Together Trips with Together Tweens/Teens: My Top Ten Packing List

Jul 10, 2023

For almost the past decade, each summer I haul some combination of my children and husband and best friend to my home state for Maia’s Maine Camp. We load up the 2013 Honda Pilot with bikes, paddleboards, beach toys, my old crockpot (for real) and fleece and raincoats because. . .  Maine. We stay in a too-small-for-nine-people-red-cottage on the coast, and run around my beautiful home state for a few weeks.

There are enough packing list templates that exist out in the world, and I don’t need to dabble in those (or do I?), but what I have learned from this epic annual road trip is what to pack for family amusements and entertainments now that I have a family of four tweens and teens, plus approximately 4+ of their cousins that join us on this adventure. Now, I’m not saying these need to be YOUR amusements, but I have learned what keeps the peace, allows for rainy days, and lets me quietly read on the couch or beside a lake.

  • Board and Card Games. An old standby, of course. We like a combination of chess, old school stuff like Monopoly and Clue, and then family games such as Scattergories or Guess the Meme. I like to toss in a few decks of cards and some games like Uno as well. Spyfall has been our biggest hit as of late!
  • Silly String. Don’t ask, but our kids have this late-night game we play on vacation called Hide and Shriek. It is exactly what it sounds like. . . outside Hide and Seek (sidenote, last year my little sister contorted herself IN AN OLD GARBAGE CAN for upwards of 30 minutes in the pitch-black night. This is how serious it gets) that involves a lot of screaming and jump scares out of the bushes. So, where does Silly String come in? Well, one year, I happened to jump out of my shower curtain hiding spot with a can of Silly String in hand, and now it is part of the Hide and Shriek tradition. You are welcome.

  • Bag of Scissors, Tape and Glue. You just never know when your kids are going to decide to create tiny mustaches and tape them all over the cottage after getting up at 4 AM and declaring it National Mustache Day. I was still finding the mustaches on the wall the following year. Whoops.
  • Fancy Dot-to-Dot and Extravagant Coloring Books. Rainy days? Fogged in? Time to break out the biggies. The tweens / teens can spend hours creating these color-by-number gorgeous pictures. A fun bonus is the 10 X 14 dimensions!
  • Electric Pencil Sharpener. See above. We use a lot of colored pencils, and while it may feel like an over-the-top former teacher move to pack a pencil sharpener for vacation, it has saved us a million times over.
  • Lawn Dice. Mine are pretty close to this set, and it is amazing how much use some kids can get out of lawn dice. Games like. . . roll a number and you have to do that many jumping jacks! Endless source of amusement outside.

  • Fleet of Inflatables. I’m not sure how this tradition started, but we love to roughhouse on very large and ridiculous inflatables. Unicorns, dragons, pizzas, donuts, ducks. . . you name it, and we own it. Last year the avocado was a big hit. And yes, an electric pump lives in my car YEAR ROUND.
  • Adhesive Dots. These are great for labeling sandwiches when you have a million kids, but also for mosaics and other creative art projects. Don’t question it. Just get a pack.
  • Electric Tea Lights. We are often sleeping four cousins per bedroom, and everyone has different evening habits. We have found these electric tea lights are a nice way to wind down, kids can read by “candle light” to unwind from Hide and Shriek, and no one is kept awake by other kids.
  • Some Fancy Art and Craft Situation. Some years it has been these, other years it has been these, and these were also a big hit. I usually save these for the end of the trip when cousin wars have begun!

There you have it! My family is too old for Busy Bags (though if you have little kids, please read!), but the above list has saved us many times! What is on your Together Trip Activity List?