I travel a lot with my children. Both sets of grandparents live on the other side of the country. When we visit, we usually stay for at least a week.
When I pack for long trips with a baby and toddler, I pack only what will fit in my carry on bags. This means I have a small suitcase on wheels and a back pack to get everything I need for the week on the plane and to our destination.
We recently took a trip to my parents’ house. I took pictures of my process so I could share a few tips with you!
Don’t miss the free printable packing list at the bottom of this post!
How to Pack for a Long Trip with a Baby and Toddler
Check the weather
The first thing I do when traveling is check the weather of my destination in order to know what type of clothes I will need to pack. I use weather.com and view the 10-day forecast for where I am visiting.
Do the laundry
The day before I pack, I spend time catching up on all the laundry. This ensures I have clothes to pack, and it’s less I have to do when I return!
Plan your wardrobe
Once you know the weather, you can plan the wardrobe for each person you are packing.
I like to write out my wardrobe plan for each person. For example, I will write how many pairs of pants, shirts, shorts, pajamas, etc. each person will need. Then, I head to our closets and drawers and pull out each person’s clothes according to my plan.
It is important to consolidate as many outfits and accessories as possible. I will usually plan only outfits that I can wear with my brown shoes (or black shoes, heels, etc.). This in turn means I can pack my jewelry that coordinates with this color pallet. I don’t want to choose outfits that will require me to pack five pairs of shoes. That takes up too much space! Coordinate your outfits to require the least amount of accessories.
Additionally, I pack as though I will do laundry while I am there. This means I don’t worry about packing back ups of everything. I pack one outfit for each day for everyone, including the toddler and baby. If they spill something on one outfit, then I will just need to do some laundry while I’m visiting.
Once you’ve pulled out the needed wardrobe, roll everything. Yes, I said everything! Nothing goes into your suitcase unrolled.
Roll each item as tightly as you can.
Choose a suitcase
Next choose a good suitcase. I don’t recommend duffel bags. You want a rectangle shape suitcase with wheels. This makes it easier to pack, wheel through the airport, and store on the plane.
Pack your suitcase
When packing, pack your shoes first. I line my shoes around the outside of my bag. I put in my biggest, bulkiest items such as jeans, sweat pants, etc. into the suitcase. Line the bottom of your suitcase with clothes and remember to keep each item tightly rolled.
If I have boots, I stuff children’s clothes down into them to utilize every bit of space available.
Keep adding rolled clothes one at a time making stacks upon stacks of clothing. Squeeze them in tightly!
I use the pocket at the top for socks, underwear, etc. These are loose items that won’t be damaged. Plus they make great cushions for what goes in on top of my clothes.
The last thing I put into my suitcase is my toiletry bag. I have a make-up bag and toiletry bag, but truthfully, I should consolidate those for my trip as well. Anything with liquids should be in a quart size toiletry bag or plastic zipper bag. Keep them easily accessible so you can pull them out at security.
Plan your carry on
In addition to my suitcase, I usually have a carry on. This could be your purse, back pack, shoulder bag, etc.
I like a back pack for when I travel with my children. I have one with several compartments and each compartment serves a specific purpose.
My carry on compartments:
- Personal items (wallet, cell phone, small first aid kit, chap stick, etc.)
- Baby items (diapers, burp cloths, nursing cover, etc.)
- Activities (crayons, coloring book, busy bags, quiet book, iPad)
- Food (snacks for the plane ride for mommy and children – but no liquids!)
I keep my items separated into each compartment so I can quickly grab what I need. I don’t want to be shuffling through a big shoulder bag when I need a tissue or snack for my toddler. Organizing my bag into sections helps keep everything moving efficiently.
Buy diapers and baby food when you get to your destination
I never pack diapers or baby food. If I don’t have someone who can purchase the diapers and baby food for me ahead of time, then I plan a stop on our way to destination to pick them up.
Diapers take up too much space in the suitcase. So I usually just put in my carry on exactly what I need to get there.
Baby food is just a pain to get through security. After three years of traveling with at least one child, I’ve learned to just ditch the convenient baby food. I have never made it through security without extra screening simply because I had baby food in my carry on. If you need something for your baby, then teething biscuits, yogurt bites, etc. work best. They are dry, snack foods. No one has ever given me trouble with them.
Use a Packing List
I use a packing list when I get ready for a trip. I created a printable packing list to share with you!
What tips would you add to this list for packing light with a baby and toddler?
A short note: Since I nurse my baby’s for through their first year, I don’t have any experience getting formula through security. I also don’t bother with pumped breast milk when my baby is with me. It’s just more trouble than it’s worth for me.
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