By Christina Pilarski
My first airplane ride was when I was 21-years-old. So, when my boys came I knew that I wanted to prioritize family travel – it was important to me to make those family memories and to give them a glimpse at the world.
Our boys took their first road trip at 7 weeks old. I was pumping in the back of our SUV while they napped; we saw every small town between Calgary and Red Deer but it was all worth it.
Our boys took their first plane ride at 11 months old. It was a long 4 and a half hours down to Mexico but it was all worth it.
My boys are now 15 months – they’ve done about a dozen road trips and 3 trips by plane (that’s 6 airplanes total). I would never describe a trip as easy – but my husband and I say that every trip does get easier. It gets easier because you become more prepared and your kids grow too.
The thing I love about getting them exposed to travel so quickly is that it is now just something we do – and something we will always do. Every trip the kids discover something new about themselves and I feel like I grow as a mom.
So, what’s the most daunting part? Any trip runs the risk of the dreaded over-pack. I look around my home before a trip and think “oh my gosh, what would they do without that thing for a week?!” And, I can tell you, the lesson I’ve learned is that they don’t need it …
I will never forget packing for the first road trip – an overnight in Red Deer and our entire kitchen was full of stuff. The breastfeeding pillow, the cooler and the breast pump, clothes (lots of clothes), bassinets, stuffed animals and blankets, the stroller, the Thule stroller, the baby carriers … the list goes on. When we were unloading in Red Deer the concierge asked if we were staying the week.
Our first trip to Mexico was similar. I tried not to over packed but ended up under packing the essentials and having to make some costly purchases.
So, what do I recommend:
- Diapers – Pack what you need and add 10.
- Wipes – 1 pack a week. Remember these aren’t just for butts on vacation but become a go-to.
- Clothes – If the place you are going has a washing machine don’t over do it. Pack detergent and plan to do a wash or too. This is why I love renting a house on our road trips.
- Cups/Bottles/Cutlery – Bring the bare minimum and bring dish soap and paper towels. Your bathroom sink will become your washing station. I always do a thorough wash after bedtime. Don’t worry about the baby cutlery – our boys are pros at big-boy forks already because of our vacations.
- Blankets – bring their bedtime favorites but remember that wherever you are going they have extra bedding. You can lay sheets down in play areas and use extra blankets for the kids too.
- Beds – call ahead and ask what the situation is. This prepares you and will trigger what you do need to bring.
- Toys – Only a few. The point of the trip is to explore new things. But think of favorites they will want when you are close to home at bedtime. Books, stuffed animals, puzzles, blocks? Make sure these are toys you don’t mind losing, forgetting, or having to abandon.
- Extra shirts for mom and dad – at least one each. You never know what morning you’ll have a little extra breakfast on your sleeve or which afternoon someone will leave you a snotty gift.
Remember to take inventory before/after every trip and take note of what worked and didn’t. Strive to get more efficient each trip and it will make the packing challenge easier and easier.
Christina Pilarski is a mom of twins. Her boys were born in September 2016 and she knows they will only keep getting louder, quicker, smarter, and funner! She runs her own public relations firm, CIPR Communications, and she is the true definition of #momboss. Born and raised in Calgary and now raising her family there too; she loves the outdoors, politics, her two dogs, and her partner (in life and business – Peter!). Website: twobabiesandabusiness.com , Twitter @crontynen , LinkedIn cpilarski, Instagram twobabiesandabusiness,