Your plans are made, you’ve got airline tickets, rental car, and hotel; you know what you want to see and do at your destination. It’s time to pack!
Packing is not so easy when kids are involved. When I travel alone or with my husband packing’s a breeze; throw things in a suitcase. When you’re traveling with kids it takes a bit more thought and planning.
Packing depends on several factors: trip length, weather at your destination, and hotel’s facilities. If you’ll be staying with friends or relatives, or the hotel, resort, or cruise ship have Laundromats you don’t have to pack too much as long as you’re willing to do laundry during the vacation. Before packing I make a list of things I need then buy what I don’t have. Here are some tips to help you pack for your next vacation.
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If you don’t have one consider purchasing a baby sling or carrier. Carriers free up hands to carry luggage. There are many kinds like the sling carrier by Action Baby Carriers or the Ergo. One should fit your needs and budget.
For children 8 months and older consider purchasing a “Ride-on Carry-on”. It’s a seat that straps to your rolling bag. It keeps children and your belongings always within eyesight.
Children 3 years and older can carry a small backpack or pull a child size rolling bag. I especially love the “Trunki”, a fun and colorful ride-on suitcase. Kids fill it with their “stuff” and roll it behind them or ride them – it has a long pull strap.
Infants and toddlers use many disposable and consumable items, if you are checking in a bag filled with disposable diapers, bottle inserts, formula, and baby food consider packing them in a sturdy box instead. You can toss the box at the end of the trip and go home with one less bag. On the other hand I see a suitcase filled with these items as extra space for me to pack all the items I buy on the trip!
Too busy to gather all the stuff or want to travel lighter? Check out www.babiestravellite.com. They make kid travel easy by shipping all your baby and toddler needs to your destination. Everything your child needs, including meals and formula, will be there when you arrive.
Pack weather appropriate clothing. When we travel from Honolulu in the winter I make sure we have cold weather gear in our carry-on luggage.
If you plan to nurse en-route a nursing cover allows you to nurse anywhere. For more privacy book a window seat.
Gather/purchase all the items you want or need to carry-on the plane:
Bottles (for hygienic and sanitary reasons consider using disposable inserts)
Formula (put pre-measured powdered formula in multi-compartment plastic containers made specifically for this purpose available from Amazon.com or at Target, Walmart, and other discount stores.)
Pacifiers and Teethers – Altitude changes may cause ear pain. Sucking on a pacifier or a bottle help open up ear tubes and alleviate the discomfort. Place pacifiers and teethers in a clear ziplock bag so security personnel can examine them without handling them.
Changing pad, diapers, wipes, diaper creams, and plastic bags to dispose of dirty diapers. Travel changing pad kits are available from Amazon.com or at Target, Walmart, and other discount stores.)
Any medication you need to take or to give baby – for international travel consider bringing OTC medication as well. Tylenol, Tums, etc. are available abroad, but may have different brands, if you don’t speak the language buying them can be difficult.
Pack sunscreen, lotions, bath wash, and other liquids in checked luggage
Change of clothes – for baby/toddler and you in case of accidents
Blanket & small pillow – airlines don’t always provide them in coach, even if they do there’s the question of cleanliness – blankets and pillows aren’t laundered after each use. I find this unsanitary. I bring my own, even when traveling solo. US Airways flight attendants sell travel packs with a blanket, inflatable neck pillow, eye cover, and earplugs in a lightweight zippered pouch, last time I flew them it cost $7.
Favorite stuffed animal – my grandson always travels with “Beef” his stuffed dog
Toys, books, puzzles, coloring books & crayons, ipods, ipads, leap pads, headphones and other devices to keep the kids entertained en route
Snacks – Buying snack at the airport or on the aircraft can be costly; they may not have your child’s favorites – don’t bring drinks from home, unless it is breast milk, juice, or formula, they will be confiscated by airport security.
Pack snacks, toys, books, etc. on top for easy access. You don’t want to be unpacking and re-packing searching for that game your child wants to play.
If you are attending a special event like a wedding consider hand carrying your event attire– airlines are known for loosing luggage
Download games and ebooks for mobile devices. Family-Travel-Scoop.com sell downloadable and printable Fly it Quiet activity packs that entertain your kids with fun activities that teach them about your destination.
Buy and install new batteries in devices that need them.
Charge devices. Bring their respective chargers. Most gates have charging stations for your mobile device. Some aircraft are equipped with USB ports for passengers to use – check your airline to see where these ports are located and what type of chargers they accept – you may have to purchase an airplane charger, they are rather pricey.
Travel documents – tickets, car rental and hotel confirmations, etc. Most of these can be stored on your mobile device. Saving them electronically is convenient as long as you remember to bring your device. Don’t forget your passports if you are traveling internationally, this will be required at check-in.
If traveling with children that are not yours without their parents you must have written consent signed by both parents. This is particularly true for international travel. When entering and leaving their country immigration authorities will ask for written parental consent at check points. I always have a notarized power of attorney from my children and their spouses when I travel with grandkids. You also need it to get the child medical care while traveling. Not having parental consent will cause you problems.
Bring health insurance cards. Check out of town benefits before you leave home; each insurance provides different coverage. Most will probably not cover out of state doctor visits, but will cover emergency or urgent care visits when you’re out of state. They also will not cover medical expenses out of country, but some will reimburse you for emergency medical care. If you are traveling far for an extended length of time or have health concerns for anyone in your family traveling with you consider purchasing travel insurance. It will cover medical and travel emergencies while you are on the road. One such company is www.travelguard.com.
Bring your credit or debit card. Airlines are cashless, if you want to purchase anything on board the only payment form accepted is a credit or debit card.
Wherever you’re going safe travels!