As a mother of two, holidays and vacations mainly evoke anxiety and sheer exhaustion instead of relaxation and excitement. It is challenging enough to make it through the airport, lugging a massive suitcase, let alone two kids and luggage!
After years of traveling with my family, I have compiled a list of tips that can be useful in knowing what to pack up and leave behind. Here are a few tips for packing light when traveling with children.
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How To Pack Light when you Travel with Children
The tricky part about packing light is leaving behind favorite belongings or clothes, especially when going on a long vacation. You might think of that one sweater and ruefully wish you had packed it when you had the chance.
On top of that, kids are unpredictable and often need items that we may not have packed, or one of your children might miss that one teddy bear you absentmindedly decided to leave behind.
However, you need to remember that you don’t need to pack everything when traveling with your family; pack what you will need for that particular destination and clothing for everyone in your family, including a few changes of clothes for yourself.
The key to traveling with children is a minimalistic perspective, so my go-to motto is ‘Pack light, pack smart. That way, I could finally spend more time enjoying the trip instead of lugging around heavy luggage and unpacking the second I got from the airport!
Carry-on Must Haves
If you are traveling by plane, a lightweight backpack is necessary for quick and easy access to items without having to dig through your stuff every time you need something. The right backpack will make it so we don’t have to worry about carrying a cumbersome suitcase around the airport.
Pack your phone and charger to stay connected on the go, and bring snacks, water, and some entertainment – like a tablet or coloring book – to avoid tantrums and an extra change of clothes for inevitable spills or accidents.
Store all your medicines, especially those for allergies and chronic conditions, in a small plastic bag with the family member’s name on it so you can easily hand it out if needed.
If you are planning on long layovers or staying in hotels, plan and pack lightly by leaving expensive items at home and packing your passport, tickets, and extra money in an easily accessible place, such as a carry-on bag, just in case.
Avoid using too many card slots. Instead, opt for minimalist money clip wallets, which will be easier to use during security checks, with RFID protection so that cards cannot be scanned without your knowledge.
Carry-on luggage is essential for children as they are naturally overindulgent and indulge in their fancy. The contents of their carry-on bag should not be heavier than they are. Choose a small suitcase or pull-along bag that is easy for them to lug around. Inside the case should be a favorite toy or two and snacks to keep them busy during the flight (and keep you sane).
Pack with Compression Cubes
I do not know about you, but the last thing I want to worry about is my kids’ clothes being wrinkled. Naturally, no one can be in the mood to iron or dry clean clothes while on vacation. Compression cubes are by far one of the best inventions that have come out in recent years – particularly for moms who struggle with what to pack for vacation.
These game changers compress your clothes, so you have more space in your bag, making it easier to find what you need and keep it organized. Surprisingly, packing clothes becomes one of the easiest parts of packing your suitcase as they can be rolled or folded.
Go for medium-sized compression cubes for t-shirts, and stack each shirt vertically inside the cube by folding it into rectangles the same size as the packing cube. Use a packing folder instead of a cube for dress shirts or easily wrinkled tops. Packing folders eliminate creases and are extremely simple to use since each folder comes with an instruction board.
As for jeans, roll them up, and you can easily fit them with other bulky items in the cube, such as sweaters. Since shoes are extremely dirt-prone, keep a lightweight sac or cube to keep the dirt away from the rest of your clothes. You can see why packing with compression cubes is a mom’s best friend!
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
Worrying about traveling with children does not end once you zip up that suitcase, and it is important to have a plan of attack before packing up. To do so, you need a strategy that will allow you to be more travel-savvy and prepared. Creating a capsule wardrobe is a great way to do this.
First of all, the goal of a capsule wardrobe is to make packing easier by having a limited number of interchangeable clothes that mix and match easily – think a black dress with different jackets or trench coats in different colors, for example. This strategy will save you time in the long run, whether you are packing for yourself or your children.
Pack as lightly as possible by wearing comfortable clothing that doubles as both daytime and nighttime wear while packing different outfits if necessary. Include versatile items like cotton t-shirts and apparel with multiple functions, such as a dress/top and pants combo with a simple belt. And lastly, pick comfortable shoes that can be converted into sandals or flip-flops, such as ballet flats, flat sandals, or closed-toe sandals.
As for your kids, hand-pick their favorite clothing items and try to match them with staple wardrobe pieces, such as t-shirts, jeans, or skirts that can be easily mixed and matched. Your vacation or holiday destination determines the type of clothes your kids would need.
Whether cold or hot, keep patterned garments at home and go for clothes with a similar color palette to avoid packing outfits they might not even wear.
Travel Size Toiletries and Gadgets
We must remember small yet crucial items when packing for a vacation with kids. Pack essential toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, dental care items, medicines, etc., so you can avoid carrying them around in your carry-on. You can also share some toiletry items with family members.
Remember to keep a small medicine kit with Benadryl (meaning pre-measured doses), Tylenol, band-aids, gauze pads, and ointment. For personal hygiene products, remember toothbrush/paste and ear plugs; moisturizer or lip balm if you are on a plane since the kids will be exposed to the dry cabin air. Store any liquids in travel containers that are 100ml or less.
For gadgets and electronics, the best way to pack is to make sure that you are bringing only a few gadgets or devices, which will increase the weight of your bags. Keep your phone and charger in one of the side pockets so that it can easily be accessed when needed.
If you want to bring a laptop, an electronic device sleeve is always available to protect your laptop while traveling. Power cords should also be packed separately to avoid tangling with clothes or other items in transit. Remember to charge your devices before leaving or bring a power bank with you, as they can save you from hard times when electricity is rare, and outlets are hard to find.
Enjoy your next vacation even while you travel with children
Packing is probably the most stressful thing, especially if you have kids. What should we pack? What should we not bring? How do I pack light but not forget anything important? As a mom and the designated leader of the familial tribe, it is important to pack light and carry only the essentials to avoid dragging a cumbersome suitcase around the airport.