Packing for a trip is a necessary step in getting to the destination, but for families that travel with their kids, packing can be a headache. The additional gear required for kids plus the need to bring some familiar things from home mean that packing for small travellers is more complicated than for big ones. However, a few tips and packing lists should make the chore easier.
Photo by M Newman.
Think about what kinds of clothes are required for your destination and plan outfits before you pack. Consider what kinds of clothes your child will need, such as nice outfits for evening meals, casual clothes for daily use, comfortable clothes for downtime, pajamas, and specific clothes and footwear for special purposes such as swimming. Avoid light-colored clothes that show dirt, and aim for clothes that are easy to wash and dry, don’t need to be ironed, and fit comfortably. Avoid brand-new clothes and shoes that your child has not already worn and approved.
How much to take?
Because kids tend to get dirty faster than adults, they will need more changes of clothes. When travelling with a toddler, I assess the amount of clothes for an adult and double it for the child; if I take two pairs of pants for myself, I take four for my youngster. Consider multi-purpose items such as a coat that converts to a vest.
It’s also important to try to pack light because your hands will be full looking after your kids. Remember that most products that you use at home can be purchased in other places, so there’s no need to pack large quantities of common items like diapers or toys.
What to bring from home?
Young children love their toys and home routines, so they can be comforted while travelling by having some favourite items from home at the ready. At the same time, they get excited by being in a new place and may be too busy to play with things from home. As a result, you may want to bring a limited number of items from home: one or two small stuffed toys, a small bag of figures that can be played with on the airplane or in a car, an activity book for restaurant or travel time, and one or two favourite bedtime stories. You can also consider letting your child choose what he or she wants to bring and limit it to how much can fit into a small bag.
You will need to decide if you will bring a car seat. If you’ll be using a car or taxi at your destination, you can decide if you want to bring your child’s car seat, a portable/inflatable car seat, or a booster seat. Some taxis and rental cars allow you to request a car seat. You need to consider your child’s size and safety needs, but airlines allow you to check one car seat per child in addition to your luggage.
Once you’ve chosen what to take, use packing cubes and bags to keep items organized in your luggage. Packing cubes make unpacking easier. For example, you can keep all your child’s pajamas in one cube, and once you’ve arrived at your accommodation, it’ll be easy to find them.
Here’s my travelling-with-kids packing list:
Medicines and toiletries
• Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen for pain and fever
• Mini toothpaste and toothbrushes
• Kids’ conditioning shampoo
• Insect repellent
• First-aid cream
• Any medications your child may be taking
• Benadryl in case of allergic reactions
• Travel equipment such as binoculars and a kids’ camera
• Mini portable charger
• Cups with lids and straws
• A few favourite snacks
• A compact travel stroller or carrier
And what about the carry-on?
• A change of clothes
• A cup with a lid
• One toy that the child can cuddle with and teach good airplane behavior
• One book
• Tablet with games, a favourite kids’ movie, and e-books
• Child-sized headphones
• An activity or sticker book
• One treat, such as favourite cookies or granola bar
• One or two filling snacks such as peanut butter and crackers or string cheese
• Acetaminophen in case of fever during the flight
• Gum for when the plane is descending
• Wipes for cleaning hands
Packing can be stressful, but don’t forget the reason why you’re doing it: to have fun and share the world with your kids.
We can’t make more time with our families, but we can make more with the time we have. G Adventures runs a wide range of departure dates and activities to that cater to families. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you and your children this wonderful planet of ours in a way you’ve never seen it — check out our small group Family trips here.