All Ages

What to Pack for a Summer City Vacation With Kids: 12 Essentials to Bring

Mom Splashing With Kids at Fountain in City; Courtesy of MNStudio/Shutterstock.com

If you’re heading out for a city vacation this summer, you’ve probably planned a well-rounded itinerary filled with museums, parks and public transit (for suburban kids, taking the train, bus or subway will be a treat in itself).

But because a city vacation is a bit different from a trip to a beach destination, your packing list should include a few items specifically for navigating the urban landscape. Here are a few of our favorite items to pack for a city trip with kids.

What to Pack for a Summer City Vacation With Kids: Gear

UPPAbaby G Luxe; Courtesy of Amazon

1. Stroller

If you have little ones, a great stroller is a must for traveling, and in an urban environment, you want one that is lightweight and easy to maneuver through crowded streets. Your best bet is an umbrella stroller for lightness, but some of the cheapest ones are not easy to steer. Parents rave about the UPPAbaby G Luxe Stroller, which delivers a four-wheel suspension and full recline of bigger strollers, but at just 15 pounds—which makes it easy to fold up and stow for air travel, too.

Related: 7 Best Double Strollers for Travel

Family Pack of Rain Ponchos; Courtesy of Amazon

2. Rain Ponchos

Sometimes it rains when you least expect it—but that doesn’t have to slow you down on your urban adventure. Just tuck a family pack of ponchos in your diaper bag or purse, and let your kids splash on the sidewalks. This 10-pack with five kid and five adult ponchos offers a great value over buying a marked-up option when you’re caught in the rain..

Maxi Cosi Infant Car Seat in Emerald Tile; Courtesy of Amazon

3. Car Seat

The safest place for your child to be is in a car seat, but if you don’t have one that’s easily portable, it can cause frustration for both you and your impatient cab driver. It’s best to use a seat with LATCH technology, such as the Maxi Cosi infant seat, which weighs 19 pounds and installs without a base.

Related: 9 Best Travel Car Seats, According to an Expert

Tile Pro Item Finder; Courtesy of Amazon

4. Item Finder 

Worried about losing your purse (or your kid’s favorite lovey) in the big city? Travel blogger Christian Eilers recommends Tile Pro, which helps you track down anything you might have left behind.

CareTouch Sanitizing Wipes; Courtesy of Amazon

5. Antibacterial Wipes

Cities can be germy places (particularly if you’re taking a lot of public transit), so it’s a good idea to load up on antibacterial wipes for cleaning those little curious hands from time to time. These travel wipes are alcohol-free so you don’t have to worry when your kiddo inevitably puts her fingers in her mouth right after wiping.

Vinrella; Courtesy of Amazon;

6. Combination Umbrella/Water Bottle

Combine two travel necessities in one with a Vinrella combination umbrella/water bottle. Your umbrella can be stored inside a compact water bottle (or removed if you need a drink). After you get caught in the rain, just put it back in the bottle—ensuring that your wet umbrella doesn’t soak the rest of your gear.

Personal Misting Fans; Courtesy of Amazon

7. Personal Misting Fans

Perhaps the most important essential for your summer vacation in the city is a personal spray fan to keep everyone cool.

What to Pack for a City Vacation With Kids: What to Wear 

TOMS Slip-On Shoes in Gray; Courtesy of Amazon

8. Comfortable Walking Shoes 

You’ll need something that can get you through a day of chasing after your kids without giving you blisters. Customers give good reviews to the VenusCelia flat loafers, ideal for daytime wear. If you can splurge a little on a fancier pair, try these handmade leather shoes—these can be dressed up or down, for day or evening. Other go-to shoes for comfort in the summer include Birkenstocks and TOMS.

For kids, we like the SENFI easy-Velcro walking shoes, starting around $10, in pink, grey or blue.

Casual Summer Dress; Courtesy of Amazon

9. Comfortable Clothing 

For mom, we love a soft, comfortable dress like this one that packs up easily and keeps you cool on a hot summer day. You can also pair it with an oversized kimono or cardigan.

For casual comfort, try a jumpsuit in a bold print. Taking a hike around the block for coffee (or do you need a tracksuit for the plane)? Check out this budget-friendly version.

And for evening, we love a wrap dress that flatters your curves (and is also nursing-friendly).

Kids should also have some layered options that can transition from the museum to the park, such as this floral girls’ jogger set with pullover long-sleeve tee and pants or these short-and-tee sets for boys from Frogwill (pick up a couple of sets for inevitable mid-day changes).

KAVU Rope Bag; Courtesy of Amazon

10. Day Bag 

You’ll want to choose a bag that can hold all of your kids’ items (diapers, a change of clothing, snacks, and more) that leaves your hands free and isn’t too bulky. Though KAVU rope sling bags are loved by hikers, we think they’re great for parents, too, since they store a lot of items in a small profile package, can be worn across the body and come in both masculine, feminine and gender-neutral prints.

Related: 9 Best Daypacks for Traveling Families

Wallaroo Summer Hat; Courtesy of Amazon

11. Hat

Don’t forget your sun protection just because you’re in an urban jungle filled with skyscrapers! A summer hat is a great, fashionable way to keep the sun off your face while exploring the city—and don’t forget to grab one for your kids, too.

Blue Lizard Sunscreen; Courtesy of Amazon

12. Sunscreen

Speaking of sun protection, pack plenty of sunscreen for your summer escape in the city.

Related: Does Natural Sunscreen Actually Work?

Cynthia J. Drake is a travel writer based in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Since becoming a mom, she’s been stranded at sea with her family, gotten lost in the Rocky Mountains, dealt with more than her fair share of public vomiting, and still can’t wait for the next trip. She writes regularly for AAA magazines, Austin American-Statesman, Texas Highways and Cruise Critic. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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