Vacationing is a completely different experience with a child. I am not saying it’s not enjoyable, in fact even though it might be less “relaxing,” I do find taking trips with my toddler, Cab, more enjoyable as it offers me the opportunity to create great memories with him.
The challenge I have with vacationing now is the packing. Before Cab, my husband and I had it down pat. We were those people in the airport with just a single backpack, expertly packed and ready to go on our adventure.
These days, well, we are far from the single backpack (in fact the trip I am currently packing for has a backpack for just car entertainment); but, that isn’t changing my approach of “less is more” as we pack up what we need for our week away.
How to Pack for a Vacation With a ToddlerHere are some of my favorite tricks:
- Create a list of your “must brings” – I start a vacation packing list weeks in advance on my phone. It is a simple rundown of everything I need to remember to bring. It is nothing fancy, just a long list in the notes section. If you wanted you could organize it by topic: clothing, toys, personal care, and etc. For me it’s just easier to throw something on there when it pops into mind, otherwise I know I will just forget.
- Be intentional about your clothing – Spend a few extra minutes to plan out clothing options. Pick items that color coordinate or mix and match well. Lay out the items you selected to bring and then remove 25% of them… trust me you don’t need everything!
- Pack accordingly – Our vacation spots have changed since Cab’s arrival. Long flights and Caribbean islands have been replaced by car trips and rental homes. If your upcoming vacation sounds like ours, I encourage you to research what your accommodations offer. Our lake house this year provides linens, a stocked kitchen (along with a washer and dryer – a must for any family vacation), children’s items (high chair, toys, etc.), and water toys (kayaks, sand toys, etc.), all these items can now be taken off my list. Even someone as frugal as me can be persuaded to pay a bit more for convenience.
- Limit the quantity – It’s inevitable that when traveling with kids you’re going to have to do a grocery or big-box store run. I actually plan too. I pack enough diapers, wipes, snacks, etc. to last us the drive and a few days. Then, once I am at my destination, I am able to pick up some more when I am at a local store. It’s less for me to have to remember, and gives me back precious trunk space in my small SUV.
- Get the family involved – If you’re reading this post it is safe to say the packing for family trips probably falls on your lap. While I don’t have a secret tip on how to not be the designated packer in your home, I do think asking for help is important. Since my son is going to be two next month, I have asked him to “pack” his toys, this is simply picking out 2-3 items and a handful of books he wants for the week (remember, I don’t need any more because the house were staying at already has a selection of toys). This helps to foster his independence and shortens my to-do list, a win-win in my book.
Bonus tip! If you’re flying, packing may be even more of a challenge for you. No one wants to pay an extra baggage fee for the suitcase full of diapers and wipes. Connect with your final destination, especially if they are a family resort, as many of them offer delivery services for non-perishables and food items. Some of the larger spots, like Disney, even offer stroller rentals.
All in all, packing to me is an art form. It took my husband and I years to be those backpack only people you see at the airport, so one can only assume it will take the same amount of time for me to re-learn how to pack for our small family.
What tips and tricks do you have when packing? I would love to hear them in the comment section.
I am Aili, a first-time mom and lover of cloth diapers and cute baby fashion. As an avid bargain shopper who will stand in line to snag the right deal, if I’m not searching out an outfit for my little man, you can find me in the home décor. I am excited to share with you all my mishaps and successes as I navigate this thing called parenting.
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