In our third installment of tips for traveling with kids, we are going to cover my most hated task - packing. But, we've found a few ways to help make this necessary burden a little more bearable and we'd like to share those tips with you.
It may be obvious, but the best way to reduce the amount of stuff you have to haul around for a kid is to not bring it in the first place. We never travel with a pack and play type crib unless we are driving and don’t mind the hassle, and always leave the stroller at home if we don't need it at our destination. Our oldest is good to sleep in any bed now, and in a pinch, a pile of blankets on the floor works fine too. Our youngest can sleep with us, so sometimes we do that. I also make sure that all the places I book have a crib available upon request. Because, let's be honest, babies can take up an enormous amount of space!
I also try limit the clothes we take. I generally plan for 1 outfit/day for each kid and then 2 extra outfits with a maximum of 4-6 outfits, depending on the length of the trip. To reduce the amount of clothes by half, I try to book accommodations that allow us to have access to laundry about half way through our trip. I also plan on them rewearing pants at least once, so I try to pack "capsule" wardrobes for them. This also makes dressing them easy on my husband since everything matches with everything else.
We only travel with a few very basic toys, or none at all. Stickers, coloring pads, and a small ball are usually enough for my oldest and a half-filled water bottle will bring hours of enjoyment to babies. I've also heard to pack a beach ball since they pack flat - I thought this was genius and will be trying this on our next trip!
When possible, buy needed items - such as diapers - at your destination. I know this one was in Part 2, but it bears repeating here. They just take up so much space in luggage! Alternatively, if you want that extra space when you return for souvenirs, taking diapers with you will automatically free up that space upon your return.
Onesies, little leggings, tiny jackets, and itty bitty socks are hard to corral at home. They are somehow exponentially more difficult to keep track of when traveling! We use packing cubes to keep each girl's stuff together and these are such a sanity saver! We have the small sized compression packing cubes from Eagle Creek. They allow us to compress them after packing if we are only traveling for a couple of days, thus reducing the total volume (and saving a TON of space). I tried my hand at a flat lay to show what I pack for Evelyn for about 7 - 10 days, assuming we have access to laundry. My flat lay skills could use a little practice, that’s for sure!
And all that fit in the packing cube!
The Diaper Bag
I wish I could do away with a diaper bag altogether, but it will be YEARS before I can feasibly do this. In the meantime, I try to make the best of it. Our first diaper bag was a messenger-style one form Timbuk2. Let me tell you, that thing could hold EVERYTHING! It is well-constructed and gender neutral, a very high quality bag. But, it also ended up weighing a ton and we carried far more than we really needed. We have since downsized and I can't recommend downsizing enough!
Our smaller one I picked up when we were living in Germany from Lassig. It comes with hooks to attach it to a stroller easily, is narrow, and can hold quite a bit. It also has a cross body strap to make it easier to carry. It now almost exclusively lives in my car - well stocked in case of emergencies - but I will occasionally travel with it, especially if we are traveling with a stroller.
For airline travel, I have found a day pack is the best. I have one from Timbuk2 that I use. I love the bag as it's super lightweight, but I wish it opened a bit more and had some more pockets for organization. But, it doesn't look like a diaper bag, can hold a surprising amount of stuff, and I will be able to use it long after the baby years are over, or on those rare occasions when I'm not traveling with kids. To keep things organized inside, I use pouches for everything! There's a snack pouch, a diaper pouch, a toy pouch, a charger pouch, a pouch with a change of clothes for each kid. I can quickly grab out the one I need and the rest of the stuff stays contained instead of exploding all over.
Things I bring every time I travel:
Changing pad because public changing tables aren’t the cleanest
Diapers in diaper pod
Indestructables baby books - we got our first one gifted to us, these are super light weight and, as the name implies, indestructible! Oh, and they’re washable!
Burt’s Bees Diaper Rash Cream - my kids aren’t prone to rashes, but without a doubt, the different food will give them a rash every time. I try to be prepared
Antibacterial wipes to wipe down the surfaces on the airplane my girls might touch - the arm rest, tray tables, seat belt buckle. They also double as a way to wipe dirty hands.
Tissues because these are a staple for ANY parent
Small toys. Bath toys work great since they can be washed easily when dropped on dirty airport and airplane floors. A little car and a small ball can also provide lots of entertainment.
Pacifiers, one on a leash and extras just in case they get dropped and I can’t wash them right away. Our youngest uses them and our oldest uses them at nap time still.
Change of clothes for each kid in a washable wet/dry bag. I had these wet/dry bags for cloth diapers, but they are great to put wet or otherwise gross clothing in and keep the mess contained. Ziplocs also work, but these ones are a little more eco-friendly if that’s your jam
This silicon rattle toy has been a hit with both girls. It can suction to a table, feels good on teething gums, and the rings make noise then shaken.
Snack pouch with lots of snacks. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but I have two squeeze pouches, a bag of animal crackers, two RX bars, a pack of fruit gummies, two granola bars, a cereal bar, and a snack bag of raisins. I try to keep them mostly healthy and novel to keep the girls interested. I used to use a zippered pouch, but now that you have to take out snacks for security screening, a clear ziploc works better. For infants and toddlers, the TSA allows you to bring on as much baby food, formula, breast milk, and water as you need. Make sure to check the TSA website for any updates before you travel
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