Tips to Travel Overseas With Babies and Kids

This is all the stuff we brought to Europe. It’s pretty much the same as if we had taken only a two-week trip. Since we’re coming into travel season I thought I would take a minute to show how we packed it all and what we brought with us.

If the trip was just going to be adults, I would generally pack light, but when you add small kids it’s more important to pack smart.

Most of the trips my family takes are of the road-trip variety where I can just toss everything into the trunk of the car without much forethought. For this trip we took planes, trains, buses, taxis, and even a boat. If our kids had been old enough to manage their own luggage, we probably would have each brought a small roll-around carry-on. Since we had to manage the kids and the luggage, we strategized for weeks about the best plan.

We wanted to have our hands free to push the stroller and grab the four-year-old. We also needed an extra suitcase for food (more on that later).

Our carry-on bags included:

1.) a diaper bag

2.) my tote bag containing my purse and computer

3.) the kids’ backpack of toys

4.) a weekend bag for the camera and food

Our checked bags were:

1.) one big red suitcase (it’s really bigger than it looks in the picture) to hold my clothes and the kids’ clothes

2.) a big backpack to hold Doug’s clothes and our extra stuff

To carry it all, Doug did most of the heavy work to wear the backpack and pull the red suitcase with the weekend bag on top. I carried my tote bag and pushed the stroller with the diaper bag and kids’ backpack hanging from it.

Packing

Our first decision was how many pieces of luggage to bring. Our bag allowance would have let us take and check more bags for the flight, but we knew it would have been more than we could manage for the rest of the trip. We didn’t have enough hands. We decided to consolidate most of our stuff into two big suitcases.

The problem with a large suitcase is the risk of exceeding the weight limit. Pack the lightweight stuff like clothes in the big suitcases and the heavier things into the smaller bags.


To keep the kids’ little clothes from getting lost and messy in the big suitcase, I gave them each a large packing cube. These were a big help when we arrived because I didn’t have to unpack everything. I just unzipped the bag and their stuff was organized like it was in a drawer.

I carefully selected the clothes that I brought since I needed clothes for both winter and spring, and I talked about what I chose in this post about having a small wardrobe.

We packed enough diapers for a few days. We took them out of the package and stuffed them around the edges and in between things so they wouldn’t take up much room.

You must have a packing list in detail–the longer the trip, the more detailed it needs to be. Do not trust your brain to remember everything! Also count your bags so as you’re leaving you can make sure you have them all.

Gear

I spent so many hours trying to anticipate what we needed for the trip. These items were a big help with the kids:

The Chicco Capri stroller – a lightweight umbrella stroller with big enough wheels to manage cobblestone roads and uneven sidewalks. The style is similar to the popular Maclaren strollers, but I prefer this one and it’s economical too.

A baby carrier. Mine is the Beco Butterfly II which carries a kid on your front or back, and I wore it in the crowded parts of town and when I was getting on buses. With any carrier, you have to practice with it to be comfortable. Don’t put it on for the first time while you’re on your trip and expect your little one to like it. I saw some people wearing baby carriers so that the baby was swinging down at the parent’s waist, and that can’t be comfortable. With your baby carried in front of you, your baby should be high enough that you can kiss the top of his head.

Almost everywhere we stayed had a baby bed (or a pack-n-play), but no one had a high chair. At home we use a Fisher-Price booster seat, and it collapses small enough to take in the car, but it wasn’t small enough for this trip. For this trip we used a chair sling. It’s not my favorite, but it folds up into a really small bag, and that’s what we needed. It lacks a booster seat, but it holds your child securely in almost any chair.

For my four-year-old I bought kids’ earphones. They worked with my ipod and the airline’s in-flight movies. I like them because they will stay on her little ears, they have volume control, and she could hear my instructions.

We also remembered to bring plastic cups for the kids, and little tupperware containers that could be used for bowls.

On the Flight

We didn’t buy a seat for our child under age two. Try to buy your tickets early so you can reserve the bulkhead seats. They have extra room, a space for the baby, and fewer people walking past you.

If your child will be sitting on your lap during the flight, let him drink only water. You don’t want him to spill orange juice on your lap during the beginning of a ten-hour flight, not that I would know anything about that.

For my little boy who is a light sleeper, it was easier to fly during the day than through the night. (And when he cried, people were generally nice about it.)

For ideas about toys to bring, take a look at this post and all the ideas in the comments.

Since we have food intolerances in our family, we designated almost one entire bag for food. We needed it too. (My kids and husband don’t eat gluten, dairy, and most soy). There was almost nothing in the airports or the flights that they could have to eat. I had requested the “fruit plate” for them, but it was tiny. Our bag got us through the days of travel and when we arrived and all the stores were closed. (A tip to the wise: a jar of peanut butter is considered a paste and thus a risk when you make your way through airport security. They didn’t seem to mind the packets of baby food.) We brought snacks with us like nuts, cereal, and chicken.

Arriving

Have a plan for when you arrive. We made the mistake of spending so much time packing and getting ready to leave for the airport that we forgot to print a map and the directions for where we should go afterwards.

The flight can be hard, but it will be over in just a few more hours. It’s the time change that really gets me. It’s so much harder with little kids. You worked so hard throughout the trip, you’re in a new place, and you really need to rest but you can’t.

As a rule of thumb, it takes one day of adjustment for every hour difference in the time zone. So for example, if you travel to a country seven hours ahead, it will take a full week for your kids’ internal clocks to become accustomed to the new time. Yes, that means your child will be awake at three in the morning. Just plan for it instead of trying to fight it. Sunshine helps.

Just in Case

Make sure to bring an extra pair of clothes in your carry-on for accidents and spills, and just in case your checked bags don’t arrive.

I’ve talked about how I use Dropbox, and that was the perfect solution for online backup of our travel documents and photos.

I know some of my readers are far more experienced in overseas travel than I am. What are your recommendations? And if you have a question, I’m sure someone will be able to help you.
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I learned the “pack an extra change of clothes in your carry-on” rule the hard way after my then 3 year old threw up on me right as we were getting off one plane to go board another. The airline wouldn’t (couldn’t?) pull our bags for me and I had to buy us both airport priced clothes to finish our trip. Of course, now that I fly with a change of clothes for everyone, I’ve not needed them since.

  2. Suzanne says:

    I am impressed. You are a smart traveler which came out early on in the post when you said you could have taken more bags but opted not to. It’s a horrible thing to end up at the airport with what is allowed and have a difficult time getting around with it. Not that I know anything about that…

    • We still had to do the “airport shuffle” which is rearranging all your stuff between your bags so that you don’t have to pay the fee for extra weight.

      • Oh my goodness, I thought I was the only one who did the airport shuffle! I am *always* rearranging my bags at the check-in counter (making me very popular with the people behind me in line).

        The problem was a bit alleviated during our last trip to Utah, when I applied a strict rule: If I could buy it at our destination, I did not need to pack it in my bags.
        Nihara´s last post…Choosing the Comforts of Convenience

  3. This shows a whole heckuva lot of forward planning. Very impressive!
    Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…Hot Dogs and Spam

  4. I’ve found that the restaurant-table-size packets or tubs of things like peanut butter, jam, honey etc are perfect for flights. These are the kind that would sit in the little metal dividers at IHOP, for example. They still fit in qt baggies for liquids!

    Also, empty plastic water bottles are kosher going through security. We don’t regularly use these, but we’ve found that clear plastic keeps security from being picky and I don’t mind if someone leaves one behind after napping on layover.

    Last, we like small pillows with a flannel sheet folded into the pillow case. Airports can be overstimulating and being able to snuggle with something soft and warm helps even if you have to do this in a parents lap or airport chair.

    • I love the idea of the little packets! Never would’ve thought of that! As far as water bottles go, I made the mistake of purchasing a water as soon as I got to the airport to take some meds and then forgot and tried to take it through security! They didn’t like that! So, I threw it away. A $3 bottle of water!
      Will they let you bring empty containers, like a metal water bottle through security, for filling at water fountains past security? Hmm.. Probably shows up like an explosive canister on x-ray!
      Bernice
      Living the Balanced Life´s last post…STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!

      • I think you can, but plastic might be better. It’s lighter in your bag and it doesn’t matter if you lose it, and you can recycle it if you run out of space on the trip home.

      • Hi – Yes all the international airports I have been through will let you take an empty bottle through to fill up at their water fountains. I generally use a recycled plastic one so that I won’t miss it if I leave it on the airplane at the other end.
        angelvalerie´s last post…when is near enough good enough

      • I’ve traveled internationally with metal water bottles (the kind with the built-in filter). They always ask me to open it so they can make sure it is empty, but I always pull them out of my bags with my laptop so it doesn’t really add any time to open it. I have forgotten to empty them (after a long fight, and having to go through security between an international and a domestic flight), but they just asked if it was ok if they dumped it. No big deal at all. :)

        • OliveBertie says:

          I use Platypus water bottles when we travel. I think they’re designed for cyclists/athletes. They are plastic that fold down flat when empty. Very light, take up hardly any space, and no problem taking through security empty.

  5. Wow Rachel, you did such a good job! I love it how you see possibilities instead of problems! I don’t have children (yet, I hope!) but I would love to travel with them. But usually when I talk about that, people will tell me that I’m crazy and that it’s just not possible or safe or whatever. But boy, are they wrong! Thank you so much for showing us :D
    Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady´s last post…Simplify Your Before Bed Routine

  6. I love the packing cube idea! So smart. And I completely agree about practicing with the carrier. I find I like to use mine getting on and off the plane with my little one rather than having to hold him, the bags and wrangle my pre-schooler down the aisle.

    • Just need to remember that they make you take off your carrier going through security both leaving and entering a country, so be prepared before you get to the scanner thing ;)

  7. Thanks for the wonderful tips! As a not quite as frequent traveler, they’re great. I liked your post about simplifying your wardrobe, but was wondering if you have any tips for simplifying a child’s wardrobe. Especially for our two-year-old, I feel like clothes get messy quickly, so I tend to default with packing more clothing. How little can you get by with? What items do you pack? Thanks!
    Adele´s last post…Yarn Along

    • The places where we stayed had a washing machine, so I washed small loads of clothes during the week.

    • We tend to try to pack (and buy) clothes that will all go together more or less for the little ones – so a theme of say blue/green/white, or brown/green/yellow/orange/cream. that way you can change a dirty top or trousers without changing the whole outfit, and if items aren’t dirty you can mix them up with another clean item to make a new outfit. If you don’t have access to a washer you can handwash small items and dry them out (over radiators/shower rail/banister rail etc) ready for another day.

      I love those cubes, I wonder if we can get them in the uk? If they could squeeze under the front car seats it would save us soooo much room in the car when we go away.

  8. Wow, I am impressed with the amount (or lack of) luggage you took for three whole months!
    I haven’t travelled with kids yet (give me 3 more months), but I know from experience packing just a backpack (a large weekender style, I used the Gregory Deva) and a messenger bag was perfect for traveling solo. I never had to worry about weight limits, paying for checked baggage, or not having enough hands to carry my stuff by myself (plus a coffee).
    It helps knowing you can do some laundry on your trip as well. A couple packets of Woolite or a small bottle of camp soap can help a few clothes go a long way.
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Please Pass the Placenta

  9. Unfortunately, we have no plans for overseas travel with our 2-year-old (or without her) anytime soon, but I think these are great tips even for in-country travel. I will definitely be keeping them in mind when we hopefully take our first family vacation this summer.

  10. I would just like to say [rant?], that I have a five-year-old step-daughter who brings quite a bit more than that for a weekend visit (to our teeny apartment). We’re pretty light packers/travelers, and I imagine our kids will be as well. I’m very impressed with you and your family and am taking notes. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  11. We’ve done a lot of overseas travel with our two beans (we lived in Japan for 8 years where both boys were born, I’m from Florida, and my husband is from the UK).

    Anyway, in lieu of hauling a car seat through the airport and having your small child (older than lap child but smaller than 40 pounds) sit in that in the airplane, we checked our car seats and used the CARES Child Aviation Restraint System. It weighs less than a pound and folds up to fit easily into a front pocket of a backpack. SO EASY. And it was super easy to fit onto the airline seat as well. Everyone around us was really impressed and told us they were going to buy one for their grandchild, etc.

    • Jennifer B says:

      This only works if you have solutions for getting out of the airport without the car seats when they don’t show up at the other end.

      Why do I know? Because this happened to me, over Christmas holiday in a blizzard. A diverted flight, missing luggage (and missing checked car seat), no car seat available at the car rental in the diverted city we ended up at – we hadn’t reserved one because we were taking our own and they didn’t have any available because they had all been rented to others, and stores all over closed because of the blizzard and the late hour.

      There are a few things that I will never put into checked luggage, and after that fiasco, a car seat that I have to use on the other end is one of them.

    • Looks like a great system, but I’m wondering what the reaction has been of the passenger behind you, with a seatbelt running across their “space”? Would be great to know, as we are travelling from Europe to Australia in 5 weeks (about 24 hours FLYING time!!)with our 3 littlies. Thanks!

      • Fiona, I never had any problems from other passengers. If they were parents, they totally understood and helped set it up, and if they weren’t or were just grumpy, they just acted resigned to it. Just make sure it goes around the back of your child’s seat, and in between the other passenger’s tray and the back of your child’s seat. In other words, ask the behind passenger to put their tray down while you are installing the strap. Then they can put their tray up again for takeoff.

  12. By the way, that wasn’t an advertisement for CARES! :) We just found it online before our last trip and it saved the day.

    • I LOVE my CARES restraint, but traveling in Japan (were we are currently stationed) I’ve never been allowed to use it because the airlines have never seen them and deem them unsafe.

  13. Carrying food is a great idea, even if you don’t have all the allergies to deal with, that way you are not dependent on the airlines time schedule, or rushing trying to find something at the airport.
    Also, make sure to pack in your carryon, any medications that you may need. I guess you need to be careful of liquids for children’s meds though. Also, baby wipes! These are good for all ages, lol!
    I’ve got the travel bug now for sure Rachel!
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life´s last post…STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!

    • The medications is a good reminder. We packed bottles of baby tylenol and children’s imodium in our checked bags. When our daughter got sick on the second week, we didn’t have to waste any time trying to find the translation for what she needed at the pharmacy.

      • With new airport security system it’s good idea to pack extra med. in checked bags but they do let u take upto 4 oz.(I belive so or atleast I have taken) of liquid med.(we travel to Asia with 2 kids, it’s around 14-15 hrs. of flying time) but if U are taking any liquid med. make sure it’s in original bottle, pack them in ziploc & while passing thru the security U take out the ziploc out of your bag & put it in the belt alongwith your other stuff. It’s always a good idea to carry kids tylenol in your handbag specially when U r flying b’coz checked bag do get delayed/lost some time.

  14. Oh, yes, and I know about having wet clothes for an entire trip! Our first son was 6 months old when we took him from our home in Japan on a trip to the UK to visit grandparents. I nursed him for takeoff and then he promptly threw up all over me–I was covered in baby milk puke for the entire overseas flight. I had packed extra clothes for him but not for me! Bleck.

    • Oh my, how awful! When we were going through that phase I always needed to pack an extra shirt for me in the diaper bag. I think it was right about the three to six month age. We needed so many extra clothes.

  15. It’s been a long time since I’ve traveled, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be using this post as my to do list when I do. I admire the heck out of people that can pack lightly. I always worry that something will come up!

    Though, I’ve learned that in this day and age, you can get anything you need anywhere you go. Err on the side of less and you can always supplement it once you get there.
    jennie´s last post…Enjoying the Season You Are In

    • That’s one of my biggest philosophies. The missing items you buy at your destination can become souveniers that are useful as well as a great memory. We went hiking on our honeymoon and even though my husband works at REI and has fleeces out the wazoo, one of his favorites has the “Zion National Park” logo embroidered on it because of the memory attached to it.

  16. I so agree that traveling requires minimal packaging… When we traveled to the UK for a month with five kids the oldest one was se7en but we had two under two, youngest 5 months, you would think we would be totally burdened with luggage but we needed to have our hands free for holding little hands. So the two youngest were in backpacks, one on each parents back… We used those backpacks to carry a couple of diapers and water-bottles, snacks and our guide books. All our luggage was in one bag that my husband and/or I could manage to cross a road with: we put two changes of clothes in a fabric shopping bag for each child and each small bag was color coded… very easy for unpacking and packing… whenever we moved from spot to spot we gathered all the little bags and dumped them into the large bag and moved.

    We did do laundry in the hotel sink!!! I kid you not a quick rinse out in cold water and hand-wash detergent and then hung the clothes out around the room before going to bed… everything was always dry by morning.

    Each child that was on its own feet carried their own daypack with a warm jacket and a a hardback notebook with a couple of pens, pencil crayons… inside each cover I stuck an envelope for them to gather their inevitable ticket stubs and little things they gather. We took no toys, I reckoned we would buy little things as we visited museums and so on. We did… they each gathered a beanie baby and a matchbox car… teeny tiny toys that were mementos as well.
    I wrote a post on our preparation a while back… If I had to do it over, and I would LOVE to, I would do it the same way: http://www.se7en.org.za/2008/07/07/if-you-were-going-to-london-for-a-few-days-what-would-you-do

  17. a dedicated food bag is a great idea! How did you take chicken? What kind/packaging? I’m guessing you didn’t use freezer packs :)

    • Ziploc bag? It was fine and they ate it early in the trip.

    • I have all kinds of food allergies and always have to travel with food. I often take a salad with lunchmeat or chicken on top. I’m pretty sure you are allowed to travel with a freezer pack as long as it stays frozen as you go through security. The cheap, small ones that melt within a couple hours are okay when traveling in the US, but if you travel internationally (like we were doing at least once a year when living in Scotland) then I had to use one of the large, blue freezer packs that stays frozen for a very long time. Only once did I have it confiscated when re-entering the US after it being out for probably 18 hours. But, I also have a doctor’s note stating I need to take my own food (i.e. can’t eat plane food).

      One last suggestion, one time when I was worrying about my ice pack being taken, a friend suggested taking along an extra ziplock bag (or two) and then just getting a cup of ice and dumping it in the ziplock (once thru security).
      Rachel O´s last post…Mt Juliet Maternity Photography – Nancy and Kyle

  18. We adopted 3 children internationally…meaning they didn’t speak our language (ages 7, 9, and 15)! Travelling from Ukraine to New York and then to Detroit or Minnesota and then finally home…with one way (of course–they were just adopted) tickets made me extremely nervous in case we were separated. We put papers with in case of emergency info in each child’s backpack. I felt better knowing we could be paged or contacted via phone!

    • jennie, that’s a great reminder! We’ll be doing the same thing soon, but from Congo with a 3 and 5 yr. I’ll remember to take something with our emergency info to fasten onto them somehow . . . ideas, anyone?

      • Somewhere I saw labels that can go inside a kids’ shoe or on a bracelet.

      • What about a permanent marker? When we go to the Easter Show in Sydney there are just thousands of people, so we ink them with our mobile numbers.

        Or there are so many places to get name tags with mobile numbers & details on them. Not sure where you live but in Australia there is Stuck on You and Labels 4 kids.

        Wow, what an adventure. Have fun!

        • I second the Sharpie. I have 8 kids to keep track of and whenever we go somewhere that separation is a concern I write my name and cell phone number on each child’s forearm in plain view. During our trip to an amusement park last summer a park worker saw what I had done and commented that she wished all parents would do the same. It would make returning lost children much easier. We’ve never needed to rely on this to get a child back but it sure makes me feel better knowing it’s there.

        • Love this idea!! I always put contact information in my kids backpacks, but what if they sit it down? I’m going to start using this on our next trip. Thank you!!

  19. Wow I am impressed by how little space your stuff took up! I have to ask, what size shoes does Doug wear? My hubby wears size 13, and if he wants to take an extra pair on a trip with us I swear they take up half the suitcase, even though I always pack the socks inside them!

    We just went to San Diego for only 5 days, and I was quite proud that we fit 2 suitcases, 1 duffle bag, 3 pillows, a jogging stroller, a cooler, a box of books/dvds, and a box of snacks all in the back of our car. (For 3 adults and 1 baby). But then I saw your list and thought, hmm…I could’ve packed a lot lighter!

    • Men’s shoes are so heavy. Doug just took the one pair that he wore, and he had an extra pair of house shoes and that was it.

      We don’t always pack that light. On some trips it makes sense to pack what you want, not just what you need.

  20. We live in Australia and have travelled to Europe 2 times with kids. The first trip was to France and Ibizia as my SIL was getting married to a Scotsman. The kids were 2 and 5, and the trip took 27 hours. It was fine.

    We had planned a few things to help us. Such as a small suitcase on wheels for each child packed with some new toys & colouring in sets (one each). We packed a change of underwear each and I took some small cosmetics as I thought that the likelihood of our luggage arriving on time in Paris seemed very small. Lucky, as we turned up to the carousel and wha laa……… no luggage. It hadn’t made the connection at London so it would be arriving during the night.

    Second trip we went to Italy for 4 weeks and it was great. Kids were 4 and 8 (3.5 years diff), so a bit older. My son loved trying new worlds “Ciao”, my daughter got a bit shy.

    Last time the jet lag was the hardest thing to get over, driving on the opposite side of the road was also challenging and speaking Italian took a few days (not to be fluent, but to get used to using our small pocket of Italian words).

    Great experiences for the kids & us.

  21. Impressive and Inspiring!
    Marilyn Yocum´s last post…Avoiding the Question

  22. Thanks for all the great tips. We will be going on two overseas flights in the next few months with three children 4 and under so we need all the helpful tips we can get! I was looking into the kids neck pillows on amazon for the trip. Is it helpful for the kids to have pillows?

    • They have pillows on the flight, but we did take a favorite lightweight blanket, and we used that quite a bit. It could be folded up for a pillow.

  23. I recently “discovered” tooth powder… it doesn’t have to go in the bag of liquid/paste allotments when I’m traveling by plane.

  24. Wow.. What an inspiration. To be honest, am quite pathetic with packing. I’m awesome ,(IMHO) with the list part and can make detailed lists of what we need when traveling but when it comes to putting things into the suitcases, I suck. So, yeah, next time, I’m going to strive to create a minimalistic list, follow your example, and hopefully, be able to pack a suitcase in as organized a manner as possible.
    Prerna´s last post…Best Books to Teach Toddlers Etiquette and Manners

  25. Great post! I love the idea of the cubes–never thought of doing something like that. We live in Asia and travel frequently back and forth to the US (and other countries) with our two young children. It does get a lot easier as they get older and a. don’t need as much stuff, and b. can carry most of their stuff themselves. I second the tip to “mark” your kids in case you get separated (we often put slips of paper in our kids’ pockets, or in their backpacks, with pertinent information).

    And I agree–the time change is the worst. I hate arriving in the US at 6 am after being awake for 48 hours, and then having 2 kids who can’t/won’t rest because the 13-hour time change is messing with their schedule. Ugh…I’m dreading that about our trip home this summer already! :)
    Morgan´s last post…Kai Kai- Part Two

  26. Five years ago we flew to Johannesburg to bring our baby son home. “We” means my husband and I, our two sons – 12 and 14 – and our 2-year-old daughter. We made the same trip two years earlier to pick up our daughter, who is adopted too. At that time several suitcases got lost (my clothes and most of the baby clothes!). This was not funny at all, so the second time we changed our packing habits. Instead of one suitcase per family member, we mixed all the clothes, just to be sure we had something to wear in case one of the suitcases might get lost. Adoption travel involves a lot of organisation. We had to pack for a baby we had only seen on pictures, so we brought different sizes of clothes. Leaving in autumn and arriving in spring meant we had to take clothes for both seasons. We brought medication, diapers for two in both our hand luggage and suitcases (can you imagine being stuck in the airport and not having diapers!), baby formula, toys for our daughter… We travelled during schooltime, so the boys had to take their books (we arranged for a friend to fax homework to the B&B where we were staying). My oldest son had to prepare for a flute exam, what meant we had to take the instrument (in our hand luggage) and music books.
    But everything went well! We would go back there in a minute! We didn’t have the jetlag problem as we were flying from north to south. My tip for parents travelling with young children: try to book a night flight! We did this the second time and it was so much easier with all the kids sleeping.

    Natacha (blogging from Luxembourg)
    Natacha´s last post…Little black dress

    • I so agree with U on mixing up the clothes in diff. suitcases so in case if one bag is lost still all the family members will have some clothes in other bags, my husband make sure while packing we follow this rule.

      I always make sure I have atleast 2 days supply of diapers & enough food for the kids for one full day + some extra snacks like cereals etc. b’coz we travel a lot & on international flight twice we got stuck on airport because of bad weather. Also some of kids fav. snack that counts candy also, come handy when U are waiting in the custom/immigration line & last thing U want is kids screaming or crying. I always keep couple of their fav. candies hidden in my purse which they don’t get thru out the flight & I just save them just in case if I need it for emergency situations….I know not a very healthy/good idea but after 15 hrs. of flight I think it’s O.k to let them indulge in little bit of extra sugar.

      And I love those night flights where my kids after an hour or so of exploring the airplane get tired & fall asleep, but sadly for our coming trip we couldn’t get night flight & I have already started to make plans in my mind how to keep them busy thru out the flight & I still have more then a month to go.

  27. This is awesome!!! I did something like this after we hit flight #52 with our cheeky little monkeys. We live in the Middle East, and flying all over the world sorta comes with the territory. I’ve written extensively on managing the airport in Part 3 of this series: http://lifeinarabia.org/2010/09/flying-babies-in-the-air/
    Gloria – Life in Arabia´s last post…Squishy Judda J-town Judsonian

  28. Mackenzie says:

    Rachel, you should set your links to open in another window so it doesn’t take readers away from your website.

  29. Thanks for the DropBox tip. I clicked on one of your referral links and set up an account. It looks like just what I need.
    Elen´s last post…The inconvenience of it all…

  30. very clever! I just wanted to say that I did a lot of research before buying an umbrella stroller, and I bought a Chicco like yours (in turquoise) and it is GREAT. It is hands down my favorite stroller and I’ve owned 5 strollers so far. It’s not quite tall enough for my husband, but otherwise we love it.
    Margo´s last post…Enchiladas the Fast and Easy Way

  31. I’ve traveled a lot with children, living internationally. I love this post and love the simplicity! That is definitely the key! My favorite stroller (having four children close in age) is the Ted and Phil double stroller – it’s the smallest double stroller I’ve been able to find and it’s lasted through all four children.
    Leslie´s last post…You May Have to Take Drastic Measures for the Sake of Your Child’s Education

  32. Felicity says:

    I love you post :-) We plan to take a 10 hour (2 planes) flight with a 3 month old to introduce it to it’s great Grandparents. (only 2 hour time zone difference). We will be doing a bit of road travelling when we arrive too, so thanks for the tips. I’ll be making sure we have spare clothes in checkin luggage and using the cube storage idea (I think you can get it from most camping shops).

  33. That stroller you used brought back memories of the one we had when our kids were little — sans the sun shade awning. The one we had was similar (not same make), but it was so lightweight. It was collapsible, and the most useful tool before they could walk.

    Good tips included for traveling in general too. Welcome back!

  34. Janetta says:

    My husband and I left South Africa to travel for 26 months before settling in New Zealand. We house-sat in Scotland, USA, New Zealand, Australia and back to New Zealand (our kids are here and we have emigrated here). We packed and stored our household stuff and had it shipped to us eventually when we settled down again.

    On our travels we had two hard shell medium large cases, two soft carry on bags and my handbag. We had a snowy winter and hot summer to plan for. People couldn’t believe we could travel so lightly, but it was easy. One great tip is don’t buy any stuff when you are away, and if you do, get rid of something. The only things we bought were a sweat shirt each when we were at the Grand Canyon as it was unexpectedly really cold and we had left our fleeces in Las Vegas.

    The freedom of travelling light is so worth it.

  35. Oh dear, is this ever timely! My husband and I are moving this summer from the mid-west to SE Asia with our daughter who will be 14 months old. =) I’ve been trying to keep cool about traveling with her but it’s easy to panic about how she’ll do on such a long trip. Thanks for the tips, I will definitely be referring to them often. Oh, and the jet lag formula is not encouraging! haha! 12 hours is almost 2 weeks. Yikes! =)

  36. Yep, yep! We always pack for one week, no matter how long we’re gone. We travel a LOT, and many times internationally. This is the only way to go.

    We love travel cubes, too! Ours are the Eagle Creek brand. We also use the envelopes for grown-up clothes. So handy.

    I’m going to the Philippines in a week, and I’m only bringing a backpack. I can’t WAIT to travel that light. It can only happen sans kids.
    Tsh @ Simple Mom´s last post…Working from Home as a Virtual Assistant

  37. When my family and I flew out to the DC area for a week vacation (7-days 2-days for travel) our kids where 11 and 15. Each of us had our own carry on. We limited our clothes to 3 changes and pj’s and used the hotel shampoo, soaps, tooth paste and did laundry once at the hotel laundry room. Of course our kids where older and could carry their own stuff. I have never traveled with little bity ones. I think this is wonderful that you share this sort of info. :)
    Anita´s last post…Living Green Giveaway Reusable Cloth Shopping Bag

  38. Thanks for the tips. I’ll be bookmarking this page. My family is moving to Macedonia for 9 months in September and I’ve started thinking about how we are going to pack. We’ll have to fly with quite a few lay overs and then take a bus to Skopje.

  39. I think you packed well, not too much or too little. My husband likes to have back up clothes for kids so we have little extra stuff. As long as we have an access to laundry, we carry just enough and enjoy hand free travel.

    I like slings so much better but now my little one is 2 and bit too big for slings and carriers, so I would have to think of something else.

    Preeti
    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last post…6 Surprising Ways to Boost Your Happiness

  40. Great tips!! I’ll be traveling next months with the 3 kids and am starting to think about what I should be packing for our week long trip.

  41. It’s a very good post and it helps, I’m planning for a trip, thanks for sharing.

  42. Great ideas. I like the smaller packing bags. I normally set a ziploc gallon sized bag with pjs and next days clothes for the kids so I can do the same thing. That way when we get to our overnight destination I can easily find their pjs and have their clothes ready for the morning (if it is just an overnight and we are traveling on then I don’t have to unpack the whole suitcase. I like it when we are traveling in the car because then we don’t have to pull everything out of the packed car and can just have them in an overnight bag. When we are traveling overseas it is nice just to have the pjs ready in case we get in really late to our room.

    We are looking at some more overseas trips coming up and i think I will look at those bags for the kids.

  43. We live in Brazil and our families are in North America. We’ve made the trip “home” and back four times since our 3-yr-old was born. When we go, it’s usually for two months and we spend that whole time traveling between several destinations. Our bags become our home.

    We absolutely depend on packing cubes. We have several sizes and everything we own goes in a cube. I label the outsides with a piece of tape so there’s no need to open them to check the contents. We even use the largest size on the airplane to hold toys in the carry-on.

    On the flights, we have two carry-ons, plus a couple of personal bags. One carry-on is an overnight bag so we have clothes for everyone, “just in case”. When my son was in diapers we also carried about a dozen extra diapers after a horrible bout with diarrhea and a tearful run through the Miami airport looking for anything more helpful than a single swim diaper. (When you don’t need extra diapers, you feel silly carrying them. Until you’ve absolutely needed them; then you never again mind it!) We’ve also had late night flights delayed until morning. An extra set of clothes is vital. Usually nothing in the overnight bag is required during the flight so if it ends up stowed 18 rows away from us, it’s okay.

    For my son, we carry onto the plane two sets of clothes. For our purposes, a “set” is two tops and one bottom. I do my darndest to pick all the clothes out on the same general color scheme so if he burns through shirts he’s not in a weird outfit when we finally get to Grandma’s. One set of clothes goes into the overnight bag, the other goes into the other carry-on. One extra shirt goes into the backpack. We carry a light jacket for him because planes get cold for my little tropical boy and usually our destination is colder too. Finally if it’s an overnight flight, I put in a pair of jammies because it seems to help him settle down to sleep.

    In the second carry-on, there’s a bag of toys, other books and activities and snacks. I use the side pockets to hide a few little toy surprises as ammo. My son’s a pretty picky eater so I usually have enough food to get him to our destination–we usually have cashews, fruit bars and some processed cheese squares that don’t require refrigeration. We try to keep this bag right above us so it’s easy to get to. It also has a pair of socks for each of us for the flight (we live in sandal world!). My son’s small blanket goes here too, and so does my folder with our itinerary and all that stuff.

    I tuck a small tote into the carry-on and when we get onto the flight I fill it with what I’ll need for the first couple of hours and put it at my feet so I’m not up and down. We also have our CARES harness tucked into the front pocket of the carry-on.

    I have one small bag I carry with our personal documents, a book for me and our ipods. It has side pockets that carry our metal water bottles. All the electronics are in a single bag that can easily be pulled out in security.

    There are probably all kinds of other odds and ends that go into our bags but that’s the gist of it. It’s a system that has worked well for us. Our two carry-ons lock together so one person can manage them and still carry another bag. (Full disclosure: my husband’s personal bag is absolutely insane. He has all kinds of crap in there.)

    Despite what it looks like about, I’m not a super-organized person. But through trial and error we’ve worked it out and manage to save ourselves a lot of stress.

  44. I have already commented once, but I’m back to say that we (me, my husband, and our 2 small kids) just traveled somewhere for a total of 48 hours and I packed more than you did for your few months overseas.

    For shame is me.
    Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…Facebook-Free

  45. I am so thankful that you are discussing your travels. We have an 8y, 6y and 15mth old and in a few months will be flying 5 hours to Perth (AUS) for my sisters wedding. We have debated long and hard about what flights to take and occasionally do we take the kids….. Having never flown we don’t know what to expect!
    I am certainly printing out your advice and will be refering to it in a few months time
    Thankyou!

  46. I have learned the hard way that there is no quicker way to make travel miserable than to overpack! Especially if you will be navigating train stations, walking in the city with the luggage, or taking basically any public transportation–go light. Plan to do laundry. Assume you can buy small things if you really realize you needed them (another book, another shampoo, whatever). Too much luggage causes friction between the traveling party as well as physical discomfort.

    And I fully agree with everyone who said “change of clothes in carry-on.” On one of our trips, my luggage mysteriously was lost in transit, and I was wearing my husband’s oversized man-clothes for 2 days while the airline recovered it (because I didn’t want to spend money on new clothes in an expensive city).
    Meghan´s last post…The Day the Music Died

  47. This is great!

    I love this booster seat for travel. It zips up and the back velcros down and it is lightweight and easy to carry around

    http://www.target.com/Learning-Curve-On-The-Go-Booster-Seat/dp/B00005N9X5

  48. Thanks for all the great tips. I am not planning to travel overseas anytime soon, but we will be making several trips locally this summer in our (very) small vehicle, including at least twice to youth camp (my husband is a pastor). I’m already starting to think about how I want to pack this year – this list is a great head start!
    Amy´s last post…My lonely onions- and how I got them

  49. We’re prepping for a trip later this summer and we’re taking these tips to heart. Thanks!

  50. what did you do about carseats? We are traveling to california from georgia, but can’t figure out what to do about carseats. I too have 4 year old and my youngest will be 11 months at time of travel.

  51. Aren’t those packing cubes great? We use them for every single trip we go on – regardless of the destination or length of trip.

  52. I loved this post! I am travelling to England with our baby very soon to visit my parents for a month. I have been stressing out about packing and how I’m going to handle it all alone! (My husband isn’t able to get time off work) Seeing your packing ideas has given me hope that I can do it sparingly and still have everything I need! Thank you!
    Sarah´s last post…Yay blogging!!

  53. I too, learned the hard way about taking a change of clothes for myself on the plane. We just returned from a trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong last week and half-way through the 12 hour flight my son (20 months) threw up on me…twice. :)

    My husband and I have traveled overseas quite often with our son since he was about three months old. We learn something new with every trip. Some things we have learned:

    1. Don’t fly with an American airline. Every other airline we have flown actually feeds us 1-2 free meals (with many different dietary options) and has diapers and wipes available (free of charge). Before boarding each flight, I approach the desk and request more comfortable seating for my family. Every single time we have been given the bulkhead seats, or a free seat for my son (he is under 2 and flies as a lap infant), or have been upgraded to business class seating. You can also upgrade to first class for about $100 or less per person if you do it right before boarding.

    On our recent three week trip to southeast Asia we packed a diaper bag (backpack); my purse; a laptop; one large suitcase; one large duffle bag. No stroller, just a baby carrier. My son did pretty well adjusting when we arrived in Hong Kong (he was sleeping normally after 4 days), but coming back to the states began a battle with jet lag that has lasted 7 days and counting! If it goes by time zone difference, I’m in for 8 more days…ugh.

    Thank you for this article – it is nice to read advice from other families with young kids traveling abroad.

  54. I traveled for 30 days this summer in the UK With one carry-on sized case. I didn’t have any packing cubes but found medium sized zippered cosmetic bags at the Goodwill that worked very well for me.

    For laundry, I had some Purex 3 in 1 laundry sheets. They have detergent, softener and a dryer sheet all embedded into a non-liquid form. I cut them into smaller sizes and used them for hand washede laundry in the hotel sinks, and didn’t have to worry about liquids leaking.

    My husband and I decided that we should have packed his larger bag to stay in the rental car and just overnight things in the smaller bag so we wouldn’t have to carry so much up the stairs in every B&B along the way. He knocked a picture off a wall trying to lug his big pack up a narrow stair at one place.