I am planning to write a few blog posts in my Travel with Baby series and I am sure other parents will agree that packing for a baby, or a child of any age for that matter, is the crucial element on which the success of your entire journey depends. As if the stress of travelling with kids is not enough, the entire responsibility of ensuring that you have every essential (and not so essential) item available at your destination, also rests on your shoulders. Forget something, no matter how limited its application in your baby’s life and nature will make sure that you need it on that particular trip. And chances are that the absence of that item will ruin your otherwise perfectly organized vacation. Not so long ago, the Husband and I decided to take a road trip for a short two day break and BabyZ who was a perfect angel when we started from home, inexplicably turned into a monster during our drive. Turns out that Mother Nature chose those exact hours to supply teeth to my baby in very small doses. Obviously, I didn’t have her teething medicine and there was no chance of getting the medicine on our way or even at our destination. I learnt an extremely valuable lesson in those very long two and a half days.
I have traveled quite a lot with BabyZ now. We have taken two road trips and quite a few flights and these are my guidelines for packing for a baby.
Always make a List. With a pen. On a paper
If you are telling yourself that I know everything my baby uses and needs throughout the day, I will just add those items to her suitcase from my mental list, stop right there! You are fooling yourself. You are bound to forget the thing you will need the most on the trip. So sit down, at least a week before your travel date, and start a list. Consider all scenarios, the more ridiculous, the better. In this way you will at least have a comprehensive list and you can omit out the items that have a zero probability of being used. Keep the list in a place where you can look at it regularly and add things as they occur to you throughout the day.
The way I do it is, I have a permanent comprehensive packing list for BabyZ in my planner notebook. That is my Master List. Before every vacation I create a smaller disposable list suiting that particular trip and weather conditions. My Master list is divided into these categories:
- Clothing and accessories
- Feeding equipment
- Trip specific
I add items to each category and the likelihood of me forgetting something have considerably reduced since I adopted this method. I also keep the list in my luggage or take a picture of it with my phone to refer to it when I am re-packing for the trip back home.
I recommend investing in a set of flexible packing bags called packing cubes if you want to pack efficiently for your child. They are easily available online and at luggage stores. Why I consider them important is, that baby clothes are so tiny, there is no good way to pack them without putting them into a small bag of some sort before arranging them in the suitcase. Also they get heavily creased and you have to go through the trouble of ironing them (at least I don’t want to do that on vacation.) With packing cubes, you can organize clothes according to your need. For example, I keep BabyZ’s casual outfits in one cube and formal outfits in another. Shoes, accessories and bibs fit comfortably in one cube. When you reach your destination, you simply take out the packing cubes and put them in the wardrobe, rather than unpacking all of your child’s clothing. One side is usually made of mesh so you can easily see what is inside each cube. The clothes remain perfectly ironed and most importantly, Daddy can help when you are dressing up your child. Instead of asking which pink dress I am talking about, he brings over the cube to me and I choose. I bought quite flimsy ones online when I first traveled with BabyZ and had this ingenious idea. I have genuinely found them to be so useful, I am considering buying good quality ones that will stand the test of time. Here is a picture of how I pack BabyZ’s clothes.
Babyz’s clothes in packing cubes
To pack everything else, besides clothing and accessories, I use zippered freezer bags in various sizes. When travelling with a baby, it is very important that the parent should be aware of the location of every item in the suitcase, in case the baby refuses to cooperate with you. So having bath, feeding and medical supplies in separate clear freezer bags proves to be very helpful in case of emergencies and when you do not have the luxury of time to fish around in the bags. Just reach for the one you need. Once again, this proves to be a good idea when you unpack at your destination. I simply take the bag with bath items and keep it in the bathroom and the food bag goes to the kitchenette. I always make sure that I keep the empty freezer bags carefully for repacking at the end of my trip.
Bath, Food and Medical supplies in freezer bags
A well-equipped baby bag is the life blood of any trip you take with your child, especially if you are travelling by air. I am certain all parents know how to pack a perfect baby bag when they are out and about with their child. But when you are on a long trip, think of Mary Poppins when packing the baby bag. Everything your child requires should be in the bag in some form. You can ensure that by, you guessed it, making a list! My current travel baby bag list includes:
- Changes of clothes, each with different coverage
- Disposable changing sheets
- Mini shampoo and body wash
- Small towel
- Diaper cream
- Baby wipes
- Regular bibs, large bibs and burp cloths
- Sippy cup
- Books and toys
The quantity of these items depends on the number of hours the journey will take. The bag weighs a ton, but I would rather lug that around than keep fretting that I don’t have enough.
All the above precautions and insurances, and I still find myself without something my baby needs. But I guess that is the price you pay when you are away from home.