In case you don't know by now, we are a family of five and we love the occasional travel. Or two. Our furthest trip away from home was to Amsterdam last year – the 13-hour flight was no joke! – and we still lived to tell the tale. The way my wife and I figure it, the kids are going to be a nightmare to deal with sometimes (especially if they are cooped up at home during school holidays!), so we might as well be at some place that is either relaxing, beautiful, fun, or all bundled into one.
And whenever we go on vacation, I do the packing.
I have to admit – packing for these trips has become somewhat of an art form for me. Already packing a family of five onto a plane is enough to wipe out more than half of our travel budget, so wherever possible, we stick to budget airlines. And you know how strict these budget airlines are with their luggage policy, which explains why we usually only travel with two suitcases. When you are shoving strollers, kids, and luggage into a cab or train, one has no choice but to pack lightly.
How do we do it?
The answer is Ziploc bags. One can save loads of space when all your clothes are shoved into bags and the air is removed. How much of your suitcase is filled with air? I would guess that at least 25 percent of it is, and that is valuable space that could be holding another three days’ worth of clothing or diapers or anything else that you couldn't fit in in the first place.
The benefits of the Ziploc bag don’t end there.
These bags are also the best small-toy transport solution around. Perfect for storing all those little toy knick-knacks and definitely useful when you are trying your darnedest to dispel impending boredom on the plane journey. Bring out one item at the time, to keep them busy but also to preserve an element of surprise (and sanity) for the rest of the trip whenever an new item is pulled out from the bag. Better yet, it seals in the odour when you got a stained diaper on hand with absolutely no bins in sight – don’t you hate it when that happens?
Oh, and a final point. A first aid kit is imperative as well.
Sickness and accidents do happen, especially with young children around. The last thing we would want is to be caught off-guard with any emergencies while in a foreign land, so for trips lasting more than 3 nights, we would usually purchase a ‘travel-pack’ of medicine from our family doctor which would contain medicine for fever, running nose and cough. Depending on the country that we are visiting, we would sometimes bring along medicine for diarrhoea and constipation as well. A digital thermometer is great bring along as well, since I can take my own temperature if the kids make my blood boil.
P.S. Check out a detailed listing of items that we usually bring along when travelling with children in tow here: http://www.cheekiemonkie.net/2012/02/travelling-with-kids-what-to-bring.html
P.P.S. Facing a meltdown en-route to your destination? Here are a few simple ways to keep them busy on a plane: http://www.cheekiemonkie.net/2012/06/kids-aboard-plane-how-to-keep-them-busy.html
This article first appeared on www.maybebaby.sg/blog/, as part of my regular monthly contribution to the website.