We’re just two weeks away from our big trip to Hawaii with all three boys. We’ve traveled with our older sons many times before without a hitch. I’ve got a few tips on how to travel light with kids.
10 Tips to Travel Light with Kids
1. Wash your clothes at your destination.
If you’re traveling for a week, just bring enough clothes for 2-3 days. If you’re staying for 2-3 weeks, bring 5 days worth of clothes. We’re going to be gone for 2 months, and I’m bringing 7 days worth of clothes for all 5 of us. I’ll probably toss in a few more onesies for the baby since he can sometimes go through 3-4 outfits a day if he spits up, or worse has a diaper accident. And remember that you can always buy t-shirts at your destination (who doesn’t right?) and wear them on your trip.
2. Buy things you’ll need at your destination.
Shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, diapers, etc. just add weight to your luggage, so buy them at your destination. If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club card, you could visit a location at your destination and pick up all these items there to save money.
You might even want to consider getting toys or accessories for the kids at your destination – such as pails and shovels, snorkel gear, skis equipment, etc.
3. Ship things to your destination.
Visiting friends or parents? Consider shipping items to them ahead of time, so you don’t have to lug them on the plane. I tend to ship things like make-up, medication, diapers, my kids’ organic shampoo, and other specialty products. You can order direct from online stores like Amazon.com and ship to someone you know.
If you don’t have someone to ship to, these are items that should be packed in your luggage.
4. Buy or rent baby gear at your destination.
There are a lot of services available all over the world that will deliver baby gear like car seats, cribs, playards, high chairs, etc. to your hotel or vacation rental. Try websites like Babies Travel Lite, Baby’s Away, Travel Babees, Ready Rentals, or Traveling Baby.
Another option is to buy new from the store (this could still be cheaper than renting if you’re traveling for more than 7 days) or buy used from Craigslist or the local paper. A new playard in the store may cost $80, but a used playard on Craigslist could be half the price. If buying used, just remember never to send money in advance to a seller, and when you see the item inspect it well to make sure there aren’t broken or missing pieces.
For our trip to Hawaii, I plan on buying a used playard and boogie boards for the kids to use.
5. Go electronic.
My 7 year old is just beginning to read and I want him to keep it up while we’re traveling, so I downloaded 20 books for him on my Kindle. The nice thing is that I can download more books for him on our trip. If we see something interesting about Hawaiian culture, I can download that too. Amazon is growing their selection of illustrated children’s books. Characters like Thomas the Train, The Berenstain Bears, and The Magic School Bus can all be found on Kindle Books.
Do you kids love to play board games? Download apps to your mobile device to travel light. I’ve got everything from checkers to Connect Four (four in a row) on my iPhone. I’ve also go educational apps like math addition flashcards and Presidents vs. Aliens for my kids to play.
6. Cut down on toys.
If your kids are four and older, ask them to bring only enough toys that will fit in a kid’s sized backpack. Ask your kids to carry their toys and be responsible for them. For younger kids, you could do the same but you’ll need to carry the backpack. The point is to let kids choose the toys they want to bring, but help them be sensible about it. They won’t be able to fit their PowerWheels truck or Barbie playhouse in their backpacks. But a small Lego set or Matchbox cars are great.
7. Pack early and try to whittle down what you really need.
About a week before your trip, get your clothes, gear, and whatever else you plan on taking with you on the trip. See how much will fit into your luggage. Think about what you’ll really use, and try to whittle down non-essentials or things you can get at your destination, like toiletries.
8. Wear bulky or heavy clothes and shoes on the plane.
When I travel I usually bring three pairs of shoes: sneakers, flip flops (in Hawaii we call them “slippahs”), and dressy shoes (either flats or heels depending on where I’m going). My sneakers are typically my bulkiest and heaviest pair of shoes, so I’ll wear them on the plane. If I’m traveling somewhere cold, I’ll usually wear my boots and winter coat. This leaves more room in my luggage.
9. Consider a vacation rental or B&B instead of a hotel.
Many vacation rentals and B&Bs (bed and breakfast inns) have baby gear such as playards, baby gates, and highchairs, and some may have kids gear such as bikes, boogie boards, sleds, and more. Check out rentals and B&Bs on VRBO.com, HomeAway.com, and BedandBreakfast.com.
10. Bring an all-in-one camera.
I love to take photos – sometimes to a fault. My husband says I’m the quintessential Asian woman who wants to take a picture of everything, including painted garbage cans. In my defense, they had really cute designs on them. Because I love taking photos, I always want to bring like 3 cameras on vacation, including my bulky DSLR Canon Rebel. But believe me, the big and bulky camera never gets used – especially when I’m juggling 3 kids.
So my advice is to bring an all-in-one camera that can take high-quality photos (look for something with both manual and automatic settings) and video. I have an iPhone and it takes great photos but I like having manual settings to adjust exposure, shutter, Flash, etc.
Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com / racorn
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