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Packing Kids For A Trip: Tips & Tricks

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Last week, while packing Marlowe for our annual family getaway to Maine, I was reflecting upon all the lessons I’ve learned in the last year from packing and unpacking our daughter countless times.  We really do “get up and go” A LOT as a family– having a Daddy who’s gone half the week will do that to you! I’ve noticed that as long as you take your packing mistakes in stride and learn from them, you really can cut down on your stress level and pack the perfect suitcase for your little one fairly easily.  And, if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: being prepared in advance makes all the difference when it comes to enjoying an experience.  You want a vacation to really feel like one! Today I’m sharing my Tips & Tricks for packing your child’s suitcase– and divulging some of my worst experiences!

I’ve outlined my personal packing list below.  This is what I pack Marlowe for a week long Summer trip! Read through for my favorite items,  my organization tips, little anecdotes, and a easy shopping widget to pick up some of our family faves:

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Marlowe’s Suitcase…

 

Clothing

For a week, I pack Marlowe 9 outfits, 4 sets of Pajamas, and 3 Bathing Suits. This is considering the fact that we will have access to a laundry machine.  The times that we do not have access to a laundry machine, I pack two outfits per day that we are gone, plus 1 basic Tshirt and 1 basic pair of leggings that can pair with anything, in addition to the pajamas and bathing suits.

MAMA TIP:  Fold each outfit, and roll it up together.  Tie with a piece of ribbon, and clip any matching hair accessories on to the cloth.  This will enable you to pack them more easily, and find a clean outfit without rummaging through your child’s suitcase.

 

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Outerwear

In the Summer months, I pack Marlowe 1 light jacket and 1 cardigan.  Usually I bring her cardigan on the plane with us in case the air conditioning is too chilly.

Shoes

Normally, I pack Marlowe 4 pairs of shoes total: 1 pair of comfy sneakers, 1 pair of cute sandals, 1 pair of Mary Janes, and 1 Water Shoe for the beach or lake.  I usually have her travel in the bulkiest pair of shoes (sneakers) for the plane flights.

 

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Diapering & Bathing

I pack 1 package of diapers, 1 package of swim diapers, and 1 package of wipes.  I purchase anything additional that I need while on the road.  I pack a toiletries bag just for Marlowe that has diaper ointment, a soap/shampoo, a body lotion, her hairbrush, her toothbrush + toothpaste, hair ties, and a bottle of children’s sunblock

Loveys

I always, always, always pack at least 3 Loveys.  One with us on the plane (this becomes the “street Lovey” and is the one that gets dragged around during the day, and at least two additional.  One for night time that remains in her travel crib (and stays clean), and one backup. I learned this the hard way…

NIGHTMARE TALE: Not too long ago, Marlowe got a violent stomach bug while on a trip to visit her grandparents in South Carolina.  She puked all over both of her Loveys within half an hour, and was absolutely inconsolable and miserable while the Loveys went through the washer and dryer for the next 90 minutes.  It took years off of my life.  Now I always pack at least three in case of emergency!

Toys

When we travel, I always pack 5-7 Toys and 5 books.  The toys include a stuffed animal, a doll, a car or truck, and several plastic animal figurines.  I like these types of toys because they inspire creative play and can be used in different games for hours on end.  I can’t even tell you how many times Marlowe and I have built forts and homes in Hotel Rooms for her animal friends!

MAMA TIP:  Try to select toys and books that your child hasn’t played with or seen in a while.  It’s amazing how absence really does make the heart grow fonder when it comes to toys!

 

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First Aid

I’ve learned to pack a little first aid kit when we travel with Marlowe.   You really never know when something will come up and you won’t have access to a medicine or product you need to help your child be more comfortable! Why do the worst fevers and illnesses always strike at night?! I put the kit in a ziploc bag so I can see all of the items well and access them easily.  Here’s what I keep in our Travel First Aid Kit: The NoseFrida, Infant Tylenol, Infant Benadryl, Homeopathic Cold Remedy, Saline Drops, Band aids, Neosporin, Lavender Essential Oil, On Guard Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential oil, Thermometer.

NIGHTMARE TALE: When Marlowe was only a year and a half, we were traveling with Kyle on the road in the middle of winter, and she came down with croup.  Not only did we not know any doctors in the town, but it was the middle of the night and we were staying at a hotel in a snowstorm.  We ended up having to take an Uber at midnight to a 24 hour CVS very far away to find medicine to make her more comfortable until the morning when we were able to get to urgent care.  Now I travel with the essentials!

Ziplock Bags

I always pack 3 or 4 gallon sized Ziplock bags when we travel.  You never know what they’ll come in handy for, and are great for wet or dirty clothes that you need to bring home.  Kids always love taking that extra dip in the Hotel pool right before you pack up to leave…

Bed Time Gear

The bed time routine is definitely the most important in our house.  It’s what keeps Lowie sleeping well, keeps her parents sane, and keeps our trips and vacations feeling “vacation-y”.  I ALWAYS make sure we have everything we need to recreate her normal nighttime experience while on the road.  Do it or suffer the consequences! Ha! For Marlowe’s bed time routine, I pack:

1 Travel Crib (she isn’t allowed to sleep in bed with us ever), 1 Sound Machine, 2 Sleep Sacks (one backup), 1 Mermaid Doll, 1 Baby Monitor, 1 Bottle. We use the baby monitor if we are at a house or someplace where her sleeping area is out of earshot.  It makes me able to relax more knowing I can hear her if she needs me, even if I’m in a different part of the house. We bring the bottle because Marlowe still has warm milk in a bottle at night before bed.  I’m planning on transitioning out of this when she turns two…which should be interesting… (YIKES)

NIGHTMARE TALE: We were traveling six or seven months ago, and I forgot to pack a bottle.  Cut to 9pm, my kid is still not asleep and freaking out because she didn’t have her bottle before bed.  The next day I set out to try to find a bottle but the only ones available had the infant flow nipples and frustrated her even more.  All in all a really terrible few nights of sleep for all of us! Yahtzee!

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Stow Essentials In A Carry-On

I have also learned this the hard way when our suitcase has gotten lost with all of my child’s perfectly packed and organized belongings.  Many thanks to Target for saving the day that day (about a thousand dollars later…) Now I bring a carry-on on the plane with us that has 24 hours worth of essentials.

  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 change of clothes
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • 1 sleepsack
  • 1 lovey
  • cribsheet
  • 1 bottle
  • 6 extra diapers

 

Of course I always remember to pack my adorable toddler as well.  She’s a little bulky and rambunctious, but she really does make our trips that much more enjoyable…most of the time 😉

I hope these tips were helpful to you! Let me know any gems you might have about packing kids for a trip in the comments below!!

 

Shop the suitcase…

 

 

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    Thanks for the tips! I don’t know why I didn’t think to roll up her outfits together, I’m always rummaging through the suitcase to find a matching top/bottom. My daughter is the same age as Marlowe, 2 on Aug 9th, and I was worried about her attachment to the nighttime bottle and having to transition her away from that. A girlfriend told me she would ditch it when she was ready and lo and behold the next week she just didn’t ask for it before bed and hasn’t asked for it since. She now asks to sleep with her babies so I guess she switched one comfort item for another. Good Luck, I hope it’s a smooth transition for you!

    07.25.16Reply
    • I’m glad the rolling up trick will help you!
      I’m afraid that Marlowe is WAY more attached to her bedtime bottle than it sounds like your daughter was. I think it will be a bit of a battle, but we usually do these things “cold turkey” style also so we’ll have to see how it goes! Yikes…

      07.27.16Reply
      • SY says:

        When my older son was younger, he had a hard time transitioning off of the night time bottle. I had read that if you decrease an 8 oz bottle by 2 ounces every week, that by the time the child hit 2 ounces, they won’t want the bottle. I was skeptical to say the least, but low and behold, he got to about 2.5 ounces and stopped using it.

        12.30.16Reply
  2. Andrea says:

    When my son was diapered whenever we went out of the house for an extended period of time we’d have him wear a nighttime diaper. They are more absorbent, would help him stay dryer longer, and prevent leaking when changing is more difficult.

    Airplanes are super unsanitary and gross me out big time. Hand sanitizer doesnt kill the staph virus so I sanitize my area. I pack some Lysol wipes in a ziplock bag and wipe everything down. You would not believe the gunk that comes off the tray tables and arm rests.

    For packing I use the jumbo Ziplock bags too! We roll up our clothes, put them in the bags, then roll the air out of the bags. It’s almost like they’re vacuumed packed and save a lot of space.

    We let our little boy play on the iPad so before a trip I buy some new games. I’ll also buy and download (the key!) an episode or two of his favorite shows. Once I couldn’t get the videos I’d purchased to play because the wifi was weak and I hadn’t downloaded them to the device. Not life threatening but when you have a fussy child and you’re scrambling to calm them down and the video you expected to play isn’t playing it’s ridiculously frustrating.

    07.25.16Reply
  3. Jen Russo says:

    What kind of travel crib do you use for trips? do you have a link or any recommendations? Thank you!

    07.25.16Reply
    • Hi Jen!
      I really love this travel crib. Marlowe still sleeps in it when we go on trips! It’s so easy to set up and so compact to travel with.

      xx
      EAM

      07.27.16Reply
  4. Chloe says:

    Very informative article. My only question is: what do you do with the car seat when flying? The infant seat’s pretty easy to travel with, but the convertible one is a nightmare. Do you bring yours? Rent one? This is one of my main concerns with traveling with my 20 month old. We travel to London once a year, where we do not use a car. We either use public transportation or rely of rides from family, or a combination of the two. Would love some tips!

    07.25.16Reply
    • We rent a car with a car seat, or use a friend’s extra if we are going someplace to visit friends or family!

      07.27.16Reply
  5. Caroline says:

    I see you pack oils for Marlowe in your first aid kit. I’d love to know what you use them each for! Thanks!

    07.25.16Reply
    • I pack lavender to help calm Marlowe down or if she needs a bit of extra help sleeping in a new time zone. To administer, I do 2-3 drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil (coconut or olive) and rub it on her back and bottoms of her feet. The “On Guard” I administer the same way, if she’s feeling sick or when we are traveling on an airplane. I also put 1-2 drops of On Guard on a wipe before I wipe down the tray table and seat for extra cleaning power.

      07.27.16Reply
  6. Sue says:

    Good Morning Sweet Eva, Kyle, Lowie and Baby Boy Martino….I love this information, advice and laugh packed post. I don’t know if you know…my family has a house near Kennebunkport, so I adore Maine in August. I have fond memories of blueberry picking, muffin baking, lobstering days. Have a relaxing fun, love and laughter filled trip! Love to all! Auntie Sue

    07.26.16Reply
    • Thanks, Sue!!
      It’s the most relaxing vacation spot, we just love it here!

      07.27.16Reply