We have all been there: you booked a trip to visit friends or family, put it on the calendar go about life as normal.
As the weeks pass and the trip gets closer you keep telling yourself, “I’ve got plenty of time to get ready!” Then suddenly it’s a week before the trip and full panic mode sets in.
What do I pack (the whole house?!) What will I need when I get there? How will my little one do in the car or airplane? How will I keep my kids entertained?
There can be so many unknowns, especially if you are traveling with kids for the first time. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Check out the following 10 tips to help set you up for success when packing and traveling with kids.
1. You don’t need to pack everything!
It might seem like you need #allthethings, but I promise you don’t! Use common sense and creativity. Your bags can only hold so much (and your arms can only hold so many bags!)
Create a list of “must have/can’t live without” items and “would be nice” items. This will help you clearly see what you really need.
2. Arrange for a crib at your destination
Most hotels have cribs available for families to use, so call ahead and see what might be available.
If traveling to San Diego, you can rent the toys & gear you need from a local family using The Sharing Exchange™!
We make it super easy to browse inventory, read reviews on owners and their items, and book ahead of time.
Having the things you need when you arrive relieves so much anxiety and will make your packing list so much shorter!
Pro tip: Bring your own clean crib sheets if using a hotel crib.
3. Consider the weather and circumstances when packing
Thinking of the weather where you’ll be traveling will help you pack only what is necessary you and the kids. Be sure to pack comfortable favorites for the kids that are versatile – and don’t forget layers!
If you are heading to the beach, most days will be spent in bathing suits, so only pack a few outfits (this will reduce the list!).
For the traveling in the airplane or car, dress the kids in easy outfits for bathroom trips, especially something easy for non-potty trained kiddos.
Also, remember to bring a few new small toys for the car or airplane ride and wrap them up with layers of colorful wrapping paper. This will keep the kiddos entertained for an extended period of time.
4. Pack outfits in ziplock bags
When you’re packing for your kids, choose full outfits, including tops, bottoms, socks, underwear and accessories, and place each outfit into a gallon-size ziplock bag with their names on the front.
This travel hack will make dressing your kids each day a breeze! No more digging around in your bags trying to find all the pieces for complete outfits each day.
5. Pack enough food & snacks for each travel day
You never know when there will be an unexpected delay or hiccup in your plans.
I don’t know about your kids, but when my children are not fed they become hangry! Hangry kids on a plane = no bueno!
Make sure you have snacks, sandwiches, drinks, pouches, bottles for baby, etc. Many flights do not offer any in-flight food service, so don’t rely on this!
6. Pack a small carry-on for important essentials
This will allow you to consolidate everything that matters into one easy-to-access spot: passports, wallets, keys, paperwork of any kind, prescription medicine, medical cards, hotel details, etc. Be sure to never let this bag out of your sight!
Other possible items to include if there’s room: the stuffed animals or blankies your kids can’t sleep without, sunglasses, cell chargers, an extra set of glasses or contacts, pacifiers (yes, multiple!), and an extra change of clothes for you and kids.
Why an extra set of clothes for you? In case of a baby blow out on your lap, throw ups, drink spillage, etc. You never know what traveling with kids will throw your way, and you want to be prepared!
7. Use a baby carrier
Wearing your baby with a baby carrier is a fantastic way to travel hands-free with your little one. Try to be realistic with that you can feasibly carry while wearing your baby, so if your partner heads to the bathroom, you can still carry everything.
8. Prepare for airport security in advance
Explaining the airport security screening process to your kids ahead of time will help them understand what to expect. Be sure to touch on things like having to remove their shoes, walking through the security scanners and possibly talking to TSA officers.
Also, make sure that you’re ready to go when you enter security, so you don’t hold up the line. Car seats and strollers will have to be hand swiped with the wand, so give yourself time to go through this process.
9. Arrange for early flight boarding
This will allow you to settle into your seats and install car seats if you decided to bring those onboard (which we always recommended!)
10. Put a last call checklist on your back door
Make sure to include a master list of everything you need to make sure is packed and everything you need to make sure is done before you leave. Go through the list before leaving to ensure nothing falls through the cracks!
Above all else, remember that this trip is supposed to be FUN and you’ll be creating memories with your family to last a lifetime. Don’t let packing and traveling anxieties steal from the joy of it all!