Wherever your family travels and whether you get there by plane, train, boat or car, there's one activity that's crucial to the success of your vacation - good packing. Here's how everyone in the family can get involved.

Help your children start with a simple list of the things they'll need for each day of the trip. Since space will be divided among all family members and suitcases will be limited, the list will help them learn how to choose the essentials.Discuss how many shirts they'll really need. Is one bathing suit enough? Did they remember to include something to sleep in? What about beachwear like hats, flip-flops and a towel? When the list is completed, kids enjoy sorting through drawers, finding the items and checking them off the list.

Once the basics are packed, let your older children jump right in and take charge of something on their own: packing their own travel kit. Just as Mom has her cosmetics bag and Dad his shaving kit, kids like having their own collection of essentials.

For the kit, use a tote bag, a drawstring sack or a backpack. Start with fun stuff such as a cassette or CD Walkman. Include a favorite book, magazine, comic series or sketch pad and markers or colored pencils. Also, consider some "on the road" items such as a hand-held electronic game, a deck of cards or string to play cat's cradle. Throw in a pen or pencil for postcard-writing, some stamps and a camera. Don't forget to include a toothbrush, toothpaste and extras such as sunscreen, swimming goggles and sunglasses.

Once your children put together their own travel kit, they'll be able to use it for overnight trips during the school year, whether it's to a friend's overnight party or a weekend at their grandparents' house.