This week our family went to the beach. 2 adults and a 4 year old, along with an entire SUV completely packed with gear. It took both adults and two trips to get the necessities into our rental space for the week. Did you snicker a little when you read the word “necessities?” What in the world would you need so badly for such a small group? Just swimsuits and a few dinner outfits, right? Or… a week worth of food and kid snacks. And shoes for each outfit for one little girl and one grown woman. Towels, soaps and shampoos and lotions and sunscreens, hair bows, a backpack of kid activities in case of rain….you get the idea. In my defense, I turned 40 on this trip so I allowed myself a few extra things. Okay, a LOT of extra things.
How should you pack for a trip without feeling overwhelmed? All joking aside, we’ve had a lot of experience traveling with children and without, and how to pack appropriately. For example, you don’t want to pack so little that you end up darting out to the store every day with a toddler/preschooler who wanted to just stay at the beach (you kind of did, too). But not so much that you have twice what you need and feel overwhelmed unpacking.
Here are some of our tips for traveling with children that have helped us through the years. First, every time you have the thought, “I want to make sure to bring ______,” write it down and add to this same list during the week or so before you go. I detest forgetting things and this essentially eliminates that problem. Keep in mind that if you are driving you can take much more. Consider things you use daily at home and pack those first. Next, bring enough clothes for each day plus one. We usually have a limit of 2/3 pairs of shoes for a week. One pair of casual shoes (sandals for summer), one pair of dressy shoes, and a pair of sneakers. If you are staying in a rental with a kitchen you will need to plan to bring food or buy it there the first day. This time, we opted to go to a local discount store and pick up the snacks and dry goods, and brought other cold items such as condiments and fruit, lunch meat and milk, in a cooler with cold packs. Packing with ice is unnecessary and causes the items to be wet and the cooler overly heavy. I always pack a backpack with a few small games and a stuffed animal. Two games we added this time were a couple of small foam airplanes you put together and decorate with stickers, and stencils and a few crayons. Mini containers of play doh are awesome too. Pack toiletries last, making sure to bring medications you take regularly AND any medications you might need while here. I pack a small plastic container, the kind that is sold with travel q-tips, filled with a few pepto bismol tablets, gas-x, migraine med, nasal decongestant, laxative, and anti-diarrheal. It is a very small and quite useful little container for us on trips! Don’t forget the child dose is lower for all. You can look it up and break up tablets accordingly, or purchase childrens’ medications. I always pack a roll of toilet paper regardless of destination and a small game/book in my purse in case of delays.
These are my tips and I hope they provide some help on your next trip!