How you can pack light even if you travel with a toddler

Don't forget their favourite toy
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On our latest trip I saw many families with small children traveling with a huge suitcase for every family member and I was wondering if that was really necessary. After all, the three of us have packed into one large bag, three backpacks (one large and two smaller) and the toddler’s stroller. I’m sure, though, that we could have done it with one backpack less, but I had to carry my oversized laptop to finish some work.

Pack the essentials

Beside your passports, tickets and vouchers, be sure to pack at least one credit card (2-3 is even better as one could be denied for any reason). If you all have a smartphone with the same charger, one should be enough. After all, are you really going to spend that much time on your phone while exploring a different place? Well, maybe you are, if you use online city guides or maps, or if you have to work from your destination. Also, the kid could use some pre-downloaded cartoons or games if you let them use your phones.

Get some practical clothes combos

In this case we went for a late summer vacation, with the idea of exploring nearby Barcelona. The weather was not the best Spanish summer has to offer, so we also took a pair of long pants, a hoodie and raincoat each. This combination is highly practical:  not only does the raincoat protect from the rain, but from wind too, so you can wear it together with the hoodie even if it is 10oC. And it can fit in a backpack’s side pocket.

Had we gone on a winter trip, we’d probably use pajamas or tracksuit under the trousers instead of wearing additional hose pants, and hoodie with double t-shirt and versatile jacket instead of three different jackets.

Child running around Montjuic castle
It’s the experiences, not what they wore what they will remember

Take enough cash

Even if your destination is super high tech friendly, you can still have trouble with credit cards or finding a cash machine in the middle of the night or in the middle of nowhere. Do take some cash for snacks and water on your way to your accommodation, to cover at least your first few days of stay, and if you suspect your destination might be lacking credit card support, maybe for the entire trip to cover your basic needs.

Do you really need that much…?

Clothes

Most people tend to pack too much clothes. If you’re going for a week, do you really need a dozen t-shirts/pants/dresses? Of course not! Unless you’re a top model that is going to work, and even so, somebody else would be taking care of your apparel.

I usually take half the amount of t-shirts and pants, and wash them during the stay if needed.

For the child you don’t really need to bring several dresses to impress every day. She doesn’t really care, nor does anybody else.

Baby diapers and baby food

If you’re going to a larger town or city, chances are you’ll find plenty of choice of diapers, so there’s no need to pack a full bag of these. However, I recommend bringing a stash for the first 3-4 days until you learn more about the local offer and prices. Same goes for baby food. You can distribute the stash in the holes of your baggage.

Tip: If you pack glass jars, wrap them in paper towels, plastic bags and clothes so that they don’t break.

Toys and games

One can easily over pack toys to keep the kiddo entertained, but if there’s any chance, try making it up to 2-3 favourite and compact toys.

You could download a couple of suitable games and series, but have in mind that those can be addicting and make your kid crave the phone when not necessary.

If you need a stroller, get a light one

We found a very cheap but very light stroller just before the trip, but if you can’t find or buy one, try asking your friends who have or have recently had babies to lend it to you for these couple of days.

 

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