The first time my husband and I traveled out of the
country with our daughter, she was six months old. At the time, a
13 hour road trip to visit family in Ottawa, Canada was a stellar
idea. We clearly hadn't taken into consideration the fact that we
were now parents and that being on the road with a semi-newborn
baby would require a little more planning than jumping in a car and
driving to the border.
Thankfully, the trip itself wasn't bad. We stopped more
than we would had it been just the two of us, which lengthened
travel time by a few more hours, but that is expected when
traveling with a child, let alone a baby.
What wasn't expected were the amount of items I packed for
a trip that would be less than five days! If it were an option, I
most likely would have packed her entire nursery. This, of course,
happened because 1) I was (and still am) a rookie mom 2) I
overplayed one too many "what if she needs…" scenarios in my head
and 3) I absolutely needed to pack five pairs of shoes for a child
who wasn't even walking . . . you know . . . just in
Of course I packed the essentials, but the non-essentials
took up way too much space in the car. I couldn't leave the beloved
Bumbo seat, so there it was, keeping our daughter company in the
We've yet to travel back to Canada by car. We've taken to
the friendly skies instead and doing so has shortened our travel
times by a whole 11 hours. Thank goodness for airplanes.
But with flying comes the cost of checked bags
which can get pricey, so I've learned to pack lightly but smartly
and no longer have that "no item left behind" mentality.
With spring break approaching, you may have plans of a
family getaway with your small children. To avoid the same mistakes
I've made, I wanted to share some things that I've learned along
Packing toys -
I suggest packing one or two of your child's favorite toy. If your
child is old enough he/she can make the decision as to which to
bring. This will encourage her/his participation and also give them
a reminder of home which will provide a sense of comfort and
minimize the "away from home" anxiety that certain kids deal
Strollers - I
love my jogging stroller. I don't jog as much as I should, but I
still love the stroller, yet its size makes it hard to travel with.
For travelling purposes, I recommend an umbrella stroller, you can
find one for under $20. If you consider purchasing one, choose a
sturdy one. If you travel often, you most likely will be using it
often and you want to avoid purchasing one that is flimsy. My child
may be a little older and a lot more mobile than she was when we
first traveled, but I find them extremely useful when navigating
large (neverending) airport aisles with a toddler. The best part:
keeping them while you wait to board your flight! Most airlines
will check them for you right before you get on the aircraft and
they will be there waiting for you right as you get off the
Sleeping arrangements -
"Travel cribs" or pack and plays are great
investments and very useful for those of us who travel often.
Lotus Everywhere Crib, made of breathable clear view mesh
is one of my favorites and it's great for babies as well as
toddlers. I love that the LEC can be collapsed into a backpack
which can count as a carry-on, thus eliminating checked bag fees
If you're planning a hotel stay, calling your destination
ahead of time to see if they offer cribs/toddler beds is never a
bad idea. Most do so at no additional cost which eliminates the
need to bring your own.
- What are considered essentials? Diapers,
toiletries, clothes and snacks. If your child is still in diapers I
recommend buying a small pack and restocking when you get to your
destination if you run out, most brands can be found at local
drugstores depending on your destination
As for clothes, it can be tricky for newborns. They are
spit up masters which usually requires them to be changed several
times. To limit bulky carry-ons or diaper bags, packing several
bibs/washcloths as opposed to several outfits is best. They're
smaller and require less space.
I find that packing all of my family's items in one
suitcase makes things easier. Mind you, that as of now, my family
consists of my husband, myself and our daughter. I'm aware that
this may not work for everyone. But if possible I propose trying to
pack as much as you can in one suitcase. For instance, one suitcase
for the parents, one suitcase for brother and sister. You're all
heading to the same destination and most likely staying in the same
space so why not share a suitcase?
Pack clothes that can easily be mixed and matched because
doing so will lighten your load and leave space for souvenirs or
any other items you may be interested in purchasing while
I do keep a few "essentials" in my carry-on if flying just
in case our luggage does not meet us where we're going.
Snack time is
the best time! At least it is in our household. I keep snacks in my
purse ALL THE TIME. (Most of them for me).
Granola bars, goldfish, animal crackers and veggies sticks
are some of our favorites.
If your child is old enough, zip lock bags are a
wonderful mess free way to carry them. Pack a few of their healthy
favorites, throw them in your bag and call it a day.
I hope these tips were helpful!
There are so many great solutions for fuss-free travel
with kids! Have any suggestions that haven't been mentioned? Leave
them below. I'd love to know!
Charlotte Betts is a Canadian expat, wife and mother adopted by the Windy City. Fluently bilingual in French and English, Betts is a fashion connoisseur with a slight obsession to red lipstick. She also curates milknhonee an inspirational mommy and me style blog.
See more of Charlotte's stories here.
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