The key to stress-free travelling with young children is to pack light and be organised.
Gone are the days of getting back from a trip away and unpacking clothes, shoes and toiletries that weren’t even touched. I usually do a test pack a couple of weeks before we leave and then a repack a few days beforehand – rooting out unnecessary clothes and challenging myself on every item in order to take as little as possible.
Travelling light has major advantages. It’s quick to pack and unpack; easy to find what you need when you don’t have much stuff; and allows you to get from A to B, much more comfortably.
Between the four of us, we travel with two medium sized backpacks – everything can fit into these, including smaller day packs. This means that my husband and I can carry one bag and one small child with relative ease.
So where to start with the mammoth task of packing? Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Love a list
Write down all items you think you will need for each member of the family a couple of weeks before your trip. This will ensure you don’t forget those essentials like medications, sunscreen and mosquito repellant. I use an app called AnyList so that both my husband and I can add to it as we think of things.
2. Less is more
My motto is “if in doubt, leave it out”. You can acquire pretty much anything that you need at your destination. We plan for five days worth of clothes each and no more. One pair of shoes each, plus flip flops. All toiletries are decanted into travel sized containers.
3. Ditch the suitcase
You thought your days of backpacking were over? Think again. Backpacks win hands-down. Why? You will need both of those hands free to chase a rampant toddler; carry a crying baby; or hold a small hand whilst simultaneously hailing a taxi.
4. To pram, or not to pram
This is really a tough decision and depends on your destination and situation. On most of our trips we’ve ditched the buggy and carried the kids. But if you know you are travelling to a place with decent footpaths, or if it is going to be particularly hot and sticky, a buggy can be very handy for tired and grumpy toddlers.
5. A few of our favourite things
Even though packing light is a key part of stress-free travel, it’s important that my children have some familiar things that bring them comfort and joy, especially as we are away from home for long periods of time. This means that we always carry a couple of favourite books, plus some special (and small!) bits and bobs chosen out by the little ones.
Got any top tops to share for super-efficient packing? I’d love to hear from you, so get in touch!
Now you’ve figured out what to pack, it’s time to think about the next stage. Are you flying to your destination? Check out my guide to flying with young children.