How does the old saying go? “A mother’s work is never done”. The same applies for either parent, really, when you’re planning and packing to travel overseas with one kid (or several…). It doesn’t even matter if we’re talking babies, toddlers, tweens, or teens here – chances are the situation is going to be complex either way. But before you start despairing, remember that your time abroad with the whole family is not supposed to be a source of this much stress. Quite the contrary: it should be memory-making time, lighthearted and fun. Which is why we’re going to point you in the direction of the mother of all packing checklists for busy parents. And we’re also going to dispense our wisdom on the subject, on the form of tips for packing for overseas travel with children.
Baby on board? Tips for packing for overseas travel with small kids
- Start early. Very early.
There’s no such thing as starting to pack too early, when traveling with a baby. A few days (more like three or four, rather than one or two) ought to cut it. There’s going to be a lot you have to remember to bring along and some of the bigger ticket items are harder to pack, so they need to be planned around – think car seat, for instance, or the collapsible stroller. The best way to approach the planning process is to start off with the list above, in printed form, then keep adding to it as you go along. Another, more intuitive, albeit less organized way is to put everything out where you can see it, as you progress and think of each item. Provided you’re not drowning in baby bottles and the like before you’re done, it’s a safe way to make sure everything’s in the bag.
- The disaster issue
Depending on where you’re traveling to, you’re probably going to be purchasing nappies at your destination, too. However, it’s crucial to pack along a few extra diapers for the plane, just in case there are any delays and/or emergencies. Similarly, you should invest into a waterproof lined diaper bag, which you can carry on your shoulder. And, while this has less to do with diapers, and more with feeding the baby, you should probably also pack an extra clean shirt for yourself, just in case disaster strikes. Also, since medicine bottles and bottles of toiletries have been known to leak, it’s probably a good idea to pack them into a Ziploc bag, which you can reseal after each use.
- Baby’s bag
Some parents think they’re better off not bringing along an extra suitcase just for the baby. However, should you need immediate access to baby’s outfits while traveling, you’re going to be stuck digging through the whole family’s wardrobe before you reach them. As such, though it may be cumbersome, the best idea is to pack the little one’s clothes in their own suitcase, which will allow you to find them as easily and quickly as you need to.
Traveling with older kids – without the drama
- Remember the important things…
… but not just the ones that matter for you, such as documents, money, cards, chargers, medicine, etc. (whew, that sure is a lot of stuff to remember, isn’t it?). The point is that you know there are certain items your kid will sulk and whine without. Stuff like their blanky, their handheld console, iPod, cell phone, or whatever else. It’s usually the kind of items that are absolutely irreplaceable and, in the absence of which, you’d have a little bundle of drama on your hands. If your kid is old enough to read and write, have them make a checklist for these items themselves, but make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. And always, always double check when they’re done packing.
- Getting resourceful with garbage bags
This is one of our favorite packing luggage tips for families: there is absolutely no reason a parent should not pack a roll of garbage bags in the family’s suitcase. They’re compact and easy to store and can serve a multitude of purposes. For seaside trips, they’ll help you carry wet clothes and bathing suits back to the hotel room. For longer stays, they’ll help you sort out the dirty laundry from the clean one. If you guys are outdoorsy and plan to spend a lot of time in nature, garbage bags will be there to teach the little tykes a lesson in responsibility and respect for the environment, by allowing you to collect your own trash and leave no debris behind. Last, but certainly not least, these big, cheap bags can be used by parents who are afraid the little one might have an accident at night, while sleeping in the hotel bed. Would you rather pay to have the mattress cleaned? We think not.
- Long drive ahead?
Many families with older kids take vacations that involve a lot of stopovers, so here’s an essential piece of travel packing advice for them. If you don’t plan ahead for this, you’ll probably haul all your luggage into the hotel for a single night, only to haul it back to the car the following morning. This can all be avoided, if you pack a running bag, which you occasionally restock with the necessary clothes, toys, and toiletries. This way, you won’t have to rummage through suitcases late at night for the kids pajamas, nor will there be too much heavy lifting involved in your vacation.
- Never, ever forget the entertainment
This one is among basic air travel packing tips, but it bears repeating. If there’s a long journey ahead do not expect your kid to sit silently in their seat and act like a perfect angel. They, much like yourself, will get bored, and they will require entertainment. It could be anything from a favorite video downloaded onto dad’s iPad, to a coloring book with their favorite cartoons, to a new, exciting toy. Whatever it is, don’t forget to bring it along – unless you are eager to hear some whining and see some sulking.
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