Over the years my packing list has gotten shorter, not larger, when traveling with the kids. This is not because my boys are getting older. This is because I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I have also learned what gear can pull double duty. It all started with our stroller, but I quickly realized how many other things I use for multiple purposes.
Strollers > High Chair > Travel Crib > Playpen
Our stroller was the first thing to pull double duty and soon took on many more functions. It started when my oldest was five months old. We were on Maui and he was going to start eating solids. We didn’t have a high chair in our rental so I popped him in his stroller and started to give him a few bites. It worked perfectly. Since then we have wheeled our boys up to tables at restaurants when high chairs were not available.
Everyone knows kids fall asleep in strollers, which makes them an extra travel crib to take along with you. No, when you are in your hotel room you will not use this in place of an actual travel crib, but when you are on the go, especially when your baby is very young, it works perfectly for a quiet nap spot while you continue to explore.
No one wants to bring an exersaucer or play pen with them on vacation. It’s just too big! You could rent one but it doesn’t make sense if you are going to be out of the house most of the time. Your stroller can become an easy and safe play area to put your son or daughter while you finish doing your make up, but don’t want him to start chewing on cords out of boredom.
I won’t even get into how I use my stroller as a luggage cart, hand bag holder and I actually miss it when I travel without the kids. I mean really, what is going to hold my heavy purse?!
Backpack > Diaper Bag > Grocery Bag
When my oldest was first born we traveled with a diaper bag. After our first few trips this got thrown into a pile along with all of the other things we realized were impractical for travel. We started using the backpacks we already traveled with to hold diapers, bottles, baby food and whatever else we would need for the kids. We haven’t looked back since.
Our backpacks have also served as grocery bags when traveling. It’s not easy to cart milk, water, bread and snacks back to your hotel if it is more than a few blocks away. Bags break and those thin plastic bags can really cut into your hands. By using our backpacks we are not only saving our arms, but we are saving the planet at the same time.
Baby Blanket > Changing Pad > Stroller Cover > Sun Shade
Blankets are often overlooked for some reason as a multi-function fabric. Yes, we all know it can keep baby warm, but did you know you can use it as a changing pad in a pinch? More than once I was in a disgusting place where no normal-sized changing pad would do to protect my son from germs. The baby blanket covered the area nicely. You can also use a baby blanket to block the wind when you are strolling down the street or pin it to the hook in your car to create a sunshade.
Car Seat Bag > Free Checked Bag
Yes, it is true that you can check your car seat for free, even if it is in a bag to keep it clean. Pack correctly and you can sneak a few extra items into the bag and not overload your carry on or checked bags in the process. I often stick diapers, life vests and even a travel crib into our car seat bag before we check it to go under the plane during our flight. Just make sure your bag is not too bulky or the staff may call your out on this sneaky maneuver.