Honey I Shrunk Your Luggage Allowance: Packing for Families - PassPorter.com
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Honey I Shrunk Your Luggage Allowance: Packing for Families

by JoAnne Noel, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 2/25/2011

PassPorter.com > Articles > U.S. Travel > Planning  

Traveling with children is not for the faint of heart. But we love travel and our kids do, too, so long as we manage it well for them.

Part of that is bringing the right stuff. This isn't another packing list though; I'm talking about how you approach packing for families.

Here’s what I think: Traveling with kids requires a different mind-set from the days when all you needed was your carry-on and your sense of adventure. Since the terror threats of August 10 have changed what we can bring in our carry-on luggage, it’s getting harder to get by without checked baggage. Parents and others traveling with youngsters might as well embrace the change.

What are you taking?

Let’s start with some general considerations.

The longer you’re away, the more you’ll miss the familiar. A long weekend without the baby’s beloved play mat would probably be fine, but if you’re going for 8 days you might get tired of finding new comfy, safe and interesting places for her to wiggle.

What’s your tolerance for doing laundry on vacation? Some people say no way, while others view it as welcome downtime. This has a huge impact on the amount of clothes you bring. Many resorts have on site laundry facilities, which may make this decision easier.

Think about kitchenware. Many families have breakfasts or snacks in the room. The space required for a few familiar cups and dishes may be worth it—particularly things like no-spill sippy cups and the cereal bowls with Mickey or the princesses. Skip anything that can’t be properly cleaned with a quick rinse.

If you plan to rent a car, you can buy all the consumables you need, from oatmeal to diapers, once you get there. Some experienced travelers prefer ordering from a grocery delivery service, such as Goodings.

Your resort or hotel may provide many of the basics. Disney resorts, for example, can easily supply pack-and-plays for cribs (with, I hear, Disney-themed sheets), or bedrails for pre-schoolers.

You may want to rent the big stuff. Do you need a high chair for your condo? An exersaucer for your pre-walker? The Walt Disney Travel Company recommends All About Kids, though an internet search will yield other providers of rental equipment.

Hollywood Studios - Toy Story Photo Op photo
Hollywood Studios - Toy Story Photo Op

What is wrong with the luggage!? Waiting in line for pictures with Woody and Buzz. - photo by home4us123

How old are your kids?

The smaller the child, the more stuff he or she needs. Any infant needs lots of diapers, a million burp clothes, and several outfits per day. I cannot imagine spending more than a day or two with a child under a year old without doing laundry. (Though it would certainly be a dream come true—tell the Cast Member that if you get selected in the “Year of a Million Dreams” promotion!)

With infants and toddlers, you also have to carry more specialized food-related equipment. If your child uses bottles, bring a bottle brush and one of those dishwasher bottle baskets to keep it all together. We traveled with a “starter kit” of familiar baby food and then shopped.

The younger the child, the more helpful the familiar will be in other regards. The hotel’s pack-and-play can feel more like home with a favorite blanket and the usual lullabies on CD. Bringing the right assortment of the familiar-and-comforting without packing the whole house takes some thought. Give yourself time to examine your routine for a few days, and make lists.