Travel Talk

8 Things to Pack for a Smoky Mountains Trip with Kids

Traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains with kids can be an exhilarating adventure filled with breathtaking views, outdoor activities, and memorable experiences. However, the excitement can quickly turn to frustration if you’re not adequately prepared. 

The key to a successful family trip lies in thoughtful packing. With the right essentials, you can ensure that everyone stays comfortable, entertained, and ready for the adventures that lie ahead. From unpredictable weather to the need for constant snacks and entertainment, having a well-prepared packing list can make all the difference. 

This guide will cover eight essential things to pack for a Smokies trip with kids, helping you stay organized and ready for anything. Whether it’s your first time visiting the mountains or you’re seasoned travelers, these tips will help make your trip smoother and more enjoyable. 

Comfortable Clothing and Footwear

The weather in the Great Smoky Mountains is always unpredictable, so it’s essential to pack clothing that can handle various conditions. Layering is key. Bring T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets to adapt to changing temperatures throughout the day. Don’t forget hats and gloves if you’re visiting during the cooler months.

Comfortable, sturdy footwear is a must for hiking and exploring. Hiking boots or trail shoes are ideal, but ensure they are broken in to avoid blisters. Flip-flops or sandals can be packed for downtime at the cabin or swimming areas. 

If you forget any of these items or need more options, it’s the perfect opportunity to go shopping in Gatlinburg. This resort town in the Smokies is famous for its shopping as well and you will find everything from clothes and jewelry to toys and home decor here. 

Comfort Items for a Cozy Stay

Bringing a few comfort items from home can help kids feel more at ease during the trip. Favorite blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals can provide a sense of security and make sleeping in a new place easier. A nightlight or sound machine can help maintain familiar bedtime routines and ensure better sleep for everyone.

Parents can also benefit from packing comfort items. A favorite book, a cozy blanket, or a travel pillow can make the trip more enjoyable for adults as well. Staying in a cozy cabin with all these comfort items will make your family feel at home, even in the midst of nature.

Snacks and Water Bottles

Keeping kids hydrated and well-fed during outdoor activities is essential. Pack healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, granola bars, and crackers to keep energy levels up during hikes and other adventures. These snacks are convenient and can easily fit into a backpack.

Reusable water bottles are a great way to reduce waste and ensure everyone stays hydrated. Choose bottles that are easy for kids to use and carry. Filling up water bottles at your cabin before heading out each day is a good habit to keep everyone refreshed and ready to explore.

First Aid Kit and Medications

Accidents are always a possibility, especially when exploring the great outdoors. Therefore, packing a first aid kit is essential for any family trip. Make sure it contains bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, tweezers, and any prescription medications your children require.

Being ready for minor injuries or sicknesses can prevent your trip from becoming stressful. If your child has specific medical needs, ensure you bring enough medication to cover the entire trip, with a bit extra in case of any delays.

Entertainment for Downtime

While the Great Smoky Mountains offer plenty of outdoor activities, there will be times when you need to relax at your cabin. Bring books, coloring supplies, or small toys to keep kids entertained during these moments. Tablets with pre-downloaded games, movies, and educational apps can also be useful, but don’t forget headphones to keep the noise level down.

Nature-themed games or activities that can be enjoyed outdoors are also great options. Simple games like scavenger hunts or cloud watching can turn downtime into fun, memorable experiences.

Baby and Toddler Essentials

Traveling with babies or toddlers requires additional planning. Make a checklist of essentials like diapers, wipes, baby food, bottles, and formula. A portable crib or playpen is important for safe sleeping arrangements. Pack enough baby-friendly snacks and drinks to keep your little ones happy and hydrated.

A lightweight stroller or baby carrier can make exploring the Smokies easier. Choose one that is easy to fold and carry, as some trails may not be suitable for strollers. Ensure you have all the necessary items to keep your baby or toddler comfortable and safe during the trip.

Outdoor Gear and Accessories

To fully enjoy the outdoor adventures the Great Smoky Mountains offer, pack the right gear. Backpacks are essential for carrying snacks, water, and other necessities during hikes. Hats and sunglasses will protect your family from the sun, while sunscreen and insect repellent are vital to prevent sunburn and bug bites.

Binoculars and cameras can enhance your experience by allowing you to observe wildlife and capture beautiful scenery. Encourage your kids to use binoculars to spot birds and animals, making the adventure more interactive and educational.

Travel Games and Toys

Keeping kids entertained during travel and downtime is crucial. Pack travel-sized board games, card games, puzzles, and a few favorite toys to keep them engaged. These can be lifesavers during long car rides or when the weather keeps you indoors.

Gatlinburg has numerous shops where you can find a variety of games and toys to keep kids happy and occupied. The variety and quality of the toys available will ensure your kids are entertained throughout your trip.


Packing the right items for a trip with kids can make all the difference in creating a memorable and enjoyable experience.

By including these essentials—comfortable clothing, travel games, snacks, a first aid kit, entertainment, baby supplies, outdoor gear, and comfort items—you can ensure that your family is well-prepared for any situation.

Remember, being organized and ready for your trip allows you to focus on making the most of your time in the beautiful Smokies. Happy travels!

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