By Kathryn Trudeau
Before you have kids, spontaneous weekend trips are easy! Just grab a weekend duffle, toss in your favorite clothes, throw in your toiletries, and you’re good to go! But just because you’ve been promoted to “Mom”, doesn’t mean you have to miss fun weekend getaway trips. Of course, the packing might not be as quick, but it is 100% possible to pack light for a weekend getaway with baby.
What’s the trick? Focusing on the basics.
You’ll need to focus on six basic categories :
- Baby gear
Baby gear is the main category that can make or break your ability to travel light. We’re talking all that bulky stuff: strollers, car seats, cribs, swings, bouncers! And the list goes on! Here are a few tips to help you scale back on the baby gear needed:
- Forgo the stroller and use a baby carrier instead. This makes traveling on planes or subways much easier. Many high-quality carriers can accommodate babies from infancy through toddlerhood. Your babe can nap, snack, sightsee, and nurse from the comfort of a carrier. Win win!
- Skip the pack n’ play: Depending on where you are going, many resort hotels offer pack n’ plays for babies to sleep during your hotel stay.
- Skip the carseat: That is, skip bringing the carseat on the airplane. If you need to rent a car, find a car rental that includes car seats - many of them do!
- Instead of a play mat or activity center, you only need a receiving blanket. If you want to set up a tummy time or play center for your baby, simply lay down a clean blanket and a few of the toys you brought - and voila! Instant play mat!
Of course, you’ll need to pack clothes, but how many? That’s a tricky question especially when babies are concerned. You can extend the life of your baby’s outfits by packing extra bibs. Bibs take up less room than a whole outfit and can also double as a burp cloth, if need be.
- For younger babies, aim for 2-3 outfits per day.
- For older babies and toddlers pack 1-2 outfits per day.
- For older kids, one per day should be good.
Resist the urge to over pack or to pack for multiple scenarios or weather situations. Do your best to pack multi-purpose, multi-use pieces of clothing.
Feeding is another category that can vary wildly depending on how old your baby is, but these tips can help you pack a little lighter:
- If you’re breastfeeding, great! Pack your nursing cover and you’re good.
- If you’re pumping, bring the manual pump and one bottle. Leave the big electric pump at home for a weekend getaway.
- If you’re formula feeding, bring the formula and just one bottle. Yes, you’ll have to wash the bottle after each feeding, but it’s much easier than bringing six bottles. Consider bringing a formula container that allows you to keep pre-measured formula portions in the diaper bag for each day. (Prep each morning before you head out for the day.)
- Have a toddler? You don’t need to bring ALL the snacks. Bring enough to get you to your destination, and then purchase some local snacks. What should you bring? Applesauce pouches, high quality granola bars, and dehydrated fruit pieces are good ideas.
This is another category that can make or break the whole “packing light” concept. Chances are pretty good that baby will be pretty entertained by your weekend festivities so you probably won’t need much in the way of entertainment. However, you may need some entertainment for car or plane ride. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your traveling toy choices:
- Teething necklace can give your baby something to play with while you hold him
- Soft toy or lovey: cuddly, cute, and doubles as a travel pillow
- Something interactive: this could be as simple as a water bottle (to make those crinkly noises), a pad of paper for toddlers to scribble on in restaurant, or a hot wheel car (to vroom it across the restaurant table). This category really depends on how old your baby is, but the overall concept is the same: bring one toy that will hold your child’s attention.
Whether you use cloth diapers or reusable, you’ll still have to pack diapers. And when it comes to poop, here’s the scoop on traveling with babies in diapers:
- You don’t need to pack diapers for the entire baby population. Estimate how many you need per day and pack just that. If you have a true diaper emergency, you can always buy more. But if you pack just the amount you need, then you are reducing the tendency to overpack.
- Pack the travel size diaper cream (and soap too for that matter) because it will take up less room on your suitcase
- Roll the diapers and stuff them into shoes if you are running low on room.
When packing your diaper bag, use a diaper bag backpack. Backpacks are smaller and force you to pack less, avoiding the overpacking syndrome. Save space by stocking the diaper bag with travel size toiletries and a travel size first aid kit (rather than the large ones in plastic kits).
What about you?
What are your best tried-and-true traveling light tips?
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com
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