A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Minimalist Mailbag: Traveling Light with Kids

I always love getting comments and questions from the reader’s here because it helps us all grow. If you’d like to send an email to the Minimalist Mailbag, visit the contact page.

Question: What tips or suggestions do you have on traveling/packing light especially when you have a baby. We’re going on a road trip for the holidays and we’re trying not to over pack. – Rachelle

It seems like a given that traveling with kids means traveling with tons of stuff. After three kids, I’m finally getting smarter at traveling light with kids. When we went on trips with our firstborn we had the giant diaper bag, the bag of toys, tons of extra outfits “just in case”, the economy pack of diapers and wipes to get us through the trip, a stroller, a car seat, blankets, we can’t forget the snacks, and of course the pack-n-play for the baby to sleep in. My back starts to hurt all over again just making that list. If you’re smiling to yourself right now, it’s because you’ve either seen that kind of parent or you are that parent.

It’s no secret that traveling with kids complicates the packing routine, but it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt moved with his wife and baby to Australia with nothing more than a couple of backpacks. Now that’s what I call inspiring when it comes to traveling light with kids!

Tips for Traveling Light with Kids:

Pack mix and match clothing. Stick with the basics whenever possible. This is a good plan for your clothes as well as your kid’s clothes. If things can go together, you can easily substitute a shirt that gets dirty.

If you can wash clothes while you’re gone, pack less. This is pretty straightforward, but you don’t need to fill your suitcases with extra clothing if you have the chance to wash during your trip. This has really helped us on our trips.

Remember that babies are unpredictable. Do plan for emergencies within reason. Thankfully babies have tiny clothes and it’s good to have extra outfits on hand.

Pack the small version. This applies to many things when you travel. Take the small stroller, the small diaper bag, the travel size toiletries and leave the giant toys at home.

If you need more, you can usually buy more instead of packing more. If you need more diapers, more milk, or something else don’t try taking all you need for your whole trip. In most cases, it’s a better idea to buy what you need when you need it.

Limit the number and size of your bags before you start packing. It’s a proven fact that you’ll expand to the amount of space you allow. Before becoming minimalist, we would allow everyone one duffle bag for clothes and toiletries and one backpack for books, toys, etc. Going forward I’m hoping to cut this down even further.

Borrow a Pack-n-Play if you can. If you’re staying with friends or family, call ahead and see if someone has access to a playpen so you don’t have to bring one. Simple Mom has some great travel tips in this article and mentions that most hotels offer pack-n-plays for available as well.

Keep tweaking. Every trip is a chance to learn what worked well and what still needs adjusted for next time. Take note if you didn’t have enough of one thing or way too much of something else. I have learned the painful lesson that I need to have supplies on hand for a toddler who gets car sick whenever we travel farther than 30 minutes away.

These are just a few things that have worked for us. If you have travel tips to share for traveling light . . . with kids or without . . . please share them in the comments below.

————-

If this post helped you, consider opting to receive free updates via RSS or EMAIL. You can also follow me on Twitter. The only way my blog reaches more people is if you Tweet it, Like it on Facebook, link to me from your blog, and email it to your friends. Thank you!

photo by clix


Article originally published on 11/12/2010

In Search of More Time

For me, the most important benefit born out of minimalism is TIME. Less time spent on the things that aren’t important and more time for the things that really matter. Less of this: Less things to clean Less clutter to put away Less running … [Continue reading]

Stuff is Not Important

I watched this video clip today and was struck by one of the evacuee's statements: "You learn what is valuable in life, and it isn't the stuff," she said. Fire. Disaster. Hurricanes. Sickness. Chaos and devastation surround us. It's during times … [Continue reading]

Backtracking to Simplicity

How do you return to a simple life when you're finally tired of living in excess? For many, it is a difficult task to reverse the effects of over consumption and a chaotic lifestyle. In a perfect world, we would never fail prey to a lifestyle of … [Continue reading]

Getting Back on Track to Living With Less

- Where did all this mess come from?! Didn't I just go through all this stuff? It happened again. The clutter in our house has reached the point where it cannot be ignored. I admit it. I've desperately been trying to ignore … [Continue reading]