Toddler Packing 101

Remember what it was like to go on vacation in your pre-parenthood days? When all you had to do was throw a teeny-weeny bikini and some flip flops in a bag and you were good to go?

Irony #1568 of parenting: when you need a vacation more than ever before, preparing for a vacation becomes harder than ever.

There’s a lot to remember when packing for a family. In our family of five, preparing for a week —or even a weekend— away takes a huge amount of preparation.

I thought I’d share a few tips that I’ve learned to help ease the inevitable pre-vacation stress.

1. Less is More

We’re minimalists when it comes to packing. For our upcoming nine day trip, I’m packing the following for each child: 4 everyday outfits, 2 dressier outfits, 2 swimsuits, and 2 pairs of pajamas. Since it’s summer we’re able to get away with one pair of shoes for each of the boys and 2 pairs for my daughter. (I’m planning on a laundry day mid-trip.)

The bottom line is this: develop a check list that works for your family and your vacation destination, and try to avoid bring extra items. After all, you’re trying to make memories, not a fashion statement!

2. Pack Each Outfit with Accessories in a Ziploc Slider Bag

A vacation is so much easier when the kiddos can just get out of bed and dress themselves. That’s why I use individual Ziploc bags for each of my children’s outfits. There are two benefits to packing in this way: you’re less likely to forget something and it makes dressing easier on hectic travel days. Dirty clothes can go right back in the bags, which prevents the mixing with clean items.

3. Think about Carseats, Strollers and Travel Beds. What Will Work Best?

Are you flying to your destination? The FAA recommends that toddlers use a Child Restraint System during the flight. If you’re checking a car seat you should consider wrapping it in protective plastic or bubble wrap, placing it in a clear garbage bag, and writing your contact information on a label affixed to the bag. You can also gate-check strollers. Another consideration, though, is to rent these items through a service such as Baby’s Away or a local vendor.

4. WWYTP: What Would Your Toddler Pack? 

Think sippy cups, special pillows, snacks, or any DVDs they’re currently obsessed with. What would be on your toddler’s must-pack list? On our list: a bag filled with crayons, coloring books, special toys, our iPad, and her blankie.

Packing for your toddler does take additional planning, but the memories you create will make it all worth it. As for me, I’d trade family memories for having a teeny-weeny bikini body any day.

Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

More by Mary Lauren:

Ten Truths about Toddlers: What Parents Should Know

Potty Training Tips from the Experts: Moms!

Why I Was a Better Parent Before I Had Kids

A big thanks to Ziploc for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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