Packing Essentials When Traveling With Kids


Packing for a trip with the children can be absolutely chaotic. When you were young and single you could pack a bag for a 3 month trip around Europe in 15 minutes, but now packing for a weekend getaway with pre-schoolers takes hours. As you throw in baby wipes, toys, books, shoes, teddies sunscreen, bug spray, hats, shampoo and other necessities you start to wonder whether you are packing for a family or an entire army! In order to make your packing efforts a little easier, here are some tips that you can keep in mind.

Packing for Different Seasons/Destinations

Of course, the things that you pack for a skiing holiday in Canada will be very different than what you bring for a holiday on an island in Thailand. So, I have divided my tips into different seasons/climates.

Summertime/Hot Destinations

The advantage of traveling to warmer destinations or going on a trip in the summer is that you will have fewer bulky clothes to carry. However, during this time it is very important to bring sunscreen, bug spray, hats and sunglasses so that you don’t let your little ones get burned to a crisp. Here are some essentials to bring on a hot weather trip:

  • Water – a dehydrated child is a cranky child
  • Two pairs of swimsuits
  • Lightweight cotton clothes such as t-shirts and shorts
  • Two sunhats (in case one gets lost)
  • A sarong – can be used as a swimsuit cover up, a beach towel or a shawl
  • Sandals and walking shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunglasses

Wintertime/Cold Destinations

When you are travelling during the winter or to a chilly destination, make sure that you have the right gear so that your littles ones are not cold. Here are some important things to pack:

  • Winter boots
  • A warm jacket
  • Jeans or other heavy trousers
  • Multiple layers such as a light sweater or a cardigan
  • Warm pyjamas
  • Lip balm and skin cream (the air is dryer during winter and lips and skin get chapped)
  • A scarf
  • Gloves
  • A hat

Shoulder Seasons (Autumn/Spring)

There are a lot of advantages to travelling in the in-between times of the year. The shoulder seasons offer weather than is still mild and pleasant, but is not too overwhelmingly hot. There are usually fewer crowds of tourists and cheaper prices. Of course, the weather can be unpredictable so you must be prepared. Here are some tips for what to pack during this time of year.

  • Waterproof jackets and umbrellas
  • Plenty of layers, as it might be warm in the morning and cool at night
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • A scarf for the cooler days
  • Allergy medication if your child gets hay fever

Don’t Forget the Snacks!

When your kids get hungry they turn into cranky monsters and bringing along a few snacks to keep them going will make a long plane ride easier for everyone. Here are some great ideas for what to bring:

  • Granola bars are an easy to pack and healthy source of energy.
  • Pack a sandwich bag filled with high fibre and low sugar cereal.
  • Single serving cups of yogurt are also a great idea.
  • Dried fruit is very portable, popular with kids and healthy.
  • Crackers and cheese are an excellent snack that will keep hunger at bay.

General Packing Tips

There are a few things that you should know that will make packing for your trip a lot easier. First of all, go for dark colours when you are choosing trousers because all of the tops you bring will match with them.

Also, don’t feel like you have to bring along the entire toy chest on vacation with you! Explain to your children that they can take one toy or stuffed animal along on the trip and that they can choose one new toy as a souvenir when they get there.

There’s no need to bring along the full large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and other toiletries. Buy some small plastic bottles and squeeze enough for your trip into them, it will save a lot of room in your luggage. Another way to make more room in your bag is to roll up the clothes rather than folding them. You can fit in more clothes and even the young ones can help you pack with the rolling method.

When you are travelling with kids it is also a really good idea to bring along a first aid kit for those little bumps and scratches. It can include bandages, anti-septic cream, bug bite sting reliever, children’s Tylenol and other handy first aid items so that you can take care of your little ones when they injure themselves.

In order to bring along fewer clothes with you, consider washing the clothes in the sink of your hotel room partway through your trip. All you need is a little bit of clothing detergent and something to plug up the sink hole with. Also, bring along a clothes line and you can hang the clothes to dry in the bathroom or your terrace.

Here’s another clever tip – bring along a box of denture cleaning tablets when you travel with your little ones. They are fantastic for sterilising baby spoons, sippy cup lids and pacifers while you are on the road. Just fill the glass with water and add the item and a tablet.

Keep these tips in mind, so that packing for your next trip with the little ones will be a breeze!

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