My children and I do not take many vacations, so when we do, a lot of preparation (mostly on my end) goes into it. I have never been a good packer. I always pack way too much as I always want to be overprepared! Typically, this involves a heavy suitcase and more bags than I can handle.
Before children, I would lug the heavy bag through the airport, pray that it wasn’t over 50 pounds, and then once I got to my destination, realize that I probably did not need the eight pairs of shoes, 15 dresses, and all full-size options for my toiletries. I promised myself every time after a trip that I would not repeat the over-packing, but it would happen again every time.
After I had my oldest daughter and we went on our first trip, I packed everything she needed: 15 onesies, ten pairs of socks, a full pack of diapers, and all her favorite toys. Between carrying two heavy suitcases and then managing her, the stroller, the car seat, and a diaper bag, I finally decided I needed a better packing plan.
These are the tips that I have lived by to avoid overpacking for trips with my children without forgetting the most important items.
1. Rent items at your destination.
If you can rent items at your destination, do it! I have rented cribs, pack-and-plays, beach toys, and more on the last couple of trips. It saves a lot of heavy lifting at the airport, and they assemble everything for you!
2. Check if a washer and dryer are available.
If you visit parents or in-laws at their home, remember, there is a washing machine! I’m not saying that you would want to do a load of laundry daily, but it allows you to avoid having a different outfit for each day for you and your kids.
3. Create more space.
Use vacuum-sealed bags to create more space, or use packing cubes. I typically use one vacuum seal bag for my kids’ clothes and one for myself.
4. Use hotel toiletries.
Plan to use the shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other hotel products. I like having my brands, but for a few days, these can be used to avoid bringing your own.
5. Each kid does NOT need a suitcase.
In fact, I have tried to pack all of our things in one suitcase in recent years. The only person who can push the suitcase is you, most likely.
6. Children can bring one special item.
Allow your kids to use one of their toys or stuffed animals from home. They do not need to bring all of them!
7. Invest in an easily foldable stroller.
When your hands are full trying to board the plane, collapsing it with one hand is ideal.