Christmas is soon approaching. For some of us, it’s an opportunity to visit family back home, for others the opportunity to discover new horizons. Traveling often comes with a mixture of excitement and stress, even more so when we travel with kids. 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 7 following questions that the last 12 years of traveling with my husband, my 13-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 the subsequent trips and as your children grow.
If you don’t have a packing list, limit the number and size of the bags you are planning to take before packing as to reduce the temptation to pack more. In any case, use soft-sided luggage to limit the weight.
Question #2: Do I really need this item / that many of this item?
Limit the clothes, especially if you’ll be able to do some laundry during your holiday. Use the concept of a capsule wardrobe. Select a few bottoms and tops that can easily be mixed and matched and that are versatile enough so that you can dress up or down by making use of jewellery and scarves. Stick to 2 or 3 colour themes. Select clothes that can be layered so that you can adapt to various temperatures.
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. Susan Heller
Limit the shoes. Avoid packing a pair of shoes that will only be used in one occasion. Wear the bulkiest ones during the trip and pack the others.
Limit the toys. When you travel with kids, the novelty of being in a different environment can provide for hours of entertainment for young children. If you spend your holidays 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? Will you actually be able to use the stroller at destination? It may not be very useful on a sandy island in The Maldives for example.
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. Borrowing winter clothing for children makes perfect sense especially if they are likely to have outgrown the clothes by the time they would use them again. Check rental options too. The first thing we do with my son when we arrive at my mum’s place is to head for the local library and stock up on books.
Question #4: Could I buy the item upon arrival?
Obviously when you travel with kids 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 unless you go to a deserted place, 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 were planning 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 items being toiletries, travel-size containers in which you can transfer your toiletries and cosmetics, board games, toys, diaper bag 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. Aloe vera gel for example can be used for sunburnt and mosquito bites but also as a shaving cream. Opt for all-in-one products such as body/hair gel. Share your shampoo and toothpaste with your husband.
Question #7: Do I need to bring the item back home?
Leave behind stuff that your child would have outgrown by the time she would use it again.
Planning goes a long way and helps alleviate stress, especially when you travel with kids. Any items that you think you can confidently chuck out of your suitcase now by asking yourself the above questions? Please do comment in the section below. Happy travels and Merry Christmas!
This blog post was first published on Sassy Mama website.