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Step 3: Plan Your Packing

It might seem obvious that you need to plan ahead when traveling with tiny people but if you are going on a long trip, seriously, plan ahead. Being the most organized mom on the block will really help with any stress related to traveling with kids. Write down a list of the things you need, do a test run of your packing, and run to the nearest Target and get stuff for your baby’s airplane bag; stickers, books, food, a water bottle, mini stuffed animals, blocks. If you still have time maybe even sign up for TSA Pre or Global Entry. For $100 you will have Global Entry that comes with TSA Pre on all flights for 5 years. If you are flying with little ones it makes the process just that much easier to get through security without making a scene.

My planning ahead looks like this…

After finishing all of the laundry I start compiling all of the items I will need on my trip in one room. I pack based on whether or not I am going somewhere with a washing machine. It’s just too hard to pack too many extra clothes for my spit up monster if I don’t have to. If we are going for 7 days, I pack 9 outfits and 3 sets of pajamas. My child is 18 months old so we are past the 3 outfits a day stage but man that kid gets dirty fast if he finds something he likes, but I still don’t think it’s worth bringing more than 2 extra outfits. If he can get through a day of daycare with the same outfit he should be good on vacation. If we are going on a beach vacation I also pack 2 swim suits, a monkey mat, sun hat, and a Sport Brella beach umbrella. I always pack Boon sippy cup lids, a small water bottle, enough diapers to get me through 2 days, a travel pack of wipes, a wash cloth, mini soaps for baby baths, medicine (Tylenol and whatever else he might need to take), a soft blanket, and 3 books. I bring enough sunscreen for the week, pack extra apple sauce squeeze packs into my checked luggage, and his favorite stuffed animal. If we are going to be on the move and there is no chance I will have access to a washing machine I will pack a few extra shirts and one extra pair of pants. I don’t bring beach toys or enough diapers for the week because it is easier to just buy once we arrive. It doesn’t seem to matter which country you travel to, they will always have diapers and usually have the lifesaving squeeze pouches and other baby snacks. Remember, if you are going to Europe, they have higher regulations on their food in many countries so the food you buy over there is most definitely better than packing a bag full of food and lugging it around.

I have my baggage down to a science now because we have been on so many different types of trips. I purchased new luggage to fit the travel that we do which is not necessary but it has helped. My first bag is a waterproof North Face Basecamp Duffel in the medium size.  I love this bag because it allows me to use it as a backpack. This has come in handy when you are trying to move everything at the same time or walking from the car. It is just too hard to push a stroller and pull a wheeled bag at the same time. My second bag is a Le Sportsac large weekender bag. There’s really nothing special about this bag other than it’s a sturdy duffel that has a good strap that can go over the handles of my stroller. I put the backpack on and have the duffel sit over the handles of the stroller with my purse so I’m only carrying one bag and pushing the stroller. This is what I use for longer trips. If I roll up all of our clothes I can fit so much stuff in these two bags that I don’t need to bring anything else. I typically check the North Face bag and use the Le Sportsac Duffel as a carry on. I also always bring the mini Pottery Barn Pre K backpack I talked about in the last blog post and put it inside of the carry-on duffel. It is important to have a bag that you can just pull out quickly so if all you have is a green bag, use it. Put all of your kid’s airplane essentials in one bag so you can easily store it under the seat in front of you on the plane for easy access. My husband uses a wheeled bag, his backpack, and our car seat bag that is also a backpack. We usually check our car seat and his luggage so we can get through the airport more easily. You will also need to purchase a bag for your stroller if you choose to walk through the airport with one. It’s important to buy this inexpensive item to keep your stroller from getting trashed. Our bag has a ton of holes in it now and is super dirty so I’m glad we have it.

Lo & Sons Catalina Bag, Pottery Barn Pre K Backpack, Le Sportsac Large Weekender

 For weekend trips, I use my Lo & Sons Catalina bag and a mini duffel we got as a gift for my kid. The Catalina bag can fit 4 days’ worth of stuff for me and is a great carry on and the right size to fit in the trunk of your car. For weekend trips, I bring everything because it is much easier to have everything with us so we don’t have to waste precious minutes stopping for diapers.

Once I have our bags packed for our trip, usually at least 3 days before we leave, I prep my kid. I always give him a bath before we leave so I don’t have to sit with a stinky kid on my lap for hours. Then I dress him in the most comfortable clothes he has, pack his sweatshirt in my carry on, and give him tons of food. This buys me some time so we can make it from our house and through the airport before I have to feed him again. We buy Pampers Baby Dry or overnight diapers for plane rides and they work perfectly and can last up to 12 hours. Once we get to the airport and through security we do a quick tire change so that we don’t’ have to change diapers on the plane. I also explain to my kid that we are going on a trip over and over again because he cries as soon as he sees the luggage because he thinks he’s getting left behind. It’s important to let them know that you are going on a trip for a specified amount of time and will be coming back. I know it doesn’t seem like they understand but I think they understand more than we give them credit. When we came home from Europe when my son was a year old he heavily cried for 5 minutes as soon as he saw his room and it broke my heart. Ever since I have been explaining to him where we are going.

If you are over prepared for the actual travel part of your trip things will go more smoothly. In my next post, I will walk you through how to get through the airport without pulling your hair out!

-Lauren Browne

Mom of a Toddler  Frequent Traveler  Avid Reader  Lover of All Things  NPR Listener  Wanderlust  Dancer  ASL  Frequent Click List User  Pie Baker   Sushi Obsessed  Humanist  LGBTQ+ Supporter  Hot Air Balloon Lover 


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