Tips For Traveling With Kids: When Is It Okay To Overpack?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

One thing I love about travel is that you're kind of venturing out into the unknown.  Exploring new cities or cultures, either from far flung places on the earth, or close to home.  Things are new, shiny, unexpected, brimming with adventure.

That sounds great and all, but with kids, it's best to be prepared for some of the "unknowns".  Now I'm probably going to go against many other travel bloggers here when I pass on my next bit of advice:

Overpack.  That's right, I said it.  When you have small children (I'm talking still in diapers), don't be afraid to overpack and prepare for the "what ifs".  Now, I'm not talking about bringing everything you own on the off chance you might need it (save that baby bathtub for home).  Knowing what to overpack in case of emergencies and knowing what to leave home, doesn't need to send your head spinning.

Here's a few tips I've picked up along the way.  My list of items that I over packed and am darn glad I did.  (Are you an over packer for yourself too?  I am!  I just completed a 10 day trip and packed it all in a carry on!!!  See how I did it!)

What To Overpack For Young Children On Trips

Diapers- Okay, chances are, if you're traveling within your home country, there are probably plenty of stores near your destination that carry your preferred diaper brand in case you need to pick some up.  But I'm talking about packing them in your carry on for the plane (bus, train, etc).  I remember when my son was two months old, I took him on his first flight to go visit my family back home.  We had a layover.  Easy peasy, I thought.  Until I found out that our next flight was delayed...then cancelled...then more delays.  Let me tell you, I was soooo glad that I over prepared and brought about 10 diapers in my diaper bag for the trip instead of the 3 I thought he would use.  My diaper bag was packed full and I felt silly, but I kept stuffing more diapers in and now I can without a doubt that they was the best thing I could have done.  I ended up getting down to 1 diaper left before I reached my destination.  (Now, I had more in the suitcase, but of course I didn't have access to those while we were flying and on the layover).

Formula- If your baby drinks formula, definitely bring more than you think you need in your carry on!  Same example as above, I made sure to (pre portion out) extra bottles for my son, and with all those delays??  I literally said a silent prayer of thanks that I did that, because if I had just packed the couple of bottles that I thought we would use, I would have run out.  And I did not see anywhere in the airport where I could buy formula...especially the kind that my son needed.

 Change of Clothes- For you and your kids.  Let's face it: blowouts, spit up, and other grossness happens.  Pack spares for everyone in your carry on.  This is not over packing.  You will thank yourself when you don't have to walk around smelling like poop or puke on your next flight.

Entertainment- I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as over packing when you're trying to keep a child entertained on a plane.  I mean, with their attention span, they get sick of a toy/book within a few minutes and are on the the next thing.  To keep everyone (and I do mean everyone) happy, pack plenty of entertainment.  Lovies that they have from home, books, a tablet, or some form of digital thing that can play their favorite shows.  Depending on the age of the child, activity books with mazes or coloring books might be good options as well.  (We love to bring books like these and these.)  I like to buy a new book or small toy for my son and surprise him with it on the plane as it will hold his attention longer and add an element of fun.

Medicine-  It goes without saying that you need to bring the special medicine that your children take all the time if they have a condition where they need it, but I mean the "what if"  medicine.  Fever reducers and thermometers might turn out to be crucial.  We took my son to Mexico when he was about a year and a half old....and it was the scariest time of my life.  He ended up getting really really sick (no, not from the water), and we paid to have a doctor from the resort come to see him.  Long story short, the doctor there was telling us lies and doing anything she could (including using scare tactics and telling us our son would soon not be able to breathe) to get us to spend tons and tons of money.  I'll give you one example of a lie she told:  Oh, he has a fever, you need to give him tylenol.  Pay us xx amount of money and we will have a driver pick you up some from a pharmacy.  Me:" Oh, I packed some and have Tylenol with me".  Dr: "Oh....well, this type of fever Tylenol won't help with"........excuse me?????   Anyway, a story for another day.  The takeaway point is to come prepared.

Snacks-  Nothing can keep a kid happier on a plane than snacks.  Bored of that book, game, funny faces, doll??  Whip out some goldfish and juice and watch them quiet down.  And if they're anything like my kid, this might take up quite a bit of time on the plane as well.  Special note here:  If your child has to have a certain brand or type of food....know where to find it on a layover in the airport.  My son had a milk allergy (which he has since outgrown).  I couldn't bring his almond milk from home (because, you know...liquid and security don't mix).  During another delay situation, I was trying to find my son some milk (he was still really little and we hadn't introduced any juices) and after stopping by all of the little stores and shops, I realized that no one sold almond milk.  I had an aha moment and found a Starbucks.  Lo and behold, they had some!  But that was definitely a situation that I should have thought about before hand.

Well, I hope some of these tips helped you.  There are some things that are perfectly okay (in my book) to over prepare for.  You can leave the pack n play, baby bathtub, and other such items at home, but these are some items that might really save the day should you find yourself in a sticky situation!  

What are some of your items that you were really glad you decided to pack??

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