Let’s be honest; once you have kids, vacations aren’t exactly vacations anymore. They are adventures, they are new place and experiences, but they aren’t typically the relaxation and restoration that were once synonymous with a vacation. That being said, they don’t have to be full of stress from beginning to end–even with babies or toddlers.
Especially with little ones, preparation is key. Knowing how to pack light with toddlers and babies has been critical for us. Read on to learn our tips for making your trip and preparation as easy as possible. We’ve got 5 tips, 5 vacation recs, and 10 must-pack items to help you pack light with toddlers, babies or big kids and be prepared as possible.
5 Travel Tips to Keep Top of Mind:
- Plan ahead: Before you embark on your journey with children, it's important to plan ahead. Make a list of the essentials that your child will need, such as clothing, food, and medication. This will help you pack only what you need and avoid overpacking. Additionally, research child-friendly activities and accommodations at your destination to make the most of your trip.
- Pack light: Especially when traveling with babies and toddlers, it's easy to pack too much, but try to pack only the essentials. Stick to a carry-on bag for each child, and if possible, pack items that can be used for multiple purposes, such as a jacket that can also be used as a blanket while in transit. Think of “Pack Light” as your mantra from the day you make your packing list. This will not only make it easier to lift and transport your stuff, but it will save space in your luggage and make it easier to navigate through airports and public transportation.
- Keep it simple: When traveling with little ones, it's important to keep things simple. Avoid over-scheduling back-to-back activities and instead opt for simple, kid-friendly activities like visiting parks or going to the beach. It’s easy to think a packed schedule will keep your kids entertained, but a new playground or games on the beach can be as exciting as anything else. Minimizing the variety of activities you plan can also help minimize the amount of things you need to bring (remember that “pack light” mantra?) Also, try to choose destinations that offer a variety of activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family, without the need for extra equipment or gear.
- Prioritize comfort: If you’re reading this article, we likely don’t need to tell you, kids can be picky when it comes to comfort. So, make sure to prioritize their comfort when traveling. Pack comfortable clothing and shoes, bring a favorite stuffed animal, and consider bringing an iPad or tablet for entertainment. Additionally, if you’re traveling for more than a couple days, consider accommodations that are family-friendly and have amenities such as a kitchen or laundry facilities to make your stay more comfortable.
Be flexible: Toddlers especially can be unpredictable, so it's important to be flexible when traveling. Be prepared for unexpected changes in plans and be willing to adjust your itinerary as needed. This will help keep everyone happy and minimize stress.
The Best Places to go/Trips to Take with Your Little Ones:
- National Parks: Many national parks offer child-friendly activities such as Junior Ranger programs, guided nature walks, and campsites that are perfect for families. National Parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, Arches or Grand Canyon are great options to explore with children of all ages. You may be tempted to wait until babies or toddlers are bigger kids so they’re more independent or have more stamina for hiking, but these parks have activities that are suitable for toddlers and with a little support (check out these hiking carriers!) babies, too!
- Beach destinations: It goes without saying that beaches are always a hit with kids, and there's plenty for them to do, from swimming and building sandcastles to skimboarding and . Popular beach destinations for families include Hawaii, Florida, and California.
- Disney World or DisneyLand: Disney World is a classic destination for families with young children. With its many rides, shows, and character meet-and-greets, it's a nonstop dream come true–from toddlers to grandparents (consider bringing them along for extra hands and riding partners.
- Zoo or Aquarium: Visiting a zoo or aquarium is a great way to introduce toddlers to the wonders of nature and animal life. Many zoos and aquariums have interactive exhibits and educational programs that are perfect for young children.
- Farm or Ranch: For children who love animals, visiting a farm or ranch is a great way to get up close and personal with different types of animals. Many farms and ranches offer guided tours, petting zoos, and even the chance to feed or groom the animals.
Overall, traveling with children–even toddlers and babies–doesn't have to be difficult. Plan ahead, pack light, keep it simple, prioritize comfort, and stay flexible. These adventures may not feel like “vacation” as we once knew it, but even the smallest parts of these journeys can be the things our kids (and we) will remember forever. Think back to your family vacations as a kid. What are your fondest memories? The hotel buffet? An epic sandcastle? Sharing a room with your parents. No need to overcomplicate it or overplan, keeping it simple will benefit the whole family.
How to Pack + What to Pack for Your Kiddos:
When it comes to packing for a child's carry-on, it's important to keep it minimal while also ensuring that your child has everything they need for the trip. Here is a sample packing list for how to pack a child's carry-on:
- Clothing: Pack enough clothing for the duration of the trip, including underwear, socks, and a couple of extra outfits in case of spills or accidents. Opt for comfortable, easy-to-move-in clothing and layers for temperature changes.
- Footwear: Pack a pair of comfortable shoes for walking and one pair of sandals or water shoes if you're headed to a beach destination.
- Toiletries: Pack a small toiletry bag with essentials such as toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb or brush.
- Entertainment: Pack a few small toys or books to keep your child entertained on the flight. You can also bring a tablet or DVD player loaded with age-appropriate content or games.
- Medication: If your child takes any medication, make sure to pack it in their carry-on bag.
- Blanket and stuffed animal: Pack a small blanket and a favorite stuffed animal for comfort and familiarity.
- Snacks and water: Pack a few non-perishable snacks and a water bottle for your child to have during the flight.
- Travel documents: Make sure to pack your child's passport or ID, as well as any necessary travel documents such as boarding passes or itineraries.
- First Aid: Pack our small first aid Bou-Boo Bag with band-aids, pain relievers and other essentials
- Diapers, wipes and a change of clothes: Pack enough diapers and wipes for the duration of the trip, as well as a change of clothes in case of accidents.
PRO-TIP: If you’re staying somewhere for more than a couple days, consider mailing diapers or pull-ups for your toddler or baby directly to your destination to avoid all the space they take up in your luggage.
It's important to note that you should check the airline's baggage policy for children's carry-on bags as size and weight restrictions may vary. Additionally, double-check that you have all the necessary documents and vaccinations for your child before the trip.
By packing only the essentials and being prepared, you can make your child's travel experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
One final Pro-Tip: Your Kibou doesn’t count as a carry-on and makes it super easy to keep the most essential items for your flight right at your fingertips (think: wet wipes, a couple snacks, a couple diapers, phone and passport or headphones).