Packing light with kids makes life a lot easier. …But how do you actually do it? Kids need a lot of stuff, right?
First, let’s talk about parameters. The Maximalist packer brings everything they may possibly need. They’re the “just in case” traveler. There are benefits to that, but I’m too efficiency-oriented/Type A and the amount of time spent actually looking for each thing is too much.
Maximalist vs Minimalist Packing
Maximalist packers spend a lot of time either hunting for the item they need within their belongings, organizing, or managing their stuff. The more items you pack, the harder it is to keep them all straight.
Minimalists aim to get rid of everything that prevents them from being present with what’s in front of them. When it comes to travel, the less you have, the quicker you move. You spend less time packing and unpacking, less time searching for things, and have more time to enjoy the adventure.
What if You Forget Something?
Having traveled with maximalists, here’s an example. We went on an Alaskan cruise with family. We lived in Phoenix when we left, and I’m from Southern California, so I’m not very rain experienced. At all. When I did my research on what to pack, it recommended rain gear. I had an 18 month size rain jacket that fit well enough for my 2 year old. I also read that people tend to show up underprepared for the rain, but that you can buy anything you need just off the ship in Alaska, at good prices.
To me, that meant I’d bring what we have, stop at REI for a rain jacket for myself, knowing it would be easy to buy whatever else we needed. Sure enough, we got off the ship in Ketchikan, and the rain was more than Lauren’s jacket could handle. We ran into massive gift shop right off the ship and purchased a reversible fleece rain jacket for $18. Not only was it a better deal than anything I’d have found in Phoenix, but it also saved me a lot of time from having to hunt online or through Amazon for what could be the best deal/quality combination.
To me, it was a win. To an unnamed family member, we were underprepared. So, it depends on your priorities.
Packing Light With Kids – What Do You Really Need?
So, what do we bring? We pack as few toys as possible for trips. The only time they get used are in the hotel room, but, honestly, once they’re crawling, they’ll be spending their time trying to knock over trashcans and explore the room. As they get a little older, they’ll be interested in whatever perks your lodging offers. If you’re with family, they’ll want to see them, if you’re in a hotel, they’ll want to use the pen and paper and visit the ice machine. Traveling has so many built-in experiences, you spend far less time actively trying to entertain your kids, compared to at home.
As far as toys, we have a little red suitcase and take no more than what can fit in there. Magformers blocks http://amzn.to/2CnQtd8 are one of our favorite things to travel with because they’re so interactive and entertain the whole family. Babies love to smash creations, toddlers love to make them, and it uses creativity from the parents, so it’s a win all the way around. We make sure the kids have 1-2 books each, since they love storytime, and those fit in their suitcase, too.
Maximalist Packing Priorities
Our “just in case” priorities are generally health-related, so we make sure to have things like infant ibuprofen, an essential oil travel kit, teething remedies http://amzn.to/2BvVUdf , and sometimes even activated charcoal. (Capsules are great because you can pop them open to mix with water for kids without the risk of a potential charcoal explosion. http://amzn.to/2BvkDi4) The only real thing we like to be prepared for is our little guys not feeling well. We don’t consider much else to be urgent.
What Not to Pack if You’re Minimalist Packing with Kids
Short version: you don’t need as many toys or diapers as you think you will. We travel with enough diapers or pull-ups to get to and from wherever we’re going, and a few extra. If it’s more than a couple of days we’ll be gone, we just buy diapers where we’re going. They take up so much room in a suitcase!
We do laundry on the go, usually finding a fluff and fold laundromat near where we’re staying. There are hotels, like the Home2 Suites where we stayed in Lehi, Utah, that have a washer and dryer on each floor, which is also a great option. Packing less and knowing we’ll just wash it is ideal. Sometimes we travel with a tiny container of laundry soap so we can wash stuff in the sink- which was a lifesaver when potty training while traveling.
Bring What Your Kid Needs
We bring one silicone bib http://amzn.to/2CnCfJi for our little toddler. When we have babies, we bring bibs. Each kid generally has one specific need based on their age. We make sure that’s addressed instead of trying to bring every single thing they could possibly want. Minimalist packing is more about addressing needs than “just in case” events. Besides, if we miss something, we make due without it.
Travel and life are best experienced in the present, and having less to weigh you down and manage makes it easier. Whether you travel with kids or without, mishaps will occur. Everything always gets handled. It’s impossible to prepare for every potential disaster.
Progress Not Perfection
We’re still learning as we go when it comes to minimalist packing with kids. We’re still finding the right travel-friendly clothing. Some materials are better than others. Moisture-wicking and quick-dry fabrics are great because they hang dry well, but we haven’t adopted that technique yet.
Neutral clothing can all be washed together. You can also pack less when everything matches everything. Most mainstream little kid clothing has crazy patterns, prints, animals, or branding on it. Not only does it wear out quickly, it usually doesn’t match anything. We let our little guys pick out their outfits, so they usually look like total lunatics with the mismatched patterns. We’re moving toward minimalist kids clothing for the practicality and higher quality, and it’ll be nice for our kids to look less like hobos, too.
Minimalism Packing Wins
While that feeling of “YES! I HAVE A [insert obscure health, mending, or safety object]! can make you feel pretty accomplished, for us, that feeling was outweighed by the feeling of managing too much STUFF. Once we realized that we can get whatever we need pretty easily, it freed us up to pack less and enjoy more.
Check my article about Flying with a Baby – Here
Check my article about Cruising with Kids – Here