Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email with all the best travel news

I love surprises! Most recently my family and I decided to take a vacation to Disney World.  Or, more accurately, Carolyn and I decided we were taking a trip to Disney World, and thought it would be fun to make it into a surprise trip for the kids.

The plan was for me to come home from work, we’d tell the kids and then be out the door in 30 minutes.  Check out the video of how long my daughter screams after she finds out she’s going to Disney World.

So with the trip fresh in our mind, I thought I’d share the top 5 packing tips if you want to pull off such a surprise vacation

Trying to take your family on a surprise vacation?  Here are 5 packing tips to pull it off

1. Pack for a surprise trip when the kids are asleep

Your best bet is going to be to pack when the kids are not around.  Obviously the more kids you have, the harder that’s going to be, and if you have older kids, this might mean doing a lot of your packing during naptime or bedtime.

2. Kids are pretty oblivious to what’s going on

And it doesn’t even have to be the little kids 😀


Maybe your kids are more “on the ball” than mine, but we’ve found that our kids are pretty oblivious to whatever adults are doing anyways.  Kids tend to be in their own world most of the time.

3. But you’ll still want to make up a surprise trip cover story

Having said that, they probably will notice you doing something “sneaky”, so you should have a cover story.  Something like “Oh, I’m collecting things for charity”, or “Doing spring cleaning”.  Figure out what works for you and your situation.

4. Best of the packing tips?  Find a secure place!

Find a place in your house or apartment to put all your things as you gather them beforehand.  For us, that was our master bedroom.  Within 3 or 4 days before the trip, we had started gathering everything there and any time we wanted to go in or out of our room, the door had to be locked.  Here’s a few shots of what our bedroom ended up looking like


And a shot from the other side of the room


Made it a little hard to sleep 🙂

5. Get the kids out of the house

If possible, get the kids out of the house for a few hours.  Maybe Dad or Grandma can come over and give you a few hours to pack in “secret”.  But even if not, maybe consider a little extra screen time while you work on packing for the surprise trip.  I’m sure the kids will be more than happy to accept the offer!

And of course, once the packing for the surprise vacation was done, it was time to load everything into the car!

We first told the kids at 3:52 p.m., and we were packed and ready to go at 4:45 p.m. – less than an hour later!


Let’s hit the road!


What are your best packing tips for a surprise vacation?


Sign up for our once-daily email with the latest tips and tricks on how to travel for free / cheap. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!