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Packing Light even with Kids
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Packing Light even with Kids

Jeep in Egypt's Great Sand Sea

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

By MarĂ­a Laura Lecuona

If it is important to pack light when you travel alone, it is essential when you travel with children. You will need your hands and your energy to push the stroller, hold the little ones, fill out custom's forms, read a map and try to enjoy your holiday.

The following packing tips will help you pack light even when baby makes three or four or more.

Before you pack
  • Define your needs.
    Consider the nature of your trip as well as the activities you and your children will participate in. Outdoor adventure or city tour? All-day casual or formal dress for dinner? One-stop trip or multi-stop journey?
  • Explore the weather at your destination.
    Most weather sites offer 10-day forecasts and general weather facts.
  • Confirm limitations on checked baggage and restrictions on hand luggage.
    Limitations can vary with the destination as well as type and class of service. Carry-on restrictions may apply to flights beyond the U.S. and UK.
  • Select the right luggage.
    Backpacks or suitcases? How far do you need to carry them? Can your kids help? Wheeled luggage can be pulled, even by children. Bags that offer multiple pockets make sharing space easy. Hanging a backpack or baby bag from the stroller will save you a hand.
  • Make a packing list.
    Write down everything you think you need. Then, force yourself to reduce the list. Save the final list and use it as a checklist when you are packing to return.
  • If older children will be packing for themselves, set rules!
What to pack
  • Bring washable and wrinkle free clothing.
    While many stores sell special travel equipment and clothing you can also make your selection from your existing wardrobe.
  • Select coordinating clothing.
    Choose clothing in versatile colors that go together well (i.e. pastels, khaki, black).
  • Add some accessories.
    Accessories occupy limited space and, if needed, can help change the look from casual to dressy.
  • Take your child's small favorites only.
    Avoid big toys that can take up precious room in your suitcase. Look for small items that will make your kids feel at home such as a favorite book, cartoon Band-Aids or miniature toys.
  • If you can buy it at the destination and might not need it, leave it at home.
    Most of your extra travel needs can be solved on the run. Rain? Buy a plastic poncho or cheap umbrella. Too cold? Buy a locally knitted sweater. You'll warm up and bring a souvenir home. Entertainment? Look for local toys, puzzles or crafts.
  • "Outsource" anything you can.
    Car seats are available through most car rental companies; hotels can provide cribs for babies and toys for older kids. Rent strollers and sports equipment.
Packing a suitcase
  • Create space out of air.
    Travel compressors allow you to remove excess air from bulky garments.
  • Use bags to keep things organized.
    Take an extra bag for dirty clothes or other needs during the trip.
  • Establish an order.
    While packing heavy items at the bottom might help during transportation, you can also establish your own order based on use. Place the items you will need first on top.
  • Roll it.
    Roll T-shirts, undergarments and other casual wear to fit in the corners of your suitcase.
  • Use your shoes.
    Pack socks, rolled belts and other small items inside shoes. Not only will it save space it will keep your shoes from getting crushed.
  • Put shoes in bags. And avoid soiled clothes.
  • Keep essentials on hand.
    Travel documents, money and other valuables should be packed in your hand luggage. If you are traveling with young kids, include a change of clothing, snacks, a small few toys and books, and a basic first-aid kit in your carry-on as well.
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