Babies come with a lot of baggage, and we mean that literally. Even though they’re so little, they require their own bag (or two) when traveling. Whether your trip is just an overnight stay out of town or a getaway abroad, here are seven strategies to lighten your load.
1 Ask yourself, “Do we need this?” Pack earlier than later. Packing in advance allows you to whittle down your baggage to the essentials. You don’t want to be burdened by heavy or bulky items you can do without. Make a list, and check it twice. “Think in terms of what you can do without--not what will be handy on your trip. When in doubt, leave it out,” says European traveler and TV personality Rick Steves.
2 Don’t bring what you can buy there. Buy non-essential toiletries, extra diapers, and snacks at your destination. “Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario. Pack for the best-case scenario and simply buy yourself out of any jams,” says Steves. This lessens your load by a whole lot. If you are staying at a hotel, consider borrowing a baby bathtub and requesting for a baby cot rather than bringing the one from home.
3. Organize, organize, organize. Use packing cubes, airless baggies or clothes compressor. Not only does using them make packing more efficient--it also makes things easier to find. “I like specially designed folding boards to fold and carry clothes with minimal wrinkling,” says Steves. He adds that he uses mesh bags and packing cubes for smaller items, one for underwear and socks, and another for miscellaneous items like a first-aid kit, a sewing kit and gadgets.
4. Remember: you’re packing more than just clothes. “If your clothes take up more than one-third of your bag, you are probably taking too much,” saysLonely Planet writer Lorren Bell. Try not to pack more than a week’s worth of clothes. For long trips, plan to do laundry during your stay. The type of clothes you bring matter too, says Bell. The less hassle they are, the better. "Choose light, flowing, quick-dry cotton-poly blends in matching colors that handle wrinkles well."
5. Consider leaving the diaper bag at home. Instead of a diaper bag, use a foldable tote. It’s lightweight and ready to fold and stuff into a regular bag when you’ve used up diapers, wipes, and snacks by the end of the day.
6. Wear the heavier pair of shoes. Sandals and flip-flops take up less space in your luggage than sneakers, leather shoes, and high heels. If you absolutely have to pack shoes, stuff the insides with socks or other small items to maximize the space in your bag.
7. Pack versatile items. Double duty items can save you a lot of room in your luggage while still being very useful to you. Bell is a fan of the humble sarong, for example. “It's a changing room, it's a blanket, it's a privacy wall, it's a towel, it's a bag, it's a sunshade, it's quite possibly the most versatile piece of cloth in your bag.”
Additional text by Jillianne Viel E. Castillo. A version of this article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Smart Parenting.