This post is one of a 4-part series on Flying with Your Baby / Brood.
Part 1: Plan the Attack!
Part 2: Packing. Packing. And More Packing!
Part 3: Coping with Carry-ons
Part 4: Travel Day! A Curb-To-Curb How-To
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Here’s the thing about traveling with your tiny little lump of love: lord almighty, does he come with a lot of stuff.
And if he’s TWO lumps of love — it happens — or more, that stuff just seems to multiply out of control exponentially — and this is not just hard on your body, dragging all that crap through the airport, but it is tough on the wallet in this “we-never-saw-a-thing-we-couldn’t-charge-you-for” period in air-travel.
So, the first item on my How To Pack Like ChecklistMommy List is:
1. Start Early.
Early enough that you have time to WHITTLE DOWN your first attempt at packing for your brood. For me, starting early on the packing tends to mean starting about a week before we go.
Also, you need to start early so you have time to compensate for the gaping problems with your pack list. For instance: is it going to be freezing where you’re going? Has your kid grown out of his coat? And what about all the fun-and-distracting-crap you need to stuff the carry-on bag with if you happen to be flying with a kid who is old enough to require fun-and-distracting-crap? You’re going to have to go out and get that stuff, and preferably not AT THE ACTUAL AIRPORT WHERE IT WILL COST ENOUGH TO BANKRUPT YOU. (More on building the perfect carry-on in the next post.)
2. Write a REALLY SPECIFIC PACKLIST.
If you have any hope of packing carefully enough to not mortgage your baby’s future on airline luggage fees, you really need to pack as little as is humanly possible for him, and you — we’re talking the closer you can get to one bag per SEATED customer, the better.
To do this, I suggest a really specific packlist, one that calls out days you’ll be traveling, what your itinerary of events is, what the weather is going to be like — and calls it out day by day by day. This packlist should call out LAUNDRY DAY, too, so you can see where exactly in your trip you can do laundry, and in effect, start wearing the same clothes over again.
My list tends to looks something like this one, which I drafted based on a five-day trip to NY with all four kids. (Kill me now.)
It’s not fancy — but it is OCD-detailed and minimal enough that I have HOPE of packing all four kids into one shared suitcase, and then packing another, smaller bag for me. (That’s my goal in general, when we take trips: 1 bag for the kids, 1 for me.)
Feel free to download the ChecklistMommy OCD SITUATIONAL PACKLIST.
3. Invest in PACKING CUBES.
Because they’re awesome. Packing cubes let you keep everybody’s stuff discreet and separate from everybody else’s stuff in that one big ALL THE KIDS bag. If you COLOR CODE the packing cubes, it’s even better. In our house, I pack Diddy in pink cubes, Gaga in red cubes (couldn’t buy purple, her regular color, or even yellow, when I wanted to), Pancake in blue, and Sausage in green. With one look, I can figure out whose clothes are whose when I am trying to wrestle them in or out of pajamas — or when I’m trying to get Mr. Big (Ideas) to do it.
I like these eBags sets a lot:
And honestly, packing cubes aren’t just for packing. I use them in the diaper bag, too, to keep Pancake’s stuff separate from Sausage’s (they wear different sizes), or just so I can do a quick grab-and-go for the girls, who have aged out of needing a full diaper bag per se, but could still use a pack of wipes and some crayons, maybe a spare shirt, stuffed in my shoulder bag, when we head out.
4. COLOR CODE the kids’ travel wardrobes.
I know it sounds very Von Trapp-y, but it works. (And Von Trapp got them over the Austrian Alps in wartime, don’t forget!) Anyway: if everything the kids wear over the course of the trip is in a single color family, everything we pack for them coordinates with everything else.
Plus it makes it easy even for Mr. Big (Ideas) to figure out whose laundry is whose when we’re putting it away again on laundry day.
5. DON’T PACK YOUR TRAVEL-DAY CLOTHES.
Because you know what you don’t want to do on travel-day? Go through your luggage looking for t-shirts and socks. LEAVE THIS STUFF OUT, in a crate or laundry basket NEXT TO YOUR SUITCASE!
6. Invest in a suitcase that is LIGHT, and ROLLS.
What else could a girl really need?
A vacation to recover from the upcoming vacation?