Packing. Dreaded packing. There is so much gear and “must-haves” when you travel with kids. I’m here to break it down for you and show you my packing tips with kids. But first, let’s break it down into sections.
- Carry-ons for airplane travel
- Carry-on for kids for airplane travel or car trips
- Clothing and toiletries
- Kid gear
- Miscellaneous essentials
Carry-ons for me for air travel
I usually find out what the policies are on my particular airline before I decide on carry-ons. It seems to change on a daily basis and I once had a gate attendant tell me that my purse was considered a carry-on and that I would have to check my backpack. Yeah right. Most airlines are now charging for carry-ons, but double check before you pack anything. In most cases, I have a backpack and my purse, leaving enough room in my backpack for my purse in case a gate attendant tries to tell me that I have two carry-ons. In my carry-on, I carry the following:
- My Kindle
- Either my iPad or my small laptop
- A change of clothes in a spacebag, for those unfortunately situations where you are delayed or, even worse, when you arrive but your suitcase doesn’t.
- Some back up toiletries in case my suitcase gets lost. In this small toiletry bag I have a small pot of moisturizer, a small bottle of saline solution, chapstick and maybe some shampoo. See here for a genius idea on how to pack these items.
- Flight documents and passport if I’m traveling internationally
- Tons of small and medium sized ziplock bags. I use all these bags to organize things, for example all my toiletries in a small ziplock, all my flight documents in a medium ziplock and my iPad or Kindle in a medium ziplock. That way, you aren’t rooting around for stuff when you’re on the plane and looking for something. never underestimate the power of ziplock organization!!
- Essentials like my glasses, power cords for electronics and my camera.
- I keep my kindle, iPad and power cords together in one medium or large ziplock bag
- I keep my change of clothes in a spacebag
- I keep my flight documents and passport in a small ziplock and tucked into a zippered pocket within my backpack
- My liquids are in a small ziplock bag, which is then tucked into a larger ziplock bag which also contains my hairbrush and my glasses
- My camera in a neoprene pouch on it’s own
Carry-ons for kids for airplane travel or car trips
This definitely needs two sections.
Up first – airplane travel carry-ons.
- Either coloring books, activity books or iPad (no judgement here on electronics….do what you need to to survive!)
- A change of clothes in a spacebag
- Back-up toothbrush just in case of delay
- Activities and toys. See this post for ideas on how to keep kids occupied during plane trips. I am also a big fan of packing small, wrapped toys for extremely long flights…..I go to the Dollar Store and buy little things and wrap them up. I dole them out throughout the flight to keep their interest–it’s also a great bribery tool.
- Snacks. Some ziplock snack bags work in a pinch. And when the flight attendant comes around asking if you want beverages, request your child’s beverage in a coffee cup with a lid to avoid spills.
Car trip bags for inside the car
- Food! Nothing keeps a kid’s attention and calms them down than yummy snacks. Buy a small organizer at a craft store and fill it with little bite sized snacks
- A travel tray for activities like coloring and building. You can make your own or buy one here
- And, of course, electronics. No judgement!
Clothing and Toiletries
When we travel, I usually share a giant suitcase with the kids and, no matter where we are going, everything fits. Keith gets his own suitcase (jerk :))
I can’t say enough about space bags. I usually sit down and write a list of everything I need and a big key is having a toiletry/medicine bag packed at all time. I keep mine in the linen closet and when packing for a trip, I just grab it and throw it in the suitcase.
Next are space bags. I use one large one for my clothes, one for Max and one for Zoe.
When it comes to gear related to kids, the options are unlimited. Here is a quick list of some of my favorite things:
- A portable high chair for babies – www.onestepahead.com
- A pillow for kids in the car – www.onestepahead.com
- A potty seat – www.onestepahead.com
- A cover for icky tables – www.onestepahead.com
- A tray table – www.onestepahead.com
- A good umbrella stroller…..we used this brand through at least 6 countries before Keith broke it by getting a little overzealous with a curb in Thailand – www.chiccousa.com
- Last but not least, the backpack or baby carrier….seen here on Keith (for bigger kids)….www.amazon.com
….and a carrier for babies on me…www.becobabycarrier.com