Here are some things I’ve learned about going on vacation with kids, including the must-pack essentials and ways to save time and money.
Maximize Your Luggage Space
While pre-kid vacays meant you could pack three pairs of sandals and clothing options you may (or may not) wear, vacations with kids require super efficient packing. In addition to thinking through each day’s outfits with as much restraint as possible (I highly recommend creating a vacation-oriented capsule wardrobe), consider ways to downsize your diaper bag. For example: skip the full size wipes in lieu of an on-the-go wipes dispenser. You can clip them onto your stroller or bag and grab a wipe with one hand (genius!) at a moment’s notice. I’d pack one for each parent/stroller.
I tend to dress my kids in a lot of basics instead of frills, and this approach translates well to vacations. Pack items you know they’ll be comfortable in, will layer well, and will be easy to change. Avoid options with too many buttons. Stick with solid colors that can easily be mixed and matched, and for walkers, be sure to pack comfortable sandals and shoes.
Plan Convenient Transportation Options
Depending on what type of vacation you’re taking, you’ll want to consider how you’re getting around. If you plan to spend most of your time on a beach, you might be able to skip the stroller and rely on carriers (and a good beach tent!). If you’re doing a lot of walking, make sure you have a good portable, lightweight stroller or travel system. For us, a double stroller and a kickstand for our toddler is a good way to see a city if we’re not walking for hours on end. Otherwise, we make sure to bring our toddler’s stroller, too. Better yet, remain flexible: bring a carrier and a portable stroller if you can.
It goes without saying that babies and kids need sun protection, particularly during times of the day you’re most likely to be out and about. I prefer lightweight sun hats and mineral-based sunscreen that are low in chemicals and high in SPF (nothing less than SPF 50!).
Traveling with Babies
Traveling with babies is both easier and harder than traveling with toddlers. If you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you have to worry about lots of parts that need to be sanitized — something that’s not always easy on the go. This drying rack and bottle brush as well as this portable breast pump drying rack ensure that your baby’s bottles and your breast pump attachments can be properly cleaned on the side of the road, in a hotel, or in an airport bathroom.
Now, let’s think about where we’re going this summer. What summer vacation destinations are on your list?
Originally published July 2016. Updated July 2018.