Our family is quite used to travelling. The hubs is Malaysian, so we are used to making trips back to visit his family. During our stint in Europe, we explored 11 countries with two kids in tow. Then, Junior J was three, while Lil J was just a baby, and I have fond memories of our trips: Baby J eating baguette every day in France, me sitting in front of some masterpiece while surreptitiously nursing a baby in a museum, the boys having fun exploring castles and nature and zoos. You could say we love travelling, and in general the older two boys are pretty good travellers (Baby J is a different story, but I think he just needs time).
Given that we've done so many overseas trips, you would expect that I am a seasoned and fast packer. Unfortunately, I am not, and I still take ages to pack, and have a tendency to overpack. (The hubs tells me that packing is easy, and all that is needed is for me to choose the clothes and toss everything in. Which usually gets me very upset, and makes me harbour the thought of NOT packing his socks.) That aside though, I thought I'd share some packing tips that have worked for us thus far:
:: Food-related stuff: If you have a weaning baby with you, or want to cook for your kid(s), try booking apartments with a kitchen so that meal prep is easier. If not, bring along an electric lunchbox. It works like a mini steamer, and usually comes with two bowls that fit inside so that you can actually cook two things at the same time (eg. pasta and pasta sauce, or porridge and veggies). Remember to bring along a universal adaptor just in case the place uses a different plug! We usually pack a small chopping board, a knife, a peeler, baby spoons and Sporks (for the adults).
|Our electric lunchbox. We usually carry our baby spoons in a cutlery holder from Daiso.|
The Sporks are very useful, especially if you need to eat instant noodles! ;)
We use silicon bibs, which are way easier to clean compared to cloth bibs. These just need you to wash with soapy water, or if you are in a rush, you can just wipe them clean with a wet wipe. Much easier compared to having to wash cloth bibs!
If your trip is short, or you do not have time to look for a supermarket, bring some easy to cook food for the kids: pasta, oatmeal, canned tomatoes and tuna. If you're travelling in Europe though, do note that jarred baby food is common and pretty cheap, which might be an option to consider if you're headed there! That aside, don't forget snacks for the kids too: raisins, dried fruit, nuts, cereal and biscuits are some of the easier things to bring along. And a nursing cover if you are still nursing.
:: Clothes: I admit I like to dress the boys up to be matchy matchy. So when packing, I usually try to pack similar coloured tops and bottoms for them, and fold all three tops together so that I can pull them out together when changing all of them. This has a few advantages: the kids look co-ordinated in photos, they are easier to spot in a crowd, and it's also easier to remember what the kids are wearing if they get lost (touch wood!). It's easy for me to match their clothes, since we usually go for simple designs like stripes or plain coloured tees.
If you can, pack darker-coloured clothes, unless you are travelling to some where very hot. This way, you don't need to worry so much about the kids getting dirty (which will happen anyway!) and the grime and stains showing up. White tops are quite a nightmare, especially during meals (think messy kid dribbling pasta sauce down his white tee during lunch!). Light-coloured bottoms are even worse (especially if you have boys who think rolling on the floor or splashing in puddles are the world's best form of entertainment!) Chances are, you won't have the time to rinse those stains out at night, and you won't want to be lugging half-damp clothes around anyway!
Pick neutral-coloured bottoms that can easily match with most of the tops that you bring along for the kids. Pockets are great, for holding that random sea shell or pebble.
If you're travelling to somewhere cold, do check the weather forecast and bring a jacket to match. While you'll probably be layering alot (for babies, do the tights plus onesie for the base layer so that baby's tummy doesn't get exposed), in most cases you'll be going in and out of buildings as you travel, so having to take off just one layer (the jacket) beats having to peel off two or three thinner layers off your kid. Jackets with hoods are useful, since the hood can help in drizzles and windy conditions.
:: In case of emergency: For the case of kids with food allergies and other allergies, please bring along anti-histamines. Lil J has an egg and prawn allergy, and having anti-histamines at hand really really helped. In many instances, eateries may not be sure about allergens and may advise wrongly, so it is always good to have meds on standby. Once, we had a case where Lil J's eye started puffing up, and he started rashing, and we didn't have any meds at hand, so the hubs had to dash out to the pharmacy. That was a lesson learnt for us! When it comes to bringing meds, try rolling a diaper around each bottle, so that the diaper absorbs the leaks if there are any.
Always have plastic bags with you. Or if you are flying, take those air-sickness bags with you. These bags are great for various emergencies: for pee when there is no toilet in sight, for puke especially if your kid gets motion sickness (especially if you head out to sea or drive up a windy mountain road), for soiled clothes. Or even pine-cone or sea shell picking should the occasion call for it!
:: Entertainment: We usually pack some books (along with their book of Bible stories for bedtime reading), their sketch books, crayons and stickers, plus audio-books if we plan on travelling around by car. The audio-books are really useful for keeping the kids occupied on long car rides (we like this, this and this)!
:: Others: The baby carrier is a must for us, especially now that it is essential that we have our hands-free to care for the older two. The carrier is also great for long plane rides when you have to bring baby for walks, and for everything else! We usually bring along the pram if we intend to go out in the afternoons and will need the younger kids to sleep on the go. We also bring our clip-on high chair for certain trips (something like this one), when we know that it'll be hard for us to get high-chairs. (We used to bring a Sack-n-seat, but the two younger ones proved to be too wriggly to stay in there!)
All in all, I've learnt not to fret too much about the packing, because if I forget something, we usually can make do without, or buy it while travelling. What are your packing tips for an overseas trip?
PS: The clothes pictured in this post were kindly sponsored by FOX. I particularly like their fleece jackets, which are so soft and comfortable!