Europe with infants and toddlers: Packing tips
Getting ready for a trip is always exciting. However, packing is not — at least not to me anyway. I’m just ready to get to where we’re going. We took trips with the kids before we got here. However, when we tried to apply the same packing methodology, some things got lost in translation.
When I pack, I like to start with an empty bag. I lay everything out so I can see it. When I start to put together the “must have” inventory, this is what I consider.
• How long will we be away?
• Will we have access to the car or a place to store extra items?
• Will the trip span over mealtime and/or naptime?
• What will the weather be like?
My OCD side likes to make a list of the things we will need, then I decide on the quantity. The second bullet is an extremely important factor. If you will have a place to store extras that you can access relatively easily, the level of packing stress becomes greatly reduced. In this situation, I utilize my piratey market bag for the basics — a diaper, wipes, extra panties and bottoms, my wallet and cellphone. This keeps my bag light with room to add more. A sling backpack or diaper clutch also works nicely. Both can be easily secured to your stoller and can be worn comfortably with or on a carrier. Now there is even more space for all the goodies you purchase.
If you won’t have this type of access, make sure your diaper bag is spacious enough to carry what you need. Also, make sure it’s comfortable to carry. Even with a stroller, you may not always be able to hang the bag from the handle. I’ve discovered that backpack-style diaper bags work extremely well. The load of the bag contents is evenly distributed and not carried by just one shoulder at a time.
Consider staying overnight if your destination is more than one to two hours away. For an overnight trip, check with your hotel to see if travel beds or cribs are available for the kiddos. When we went to Paris for a long weekend, we took the train. We had enough in tow and didn’t want to add two play yards on top of it. Our hotel offered travel beds at no extra charge. Score one for the savings team! There are also companies that rent baby gear in major European cities. However, check what’s included in your accommodations first.
Do you really need all those extra clothes? I understand kids are messy! However, there may be at least be a washer – possibly a dryer too – onsite or nearby where you’re staying. Washing clothes in the sink is another option. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have done it.
Also, you may be able to purchase many items at your destination. For example, there are Pampers everywhere! The sizes are the same as in the United States. If your children don’t have diaper sensitivities, buying the generic brand to use while you’re away can help you save money. Ask the concierge for nearby stores that carry what you need at reasonable prices.
If there are any additional suggestions or topics you would like to see included, email us at contentteam[at]stripes[dot]com with the subject “Two under two.”