My daughter has been flying since she was one, and, knock on wood, is a phenomenal traveler. We have taken multiple mommy-daughter trips and the various ages require various travel necessities.
When she was one, we went where our friends had a car seat, so I didn’t have to lug that around, but I did have a stroller, carryon, personal item and a checked bag.
When she was three, she and I went to SoCal, just the two of us. I had to manage my toddler, a car seat, a stroller, my personal item, a carryon and two checked bags. I don’t claim to be a packing expert, but am working on not overpacking, but c’est la vie. That was A LOT, so I got a cart at the airport, loaded it up while holding onto my toddler and stroller and pushed that and the stroller to our Uber.
Fast forward to her first international trip at the age of seven, I wanted to get the packing done right, or as close to it as possible. For five minutes, I even thought I could maybe just pack two carry-ons for us both and include our personal items. Then, I laughed and wrote in my diary that I told a very funny joke (hoping you get the Anchorman reference).
I bought packing cubes two years ago, and of course couldn’t find them, but decided to get more organized and pull the number of outfits for the number of days, wearing some bottoms more than once, and laid out my daughter’s looks, then rolled them up as best as I could to not take up too much space.
I was so excited at my organizational skills and keeping outfits together. My outfits weren’t quite as organized, but I am about progress, not perfection. Then, the worry was that my bag would be too heavy. So, I packed my heaviest pair of shoes, which were my short shaft rain boots, in my carryon because I looked at the forecast and knew I would need them. I didn’t pack the five pairs of black shoes that I did for 30 hour trip to Chicago I took last year, solo. I’ll admit, that was excessive, but you never know what you’re going to need.
The gifts for family were also in my carryon, because I didn’t want them to get lost or damaged. Now, I always seem to get randomly stopped by TSA, but this time it was for the Trader Joe’s Umami seasoning my sister requested. The annoyance was that I had everything in my carryon packed so nicely and tightly, and they were going to mess that up.
My giggle was that I have watched “To Catch a Smuggler” and was not witnessing, first-hand, the TSA Agent testing all three of the TJ Umami seasonings to make sure they were nothing more than seasoning. Traveling with me will always include some sort of excitement. Meanwhile, my daughter and I met a lovely couple who she was chatting with while I had to wait for the testing of the Umami seasoning.
I brought a backpack as my personal item, which contained carefully chosen and packaged snacks, antibacterial wipes, baby wipes, all charging and electronic accessories in a ziploc bag, tea bags in a ziploc bag because we have our Persian tea every night, our passports and vaccination cards together, four different card games, medicines, neosporin, bandaids and antibacterial wipes for wounds and more in another ziploc bag, a book and extra ziploc bags and plastic bags because they always come in handy.
My daughter’s carryon contained an extra set of clothes, nicely rolled up together like in those social media videos you see, and a pillow, two blankets, drawing pad, colored pencils and some other light items for comfort and entertainment.
My daughter’s backpack contained the most important things, various fidget toys, pop-it headphones and her device. We were set! I thought we had done pretty well with packing everything we needed without overpacking, but to each his own. I stayed within the weight limit, just pushing it on the way back from the shopping we did, for our checked bag.
Fun story. When we were trying to make the Talys, a high speed train, from Antwerp to Amsterdam, we had to take an alternate route to get to the train station, so we got there with 3 minutes to spare. We rushed in and realized we had to go down two flights to get to our train. As if we weren’t in a panic already, the escalator nor elevators worked, so we had no choice but to rush down the flight of stairs. I had my daughter’s carryon draped across my body, my backpack on my back, my purse across my body, my carryon in one hand and my checked bag in the other, and successfully rushed down what felt like the longest flight of stairs with all of our belongings.
We made the train. My adrenaline and Mama strength definitely kicked in.
Here are some items to pack when traveling with kids:
- electronic devices
- travel art supplies
- a few select toys that are light and not too bulky
- clothes and shoes
Of course, it’s helpful if you’re traveling to where you can do laundry so you can all re-wear some essential pieces. You need one comfortable pair of shoes to travel in, and another pair or possibly two depending on your plans. Remember, you can always get what you may have forgotten, so don’t worry, but pack what you think you’ll need. Almost every time I’ve traveled, there have been items I packed that neither of us have worn. When we’ve traveled to a beach, the packing gets bulkier, almost unnecessary, but I like to be comfortable and have everything we need.
I will say, I feel like I’m always prepared when traveling, but tend to overpack. Try not to stress, Mama. You’ve got this!