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Tips & Advice
Travel Smart: How to Pack for a Vacation with Kids
Before you can enjoy your much-deserved vacation, you have to get there. Here’s what you’ll need to make your trip as stress-free as possible.
One-Two Months Before
Check that all passports are up to date. This may be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people are left scrambling to renew their travel documentation within days of their vacation.
Two Weeks Before
Ensure you have all travel documents. Print out hotel confirmations, vouchers and tickets. Traveling abroad, solo with the kids? Have your spouse fill out a travel consent form. Customs officers may ask for this document and could prevent you from entering the country. There are many websites where you can download the form and make things easier.
Shop for the necessities. Stock up on sunscreen, sunglasses, aloe, snacks and toys for the plane, refill your first-aid travel kit — even check that your daughters’ bathing suit still fits. This ensures that you’ll have enough time to run out and pick up a new one.
Discover deals online. Troll the net to see if that particular theme park the kids are dying to visit offers any seasonal deals. Or, pre-book tickets to that special show to avoid any disappointment.
On the Plane
If your tots are tween or mid-sized, have them carry their own backpack full of entertainment: books, crayons, games/cards, headphones, a comfort toy, as well as a swimsuit and one change of clothes (underwear, top and bottom). In case of luggage delay, kids will have what they need to lounge by the pool. If there’s room, they can also be in charge of their own snacks. TIP: For little ones, fruit gummies or lollipops can help with ear pressure during takeoff and landing.
If you’re traveling with baby, your diaper bag should include the usual (diapers, wipes, etc.), plus a few changes of clothes, one bathing suit, bottles/sippy cups, formula or baby food, baby utensils, baby medications, a comfort item, and a few books and toys. Your smart phone can also be a great tool for distraction.
Your carry-on should hold the essentials such as plane tickets and passports, the really good snacks (for when kids behave), a mini first-aid kit, an extra shirt and underwear for you, and a swimsuit. But that’s not all: according to the Journal of Environmental Health Research, you are 100 times more likely to catch a cold on the plane than during your everyday life. Make sure everyone arrives healthy with vitamins for you and the kids, a scarf or small blanket and hand sanitizer or wipes (to wipe off arm rests and little fingers). NOTE: If your child has cold symptoms before the flight, visit his doctor for any medication they may need, and to ensure there’s no severe ear infection, which can cause an eardrum to burst.
In Their Suitcase
Let’s be honest, you won’t want to do laundry so have one outfit per day, per child, (a few more for babies). For a week-long trip, pack 5-7 tops, bottoms and underwear, a few pairs of socks (you’ll need a few, even for warm destinations), a sweater (for chilly days/nights), 2 pairs of sandals (1 pair of sneakers if there’s going to be lots of walking), swim suit, pajamas, swim aids, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, toothbrush, a re-sealable bag of shampoo, conditioner and body wash, some diapers (try to buy them at your destination), a baby blanket, bibs, and maybe a nightlight if your child needs it. TIP: Pack each child’s outfit in its own re-sealable bag (handy for holding dirty clothes), making it easy for Johnny to grab it out of the suitcase and dress himself.
In Your Suitcase
Your contents will be similar to the kids’, give or take a few more shoes and cover-ups. As the parent, you’ll also be in charge of lugging everything else: chargers, camera, extra toys, etc..
Expect the Unexpected
Even with a sunny destination, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have warm temperatures. Always pack a sweater or light jacket for everyone.