your mountain trip packing list. These kinds of towels dry really fast, so you can easily wash your hands in a stream, dry them, and not worry about where to put the wet towel.
But a bottle of water is most definitely not optional. Always, always have enough water with you when hiking. If you’re not sure that you can carry enough, it’s a good idea to invest in a water bottle that has a filter. That way, you can just fill it up from a stream in the mountains and not worry about getting sick.
Miscellaneous things to pack for a mountain vacation
- A bag for trash
- First aid kit
- Paper napkins
- Travel insurance
“Leave nothing but footprints” is a very good quote for when you visit mountains. So it’s important that you take all your trash with you, even if it’s only an apple core. That’s why – make sure to take a trash bag with you when packing for the mountains. It can be a simple ziplock bag as well, no need to take anything fancy.
A first aid kit doesn’t need to contain anything crazy, especially if you’re not going on overnight or very deserted trails out in the wilderness. Just pack some medicine against pain, bandaids, and maybe a disinfectant or sterilizing spray.
And make sure you don’t forget to put paper napkins on your packing list for a mountain vacation. Or at least a fabric napkin. It’s always annoying when your nose starts to run, but there’s nowhere to clean it. And, you know, when you have to go to the bushes but have nothing to wipe with (put that napkin in the trash bag afterwards! Or use some leaves to wipe.)
Since the weather in the mountains is so unstable, even if it’s raining, it’s a good idea to have sunglasses with you. You don’t know at which moment the sun will come out and blind you, haha.
And a camera, definitely bring a camera. At least a completely charged phone (with a portable battery) or a GoPro. Whichever mountains you go to, you’ll want to take pictures, I’m sure. As the saying continues, “take only pictures”.
As the last thing, though, hoping for the best is good, but always have travel insurance when you travel. And make sure that it covers hiking, as many insurances actually have an exception.
Clothes to pack with you for not-hiking times
- Underwear – 1 for each night spent, plus one extra
- Socks – 1 for each night spent, plus one extra
- T-shirts – both long and short sleeve
- Sweater or cardigan
- Shawl wrap
- Gloves/hat if applicable
- Sandals/flip-flops if applicable
- Closed-toe shoes
These are exactly the same items that I put on my packing list of travel essentials. That’s because, when you’re not hiking, you don’t exactly need anything special in the mountains. Well, except some warmer clothes whichever season you travel.
Anyways, let’s start with the stuff that I forgot on our last vacation – underwear and socks. Don’t forget them, people, it’s annoying to look for them in the local stores. And you’ll be lucky if you actually do find something.
I say pants and not shorts because you have to be really lucky – and on really low mountains – to wear shorts even in the summer. But if the forecast says that the temperatures will be high, do pack shorts in addition to the pants. The evenings will most definitely not be warm, and I don’t think anyone enjoys being cold.
And yes, even in summer, it’s a good idea to take warmer clothes when packing for a mountain vacation. That’s why take a sweater or cardigan with you, as well as a jacket (the soft-shell one that you’d use for hiking is good enough. Of course, if it doesn’t smell like sweat).
I always like to pack a shawl wrap with me when travelling, as it’s such a versatile item! When needed, it works as a scarf, or a blanket, or a jacket. Just good for everything, especially when travelling on an airplane where it’s sometimes sooo cold.
Of course, depending on the season and weather forecast, take warmer or colder weather clothes with you.
And the closed-toe shoes are quite good to have if you’re flying. They can just be your normal sneakers, of course.
What to pack for a mountain vacation if you’re travelling with kids
- Kid’s travel essentials
- Sneakers or hiking shoes
- The same things that I’ve mentioned in this mountain packing list
Pretty much, when you go hiking with kids, you need to pack the same things that you’d pack for yourself, only… smaller, that is, kid’s size.
That means, hiking clothes and shoes, although Emma hiked in jeggings and sneakers. She has a soft-shell jacket and a rain jacket, but underneath it, she had a normal t-shirt. There are actually hiking shoes for kids which you should definitely consider for protecting those little feet and legs.
Of course, you need the kid’s travel essentials, which, in addition to clothes and hygiene items, are things like toys, a favourite sleep toy, and maybe a potty.
The only extra thing I packed was our Ergo 360 carrier, as I knew that Emma will not be able to hike the whole trail. You can get away with any carrier, really.
If the hike is longer or harder, you can get a special kid’s hiking carrier that is more comfortable for everyone. Or it’s usually possible to rent it as well in the mountain towns.
If you’re going to Strbske Pleso in Slovak Tatras, Intersport has a lot of things for rent, including carriers. And you can buy kid’s socks there.
In conclusion about the packing list for a mountain vacation
Well, pretty much, if you’re going for a mountain vacation, you’ll probably need hiking things and warmer things. The packing list is a bit bigger, but still, it’s not too much stuff.
Where are you planning to go? Let me know in the comments!
And of course, enjoy your mountain getaway!
Thanks for the ideas! Next month, my husband and I are taking our 7 children, ages 10mo –16 years, from Louisiana, US to the Grand Canyon, then to San Diego and Los Angeles, then up to Utah and Colorado before heading back to Louisiana. Lots of sights to see along the way. And lots of different climates and clothing needs!
oh wow! that sounds like an amazing trip! Good luck! And if you’re ok with it, I’d be happy to learn how it went!
I’ll come back and let you know! 😀