As much as we busy moms look forward to vacation time, packing and preparing for a trip with one or more kids in tow is stressful! Whether you’re driving (and keeping the little ones entertained and breaking up fights the whole way) or flying (and keeping squirmy kids in their seats), getting there really isn’t half the fun.
Fortunately, Mamiverse can help you pack. Well, not physically help you pack, but we do have some great tips, courtesy of Cara Sayer, the founder of SnoozeShade, the breathable sun and sleep shade solution that attaches to strollers, car seats and playpens for babies on the go.
10 TIPS TO PACK FOR YOUR NEXT FAMILY VACATION
- Make a list. Before you pack one thing, create your own packing list or search for one online. Check things off as you get them packed. These lists are incredibly helpful and remind you of the smaller stuff you might otherwise forget.
- Pack strategically. Your goal is to take the least amount of baggage possible without under-packing. Roll clothes up to take up less space and leave them less wrinkly. Put shoes in plastic bags so they don’t get your clothes dirty. Always aim to take fewer bags than people.
- Consider the details. Keep a folder with all your essential travel documents in one place. You’ll need your flight itinerary or driving directions, driver’s license, photocopies of everyone’s birth certificates and passports (in the event they are lost or stolen), hotel and car rental confirmations and credit card contact information. It’s also helpful to have a list of things you plan to do and guidebooks.
- Keep them entertained. For everyone’s sanity, leave the Legos and noisy toys at home. Car or plane rides are ideal for coloring and activity books, finger puppets and small toys, card games and books, portable DVD players and LeapPads (remember headphones and chargers!). Don’t underestimate the oldies like “I Spy,” Tick Tack Toe and Hangman. And most importantly, don’t forget the blankie and lovey!
- Dress and pack for comfort. Think comfort, layering and coordinating. Pack two pairs of well-worn shoes for each person. Also pack enough outfits and underwear for each person per day plus two extra. Try and coordinate as best you can so that items are interchangeable. If you’ll be swimming, pack two swimsuits per person and a cover-up. With the exception of babies, keep the pajamas to a minimum as they can easily be reused. Throw in a jacket appropriate for the climate you’ll be going to. No matter where you’re going, remember comfort is the key.
- Don’t forget first aid & medications. Plan on packing the basics, plus any specific medications or remedies your family members need. Basics include pain relief for adults and children, anti-itch cream, allergy medications, asthma inhalers, sunscreen, meds for diarrhea, constipation and motion sickness, as well as basic first aid items such as bandages and antibacterial cream. Keep in mind that some of these items may not make it through your carry-on luggage if you’re flying, so just take essentials onboard with you and leave the rest in your checked bags.
Read Related: How a Mom Travels Alone with Her Three Kids
- Go light on baby gear. Carrying strollers, car seats, diapers, and play mats can really weigh down a family on the go. If you’re flying and renting a car at your destination, the rental company can provide infant car seats and boosters. If you’ll be seeing friends, see if they have a portable crib or playpen you can borrow. Do bring the stroller, as you’ll be glad to have it if your flight is delayed or if you have a long walk to a connecting flight.
- Pack for emergencies. Don’t leave home without an emergency bag! Fill it with must-haves that you’ll need if your flight or luggage is delayed. Include extra underwear for kids, diapers, wet wipes, tissues, prescription meds, a small first aid kit, large zip lock baggies (they come in handy for many things), and snacks. Don’t forget bottles and formula if your baby uses them.
- Pack an empty bag. Tuck a foldable duffel bag or other soft bag into your suitcase. This will come in very handy for dirty clothes or souvenirs.
- And all the rest… Think cell phone chargers, keys and daily medications. Don’t forget to grab these items on your way out the door. These are some of the most important and most frequently forgotten items. Also, if you have a family member who suffers from food allergies or has special needs, you’ll also need to account for this by packing extra food and needed items.
And last but not least…don’t forget to pack your SnoozeShade! This breathable shade for strollers, car seats and playpens provides a safe sleep solution for your baby, even when his routine is disrupted by travel. SnoozeShade blocks out 98.5% of light, as well as rain, snow, wind and UV rays. It helps your little one gets the rest he needs, and while you shop, sightsee, and enjoy your vacation.