Heading away on a family holiday and not sure what to pack? Here is a checklist of the essentials you need when travelling with kids.
By Nicole Fuge, Mama Disrupt® Managing Editor
Gone are the days of jumping in the car and going where your heart takes you, or being able to fit your life into a carry-on bag.
“When you become a parent, holidays look very different. And while travelling with kids does take a lot more prep, they also come with a lot of sh*t.”
So to stop you from losing your mind when planning and packing for your next trip, we’re sharing inspo and travelling tips adapted from Family Adventures – Exploring the World with Children by gestalten & Austin Sailsbury.
Because we ALL deserve a vacay after a looong year, even if it’s not the dream family holiday to Disneyland. We all make our own fun, so let’s embrace it!
NEWBORN TO TWO
Exploring your own state is an easy and cost-effective option for a trip with the little kids.
Aim for a relatively stress-free jaunt, or even a multi-stop road trip that can be done at your own pace.
Picturesque and peaceful destinations such as beaches and mountain ranges are good options. Locations where both you and the kids can chill (or at least you can try).
If you need to fly to get to your destination, take two bags as carry-on. A smaller one you can take with you to the bathroom and a bigger one to restock it… this is a game changer.
When booking, ask what your airline offers in the way of bassinets for children under two. And when it comes to check-in, make sure you’re all sitting together. Either at the front of the seating sections for the extra room, or near a window so you can check out the view with your mini boo.
You’ll also want to wipe everything down with an antibacterial wipe when you sit down because we all know kids touch everything!
Formula if not breastfeeding
Baby food (you can ask the cabin crew for help to warm it up)
Nappies (roughly one per hour of flight time, and allow for delays)
Plastic bags (for rubbish, to collect things quickly, or carry whatever you might buy along the way)
Muslin wraps/blankets (for breastfeeding, wrapping babies, and covering the floor of an improvised play area)
Changes of clothes (for both parents and children)
Toys (tip: wrap them up, so it’s like a present and then unwrapping them becomes a game in itself)
A tablet and headphones (depending on the age of the child)
THREE TO SIX
Think natural environments such as beaches, lakes or rivers, and forest settings, provide endless opportunities for fun and exploration with the littles.
Routine is everything with children in this age group. And any form of travel will likely interrupt the flow of that familiar day-to-day reality.
One way to ease the disruption is to tell your child the plan in a way they can understand. Another good idea is to plan travel time around naptime.
If your trip is relatively short, you might make it through an entire journey without your child waking (YASSS!). Or at least they will have slept for part of it.
Note: motion sickness is something to consider for children over two years old, so make sure you bring some plastic bags just in case.
Pull-ups (for long journeys)
Crayons and colouring books, plus children’s books
Toys and games
Plastic bags (for wet clothes and motion sickness emergencies)
Lollipops (to relieve air pressure, if flying)
Travel first aid kit
Electronic devices (tablet, smartphone, portable DVD player)
Universal sink stopper (for accommodations without their own)
Clothes (one set for each day, plus a few extras)
SEVEN TO 13
Going to a single location means you won’t have to set too many limits on your kids. And they can have more freedom to explore their surroundings and not feel cooped up. So camping or staying in a resort are both ideal options.
And make sure there are activities such as swimming, hiking, kayaking or fishing to keep them entertained.
Then, from your base, you can plan day trips to check out the wider region.
A good tip is to let the kids be involved in the planning as it will give them a sense of responsibility and they’ll have way more fun.
Road tripping is always a good idea. Especially when it comes to a good ol’ camping getaway.
A roomy car is a must, not just to lug the huge load of camping gear but also for the comfort of everyone on board.
If you don’t own a large vehicle, think about borrowing or renting one, or hitch a trailer to your car.
It’s a good idea to pack your car/trailer the night before. And leave early the next day to maximise much-needed daylight for setting up camp at the other end. With kids around, this can take longer than you think.
Don’t forget to bring loads of snacks for the journey to avoid stopping too often along the way.
Reservations for campsites
Tents (including poles and pegs)
Sleeping bags, pillows and sleeping mats or air beds
Clothing (including wet-weather gear) and footwear
Swimwear and towels
Foldable table and chairs
Portable stove (with gas and matches or lighter)
Frying pans and pots
Cutting boards, knives, and cooking spoons
Plates, bowls, cups, and mugs, water bottles, cutlery
Esky (with freezable ice packs)
Bucket to wash dishes, sponge, detergent, and dish towels
Camping shower, soap, and shampoo
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Sunscreen, insect repellent, and citronella candles
First aid kit
Flashlights (with spare batteries)
Multiplayer games (such as beach tennis and volleyball)
Bikes and other equipment for outdoor activities (fishing, hiking, boogie boarding, etc.)
Here’s a hot tip – involve teenagers in the early planning stages.
Find out where they would like to go and what they would like to do and see. In general, look for places where they can push themselves through activities such as skiing, snorkelling, and trekking.
They’ll freaking love it!
Whether hitting the road or jumping on a plane, entertainment is a MUST when travelling with teens.
And don’t forget to get them to download podcasts and videos before you leave.
Swimwear (two options)
Light towels (such as those made of microfiber)
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Soap and shampoo
Hairbrush or comb
Face cleanser (and other skincare)
High SPF sunscreen
First aid kit and medications
Electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops)
Books about destination
Notebooks for journal entries
A deck of cards (for locations without internet)
Clothes (a week’s worth, as access to washing facilities could vary)
Extra socks and underwear
Footwear (open and closed)