Here is my second post in my ‘Tips for Travel with Kids’ series. In this post, I will be sharing some (hopefully!) helpful information about packing. In case you missed it, here is my first post with tips for planning your holiday.For our recent Jamaica getaway, planning was key. This was especially true when it came to packing. We didn’t want to be overwhelmed with a lot of luggage.
For the 4 of us, we managed to pack everything we needed into 2 suitcases. The first suitcase was for clothes (and shoes, swim gear and hats) and the second was for gear. We used the hard-sided luggage from Heys which allow items to be packed on both sides of the opened case. Additionally, we brought 3 carry ons: 1 for food and snacks, 1 for entertainment and the diaper bag.
Here are my tips:
1. Use a checklist. The first step is to keep track of everything you and the kids use over the course of a couple days – this is your starting point. Next add all the vacation specific items. It’s helpful to actually check off when items have been packed so you don’t need to worry about forgetting anything. I used an electronic checklist (created in Excel) which was categorized: clothes, toiletries, gear (travel, food/eating, swim/sun, electronics, toys), and carry ons.
2. Don’t bring too much luggage. As I mentioned above, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with too much luggage. The actual logistics of transporting everyone plus all their stuff through the airport gets more difficult the more you have. If you kids are young, pack their stuff into your suitcase. The young ones are unreliable and can’t be counted on to carry their own stuff 🙂
3. Pack efficiently. Think of packing is like a game of Tetris – rotate your pieces and use your various shapes to progress through the levels and rack up points. Roll your clothes, bring travel-sized toiletries, and don’t bring more than you need to.
4. Be strategic with clothes. For me, this is where it is easy to go overboard. I like to be prepared for all possible scenarios… What if it rains? What if I spill something on the only dress I bring? What if it gets cold? For this vacation, I was much more practical. Not only did I limit what we brought, I also made sure that all the tops and bottoms matched so that multiple outfits could be made. Also, if one of the kids spilled on themselves, a top or bottom could easily be swapped out without needing to change an entire outfit. Our trip totalled 8 days, 2 of which had plane travel. Including travel wear, everyone was limited to the following:
- 1 sweater (worn on the plane)
- 1 pair long pants (worn on the plane)
- 5 shirts (including the one worn on the plane)
- 3 bottoms
- 3 dresses (M brought 2 polos and a dress shirt)
- 3 pairs of shoes (runners, flip flops and water shoes)
- 2 bathing suits
In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t have even brought that much. We spent so much time in bathing suits that the clothes we did wear didn’t get all that dirty. We could have easily doubled up outfits.
5. Bring comforts from home. These will depend on your child’s specific needs but we brought blankies, bedtime books and E’s crib sheet.
6. Bring conveniences from home. These will depend on where you are going. As we were confined to a resort and didn’t have access to shopping, we brought jarred baby food, formula, diapers and wipes. Because we didn’t know where we would be at all times when E needed to eat and what we would have access to, we also brought a travel feeding seat and all feeding-related accessories (bowls, spoons, bibs). We also brought a travel toddler toilet seat as L is potty training.
7. Bring gear specific to your destination. Our trip was all about sun and swim so we made sure to bring everything needed to accommodate these activities. Most important were bathing suits, E’s swim diaper, swim shoes, sun hats, sunglasses and sun block. We didn’t worry about towel because they were provided at the resort. If you have a child that requires swim diapers, I would recommend using a reusable, cloth version. It takes up much less space in the suitcase than multiple disposables and it is also better for the environment! We also brought a swim aid for L (I highly recommend the Puddle Jumper), an inflatable for E (so great for the pool) and dollar store sand toys (great for facilitating independent play for L).
8. Don’t skimp on first aid supplies. This is especially true if you are travelling to an unfamiliar or remote place where you may not have access to the supplies you may need. Bring everything you could possible need:
- Pain reliever/fever reducer
- Anti-nausea medicine
- Rehydration fluid (look for powder form that can be mixed with water – doesn’t take up as much packing space!)
- Antibacterial wound cleaner
- Antibacterial ointment
- Electrical outlet covers
- Diaper cream
- Hand sanitizer
9. Keep important documents separate. There are a lot a pieces of paper you will need to keep track of when travelling… passports, confirmation emails, boarding passes, customs cards, insurance documents, etc. Keep them all in once place so you know where they are at all times. I would also recommend something with separate pockets or dividers so things won’t get all mixed in together. We bought an expandable plastic folio from the dollar store that did a fantastic job!
10. Stock your diaper bag. You never know what you will need on the plane so bring a little bit of everything! Here is the list we used:
- Diaper cream
- Pull ups
- Travel toilet seat
- Antibacterial wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Plastic bags (do not forget these – we used them much more than I thought we would!)
- Extra clothes
Feel ready for your vacation yet? Check back tomorrow for more travel tips!