Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be the production many
parents think it will be. Your luggage load does not need to get larger. You
just need to pack efficiently, ship essentials to yourself, buy when you get
there, and carry multi-purpose items.
Pack the same, not more
When you first begin to travel with your children, pull out
the same number of suitcases that you used before your kids came along. Put
their clothing in first and than your own. You may need to leave home that
fifth pair of shoes and extra “just in case” tops, but you will be surprised
what you can live without. Plan on wearing something more than once, do laundry
in the hotel bathroom or head to the local laundromat.
When your kids are small this is easy to do. Once they are
bigger they can pack their own bags. The key with allowing your kids to pack
their own bags is to remind them that they will also have to carry their own
bag. While they are young and you have to carry your kids, plus all of your baggage,
you need to pack efficiently. When your kids start carrying their own bags you
can throw that extra pair of shoes back in. Of course now you will have at
least three checked bags to pay for, so maybe keep using all of those efficient
travel skills and travel with only carry on bags.
Ship essentials to yourself
Diapers and wipes take up a lot of space in suitcases. One
option is to ship these products to your destination and have them waiting for
you. This works particularly well if you are visiting family or staying at a
hotel. Just remember to let them know you are coming. When you are traveling to
a destination that you know has the items you need, only pack enough to get you
through the first two days then buy a pack of diapers and wipes after you
arrive. Buy only enough to last your trip and you won’t have to worry about
making room to bring them home. If you find that you have a lot of extras, asks
your hotel if they can donate them to a local women’s shelter or church that
serves those in need. Diapers are expensive and should never be wasted.
Items that serve double duty
Baby brands will make you think you need a separate item to
do everything imaginable with your child. The most baby gear you may have to
travel with are a crib (if the hotel doesn’t provide one), a car seat (if you
can’t rent one), a stroller and a baby carrier. The baby carrier will be the
first to get kicked off your packing list as your baby grows. The crib will be
next. Car seats will be traveling with you for a few years, and you may find
you like having a cheap stroller with you to carry bags and tired toddlers as
you explore. You do not need to pack a high chair, exersaucer or sunshades.
Your stroller can also serve as a high chair and playpen in a pinch. Baby
blankets can act as sunshades, and even a changing pad if you need it.
Backpacks also work much better than diaper bags when you are on the go,
carrying both your child’s snacks and diapers as well as your own things.
Less is more
The most important thing to remember is that you won’t need
the kitchen sink to travel with your children, even when they are very young.
Your destination will have its own entertainment and fun. A few toys are
necessary; the entire toy box is not. As your child grows, remind them that they
can bring as many toys and books as they can carry. If they can’t carry their
own bags than something needs to stay home. Make sure your kids know that every
square inch counts, and help them figure out what they truly cannot travel
without. Lovies and one stuffed friend are in; the entire animal menagerie is
out. There are some “friends” who get to travel and others who have to stay
home to protect the house.
What are your best tips for traveling with kids?