Over the years of travel I’ve found great joy in perfecting the “packing light” skill set. I’ve slowly built my collection of packing tips and tricks that can allow me to pack for any length of trip in one carry on suitcase.
Now having a family, and having to pack with kids I’m having to come back to the drawing board on how to concisely travel. (How can such little people have so much stuff?!) I packed "light" on a beach getaway recently and still ended up with:
1 Parent Suitcase (Medium Size)
1 Children Suitcase (Carry On)
Pack n' Play
Breast Pump Bag
We traveled by car, but if we were flying I'd also have to add in car seats and strollers too. Whew. That's a lot to carry! While still managing children.
My top tip : start early.
I too use to wake up and throw my items in a bag without thinking twice. It became so second nature. But it’s not like that with kids. You really have to think things through. (At least I do. If I don’t I end up packing bags and bags of “just in case” items. And trust me when I say ... lugging kids around is enough. You don’t need all the extra stuff”. Always remember : more than likely, you'd have access to a washer or store fairly easily if something comes up.
Okay here’s my method. I like to start 4-5 days before a trip.
1. Day One: Make a list
[Here's mine; the exact one I used. I didn't make this cute, this is just for reference of what I used exactly. I like to separate into these categories instead of days, but do what works for you.]
2. Day Two : Massive laundry round [Wash everything so you can pack early. As I fold laundry I set it out on an empty bed so I can visually see everything together.]
3. Day Three: Pack it up [Anything you can, pack it up in packing cubes. I get mine here and there at places like TJ Max but you can find them just about anywhere these days.]
4. Day Of : Day of Items on top(Sleep sack, favorite stuffed animal, chargers, tooth brush, etc. I put that in its own packing cube on top so it’s easily accessible. Chances are you'll need it first when arriving and it can be the last item zipped in).
Some extras tips and things:
- PACKING CUBES! I can't emphasize how this is a game changer for me with travel. It really helps you pack together in one suitcase while still staying organized. I am about to order a different color set for each family member to make it even easier.
- EMPTY BAG. I always pack this fold-able bag to use for extra duffel because on pack up day you always have extra random stuff. I don’t know how it works but I’m always so grateful for it.
-BULKY LUXURIES : Sound machines and monitors (if in a home rental) are worth the space in your suitcase. If the trip is longer than 4 days I’ll buy diapers at the location. Diapers take up so much space. You can't pack it all so just pack what's "Most" important to you. For me, I say no to the bathtub, bouncers, chairs, big toys, play mats, etc.... but I want to make sure their sleep environment is solid for the best sleep possible.
- PACK N' PLAY: We only bring our pack n play if we have to. Usually hotels/family/rentals have one you can use. I do however always bring my own pack n play sheet. It makes me feel better knowing it’s freshly washed and I like to think the smell of home is comforting to my kiddos. Also, THIS blackout cover pictured below, is great if your baby is use to a blackout curtain environment. Linked here.
I had a wise woman tell me once, "Once you have kids, you don't have vacations, you have trips." Oh my this has changed my perspective for the better. it might not be the most restful of things, traveling with children, but it is worth it. You are creating worldviews that are bigger than them. Even if their memory doesn't remember the travels, research tells us their brain patterns do!
So my vote : save the money, plan ahead, pack strategically and take a family adventure!
PS - Also, from one mom to another... give yourself and your kids grace.
***Don't forget... The Cirkles are cheering you on!