What to pack?
A lot of people ask me what we pack for our family when we travel. This can also be an issue if you are not used to packing for foreign travel. Here are a few tips when packing for a family:
1. Pack as light as you can but don't forget the basics. Packing light is tough! I am terrible at it. But packing light is important, especially when you are going to multiple destinations. If you have kids that like to stay clean you probably don't need extra clothes but if your kids are like mine, bring a few extra outfits. Also, if you have access to laundry then you can pack much lighter than when you don't. As far as toiletries, I try to bring as little as possible and rely either on going to a store/pharmacy when I arrive at my destination to get what I need or use what the hotel has. Most hotels have everything you need.
2. Pack, walk away, then come back and eliminate. I always initially gather everything I want to pack and put it in laundry bins. Then I walk away. Then, I come back a few hours later and eliminate some things. Because no matter how light I try to pack I still don't use everything I pack. So it's good to gather everything you need, then walk away from it and revisit your packing issue later and eliminate all but one of those 5 pair of jeans you "thought" you needed.
3. Bring your stroller and car seats if you have babies. Strollers are priceless when traveling and running through airports. When choosing a travel stroller get something your child is comfortable in and can sleep in! This will help when you are out and about and the baby needs a nap. We have a Quinny and I absolutely love it! Car seats are easy to travel with as they can be checked for free and meet you at your final destination. I always travel with my kids own car seats because they are used to them and comfortable with them.
4. Do your research! Research things like weather, environment, culture etc... so you know what to pack. Check the weather a few days before you go that way you know what sorts of clothes to bring. Ask what the environment going to be like, will you be doing a lot of walking, sitting, swimming etc... and pack accordingly. And finally, what sort of culture will you be visiting and do you need to dress appropriate for that?
5. Bring something from home for the kids. Something they love that will calm them. That way when or if they get overwhelmed you have the "go to" item to help calm them down. In our case, we travel with blankets. Yes, they can be bulky at times but blankets are the answer for us. They help our girls sleep, nap and when they need to calm down or relax, the blanket is there.
6. Let the kids pack. When Tay was old enough we got her a small carry-on that she pulls through the airport herself. This holds all of her toys and travel games and sometimes her blanket. She gets one small suitcase to bring whatever she wants and she usually packs it herself or helps me pack it. This way she is involved in the process and knows what to expect on long flights.
7. Go with the flow. Don't worry if you don't have EVERYTHING. Most likely you will be some place you can pickup a few items you need. I forget things all the time, yet I survive just fine.