Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. Thank you, we appreciate it!
Many people think that your days of traveling are over when you have kids but they are far from wrong! Shell with the I Heart Family Travels blog not only travels with her adorable little guy but also manages to pack light even when on international trips. Read on to find out her secrets:
How to Make Traveling with Babies a Breeze!
Q: What do you prefer when travelling with babies: Suitcase or Backpack?
Ultralight suitcases with spinner wheels gets my vote, if you are already fighting to get your family through busy travel areas in one piece you don’t want to be fighting your luggage as well. My current favorite is the hardcase Dempsey. I find it lighter and easier to pull than our Tumi Ducati.
I have a serious aversion to backpacks since middle school when backpack-as-purse was trend. I hate standing out as a tourist and it is hard enough not drawing attention to yourself when traveling with kids, so toting a bright colored pack that screams “I just stepped off the Appalachian Trail” is out.
Most trail backpacks are top loading, so even if you use packing organizers everything is loaded vertically, which means everything comes out when you are looking for something. However, my hyper-organizational side has me on the fence about buying an Okatot Depot Diaper Bag to try for our next trip because it has a pocket for everything and it is only 3.2lbs.
As for individual backpacks or luggage for the kids: let’s be honest about who is left carrying them at the end of a long travel day. I’ve seen lots of those awesome kids ride-on-cases in the airports (and honestly love the Vespa-esque Skootcases). But usually they are just hanging from a parent’s shoulder with the rest of the bags. It’s best just to plan to pack their things with yours and use your attention to keep track of your kids instead of their stuff.
Q: Are there any specific items you suggest packing when travelling with babies?
My point and shoot camera! It is so easy to forget the memories you make along the journey. Our Kodak Easyshare comes with us, along with extra sdk
cards and a universal electric adapter and the SLR stays home, it’s just too bulky.
The Boba Air Baby Carrier is a must! I love it. We’ve tried a bunch of baby carriers, the wrap styles took too long and the Bjorn was just too bulky to travel with. The Boba Air folds up into a pouch and weighs barely anything at 11 ounces. Wearing your baby through the airport is fantastic, not only do you not have to deal with lugging around a stroller, but you don’t have to have that awkward moment explaining why you’d rather not step into the backscatter.
The ipad. Apps. Movies. eBooks. Intertubes. ‘nuff said.
And we haven’t tried it yet, but Bubblebum USA makes an inflatable booster seat that looks promising. Anything that cuts down on the amount of stuff we have to bring is a bonus.
Q: What are some common mistakes people make when packing for travel babies?
Packing way too much. You pay money to go on vacation to focus on new experiences and building bonds with your family, not to focus on your possessions. Babies really need very little things in order to survive. Despite popular belief, stressing yourself out by dragging along a lot of things from home isn’t going to make transitioning to a new routine any easier on your kids. They need parents who are calm and excited.
Q: Does your bag increase to accommodate your children’s belongings or do you instead downsize your own things?
We downsize our things. I have running spreadsheets of packing lists for each trip and make notes when we return for each on what we needed and what we didn’t. I just copy an old spreadsheet based on destination and weather and update it based on the notes and our new needs. I pack 3-4 tops and bottoms each and the baby gets 6 each, since he is prone to messes.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about packing for travel with babies?
Too many cute options. When I pack my son’s clothes, I seriously start with 12-15 of each item and then start the painful task of editing. Everything is freaking adorable and you never know what you’ll need. But you can always buy things when you get there, which leads to problem #2…
Then there is always fitting everything in when we go to come home. We might leave minimalists, but we don’t come home that way between the gifts for others and gifts from others. I always throw in a collapsible compression bag to shove clothes and things in on our way home
Q: Do you recommend any particular clothing brand that makes good travel gear for babies?
The same tips go for kids as they do for adults when it comes to travel, just in miniature form. For instance, jeans and heavy pants take up a lot of space. We are in love with yogacolor’s infant line. Their infant karate pants are super adorable alternatives to the soft pant tight legging styles you commonly find for tinies and take up no space at all.
We cloth diaper when we travel domestic, but buy disposables on international trips. Hybrid diaper systems like Grovia, gDiapers and Flips are wonderful options and easy to hand wash in a hotel sink. I wrote more about cloth diapering on the road on our blog Traveling with Baby – Diaper and Nappie Tips.
Q: Do you have any favorite clothing brands or individual items that help make packing choices more efficient for moms?
Aside from the things listed here, Black leggings and a scarf. I haven’t tried them yet, but I have my eye on a few pieces from Hotsquash that I am going to get for our next trip in May.
Q: How do you choose the right footwear for you and the family?
I’m a flip flops girl. I love my Clarks and my cheap foam flips for hotel showers (I’m a mild germaphobe). Anything else is a matter of packability, or I just buy something when I get there.
I brought my Merrell Barefoot tennis shoes when we went to England during the winter. I’m not really into wearing sneakers with outfits, but they were the warmest pair of shoes I owned (I live in Florida) and since they were so lightweight it didn’t matter. They held me over until I found a pair of boots that would keep me warm over there, since our (Florida) options here weren’t made for withstanding freezing temperatures.
I’m still currently on the search for a great pair of slightly dressy shoes that pack flatter than my kitten heels, but aren’t ballet flats. My husband isn’t too impressed with the foldable flat options, they look like slippers.
The baby was a bit harder to shop for. We packed a pair of fleece lined suede boots, which were a mistake. They took up lots of space and he hated putting them on. We finally just layered up under a pair of crib shoes by Preshoes bought by Nana, and haven’t looked back since. They are now his and my favorite: they slide on and off easily and pack absolutely flat.
Q: How do you maximize toiletries for your family without carrying wholesale store size bottles?
My husband and I share his 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash combo by American Crew. I like the way men’s products smell compared to a lot of the girly smells of women’s products so win-win.
I limit my makeup to just the essentials and am a big fan of Clinique and Estee Lauder, but I think you can only find travel sized cleansers and moisturizers in their gift packs. I had a great little stick from Clinique once that had lip gloss on one side and mascara on the other, but I can’t find it anymore.
We do pack a few toiletries for airplanes: Natural Garden Soaps lip balm for baby and I but they don’t list it online, you have to contact them and request it but it is worth it, eye drops, hand sanitizer and toothbrush/toothpaste. I remember reading about the Evian Mineral Water Spray and thought it was a bit excessive, but after one international plane ride I recognized my misjudgement. It comes now. Always.
We also snag a few bottles of water once we get passed security for on the plane because the flight attendants never come around enough times. Hydration is the #1 travel beauty secret. Vitamin C chews are the second.
Q: Any last travel packing tips for new traveling families?
Slow down and enjoy the journey.
Thank you so much for sharing these valuable travel tips! Learn more about this family’s inspirational travel stories on their travel blog I Heart Family Travels. For more packing tips for traveling families, check out The Secret to Traveling with Toddlers and Babies.
If you are interested in sharing your packing tips on TFG, you can download the interview questions and submission guidelines here.
For more traveler interviews, please read:
- Interview with World Traveler Louise Matthew
- Interview with Beach Chic Laura Bronner
- Interview With Avant-Garde Footwear Designer Chelsea Jones
- Interview With Minimalist Chic Chalsie