Monday, May 23, 2011

Traveling with kids: 8 packing tips

Packing a suitcase is always fun when you're traveling with kids. All those little bits of socks, underwear, shorts, pants, shirts, pyjamas, can add up pretty fast, especially if you're packing for several kids and yourself. Sometimes stuffed animals and various other toys seem to sneak into the suitcase on their own as well...

Here are 8 of my packing tips when you're traveling with kids:

1. Bring only things you know they'll wear
Sometimes it can be tempting to bring brand new clothes or maybe fancy outfits that the kids don't usually wear at home when you go away for a vacation. However, in my experience, if the kids don't wear something at home, they probably won't wear it on holiday either. If I want to bring new stuff along, I always try to give it a test-run before departure so I know the kids will wear it.

2. Bring only easily washable items
I tend to leave anything at home that can't be run through the washing machine and dryer. But then pretty much everything my children wears falls into this category! 

Plastic Soap DishNeutrogena Shampoo, Anti-Residue Formula, 6 Ounce (Pack of 3)

3. If your child has skin-sensitivity issues, bring your own soap and shampoo
My son has sensitive skin and frequently breaks out in a rash if he uses new kinds of shampoos and soaps. Much easier to bring along a small bottle of "his" shampoo (Neutrogena anti-residue formula) and a bar of "his" soap (Ivory) in a soap case.

4. Pack a night-light
If you're staying in a hotel room with young children, a night-light can make it a lot easier to check on them in the middle of the night without disturbing everyone else in the hotel room. I also like them because if my kids wake up in the middle of the night in a strange place, they usually don't get as freaked out if they can see just a little bit and figure out where they are.

5. If you'll have access to a washing machine, reduce the load
Access to a washing machine makes vacations with kids a lot easier. If you're staying with family, or maybe in a rented condo or house with a washing machine, then you can seriously reduce the number of shirts, pants and underwear items you bring along for your kids.

Beach Basics Kids Water Shoe - Aqua Sock ROYAL 5Private Label - Girls Aqua Shoe, Aqua (Size 13Youth)

6. Bring at least two pairs of shoes per child
Two pairs of shoes per child is the minimum. If one pair gets dirty or wet, there's a back-up, and that's really all you need. A pair of gum-boots are good if you know you're headed to somewhere where it's likely to rain, but they are quite bulky to pack. If we're going somewhere nice and warm and beachy, I always bring one pair of runners, one pair of sandals, and one pair of beach shoes/aqua socks/water shoes per child.

Columbia Sportswear Baby Mason Rock Jacket, Compass Blue/Black Night, 24 MonthsColumbia Boys 2-7 Cypress Brook II Jacket, Campfire/Black Night, 4/5Columbia Girls 7-16 Lake Of Lace Jacket, Dandelion, 14/16
7. For mixed weather climates: layers
Both the Vancouver area, where we live, and Sweden, which is the place we most commonly travel to, are mixed weather areas: rain, sun, cloud, wind, cool, warm, hot... things can really change. (Except in winter, when Sweden is pretty much solidly Arctic.) For weather like this, I like to pack layers of clothing for the kids: sweatshirts and fleece sweaters for warmth and a combined windbreaker/raincoat to wear if it's wet.

8. For beachy trips: bring lots of dresses and roomy shorts
My daughter is not much into dresses (guess she takes after me!), but on vacations when we spend a lot of time at the beach, dresses are just so much easier to put on and take off when her feet and legs are sandy. For our trip to Maui, I brought several soft and comfy beachy dresses for her to wear and it worked out great. For my son I brought a lot of elastic waist, roomy shorts that were nice and easy to put on after a day at the beach.

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