We’ve all done it…
Waited until the very last minute to pack for a vacation and ended up throwing everything in a suitcase and hoped for the best.
Which usually turns out to be the worst.
I’ve done it more time than I care to admit.
But when you’re packing for a cruise it’s a little more tricky because there are so many logistics involved. Especially when you have kids. Going or staying.
We went on our first four-day cruise to celebrate our seven year anniversary. It can be really stressful finding and booking the perfect cruise so you’ll want to read this article a wrote to help you simplify the process.
There are certain things about a cruise that do require you to prepare months before hand. We booked less than three months before which I thought was plenty of time and they actually told us its best to try and book six months out.
You will typically need a passport as well so you should apply for one asap because that can take a while.
NOTE: We got our passports directly through the county courthouse and received them back within ten days. I thought that was super quick and we didn’t pay for expedited processing.
So we did do some legwork prior to our cruise. But as in most cases, I waited until the absolute last minute to pack.
We have three littles (4yo, 3yo and 18 months) and this was our first trip away from all of them. I was REALLY stressed out about leaving them but put many plans and people into action to make sure they’d be ok.
We paid my sister to come and stay with them, had a sitter take them for two days, and had their grandparents watch them for one day. I tried to spread it out because three kids is A LOT and most people can’t hang.
I broke up the planning process in several sections because having all those tasks floating around in my brain was exhausting.
Confirm rough dates with a sitter
Apply for passports (we should have done this step first)
Research and add on any excursions
Go shopping! We went in the middle of winter and summer clothes were hard to find so I just ordered on amazing.
Finalize kids schedule
Now, on to my last minute packing strategy for last minute mamas like me.
1. Start With Important Documents
This should be done the week before but I started this process 2 days before because.. well….life.
The first important doc I created was a medical release form for the kids. I added my mom and sister to the list at their preschool as people who could pick them up. I also made a copy of all medical cards and emergency contacts.
I made a detailed list of their routine, food suggestions, important address and anything else I could think of………like……..DO NOT SKIP NAP TIME OR YOU WILL HATE YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!
Next, I tackled all of our important docs. I made copies of our passports, medical cards, flight itinerary, hotel, and emergency contact info.
If your passport is new, be sure to sign it.
2. Pack A Day Bag
Pack a smaller bag that you’d like to use on a daily basis. A backpack is super convenient. I love my fawn bag for day trips.
This should be big enough to fit things like a hat and a change of clothes. Pack passports, cash, all your ID info, jacket or hoodie, sunglasses, phone charger, book, sunblock, and any medications.
Two other items that are nice to have on hand are binoculars and a reusable water bottle.
I also threw a swim suit cover up and towel for at the beach.
3. Pack Clothing
I’m a minimalist and wear a lot of neutrals so I can interchange outfits. I like to lay out an outfit for each day on my bed and see what pieces can be used with multiple outfits. Like an over sweater, shoes, or kimono. You will want to check the weather before hand because some months are much warmer than others. Bring clothes for a variety of occasions including at least one nice outfit for a fancy dinner.
If you like to workout, bring a set of workout clothes. They have spin and step classes on the ship. That will help keep your energy up and weight gain down.
Then I move on to packing undergarments, socks, bathing suit, casual shoes and sandals, tie, scarfs. Pretty much anything that’s more of a miscellaneous item.
Moving on to toiletries. The best thing you can do is just purchase travel sized everything!
It’s so convenient to be able to pack everything like a tooth brush and deodorant the night before. That cuts down on the possibility of forgetting something important.
Toothbrush, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, body lotion, lip balm, sunscreen, shaving cream, I like to grab a disposable razor and medication. Everything you use on a daily or every other day basis.
A good tip I like to use when packing toiletries is to reenact what you do every morning. That helps me identify the exact items I use on a daily basis. I reenact every single step I take in the am and evening before bed. I walk in every single room and ask “what item in this room do I use every day that I’d like to take on my cruise.
Also, be sure to pack these items in a clear toiletries bag that seals (if you are bring them carry on. The last thing you want is for an item to open and get all over your clothes.
Pack everything you can the night before you leave. Laptop, iPad, phone chargers, charging port, camera, and any other small electronic or charger.
Once everything is packed, go back through your list and be sure you didn’t forget anything.
Double and triple check your ID’s and phone chargers.
Think outside the box! Talk to the person you are traveling with and list everything you have packed. Sometimes getting an outsider can help you remember something you may have forgotten.
That’s it!! Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!
Now you can relax!! Other than your ID, most other items can be easily replaced or done without if you happen to forget them. There is no sense in stressing about it when you’ve followed a list, double checked, and done your very best!
You can read more posts about our cruise here: