‘Packing light’ and ‘traveling with a toddler’ are two phrases that don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. For many parents, packing their toddler’s bag is a challenge in and of itself. Trying to pack light? The idea seems ridiculous. Little kids need a lot of things to stay happy and comfortable; how could you possibly pack all of their needs in one small suitcase?
However impossible it may seem, packing light when traveling with a toddler is definitely doable. Here are some tips that can help you make it happen:
1. Do the laundry
If you’re like any other parent, there is always an instinct to bring extra clothes in case your toddler has an accident or spills something on themselves. It is often necessary and not something you can do away with, unfortunately. However, don’t go overboard with the clothes. For example, if you are going on vacation for a week, pack only three days worth of clothes. Then, on the first day, wash their clothes in the hotel sink or tub with laundry detergent (or have the hotel wash it for you, but for a price). Small clothes are easy to dry and you can just hang them on the bathroom rod while you’re out.
In this way, you’re not bringing a truckload of clothes every time you travel with your child. And if you bring their favorite girls’ liberty dresses, your toddler will be more than happy to put them on again and again during your trip.
2. Bring only one or two toys
Entertaining a child during a long trip can be a nightmare, but bringing a chest’s worth of toys is definitely not the best way to go. Instead, bring only one or two of their favorite toys. During a trip, toddlers can find almost anything interesting enough to play with, such as the free tissue packets in the airport, the cups in the hotel room, or even the free plastic utensils from a restaurant.
3. Roll up clothes
Rolling up clothes is a great technique to save space in your luggage, and it works for adult clothes, too!
4. Pack only two pairs of shoes
One pair will go on your child’s feet while on the way to your destination, and one pair stays in the luggage. Better yet, don’t bring an extra pair aside from the ones that your child will wear throughout the trip. If you have them wear their most comfortable pair, there won’t really be any need for another pair of shoes.
5. Leave the stroller and car seat at home
If your child still uses a stroller, it’s best to leave it at home as it can be incredibly bulky and a hassle to lug around. Instead, rent out a stroller at your destination for an affordable fee. If you’re traveling by rental car, mention that you are traveling with a child. Most rental services will include a car seat (and maybe even a stroller) for free or a minimal fee.
6. Transfer toiletries in travel-sized containers
This is a golden tip for toddler toiletries as well, including body wash, shampoo, baby oil, and lotion. Resist the urge to bring the full-sized ones, thinking that your toddler might need more than just a smidge. If they run out, you can always buy more at a nearby store.
7. Go to the grocery store
It’s also a good idea to not pack diapers, baby wipes, snacks, and other essentials that you can buy when you get to your destination except for just the amount that you need for a day or two. This tip can save you a lot of luggage space and help avoid additional airport charges.
8. Downsize your own luggage
Apply the same packing principles to your own stuff. Bring fewer clothes, keep your toiletries in travel-sized containers, limit the amount of footwear you bring, and roll up your clothes to fit them snugly in your luggage. In this way, you can probably fit your toddler’s stuff in your suitcase as well, eliminating the need to carry an extra bag just for their stuff.
9. Mail excess luggage
If there are things that you need to bring with you but cannot possibly carry while traveling with a child, consider mailing them in advance to your destination instead.
Traveling with a toddler can already be a whole journey in and of itself. Don’t make it harder on you by bringing too much stuff that will only slow you down and make it harder to get to where you need to be. With these tips, you can successfully pack light and smart for your next trip.