Top Packing Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
If there is any group of people that need a vacation, it is parents of an infant or toddler. But that has its own list of issues. The dire need for packing tips is at the top of the list – What to pack, what not to pack, and what to do when you really need something you didn’t pack! (Yikes!) It’s no wonder parents need a vacation from their vacation after returning home with their tots in tow! Most mums and dads will agree when I say that if we get to the destination without 10 changes of clothes, do 3 out of Tripadvisor’s million things to do list and return home alive in one piece without falling sick with all our luggage, it’s rated as a successful vacation. 😉
The ‘all our luggage’ part is no joke. We left our brand new GB Pockit stroller on a sidewalk in Amsterdam as we were loading a cab to catch our train to Paris. It’s called the world’s smallest stroller and it folded so small that we actually forgot it… On the side of the road… A whole stroller! I’ll never get over it!
But given that Karan and I have travel in our DNA (Army Brat and Sailor Boy), we’re quite good at the whole Let’s just pack our bags and go! scene. We’ve been married for 7 years, changed 6 houses, travelled to 18 countries and countless cities. And we don’t plan to stop! But now, we have a third passenger – our firecracker of a daughter Karma. She’s 2 years old but is quite an expert traveler already (8 countries so far). She pulls her own suitcase at airports and walks around all day sightseeing. Hence, I feel we have enough experience to shell out advice on packing tips and traveling with a toddler. Don’t let having a small child stop you from indulging in the joy of exploring a new place. For today, let’s tackle the biggest headache of all when planning a long vacation – PACKING LIGHT!
Top Packing Tips
This is always my number-1 issue, especially if we are doing multiple places with different weather conditions. We did a month long 5-country Europe trip when Karma was 16 months old. Our flights within Europe were those super-budget flights that charge you for every single piece of luggage. So I couldn’t use my 30-kg weight allowance from India because I would pay a bomb for it everywhere else. My upper limit was 15 kgs for both Karma and me (not each). Here are some basic packing tips but read on to see how we nailed it, what we packed and the numerous vacation outfit photos.
The above mentioned packing tips are for both mommy and child. It will compact your packing space and weight wise. Trust me, neither you nor your tiny traveler will run out of outfits to wear. (If you don’t believe me, keep scrolling.)
My most important rule that will reduce the number of items you need to carry by at least 50% is – All tops match all bottoms. And I highly recommend packing cubes. They make it very easy to pack and organise your stuff. It somehow makes me pack less… Hidden magical properties! But really, once I start putting things in the cube, whatever is too big or doesn’t fit just gets left out. And surprisingly, I don’t miss it on my vacation. Of course, your all weather jacket will not fit in a packing cube but that is something you should carry on the flight with you.
My latest rage is multi-purpose clothes. Just sheer kick of being able to pull it off has made it fun and practical. My long black cotton knit skirt didn’t just double up as a short skirt (which looked fabulous), I also wore it as a muffler and a top. There are lots of youtube videos that show you such tricks with clothes.
So here is what I packed for myself along with packing tips for mommy. Only took up space of half a suitcase (other half for Karma) and honestly, now I think I could have traveled lighter than this too. Shall break that record on my next long vacay.
16 Pieces = Over 30 Outfits
Here are some photos from our trip. Ideally I would load all 30-plus outfits but that would mean rummaging through gigabytes of photos so I’ll load as many as I can find. It’ll give you a basic idea. You can click on any image to enlarge it.
That was for the mommy. What about the little kiddo? The good news is their clothes are smaller so you can pack more. The bad news is you actually need more because kids dirty their clothes often; especially while traveling. But an important thing to remember is to only take clothes that can be easily washed in a sink. There is no point carrying high maintenance clothes that need special detergent or dry cleaning. Also avoid taking anything that is brand new. I say that because somehow new clothes don’t get worn that much on a vacation. Either because you haven’t tried and tested combinations or you are afraid they will get dirty. It’s a waste to carry them.
I took two sets of thermals for Karma that she wore under her clothes and it kept her warm. She also wore them for sleeping a few times and when one was in use, other one was washed. I didn’t carry any fancy dresses. A toddler doesn’t need a stunning dress to go that 5-star fine dining restaurant. I’m not saying vomit-stained tees are the norm but carrying something that might only be worn once or twice is something you should avoid. An everyday combo that looks smart will also work just as well. Here is my complete list of what we packed for Karma and top packing tips for toddlers.
Here are photos of some of Karma’s outfits. Comfort was my biggest concern and I didn’t need anything extra even with the weather changes. You can enlarge the images by clicking on them.
So when I was making my lovely graphics for packing tips, I totally forgot to include accessories in mine. I’m too lazy to make those again, so here’s what I carried – 1 wool cap, 1 muffler/stole, 1 long necklace, 1 chunky bracelet and I bought a Fedora hat in Barcelona from a street shop for a very cheap price.
This post was essentially about the clothes you need to pack while traveling with a toddler. I will eventually do a more comprehensive post about everything that you need to know while packing for your baby or toddler including diapers, toiletries, entertainment etc. Till then, I hope this comes handy when you pack for your next long vacay with your kids.