Travel with Kids: What to Pack
Thank you to Cottonelle for sponsoring this post!
Traveling with young children is challenging in many ways (though also rewarding!) (Be sure to check out these tips for taking a road trip with kids by yourself). For me, one of the hardest parts has always been deciding what to pack.
Young children in particular require a lot of gear, but you don’t want to be lugging around more than you have to – especially since you will also probably be carrying your little ones at some point! There are, however, some things that are worth bringing because they will make your life so much easier, like these great new on-the-go products!
Here is my list of essentials to pack for travel with kids:
1. Favorite Foods and Snacks
Yes, travel is a wonderful time to encourage your child to try new foods, but keep in mind that for young children it can be stressful to be out of their routines, even if it is something they enjoy. Having a few favorite foods from home can help ease the transition. While you don’t want to overdo this, we have found that having a few familiar snacks actually makes Monkey more willing to try new things.
2. Healthy and Specialty Foods
If you have a child on a special diet, you need to consider bringing with you foods you know they can eat. (Here are great tips on for families with food allergies). If you are traveling internationally, specialty foods are increasingly available (especially in large cities/tourist spots), but it is often a question of how much of your vacation time you want to spend searching for these items. The same can be said for all-natural convenience foods. In our travels abroad I have found that often foods labeled “all-natural” contain more sugars and additives than their American counterparts. Again, you can probably find what you want in either the very large chains or the small specialty shops, but why waste valuable vacation time on this endeavor? In your decision try to balance the following factors: destination (and your familiarity with it) and length of stay. If you are not staying for very long, and you are not familiar with the area, you may decide it is worth using the slightly more sugary versions, for example, while for a long stay it might be worth throwing a few healthy snacks in your luggage. Keep in mind that for many international destinations, fresh fruits are available in abundance – the ultimate convenience food!
Babies go through a looooot of diapers. I am so used to using cloth diapers that I often forget how true this is! We do use disposables when we are on the road, and I am constantly surprised by how often we have to go to the store to restock. Usually we pack enough to get us through the first day or so then buy in great quantity once we arrive, to lessen the number of shopping trips we have to make. However, with my older son I had to do a little more planning, as he had very sensitive skin and would break out in a rash if we used generic disposable diapers. Yet all-natural diapers are often difficult to find when traveling abroad – and even when you do find them they are not exactly the same as what you are used to at home. (Not to say they are better or worse, just different, and with a highly sensitive child, “different” often equals “bad”!) So instead what I would do was pack an extra package of diapers from home, and space them out throughout the trip, so he was periodically given a break from the new diapers. Also, it was well worth it to bring plenty of his favorite diaper cream. An extra tube doesn’t take up much room, and that added layer of familiar protection will mean a lot to your baby’s bottom!
Speaking of bottoms, a baby’s isn’t the only one to suffer when you are on the road. Often when you travel you end up using facilities that aren’t exactly up to the standard you are used to, so it’s great to have products that really help you feel fresh. Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft packs and Clean Care Toilet Paper are the perfect wet-and-dry combo for when you are on the go. And I love that the cleansing cloths are flushable – one less mess for me to worry about! The cloths come in soft packs that are easy to throw into the backpack or diaper bag, and it’s easy to stash a roll of the toilet paper in the car. This combo is especially great for summer day trips to the splash park or the beach! Our favorite park, for example, has port-a-potties rather than actual bathrooms, and I feel so much better cleaning my boys (and myself!) off with these convenient products.
5. Emergency Supplies
You never want to be caught in a health emergency without essential supplies. I have a mini-first aid kid in our backpack and a larger one in our car/suitcase. Again, you can find all of these items in pharmacies around the world, but you don’t want to waste precious time searching when someone you love is ill. Here is a great how-to on creating an emergency kit.
6. Strollers and Carriers
Carriers are an essential for babies and young toddlers. Carriers are so easy to pack and allow you to be hands-free. Plus, being so close to you is very comforting for kids when in a new place, and it’s an easy on-the-go way to get them to sleep. Strollers are great but are very bulky, so this is really a personal preference. When Monkey was a baby, it was worth it to us to bring his big stroller because it gave us a break from carrying him, plus it provided a safe, clean place for him to sleep when we were out and about. Once he got older, we switched to an umbrella stroller, which is much lighter and easier to take along. With two kids, now we have opted to bring a foldable double stroller. I thought it would be a pain to bring, but it was well worth it for us to be able to easily push both kids through the airport and on long walks.
What are your essential travel supplies? What do you prefer to leave behind? I’d love to hear your stories!