Last time I talked about travelling on holidays I made a few planning tips to making things a bit easier. This article is an extension of that with the “what to pack” part of your trip. No matter how hard you try you’ll pack too much, but try, really try not to pack too much because being the dad, your role will be Sherpa! If you are going to be the “bag boy” you might as well make sure you take just what you need and nothing more. Below are some suggestions for your next trip with the family.
- Car seat Even if not booking a seat for baby it can be gate-checked. Hire cars, taxis, transfer buses or other local transport might not have them and you don’t want to wait for ages until something gets organised at the other end of your trip. There may be exemptions for rental cars or taxi at your destination but whatever the law is, it is no safer to put your child in a car without a car seat there than it is at home.
- Stroller They can be gate-checked too because on stop overs or at the end of the flight it’s a winner as a distraction or child “controller”. TOP TIP: The best way to get an idea of how stroller friendly your destination is to check the “wheelchair accessibility” section in a guidebook.
- A sling if you use one.
- Hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes For you, not them!!!
- Nappies, wipes and cream (no more than 3.4 ounces depending on airline regulations.) Pack enough to make it through the flight, plus 3 nappies extra, just in case!
- Small towel Changing Pad or disposable pads have their place, but a small towel will do and double as a mess wiper, extra blanket, prop for peek a boo games or shading their eyes from the overhead lights
- Change of Clothes and at least 2 bibs And maybe one for you! (Told you that towel would come in handy!)
- Plastic Bags for Soiled Diapers Or use the air sickness bags
- Plastic Bottles Glass will not be allowed on most flights. Enough to make it through the flight, plus 2 – 3 extra)
- Dummies, favourite toys and food and plenty of ‘em. Just stuff in more in than one bag or pocket because they are never around when you want them.
- Healthy and “Forbidden” Snacks, Powdered Formula All pre-measured into a plastic containers. Make extra because even if they don‘t eat it all on the plane you might – airline food – YUK! If your child is a bit older and won’t drink from the bottle on take-off or landing try to get them to drink from a straw or suck on a lollypop to help with ear blockages.
- Sippy-Cup and Spoon Just a tip: plastic airline cutlery shattered and becomes a choking hazard.
- Baby Medications Pack what is needed and have it clearly marked.Ibuprofen for sore ears, decongestants for blocked noses can be brought on planes but check with your airlines for other medications before the trip as you might need a note from your GP.
- Travel DVD player or Smart Phone and Plenty of Kid Movies All praise the portable I-pad! (And in case the baby sleeps throw in a couple “grown-up” movies for you!)
- 3 – 9 Favourite Books Depending on the length of the flight, interactive books eg pop ups helps too.
- Cuddle Object Pin or tie the favourite blankie or stuffed toy to the child because I can tell you THAT is the one item that will be lost, dropped or forgotten!
- 2 – 6 New Small Toys Tip: gift wrap these for older toddlers to distract and give them a thrill of unwrapping.
- More distractions Crayons or Washable Markers and a Colouring Books, Stickers or other compact activities will help. Remember the average attention time or a child between 8 mths and 2 years is 20 minutes – Heaven help you on a long flight if you’re not prepared.
In the suitcase
For a short trip, plan for one change of clothing per person per day + 2 extra shirts each. On long trips plan to do laundry on the road. Depending on your location, you might also want to bring a small ball of twine and some clothespins and hand wash in the bath or sink of your accommodation. TOP TIP: Patterned clothes and dark colours wear longer than whites and dress in layers when possible to save space with bulky sweaters. If travelling somewhere cheap like China or Thailand buy the clothes there and donate to charity before leaving. Pack denim. It’s easy to spot clean and doesn’t wrinkle a lot. Pack two bathing suits. If you’re off to a water side holiday kids will live in them. One set dries while the other’s worn. Boys’ trunks can double as shorts.
2 pair of PJs per child (somehow one is always in the wash) or tell them undies and t shirts in warm weather is fine to sleep in
- A jacket per person to be worn on the plane. The air-conditioning is always too cold and can double as a pillow
- One pair of closed in shoes per person & 3 pairs of socks per week of the trip and sandals (that can double as dress up or casual beach shoes.)
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, brush,no-more-tears style shampoo (because hotel ones are awful) and tweezers, and mini first-aid and sewing kit. With any prescriptions (bring a note from your doctor and a list of all allergies just in case), emergency items like infant Tylenol, nose drops, ipecac, bandaids, sunscreen, etc. Check expiration dates before you go, and write your child’s dose on the bottle with a sharpie.
- One full package of wipes. So handy for kids clean up not matter what age.
- Folding umbrella – one per 2 people
- A few zip lock bags of various sizes. They always come in handy at some point for snacks, nappy bags, small toys or colouring pencils, even as a wash cloth holder damped and iced for an emergency ice pack! TOP TIP: A Ziploc bag makes a great drain plug by filling it with a little water it snuggles nicely in the drain. Great for bathing kids and bubs who don’t like showers.
- A couple of favourite no noise making toys and books for your stay. Even though you will be out and about most of the time it’s nice to collapse at the end of the day and let the kids distract themselves. If cheap enough buy some local books or toys there and donate to charity or a local school before leaving or use as souvenirs of the trip.
- An iPod and speakers, games and music on laptop or I-pad. USB sticks are great to store extra if needed.
- When travelling to Europe your toddler favourite snacks may not be available so prepare.
- In hot locations sarongs are great as an extra skirt or boob tube top, towel, pillow, cubby hose roof, dress up clothes – you can see the many uses right?
For special needs
- If you have special needs (e.g. lactose free or dairy free formula) consider bringing enough for your entire trip Remember that if you are travelling outside of your country, you will not be able to bring fresh fruit, vegetables or meat products with you through customs, but most countries do allow packaged products if sealed in their original packaging.
- Oxy and fragrance/allergy free laundry detergent can be difficult to find in other countries so pack a small amount in sealed containers.
- As needed
- Night-lights. Remember some countries have different wattage so pack a converter. TOP TIP: pack an extra phone, i-pad or computer charger. It’s bound to get lost!
- Extra nipples and dummies – because is probable you won’t find your favourite brand “over there”.
As mentioned way back in the first paragraph but try, really try not to pack too much or learn to look at your luggage as weight training! There will be lost toys and clothes never worn on holidays but hopefully you will carry lots of great memories and exciting stories from your trip home with you too. Bon Voyage!