Summer holidays are upon us! For some of us, it’s an opportunity to visit family back home, for others the opportunity to discover new horizons.
Travel often comes with a mixture of excitement and stress, even more so if we are traveling with babies and young children. There’s so much stuff we feel compelled to pack, just in case… So how to keep the packing (and your sanity) under control? By asking yourselves the following 7 questions that the last eleven years of traveling with my hubby, 12-year-old son and associated paraphernalia (not forgetting ski attire and Christmas gifts!) have forced me to consider…
Question #1: Is the item on my packing list?
OK, what I’m really trying to say here is: do you have a packing list? If you don’t, I really encourage you to develop one. You’ll find many packing lists online but you may want to consider developing yours when you travel. Take note of what you took, how much you used, what you forgot, etc. so that you can make adjustments for future trips and as your children grow.
Question #2: Do I really need this item / that many of this item?
Limit clothes, especially if you’ll be able to do some laundry during your holiday. Select a few bottoms and tops that can easily be mixed and matched and that are versatile enough to be dressed up or down. Select clothes that can be layered so that you can adapt to various temperatures. Avoid packing a pair of shoes that will only be worn on one occasion.
Limit the toys. The novelty of being in a different environment can provide for hours of entertainment for young children. If you’ll be staying in a hotel, check whether they have a kids’ club; that’ll be a great resource for activities and toys.
Question your choices. Do you really need the stroller or could you make do with a baby carrier?
Go digital. Download books and videos on your tablet instead of carrying books and DVDs.
Question #3: Could I borrow or rent the item upon arrival?
Check with family and friends or your hotel whether you could borrow some of the stuff you need – stroller, cot, toys, clothes etc. Check rental options too. The first thing we do with my son when we arrive at my mum’s place is head to the local library to stock up on books.
Question #4: Could I buy the item upon arrival?
Obviously you don’t want to be short of food, diapers and wipes for the trip itself in case the plane is delayed or your child is sick. But you should be able to find common supplies at your destination.
As for Christmas gifts, let Santa do the job! Order online and get the gifts delivered where you plan to give them away. Or do your Christmas shopping when you get there.
Question #5: Do I have a smaller version of the item?
Use travel-size toiletries, or travel-size containers in which you can transfer your toiletries and cosmetics, board games, toys etc.
Question #6: Could I use a multi-purpose item or share an item with another family member?
Favour items that can be used for multiple purposes or by several family members. Opt for all-in-one products such as body/hair gel. Share your shampoo, toothpaste and contact lens solution with your partner.
Question #7: Do I need to bring the item back home?
Leave behind stuff that your child will have outgrown by the time s/he would use it again. Heavy holiday sweaters, for example!
Traveling light does require planning but it really helps alleviate stress. Every item you chuck out of your bag is a little victory. And if all fails, consider a luggage delivery like Send my bag or Luggage Forward. Happy travels, mamas!