Mostly Cloudy   70.0F  |  Forecast »

School Trips: A Packing Checklist

What should your kids pack and take along on a class trip to a camp, big U.S. city – or abroad? Here's a handy list of essentials for parents.

Is your child bound for Washington, D.C., New York City or Chicago? Many schools in metro Detroit and southeast Michigan organize big city excursions for students to bring education to life – and give them a taste of exploration and independence (with teachers and chaperones close by, of course!). But knowing what luggage to pack for your kid's voyage can seem vexing.

Get rid of the stress and guesswork with this handy packing checklist, courtesy of the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA). This non-profit organization's first suggestion? "Do not over-pack for your trip" (since each kid is responsible for toting his or her own luggage; stuff gets heavy!). As SYTA puts it, "Efficient packing can make the trip more enjoyable and stress-free."

So what should you take besides weather-appropriate clothing, comfortable walking shoes and toiletries? Here's a checklist featuring SYTA's advice for general supplies – and special tips for airplane and international travel, too.

General supplies

  • Limited cash. Essentially all costs are covered in the trip price, if you're going with a group. Check with the tour operator for advice on spending money. (Kid going solo? Pack a little cash and an ATM card or travelers checks.)
  • Inexpensive digital camera. Opt for "one that won't ruin your day if you lose it," SYTA suggests.
  • Spare lenses. Have your child take along an extra pair of his or her prescription glasses (and/or contacts). Just in case the original gets lost or damaged!
  • Cheap accessories. Opt for a watch that's also waterproof – and definitely skip pricey, valuable jewelry. Simply put, "Expensive items can make you a target for thieves."
  • First aid kit. Keep this simple: Include adhesive bandages, some sort of antibiotic cream and age-appropriate pain relievers – as well as any other items your child might need for any medical conditions.
  • Prescription tips. Be sure these medications are in their original containers – plus, pack photocopies of all your child's current prescriptions. Discuss these with the group leader in advance.
  • Cell phone? Check with the group leader for the policy on this, first. They're often dissuaded (instead, parents get a list of phone numbers of the kids' chaperones, teachers and tour operators, just in case).
  • MP3 player. Whether by bus or train, traveling can "get long and tedious." Send them off with that iPod fully charged (and consider getting a charger, too). Don't forget the headphones!
  • Writing utensils. Stash a lightweight journal and a couple pens or pencils so your child can jot down memories of his or her experience.

Air travel

  • Carry-on musts. All of your child's valuables (including cash), medications, travel documents and trip-related details (itinerary, etc.) should be stored in here.
  • 3-1-1 rule. This applies to liquids, aerosols and gels in carry-ons: 3-ounce (or less) bottles; must fit in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top big; and 1 bag is allowed per passenger, to be placed in the screening bin. Pack this toward the top of your child's luggage, so it's easy to pull out. (Read more about 3-1-1 for carry-ons.)
  • Unlock luggage. Unless using a TSA-recognized baggage lock, don't lock your child's luggage. It must be accessible for inspection.
  • Discrete ID. Label all luggage with your child's name and address, but use covered tags so strangers can't easily spot the information.
  • Metal-free. Don't wear accessories that contain metal – on the trek out and return – to make the screening process quicker (and to avoid losing items).
  • Be early. As your group organizers will surely tell you, arrive well in advance of your departure time. Airport security measures can cause delays.

Note: Check with the Transportation Security Administration for the latest air regulations before packing.

International Travel

  • Advance planning. Whether your child needs a passport or visa, apply early – and be sure to fill in the emergency contact section before her or she departs.
  • Back-up printouts. Be sure to print out and pack photocopies of your child's airline tickets, passport and visa. Have your child keep these documents with them – but, importantly, separate from the originals.
  • Email passport. Email your child a PDF of his or her passport so he or she can access it online while abroad.
  • Check ahead on chargers. Bringing a hairdryer or other appliance? If your child's heading outside the U.S. or Canada, their gear could require an electricity converter. Check ahead to avoid this cost and hassle (note that many hotels around the globe do now have hairdryers in the rooms).

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

After only one night in, Romanian socialite Monica Gabor took her adopted son back to the orphanage because the child was too distressed.

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Recent findings published in Pediatrics show that nearly 40 percent of parents make measuring errors for their kid's medicine. Why is this happening and what can you do to prevent it?

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Beat vacation boredom with these four cool ideas from blogs, including Popsicle holders, printable sewing cards, jellyfish handprint bookmarks and more.

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

From picking out ingredients to concocting their own culinary creations, here are a few ways to encourage your children to help out in the kitchen.

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Family Picnic Recipes and Ideas

Head to the park or on a hike and make the great outdoors your dinner spot. Here are six ideas to help you plan your meal – from drink to dessert.

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Book Review: Three Fun Summer Craft Reads for the Family

Want a few simple, fun sewing ideas for the kids, projects to brighten up their rooms or maybe just tips for DIY tinkering? These authors have you covered.

Dad Claims African Land, Declares Daughter is a Princess

Dad Claims African Land, Declares Daughter is a Princess

A father from Virginia claims a patch of desert in Egypt, calls it the Kingdom of North Sudan – just so his daughter can be the princess of this region.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement