By: Stephanie Hawkins
Vacations are meant to be relaxing, right? You might be asking yourself this now that you’re no longer travelling solo.
Travelling with kids in tow can make even the most patient parent turn into the Incredible Hulk. The flight delays, the long car rides, the missed naps, the weird food. It’s hard for little ones to handle all of the changes in stride. Packing the right stuff is an easy way to make your vacation slightly more relaxing.
There are lots of helpful websites that suggest what to pack when taking babies and toddlers on plane/boat/car trips. My favourites include:
- Travel Mamas: Packing list for babies and toddlers
- Baby Center: Packing list for travelling with a baby
- Have Baby Will Travel: Mother of all packing lists
These sites have lots of great gear suggestions like clip-on chairs, travel cots, and umbrella strollers. But they don’t paint the full picture.
What you really need is a personalized packing list. You need this mama’s secret weapon for happy travelling! It’s a list that reflects your family’s particular needs and nuances. A list that you make once, store somewhere safe and update every time you travel. Below are a few tips for how to create the right packing list.
Create a list that reflects your everyday life
Think through all of the activities your child does on a week day and over the weekend. Write down the stuff that they use for each activity. Build, edit and personalize this list. Here’s how:
- compare it to the ones above
- talk to other moms who have travelled to the same destination you’re going to and moms who have travelled with kids the same age as yours
- if you’re renting a car, ask the rental company if they rent car seats too
- if you’re hitting a resort or hotel, ask them to provide a crib and high chair
- if you’re visiting a city find a service that rents baby gear
Update the list as your kids grow up
Type the list up in a spreadsheet or word document; save it. You’ll want to use it more than once, and hopefully over and over again. Storing it electronically also allows you to easily update it as your kids grow older and their needs change.
I keep my packing list as a Google Doc spreadsheet. Before each trip, I quickly scan the list to see which items are no longer necessary and which are now critical. I print it so I can check off the items as I pack them.
Organize the list for quick packing
There are a few places my family and I visit multiple times a year, like our summer cabin, my in-law’s house, and our ski condo. These destinations require slightly different gear so I’ve created a packing list for each.
And to make packing less of a headache, I organize the items on the lists according to the bag they’ll be packed in.
Here’s an example of the packing list I use for a visit to my in-law’s.
And don’t forget to pack a magazine or two for you!
Stephanie Hawkins is the founder and principal operator of Haven Home Organizing. As a business-owner and dedicated domestic engineer, she has a passion for helping busy parents simplify their home lives. With two children, she understands the unique challenges faced by mothers in the workforce. Stephanie has an affinity for order, she has a Master’s of Library and Information Studies from McGill University. You can also follow her on Twitter @HavenOrganizing.