Before I had children, packing was easy. Fun, even. I stuffed strapless sundresses, a couple of bikinis, high-heel sandals, some frilly underwear, and a pile of magazines into a bag and off I’d go. Now that I'm a mom, however, packing has taken on a whole new and scary dimension. There’s so much to remember, lug, and keep track of! (And the items packed aren't nearly as sexy.) Below are four family travel packing dilemmas and sanity saving packing tips to solve them.
Packing Dilemma #1: How do I keep from forgetting something?
As a newbie Travel Mama I was always worried I would forget something important, like diapers, formula, the favorite stuffed bunny…or the baby. So, I began writing out a long list before each trip detailing what to pack for each family member. This was time-consuming and straining on my brain as I struggled to remember every single thing to bring.
Sanity Saving Solution: Print a packing list!
It finally occurred to me to create a packing list, with columns for every family member. Over time, I have perfected my packing lists. They are broken down into several different categories, such as Toiletries/Bath, Entertainment, and Clothing/Accessories. Before you start fretting over how to create some big ol’ list from scratch…use mine! I've created all sorts of packing lists to make travel easier for you. Go ahead and print one before each trip. That’s what I do!
Packing Dilemma #2: What should I pack in case of illness?
I used to raid the medicine cabinet before each trip, grabbing whatever ointments, syrups and pills I thought anyone in the family might need while away from home. I may sound like a hypochondriac, but who wants to run out in the middle of the night in a strange town seeking teething tablets or decongestants? Once back home, I returned the medicines to their rightful place in the medicine cabinet. Then, on the next trip, I started the process all over again.
Sanity Saving Solution: Keep a stash of travel medicines!
It was a pain to raid and replenish the medicine cabinet before and after each trip. Now, I keep a separate zipper-lock plastic bag full of medical necessities for travel. Before each vacation I take a look at the “Medicines” category on my handy-dandy packing list and replace anything that is missing or running low.
Packing Dilemma #3: How do I find the best travel toys?
When I first started traveling with children I read chat boards, visited toy stores and websites, and asked fellow parents for advice in my quest to find the best travel toys to purchase for each trip. When we returned home, I unpacked those long-sought-after toys and threw them into the toy box. Then, before the next trip, I started the research process over again and ran around the house trying to piece together toy sets.
Sanity Saving Solution: Create a travel activity kit (and hide it between trips)!
Now that I am an experienced Travel Mama, I have learned to hide the travel toys. Kids bore of their toys quickly. Ever notice how a new toy gets tossed aside after about a week but the toys over at a friend’s house seem downright enchanting to a child? Those toys aren’t shiny and new. They’re just unfamiliar. Sure, I am always on the lookout for a great new toy or two to bring along on a trip, but it saves money and time to keep a separate bunch of special toys just for travel. Make your life even easier and purchase a pre-packed travel kit from AllPakt.
Packing Dilemma #4: How do I make room for all this STUFF?
With many airlines now charging for checked bags, it can be an expensive endeavor to tote along all of the paraphernalia young travelers require. Plus, it's stressful trying to cram all your child’s diapers, wipes, baby food, and sand toys into your luggage, all while trying to keep your bag’s weight under the 50 pound limit. Depending on where you’re headed, you might be able to load up on some of these items after arrival, but who wants to take time out of your precious, hard-earned vacation to shop for baby necessities?
Sanity Saving Solution: Ship items ahead and rent baby gear!
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything was ready and waiting for you upon your arrival instead? Check out JetSetBabies.com to pre-order baby and toddler necessities to be delivered to your hotel or to grandma’s house. The company even calls ahead to make sure your package arrives safely and on time. You can also rent baby and toddler gear to save space and sanity.
Preparing for a trip with children may require a little more work, but these four solutions to packing dilemmas parents can spend more time planning vacation activities and less time stuffing suitcases.
A Note from The Travel Mama: This story was originally shared in 2010 and updated in 2016. I received compensation from JetSetBabies.com related to this post but did not receive compensation from any other brands mentioned in this story. This post includes affiliate links.