Whether you’re preparing for a long road trip, a quick weekend getaway or an overseas flight, parents have a tendency to over-stress about what to pack for kids. After lots of travels with our family of five, I beg all parents to stop packing these five specific things for your kids!
I promise, they’ll survive without them and you’ll be grateful to no longer stress about them. Trust me, as a mom of three little ones who tends to overthink EVERYthing.
If you do a quick search online for “packing tips when traveling with children” literally hundreds of articles will pop up. Each one promising the best tips, fail-proof methods and must-have products. We tend to think if we over prepare for any and every situation, we’ll be better off.
But as someone who has a “less is more” mindset, I’d rather chat about about what NOT to pack for kids when traveling. You’re welcome.
Stop Packing These 5 Things for Kids
Too Many “Woobies”
Every child has a favorite toy, special blankie or whatever. It can be really tough to limit each kid’s security item to one only. But it’s a MUST!
I had to learn this the hard way as we packed up recently for a weekend trip. I couldn’t bring myself to say “no” to any of the kids’ favorite sleep-time toys. Which resulted in an entire carry-on bag dedicated solely to stuffed animals and “woobies”!
Yes, I am a bit of a sucker – I know.
SOLUTION: Have a general rule for all your children. Limit them to one medium stuffed toy or two smaller ones. And all items must be able to fit into their carry-on bag.
This one might seem kind of obvious especially for a long road trip where personal space is limited. And no, I’m not just referring to iPads and tablets. Truly ANY toy that makes a squeak, plays a song or farts will ruin you. Family trips should never include the Peppa Pig theme song on repeat for the entire car to hear. Don’t even get me started on Baby Shark, ok?
SOLUTION: The rule of thumb should be that any toy or electronic with a headphone jack is allowed. Be sure to have individual headphone sets for each child. Our kids simply love their adorable and soft headphones from CozyPhones.
The Wrong Snacks
Here in Barcelona, the grocery stores sell these adorable little cardboard boxes (think Chinese takeout box) filled with sweet treats. “They’re just so darn cute and perfect for our next road trip!” I would foolishly say to myself as I let our 8, 6 and 3 year old each select one.
But purchasing these “adorable” salty and sweet goodie boxes resulted in three massive problems. First, the NON-STOP requests for when the treats could be eaten. Second, the aftermath of too much sugar consumption – and we all know what a disaster that can be! And third, the NON-STOP requests for water after munching on salty snacks.
SOLUTION: Stick with healthy yet yummy picks that travel well. Some of our favorites include sugar free licorice (which also help for carsick tummies), cheese sticks, dried mango/apricots or applesauce disposable packs.
Too Many Outfits
Listen, women love extras and packing for the unexpected! Extra shoes, handbags, outfits. But when it comes to traveling with kids (especially on budget airlines where bag sizes are limited), plan each day accordingly.
Sure, it always helps to have spare socks, underwear, even pants if you’re in the midst of potty training for example. But beyond that, don’t plan for your children to have multiple wardrobe changes each day – this isn’t the MET Gala!
SOLUTION: Plan for each day and pack each outfit in these awesome airtight space saver travel bags with labels for each day. Trust me, it will make your life much easier and hassle free especially when you arrive home and it’s time for post-travel laundry!
I commend all parents that want to peel their kids off electronics and encourage a more creative activity during travel. But don’t make the mistake I did during our latest 12-hour road trip.
We were headed from Barcelona to Belgium for Christmas and in an effort to keep our three kids busy in the backseat, I purchased individual crayon, colored pencil and marker sets along with accompanying coloring books.
Great idea in theory? Of course! The reality was a company car backseat filled with broken crayon pieces and wrappers, dried up cap-less markers all over and floor and hands covered in a rainbow of shades. Yikes, fail!
SOLUTION: The amazing creative team at Crayola understands that travel time can be a challenge for doing crafts, but offers solutions! Try these fantastic Mess Free Color Wonder Activity Pads and Scribble Scrubbie animal art sets. A win for kids, a win for YOU!