Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Take-a-Trip Tuesday: What to Pack for a Family Getaway

Kids Need Lots of Stuff...

So how do you decide what to pack on your family vacation?


Helpful Tips for Travel with Kids

One of the biggest mistakes parents can make when they travel with kids is that they bring TOO MUCH STUFF! While it certainly becomes much more challenging to "travel light" when you've got kids in tow, there are a few easy things you can do to make traveling and vacationing more efficient (and help stick to your budget, too)!

Bringing Swimmies or Floaties on Vacation

Okay, travelers: at this point, you're armed with some useful information about Finding Lodging at a Discount, Saving Money on Flights, Negotiating the Airport, and The In-Flight Experience with Kids, so now you're almost ready to go! All you need to do now is PACK :) 

Here are some of the essentials I've come to rely on:

If Swimming is Part of the Plan {Pool and Beach Needs for Kids}


Kids Toys for Pool or Beach Vacation


When We Know We're Going Swimming, Here's What We Pack:

  • Floatation Devices (bubbles, swimmies, life vests, Puddle Jumpers; obviously you'll still need to attend your children if they're wearing these, but they tend to allow more freedom for play).
  • At least 2 Bathing Suits per child (in case one doesn't dry in time or gets dirty)
  • Pool Toys (you can get these for cheap at Dollar Tree, and even pass them down to another family when you leave so you don't have to lug them home)
  • Beach Blanket (Parasheets are great because they fold up super-small)
  • Protective Sun Gear (e.g., sunscreen-I love sticks for kids' faces, rashguards, sunhats)
  • Swim Diapers (I'll buy at a grocery store nearby when we land if that's possible)
  • Water Shoes and Goggles (some kids like them, some don't... mine usually don't)
  • Collection Jars for beach treasures
  • Snorkel Gear (if you have it and you're headed to a "pretty fish" locale)

Also, a couple tips to get the best out of your pool/beach trip:

  • Get there early as the best chairs/spots will FILL UP and you'll wander around with a bunch of gear and unhappy kids to find a spot.
  • Scope out the area on your first day to get a sense of the rules/routines. Each place is different. Some allow you to "save" seats, some only allow food in certain areas, some provide towels, some areas have more kids (which may be appealing so yours can find playmates), etc.





    • Soft Cooler and Ice Packs (to easily bring your snacks and lunches to the pool/beach so you don't spend all your money there; you can control the nutritional value of your choices this way, too)
    • Reusable Snack Containers (again a "snack" convenience... yea, we're big on food over here)
    • Water Bottles as long as the water in the hotel/resort is safe, and in the US this is expected, we avoid buying bottled water because it creates so much waste
    • Baby Stuff (e.g., bibs, spoons)
    • Portable Booster (not a necessity--also, some resorts have boosters and/or high chairs available--call ahead and check)
    • Crib or Pack-n-Play Sheet: You may have to reserve your crib in advance, so don't forget to do that. There have been a couple times we've arrived and there's no sheet for the crib, so since it's small, I usually throw one in my suitcase (if I remember)
    • Dry Snacks/Bread/PB&J if you won't have access to a big grocery store for food shopping (and can only shop at those smaller on-site shops that are much more expensive); I stash them in my suitcase in one of those large plastic food storage tubs so they don't get squished)
    • Coupons for Food: Hey, if you've got 'em, use 'em! Vacationing is expensive!
    • A Bag to Designate as a Beach/Pool Bag: A plain, canvas bag folds up really nicely in the suitcase
    • Spices: Weird, I know, but if you can put some spices in a little baggie (e.g., Montreal Seasoning for a steak), you can avoid having to buy a whole jar when you're there

    What Not to Pack for Kids Vacation


    (if you can get to a grocery store/Walmart/Target):

    Shopping after you land is most convenient if you're renting a car (and if it's a road trip, you've already got one), but if you won't have access to a vehicle, call the resort and see if someone can give you another idea (e.g., a shuttle). Also, there are some grocery businesses in vacation areas that will provide in-room grocery delivery, and that may work best for you (there's, of course, a surcharge, delivery charge, and gratuity involved here, too, so it's not very economical... but it is convenient).

    • Food for The Week (obviously)
    • Diapers and Wipes (they take up too much space in the suitcase so I avoid packing if possible)
    • Sunscreen (It's heavy, and it frees up space in suitcases)
    • Shampoo and Conditioner (again, takes up weight. I usually buy the cheap stuff just to get us through the week)

    General Items to Bring To Make Your Stay More Stress-Free

    Medicine Kits to Bring on Vacation

    • Stroller: Maybe it's just an umbrella stroller, but it's good to have even with the preschoolers in case they get tired from lots of walking and playing
    • "Boo-Boo" or Medicine Kit: We've had a few {unfortunate} circumstances of having a child spring a virus or ear infection while traveling. Because of that, I always bring a thermometer, and some acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Benadryl (in case of an allergic reaction). I usually pack the same items I described in my Boo-Boo Kit post, if you need more ideas.
    • Foldable Stool: Most sinks are too tall for the little ones to wash hands/brush teeth without you picking them up {every time}. I like to bring a folding stool because it's easy to transport {and gives me a rest}.
    • Sippy Cups, Bottles, Plastic Bowls: Most kitchenettes are stocked with {not-so-durable} glass and ceramic, so if you bring down some of your own stuff, you don't have to stress about the kids breaking something during every mealtime
    • Potty Seat if you're in that stage
    • Rainy Day or Downtime Activities: Dollar Tree and Target have $1 sets of Old Maid, Go Fish, and regular Playing Cards. I also bring down a couple activity books and crayons/markers, too
    • Apple TV or Roku: This is nice for down-time, too. It allows you to pop on Netflix when you need it. It's also helpful if parents want to watch a movie after the kids go to bed, because there never seems to be anything good on TV :) You'll need an HDMI cable, for this, too
    • CHARGERS for phones, cameras, and other electronics (I've forgotten these one-too-many times!)
    • Laundry Detergent if you have access to a washing machine. Purex 3-in-1 Sheets are very convenient and one box has lasted us many trips
    • Varied Types of Clothing: In case the weather fluctuates, it's nice to have some warmer (or cooler) clothing to choose from. Bring layers; in addition to the regular 2-3 outfits I pack for each kid (I pack really light because I know I'll do laundry while I'm there), I also bring for each child: a set of leggings or sweatpants, a sweaters or sweatshirt, and a raincoat (they don't take up too much space in the suitcase)
    I'm sure this will be an on-going list, but I hope what I've got so far will be useful to get you started!

    You're getting closer to your getaway! Bon-almost-voyage! :)

    Check out these other TRAVEL posts for even more valuable info:

    I know there are a lot of other travel-savvy readers out there, so help me out! What am I missing? Help me make my list even more useful :)

    Are we connected yet? If not, find me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+, and Bloglovin so we can start sharing ideas together!

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