2024 Update: The Ultimate Vacation Packing Checklist


The ultimate packing list for vacation


How to Create the Best Packing List for Vacation:
The Ultimate Vacation Packing Checklist for Any Occasion

You’ve reserved the perfect vacation rental home and planned some fun things to do to make the most of your getaway. But there’s always that final, somewhat daunting task that comes right before the actual vacation: packing! This doesn’t have to be stressful, since forgetting something isn’t typically the end of the world. Most of the time, convenience stores within driving distance will have what you need. That being said, it always feels good to be prepared – and it’s a relief to have everything you need as soon as you arrive. Below, you’ll find helpful tips to help you prepare the ultimate list of what to pack for vacation in West Michigan.

What to Pack for Vacation: Overview

Getting Started: What to Bring to a Vacation Rental Home
Vacation Grocery List Tips & Tricks
Sunny Days: Beach Vacation Packing List Ideas
What to Pack for Vacation in Cold Weather
Packing for Two Weeks vs Packing for a Weekend Trip
Your Ultimate Guide: What to Bring on a Road Trip
Additional Resources: Stay Up-to-Date on Capsule Packing, Trending Travel Essentials, Pet Checklists, and More


Getting Started: The Essential Vacation Packing Checklist for a Vacation Rental Home


Here’s a basic list of what to pack for vacation. You’ll no doubt have your own needs, but these are some of the most important items to remember.

Personal Items

Travel Packing Checklist Ideas for West Michigan Vacation Rental Homes
BVW Unsalted Vacations provides a small starter kit including miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, one makeup remover wipe, and a bar of soap in each bathroom.
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Face wash
  • Body wash
  • Skin care products
  • Makeup Remover
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Tweezers
  • Lip balm
  • Comb or brush
  • Deodorant
  • Insect repellent
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash
  • Hairspray and styling products
  • Makeup and Makeup Remover
  • Nail Clippers
  • Contact solution and extra contacts
  • Glasses and glasses case


  • Driver’s license or photo ID
  • Credit or debit cards
  • Passport, if traveling internationally
  • Printed directions and access code for vacation rental home, since cell service varies depending on where you are
  • Printed information for car rental

Clothing, Outerwear, & Accessories

Vacation Packing Checklist for West Michigan

  • Casual outfits, including socks and underwear (one per day of vacation)
  • One or two dressy outfits (Depending on what you plan to do, this might be a good idea for special occasions)
  • Jacket
  • Jewelry and accessories for each outfit
  • Pajamas
  • Casual shoes
  • Dress shoes
  • Belts
  • Rain gear and umbrellas
  • Purses, backpacks, and/or tote bags
  • Sunglasses
  • Winter coat, boots, hats, scarves, and gloves (During colder months)
  • Swimwear and sandals (For beach vacations, as well as vacation homes with pools and hot tubs)

One important thing to consider is the amenities at the vacation rental. For example, what gear you will need, or whether or not you will have access to a washer and dryer. Additionally, you might find even more ideas on our designated Packing Checklists + Hacks section on our Pinterest. For example, you’ll see examples of the capsule vacation wardrobe method.

Household Supplies & Products

  • Paper products, including extra toilet paper and paper towels
  • Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic baggies, and portable food storage containers
  • Must-have cookware or utensils*
  • Matches and charcoal for grilling
  • Wood for bonfires
  • Roasting sticks for S’mores and hot dogs (for rental homes with fire pits)
  • Coffee filters, coffee grounds, Keurig pods, and cream/sugar
  • Citronella candles
  • Extra bags for bringing home souvenirs from your trip

Pet Supplies: Dog Travel Checklist

  • Portable food and water bowls
  • Favorite toys, such as frisbees
  • Bags and scoops for cleaning up after your pet
  • Dog booties for hot sand & rocks
  • Kennel or crate
  • Leashes, collars, harnesses, etc. (Make sure to include identification tags in case of separation!)
  • Food
  • Life jacket for dog, if you plan on boating

If you’re interested in finding a pet-friendly vacation rental in West Michigan, check out our list of Pet-Friendly Getaways Along the Lakeshore.


  • Camera, memory cards, and charger
  • Coloring books or Sudoku
  • Puzzles
  • Pens, pencils, markers, and/or crayons
  • Books
  • Games
  • Favorite kids toys
  • Extra camp chairs and beach chairs

ElectronicsTravel Packing Checklist for Families

  • Handheld gaming equipment
  • Camera, memory cards, and charger
  • Mobile phones and extra chargers
  • Laptops and chargers
  • Extension cords
  • Kindle
  • Airpods

Health & Wellness

  • Yoga or Pilates Mat
  • Portable handheld weights
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription Medications
  • Meditation App
  • Running shoes

First Aid & Emergency

  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Epi Pens
  • A few extra days of prescription medication, in case of delay
  • Bottled water (In case of an emergency such as a traffic jam, power outage, etc.)
  • Pain relievers and allergy medications
  • Bandages
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable first aid kit
  • Emergency cash
  • Extra snacks

Experience Ultimate Comfort and Stress Relief with BVW Unsalted Vacation Rentals
Trust Your Vacation Packing List to Supplement Existing Amenities

Wash cloths, toiletries, and soap are provided on site
BVW Unsalted Vacations provides a starter supply of toiletries, as well as professionally-laundered hand towels in each bathroom.

When you book a vacation rental home through BVW, many of the standard household items are already provided for you. These include laundry detergent pods and dryer sheets, if your home has a washer and dryer. BVW Unsalted Vacations also supplies hand soap, dish detergent, trash bags, bedding, bath towels, and beach towels. If your home has a dishwasher, then dishwasher pods are also stocked in the home for you. You can also expect to find kitchen towels, dish soap, and dish cloths.

BVW Unsalted Vacations provides one roll of paper towel and three rolls of toilet paper in each bathroom to get started. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may need to use more.

Remember to pack extra toilet paper and paper towels!

You can also expect to find a hairdryer, iron, and ironing board in our vacation rental homes.

Best of all, our support staff is available seven days a week to respond to any questions or concerns that may arise. In other  words, you don’t have to move nearly as many belongings to our vacation rental property – Please call our direct line, and we will come up with an idea for you.

*Our kitchens contain standard equipment, including pots and pans, plates, utensils, microwaves, and toasters. However, if your meal planning hinges on a specific item (such as a certain brand of skillet), make sure to bring this item with you!

Vacation Grocery Packing List:
Overview & Resources

Of course, many people just want to eat out on vacation. After all, isn’t exploring local eateries part of the fun? However, cooking in your vacation rental home is a great way to spend time with loved ones. Having food on hand also allows the various members of your group to snack and eat meals when they individually want to.

First, decide roughly how many meals you want to prepare in your vacation home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will help you determine how many meals to prepare. For example, if you plan to eat out for five of the seven nights, then you’ll only need to plan two dinners. Then, make a list of ingredients for each recipe in every meal. A little meal planning will go a long way!

Planning a vacation is meant to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment, but the stress of packing and meal planning can often take away from the experience. Therefore, we suggest following the advice from the experts at Wander.com. In other words, keep it as simple as possible! The goal is to choose hassle-free meal plans and to budget for eating out at least once a day.

Vacation Grocery List: Staples

  • Canned goods
  • Milk, cheese, butter, and eggs
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Essential spices
  • Frozen desserts like ice cream or Popsicles
  • Plenty of snacks, such as trail mix or chips
  • Cooking spray
  • Condiments
  • Beer, wine, and spirits
  • Coffee, milk, & sugar

5 Genius Ideas for Your Vacation Grocery List:

According to Wander.com, it’s best to keep meal prep as simple as possible. In other words, he breaks the vacation grocery list into five parts:

  • Portable Snacks for Travel (Great for Road Trips!)
  • Super Easy, No or Low Prep Meals
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages
  • Grilling foods
  • Fun Desserts (It is vacation, after all!)

Additionally, many other bloggers have provided templates for vacation grocery lists:

  • Consider Packing for a Zero Waste Road trip per this thoughtful, organized slow-living blog. It a great way to prepare for longer journeys!
  • Large Familes/Multigeneraational Groups ought to connect with this ‘Cheap & Easy Meal Prepper
  • Finally consider the capsule wardrobe trend that has spread to “Capsule Meal Planning.’ You’ll learn how to quickly and easily stock up!

Vacation Packing Checklist for Food: Tips

First, make sure to have the address of your vacation rental. Then you can do a quick Google search to locate nearby grocery stores. Depending on where you stay, there might be plenty of options. But if you’re staying in a more secluded retreat, there may be less options.


Beach Vacation Packing List:
BVW Unsalted Vacations’ Essential Packing List for Lake Vacations


Although many items in the above list include essentials for a Lake Michigan beach vacation, check out this list below for a quick recap:

Family Beach Vacation Packing List Tips

  • Beach chairs*
  • Beach umbrella
  • Swimsuits
  • Sunglasses
  • Sandals and/or water shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Beach toys
  • Lightweight jacket for cooler evenings
  • Insect repellent
  • Beach cooler
  • Swimsuit Cover up
  • Lightweight clothing
  • Beach toys and corresponding beach bag
  • Sunhats
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Portable chargers
  • Waterproof case for electronics
  • Beach blanket and plenty of towels
  • Snorkel gear
  • Goggles
  • Flippers
  • Portable speaker
  • Underwater camera
  • Beach wagon
  • Dry bags
  • A good book, Sudoku puzzles, or journal with pen

You can save space by renting gear upon your arrival. Just make sure to make arrangements ahead of time. Our Travel Blog has several articles with information about local rentals.

How to Prepare a Grocery List for a Beach Vacation

Related Blog Planning Articles

As you plan for your Summer Getaway, consider the following:

How to Create a Cold Weather Packing List: AKA Your Checklist for Winter Vacations in Michigan


What to Pack for Vacation in Michigan: winter boots, hats, gloves, scarves, skis, and sleds

If there’s one thing to love about Michigan, it’s the incredible variety of the seasons! And luckily, there are many fun things to do in Michigan year-round. However, your packing list for vacation is going to be very different in December than it is in July. We hope this cold weather vacation packing checklist below will eliminate any stress as you prepare for your upcoming trip!

  • Well-insulated, weather-resistant winter jackets
  • Hat
  • Gloves and/or mittens
  • Scarf
  • Winter boots with strong insulation
  • Workout clothing for low temperatures
  • Hand and foot warmers to place in your gloves and boots
  • Cross country skis
  • Snow shoes
  • Snow pants, depending on the snow and/or wind levels
  • Downhill skis/snowboards
  • Outfits with plenty of layers
  • Extra thick socks, and extra pairs of socks
  • Long underwear
  • Plenty of moisturizer and lip balm, since cold weather can cause dry skin

Remember, many snow equipment, such as skis and snowshoes can be rented. You can also find the highest-quality cold weather gear at Travel & Leisure’s Comprehensive Cold Weather Packing List. This will give many specific examples! Another great resource is this cold weather packing checklist and shopping guide by The Insatiable Traveler.

Vacation Packing List Ideas for Various Events:
Packing for Two Weeks vs Packing for a Weekend Trip


Without a doubt, packing for a weekend and packing for two weeks is a little different. The lists below includes some key things to keep in mind as you pack for your vacation in a rental home, depending on the length of your stay. (Don’t worry, you’ll find resources designated for precisely two weeks vs a weekend trip vs 10 days!)

  • When it comes to clothes, remember that you can pack just a few outfits and simply launder them between wears. This will save space in your suitcase! So, you may only need to pack a handful of outfits for a two week vacation. Most homes have a washer and dryer. However, local laundromats are available in the event that your rental home does not have laundry facilities.
  • If you’re flying, make sure to pack an extra outfit and your essential items, such as medication, in your carry-on. This is a good way to prepare for luggage delays or losses. If you are packing for two weeks, include a few extra outfits.
  • Remember extra entertainment items for longer trips. For example, bring a few different books for a longer vacation… It’s always good to have options! Your kids might also enjoy toys to rotate throughout your stay.
  • Be sure to bring extra toilet paper and paper towels for a two week vacation. Since you’ll be spending an extended period of time in the home, you’ll want to avoid making toilet paper runs at inconvenient times!

While it might be tempting to pack everything you might ever possibly need for a long vacation, remember that stores exist for a reason. You can also use services like Instacart or Doordash to have groceries, supplies, and restaurant meals delivered right to your doorstep

Getting Started: The Essential Vacation Packing Checklist for a Vacation Rental Home

Ready to hit the road and make memories? We’ve got your back! This section is the ultimate guide to everything you need for an epic road trip, from must-have essentials to nailing that perfect travel day outfit. (In a hurry for more road trip outfit ideas? Scroll down past the list of essentials.)

If you’d like inspiration for the perfect road trip, check out Your Perfect M22 Michigan Highway & Scenic Drive for the ultimate guide.

We all dread delays and breakdowns, yet they’re almost a given on long drives. Whether you’re battling bad weather or car troubles, being prepared is key, especially if you’re journeying to Michigan from afar. Remember, you’re not just packing for your destination but for the adventure that gets you there too. And let’s be honest, enjoying the journey is half the fun, right?

Road Trip Essentials

  • Spare car key that is stored on a separate ring from your main car keys
  • License and registration
  • Car manual and insurance information
  • Tire inflator/air compressor
  • Driver’s license
  • Plenty of extra snacks and bottled water for each passenger
  • Cooler with ice when traveling in hot climates
  • Extra diapers, baby wipes, and baby food
  • Ice scraper
  • Cat litter or salt
  • Tire chains
  • Snow Shovel
  • Toilet paper
  • Plenty of extra sunglasses
  • Portable gas container
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid
  • Car phone charger and/or portable chargers
  • Warm blankets and travel pillows
  • Portable entertainment like iPads, Kindles, books, and activity books
  • Cash for tolls
  • Antibacterial wipes for cleaning hands when water is not available
  • First Aid Kit
  • Extra blankets
  • Paper road map (just in case)
  • Rain gear

Road Trip Food & Grocery Packing Tips for a Flawless Vacation Packing List

Although there’s nothing fancy about road trip food, there is great satisfaction when you’ve carefully collected what you need.

What to Wear: Planning Your Road Trip Outfit While Packing

Picking your travel day outfit should be fun, not a chore! Let’s keep it simple and comfy. Think breathable fabrics like cotton, nylon, or linen to stay cool on the go. Loose and cozy is the way to go, but hey, if jeans or leggings are your jam, rock them! The goal? To look chic and feel great, all while nailing the road trip vibe.

Consider these travel day outfit expert ideas for maximum comfort:

  • Comfy joggers
  • Moisture-wicking, wrinkle-resistant shirts such as this Patagonia “Capilene Cool Daily Shirt
  • Any type of fit and flare jersey dress, which you can find at Pact
  • Walking shoes with support for excursions taken along the way
  • Practical back-strap sandals
  • Swim suit, if you’ll be traversing near lakes or rivers
  • Extra pairs of socks
  • Easy-to-remove layers such as oversized crew sweatshirts or a soft hoodie
  • Depending on the weather, make sure to bring winter jackets
  • Hats to shield you from the sun


Vacation Packing List Resources, Templates, & More: Keeping Up with 2024’s Travel Trends


Follow BVW Unsalted Vacations expert travel tips
Stay up-to-date on all the packing tips, checklists, & templates by following our ‘MIchigan Travel Tips’ Pinterest board.

If you like to be prepared, and you love checklists and templates, then this is the section for you! Make sure to follow our Pinterest board titled Vacation Packing Checklists.” This is where you’ll find gems such as a vacation rental grocery shopping list, or tricks like “How to Pack 2 Weeks in a Carry On.” Additionally, you’ll find travel day outfit ideas for both road trips and air travel. Road trip essentials are also important, as are beach outfit ideas.

For more specific Summer Packing List ideas, make sure to follow the Unsalted Vacations’ “Summer Vacations in Mi” board. Here, you’ll find plenty more beach trip packing list ideas, including summer vacation outfit ideas and capsule packing tips.

Lake Michigan Vacation Rentals with BVW Unsalted Vacations: Rent Your Getaway Home Today

With the correct vacation packing list on hand,  vacation planning can become a stress-free and enjoyable experience! We’ve covered all the essentials, from clothing to toiletries to entertainment, to ensure that your vacation is as smooth and comfortable as possible. Remember, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, so don’t be afraid to pack a few extra items. As we like to say, “better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

So, whether you’re off to one of our elegant beach houses or settling back in a rustic, secluded cabin, use this checklist as your guide. As Albert Einstein once said, “the only source of knowledge is experience,” so go out there and create unforgettable memories.

Safe travels and happy packing!