Travel Tips Part 1: Everything but the Kitchen Sink

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B was 5 weeks old when we made our first three-hour drive to a youth event where his Daddy led worship. At two months old, he flew to west Texas for Thanksgiving. The following months involved back-to-back Disciple-Now weekends, including a late-nighter coming home from Texarkana after midnight. We flew to South Carolina for a wedding, and are currently gearing up for our summer schedule, which is packed with events and camps spread out across Texas and Oklahoma. Needless to say, opportunities abound for practice when packing and traveling. As promised in my previous post, here are just a few tips we’ve learned that have worked for our family. Take what you like and leave the rest. (Review my disclaimer in this post.)

I love being organized. And I love being able to pack a lot in a small space. I even feel my competitive blood racing when faced with the challenge of cramming multiple meals’ dishes into the dishwasher, rearranging and sliding cups, lids and utensils into every crack and centimeter of space. I truly find value in the principle of packing as compactly as possible. Here are a few of the products and methods that help me leave a few more items at home along with that infamous kitchen sink.

Make a list. I use the Notes feature on my iPhone to keep a permanent list of items I usually need to pack when traveling with B. They’re grouped by categories: sleeping essentials, feeding tools, diapering items, clothes, toys, etc. In preparation for each trip, I review my list and mark off items I don’t need for that particular trip (for example, when we go to my Mom’s house, she already has a crib so we don’t need our pack-n-play). I then check the other items off as they’re packed/loaded in our vehicle. I know I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything as long as I review my list!

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Recycled Bags. If you want to pack a lot in a small space without spending a lot of money, simply save and reuse plastic bags. I love using the bags that bedsheets come in as containers for random items. Here are two bags I’m using this weekend for B’s clothes. The larger one held a mattress cover, and the smaller one contained his Sofie Giraffe toy. Now, they are both holding B’s rompers, pajamas, burp cloths and bibs for a five-day trip. I usually roll the clothes up to save space. (I got this idea from the Pack-It 2-Sided Cube, which I always use for my own clothes. When possible, I pack all of B’s clothes in here with my own, using one side for clean clothes and the other side for dirty clothes.) The smaller bags keep things organized within my single, large duffle bag. I also usually bring one or two empty recycled bags to stuff dirty clothes in once they’re worn or soiled. They take up little space when empty, and they help keep soiled clothes separate from clean ones throughout the duration of our trip.

Roll it up.  It sounds simple but it really will save you a significant amount of space if you roll articles of clothing. All of the items in the bags previously shown are rolled to save as much space as possible.

Okkatots Baby Depot Diaper Bag Backpack. If you want to make the investment, you might consider this backpack. I anticipate it being very handy even once we have multiple children. It holds a lot and keeps it very organized. I found myself always having a crammed regular-sized diaper bag. Because I am nursing, cloth diapering and baby-wearing, my bag contained a lot of bulky but essential items. This backpack holds (and in an organized manner!) cloth diapers, a nursing cover, a wrap/carrier, extra clothes, snacks, toys, changing pad, medications, and much, much more. I encourage you to click on the link and see its features. It also holds my Mac and Kindle, which is handy for days we go into the office for work. Instead of having a backpack for myself, a diaper bag for B, and my purse, I can carry all I need in just the backpack. Check it out and see if it will help organize your life. It will at least cause a few people to ask whether or not you’re going camping.

Thirty-one Large Tote. I won’t spend a lot of time explaining this, but if you know a Thirty-one consultant, you should purchase some items from her. If not, message me and I’ll hook you up with a few that I know. I use this tote for practically everything and I’ve only had it a few weeks. For grocery-shopping trips, it holds all my groceries so I am not carrying a child and ten other bags. For weekend trips, it holds extra cloth diapers, toys, a thermal filled with baby food, and B’s booster seat (for meals).

Speaking of booster seats, I picked this specific one for a reason. Since I knew we would be traveling a lot, I chose one that we could use at home and then fold up and carry with us anytime we go somewhere. It’s super easy to attach to any chair, and takes up less space than having an entire booster chair at our kitchen table. I also have a friend who has a similar booster with this added feature, which allows her son to play with toys while she finishes preparing food.

You don’t need to pack an infant bathtub. I credit this tip to my mother. One time when lamenting to Momma about traveling with a infant bathtub for Beau, she simply told me to use a towel in a regular tub. Skepticism arose in my mind initially, but then she demonstrated. All you need is a bathtub and a towel. Lay the towel on the bottom of the tub and run enough water in the tub so that when you lay the baby down, the water is not high enough to get into his ears. The towel will keep him from slipping and sliding while you bathe him. Now, there have been many times when we haven’t had a bathtub, and I’ve simply sponge-bathed the kid on our hotel bed. It didn’t hurt him one bit. Bottom line – don’t waste the space by packing an infant bathtub.

Even deeper bottom line – ask your mother and other women in your life what types of methods they used before all these expensive products hit the market. You might just find a cheaper, better way to do things! Please share your thoughts and comments – I’m still learning and would love to try some tips you might have!

My next post will deal more specifically with tips while en route to your destination.

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7 Replies to “Travel Tips Part 1: Everything but the Kitchen Sink”

  1. I love the Large tote. I wish we had more than one. I always hate the way things get shaken around in suitcases, and they can be so heavy, so I pack in laundry baskets and this tote when we are just going in our car. If we are only staying 2 nights I can fit clothes and toiletries for RJ and I, plus cloth diapers and clothes for the boys. Their favorite blankets sit on top between the handles. Thanks for posting all of this. I grew up on the road, and I believe location independence may be in our future. I love that I’m not the only one advocating attached parenting on the go.

  2. Gallon sized ziplocs are also great for consolidating in packing! I have some I reuse over and over (for clean clothes).

  3. Great ideas! I purchased the backpack diaper bag after my other backpack bag broke. We also cloth diaper, but where do you put your diapers? In the compartment that they show the diapers in? I’m hoping it’s big enough to hold cloth diapers and not get jammed up.

    1. Lindsey – thanks for your comment! I never actually put my cloth diapers in that compartment, although it might work. I instead use that as a compartment for things I access less often, like extra changes of clothes. I just put the diapers in the big, main part of the bag. Hope that helps!

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