Traveling with kids can be an ordeal, especially if you adventure to travel abroad. To make it easier, here are some tips from my experience that might help mitigate the hassle and make your time enjoyable instead. Please note that all children’s needs are different, so you can use these tips and make an informed decision on what to pack that will suit your family’s needs.
TIP #1. DO NOT PACK YOUR WHOLE HOUSE.
Believe me, I get it. You will always be tempted to pack every toy, every outfit, every snack you can think of. I’ve been there. Over the years, we have mastered the art of packing light and it’s liberating. If the trip is just a few days, I pack previously-picked matching outfits that will go with the one (and sometimes) two pairs of shoes I pack. If you are required to pack an extra pair of shoes for a particular outfit, that outfit is staying home. I also always check the weather to make sure I’m packing the right stuff. My daughter is only allowed one toy, one activity/reading book, and a tablet. Nothing more. (for smaller kids, substitute the tablet for an extra small toy). You don’t need to pack everything you own for a weekend trip. Kids will find ways to entertain themselves when they are on vacation. The less you pack, the less you have to keep up with, and more time to enjoy yourself.
TIP#2. PACK COMFY STUFF
For you and your child, do not pack the pair of shoes that are known to give you blisters. You are on vacation, relax and wear comfy clothes and shoes. It’s not worth the hassle of constant complaining “my shoes are hurting” “my clothes are itchy”, you get the point.
TIP#3. TRAVEL SIZE YOUR TOILETRIES
We travel often, so I always have my toiletry bag ready to go. It is a small bag, with the essentials -shampoo, body wash, deodorant, lotion- in travel size bottles. If the trip is going to take more than 10 days, I usually purchase extra shampoo (my daughter and I have long hair) at our destination, but that’s a rare occurrence. Travel size toiletries are a great way to help you pack light and they are most large stores carry mostly everything in these sizes.
TIP #4. DON’T FORGET THE BLANKET.
My five year old’s most precious possession is her blanket. If we are going to stay anywhere overnight, her blanket gives her comfort. Whatever it may be, don’t forget to pack your kid’s favorite sleeping aid object.
TIP#5. FIRST AID AND MEDICINE
I always carry my pocket first aid kit. A couple of band-aids, a sachet of antibiotic ointment, a supply of prescription medication (if any), and hand sanitizer. Don’t leave my house without it.
TIP#6. USE PACKING CUBES
I recently discovered these little allies. They will keep your clothes and belonging organized and easy to find. A must for packing light.
TIP#7. SAFETY FIRST.
Go over any safety concerns and guidelines with your child, even if you talk about it everyday. Have a plan on where to meet if you get separated, and if you child is old enough, have him/her memorize a phone number to call in case of an emergency. Also, always keep copies of yours and your child’s documents (passport, ID) in a separate place from the originals in case they get lost or stolen. When traveling abroad, make sure you have all permits and paperwork (if only one parent is traveling), and check if there are special vaccines you should get when traveling to a tropical destination.
Here is a personal list of things I pack for my child (five years old) (weekend trip).
3 matching outfits and underwear/socks
One extra pair of shoes (sandals or sneakers depending on destination and weather)
One light jacket (if needed)
Toiletries – toothbrush, hairbrush. ( I use the toiletries I pack for myself on her.)
Medications (if any)
Bathing suit, towel (if needed)
One toy, activity book/crayons
Drinking cup (she has her favorite cup she likes to use)
IN MY BAG: hand sanitizer, pocket first aid kit, snacks for the way.
I refrain from taking too many things. Only what it is essential. If you are used to pack your house when you go out, just remember, kids adapt faster than you think, and they will find ways to keep themselves entertained.
When traveling with a baby, the amount of essentials will increase as you will need diapers, bottles, and sleeping arrangements, but you still can avoid taking all the toys and outfits your baby owns. The best way to do this is to choose a medium size bag and make yourself pack everything you need in that bag, and that bag only (not including pack and play/blanket).
Once you practice and master the art of packing light, you will enjoy your extra time with your family, and not keeping up with all the unnecessary belongings.