The Essential Washington DC Packing List For Families

Planning a trip to the nation’s capital? Don’t go on your Washington DC adventure without the ultimate packing guide that ensures you’re ready for every iconic monument, museum, and moment. Pack smart, travel savvy – let’s dive into the essential Washington DC packing list now!

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CARRY-ON LUGGAGE – WHEELED

Before you even get to decide what to bring on your trip, you need to decide what to bring it in. And that can make a big difference in how you experience your travels. Especially if you’re flying into DC.

silver suitcases

The best luggage will give you the space that you need while also adhering to airline guidelines. It’s even easier if you’re making the road trip to DC instead. Either way, you want something functional and durable. This carry-on fits the description and then some.

CARRY-ON LUGGAGE – BACKPACK

Another great option for families is to use a carry-on bag that you can carry. A carry-on backpack is great because it frees your hands if you have little ones that need assistance moving through an airport loading and unloading your vehicle or moving from transportation to your accommodation.

This one that we used on a two-week trip to Europe is amazing. It’s spacious but it wasn’t too heavy to wear for an extended period or while on the move.

CARRY ON LUGGAGE FOR KIDS

Outstanding luggage isn’t just for adults. You want something quality and functional for the kids as well. We unfortunately learned the hard way on a vacation to Italy.

We purchased the luggage based on a favorite cartoon character instead of functionality and ended up with luggage that was terrible to use. Fortunately, we also purchased this bag which was just the opposite and is happily still in use today.

BACKPACKS

A sturdy roomy backpack is a necessary part of any packing strategy. It’s especially necessary when going carry on only. We find backpacks are also useful for carrying our electronics and for bringing necessary snacks and other things while we are on the go.

backpack and electronic equipment

In DC you’ll likely be using public transportation. In those situations when you don’t have a car a good backpack to easily carry your stuff and keep you organized is exactly what you need. You can go with a classic like this Jansport.

Or go with a versatile backpack like this one.

CROSSBODY BAG

Having a convenient and versatile crossbody bag makes a day on the go much easier. This type of bag is good for safety, looks good, and can help carry some of your necessary items

GOOD SHOES FOR THE FAMILY

Washington DC is quite a walkable city. Partly by design and partly by necessity you’ll likely notice that the majority of your transportation will be by foot.

With its distinctive neighborhoods and spacious areas such as the National Mall, you’ll be seeing a lot of the district by walking. This means that you’ll want good comfortable footwear to aid in your adventures. 

For women, these are excellent 

For men, these are comfortable and smart. 

Kids can wear something classic and practical. 

TOILETRY BAG

travel toiletry bag

This bag is perfect for you to keep all of your toiletry items organized and in one spot. This one is great for men. 

And this one is nice for women

WATER BOTTLE

reusable water bottles

In the summer and late spring, Washington DC can get quite warm. For a family, you’ll likely go through water pretty quickly so it’s handy to always have enough to stay hydrated. Either this leakproof bottle with a built-in straw will work 

Or this collapsible bottle that is super efficient in saving space. 

PACKING CUBES

Whether you’re trying to save space to fit everything into your luggage because you need to meet airline specifications or you’re just trying to pack and carry light, packing cubes are a wonderful way to make the most of limited space. 

HAND SANITIZER

Washington DC is a city of museums and so many of them have hands-on displays and exhibits. This means that there is so much for little hands to touch and discover.

Keep everyone as clean as you can by carrying a little bottle of hand sanitizer. 

SELFIE STICK

When you need to fit the entire family in one shot, this selfie stick is perfect. You can also use it as a tripod for your phone and use the remote to take the pics from a nice distance.

I was able to use this on vacation quite easily and what I liked most is that it folds up very compactly so that I was able to easily stow it in my camera bag. It also opens and closes very easily.

POWER BANK

Never worry about running out of battery charge for any of the devices that you bring on your trip.

Whether you’re spending the day sightseeing going from landmark to landmark or en route via flight, this compact power bank can provide just enough extra power to last you until you get to your destination.

HATS AND SUNGLASSES

If you’re visiting Washington DC in the summer, it’s going to be quite warm and sunny.

The Lincoln Memorial

One of the best ways to beat the heat and protect yourself and your family from the sun is by making sure you have hats. These are some great options:

Mens fedora 

Women’s fedora 

Kids hat 

Men and women sunglasses 

CLOTHING

Some of the most popular times to visit Washington DC as a family are in the spring and the summer. The spring is an excellent time if you’re able to time it with the blooming of the cherry blossoms. Summer is great because the kids are out of school and it’s warm outside.

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in the background

What you wear will be heavily influenced by when you decide to visit. 

For women in the summer, you’ll want something light and breathable because the summer months of late June to August can at times be really hot and humid. Something like this will be perfect.

Or a nice casual dress

For guys pairing a shirt with some nice pants is a good look.

A cool casual t-shirt is great for a day around DC. 

For spring or fall you’ll do well with a variety of sweaters or cardigans that are smart and versatile enough to pull off any look

For kids, there are plenty of things that will work for them that are comfortable, practical, and look good. Be sure to check out some great outfits here

BE PREPARED FOR YOUR FAMILY TRIP TO WASHINGTON DC

US Capitol Building

Make sure to review this packing list before you head out to Washington DC to make your trip easy and fun. Remember the key to a memorable family trip is in the details, so pack wisely and prepare well so that you can explore the nation’s capital with ease. The thing is you’re not completely ready until you have an itinerary and know where to stay. Check out this essential itinerary for your trip to Washington DC as well as this guide on the best areas to stay during your trip.

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Essential Washington DC Packing List For Families
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