Traveling with kids brings a whole new level of preparation than just throwing items in a suitcase. I put a lot more thought into packing for them than I do for myself.
I have found the easiest way to pack for my kids is to use Ziploc bags (either quart or gallon depending on the size of your kiddos clothes) I put a pair of underwear, top, and bottom and any other accessories such as a headband, socks, bow, etc. in the bag. This method did require more preparation when it came to packing, but I felt like it saved us time in the long run. She could grab a bag and get dressed while I was getting dressed. Additionally, pushing all the air out of the Ziploc bags saved room in her suitcase as well. I use this method packing for my son, whether we are out running errands, a weekend trip out of town, or a week in Colorado – that way if he spits up, or has an accident we have an extra outfit AND a plastic bag to put soiled clothes in as well.
Each of my kids have their own backpack (even my 1-year-old). My daughter knows if she packs it, she has to be able to carry it. I always carry her liquids so she doesn’t have to worry about messing with that stuff at the airport security. As for my son, obviously we will carry his backpack – before long trips, I do try and pick up some new toys or just put back toys that we have at home so they seem new to him. He’s pretty easy to entertain as long as I have a few baseballs, trucks, tractors, books, and snacks. Everyone has their own bag, for their own stuff.
Another hot topic at least for my daughter on our first few trips was the beloved stuffed animal and American Girl doll. That dog has gone with us to Colorado, tropical getaways, as well as Disney many times. The first trip we took, I did pack her stuffed animal it in her carry on more for comfort than anything. There have been times I have put it in her checked luggage too – Thank goodness we haven’t lost the luggage because it would have been shear devastation. Each parent knows their child and what is best for them. I choose to bring it others may think differently.
To use or not to use technology – that is the question. This is another one I feel like people have strong opinions about. My daughter has her own iPad and we will make sure it’s charged and has movies downloaded prior to leaving. We’ll generally let her download a new movie prior to leaving. Now Netflix and Amazon Prime offer the ability to download from their respective services to your device prior to your trip. My daughter is an avid reader as well. We got her a Kindle a few years ago because she will read a Harry Potter book in a day, over the course of a week and a half long trip, the kid would have back problems if we’d let her bring books to keep her entertained. The Kindle is much lighter and works great for her. There are many free books out there and you can even check them out at some public libraries. I have no problem at all putting new ones when she requests them! Lastly, the phone. Yes, we buckled last year and got her a phone, never in a million years would I have thought my 10 year old would have a phone but alas, here we are. She always has her headphones with her as well as her music which is yet another form of entertainment.
Keeping in mind when you travel if your kiddo has a special dietary need is essential. Traveling can disrupt things enough in addition to new foods. Try to be mindful of those things for your kids. My son is still on whole milk, while my daughter drinks almond milk and is sensitive to dairy, others may have a tree nut allergy or gluten sensitivity. Unfortunately, these dietary needs don’t go on vacation when you do! Having your travel professional call ahead to ensure these needs are able to be accommodated will ensure that your trip goes much smoother.