The MOMtravelchat Guide to Packing For A Vacation
Our March MOMtravelchat was a lively one, with moms and dads sharing the victories and travails of trying to fit everything you want and need into a reasonable number of suitcases for a family vacation.
To make packing easier for a few of our guests, we gave away a waterproof Toccoa daypack from Aquapac.
Here is what our tweeters had to say about what they never leave home without, and what they’ve learned to live without.
What Not to Pack
Items they’ve learned to leave home include hairdryers, curling and straightening irons, extra clothes and duplicate electronics. For example, CraziMomOf2Boys no longer packs a video camera. “Who uses those anymore when you have a cell phone?”
Then there were shoes…
@kidsonaplane rethought her packing after she brought “4 pairs of shoes! I wore one the entire week!” @Mizvanilla confesses she once brought “12 pair of shoes….seriously for 3 days.” @walkingontravel confessed to taking some of her kids’ items out of her suitcase to make room for more shoes. But she’s gotten better “I finally have cute boots and sneaks I can wander Europe in. Now (I need to find) sandals!”
Little Kids=Big Suitcase
Our parents have all found great ways to cut down on packing by being flexible and planning ahead.
If she’s visiting family, gjprasad says, “We mail diapers/wipes ahead.” Then she just carries what she’ll need in transit. AdventurousMoms does the same, but orders from Amazon instead of shipping things herself.
Several moms rent or borrow bug items like travel cribs and car seats so they don’t need to pack them. @FreeLikeBirdie has learned to “use only public transportation, so no carseats. I just keep it light.”
Many parents learn to make essential gear do double duty. @AdventurousMoms relies on carriers rather than a double stroller for her twins. She has found a style she can stash a few items in so she doesn’t need a diaper bag. @walkingontravel sticks with her stroller though. “It holds my stuff.” And she’s been known to pull it up to a restaurant table in lieu of a highchair. @kidsonaplane uses “a diaper bag that converts to a booster.”
It helps to appreciate when less is more. @Oates_Dan cautions against packing “ An excess number of movies. 1 or 2 is cool (in case of) poor weather, but 5 or 6? No. We always find something else to do anyway.”
While many parents agreed a small first-aid kit is handy (several have one from REI), there’s no need to go overboard. “LisaG_Frederick brought “An entire medicine cabinet’s worth of first aid supplies for a city trip to Europe. None of them touched.”
Spring break Ideas
The warming weather gives parents more destination options for spring break than winter break, when sun and sand seem to rule most families’ plans. With longer summer vacations on the horizon, many parents opt for short, inexpensive getaways close to home at this time of year.
AdventurousMoms is taking two short trips this spring, “A camping trip and a long weekend.” Mizvanilla was not alone when she said, “I love the Smoky Mountains, so much to see and do, yet still relax.” rychepet went to Chicago last year. New York City, Boston, San Diego and Philadelphia are also popular spring destinations. “Be sure to see if there is a CityPass or other saving book for the city you’re going to! BIG savings!” says rychepet. In cities we know fairly well we look at Restaurant.com, too, for discounts on places we know we like or want to try.
Some parents, like girlgumption, avoid beach resorts during spring break because they worry about sharing the sand with “the party crowd.” It helps to seek out resorts that market themselves as family-oriented. Solomomtravel says, “Hands down it’s BeachesResorts. 3 trips in 2 years have all been perfect. Lots for kids and grown ups to do.”
For parents looking to travel further afield, it can be a good time to look for off-season prices. Eileen at FamiliesGo! took her family to Quebec because prices were lower than destinations further south. FreeLikeBirdie often heads to Europe in the spring, “This year, London.”
For both mini-breaks and staycationing, several parents say Spring break is a good time to visit museums and indoor waterparks like Great Escapes Lodge near lakegeorge.
rychepet had this great springtime travel tip: “Great time to go to the zoo. Cooler temps mean more animals will be active and out!”
Share your best packing tips, packing disasters and spring ideas below! And check out our next party.