Before our family of four goes on any trip, I PLAN PLAN PLAN. I search all the trip reviews people post on the popular travel sites, and any food reviews of restaurants or on-site properties. Mostly, I am confirming that I can eat gluten-free without too much trouble (even if it requires a lot of salads), and that V can eat in safe places for her tree nut and peanut allergies. Oddly, I’ve found the travelers of New Zealand post the nicest and most comprehensive travel reviews with regard to allergy friendly destinations. Thanks, New Zealand!
After I have determined we will be able to eat safely, the packing list begins. I write down every item on the list, and then cross out as I go. This helps me remember things that I can’t pack until the last minute, like a stuffed animal the kiddo sleeps with, or medication we have to take in the morning. This is a list I recently made on a trip to Disney World that we just came back from:
- Enough outfits for each day of the trip plus one or two extra, depending on the destination (sweat-factor, cold-factor, toddler-factor).
- Anything your kid MUST have – usually this is a favorite stuffed animal or toy. This is where the crossing out comes into play – you won’t forget the stuffie they sleep with in the morning if you see it on your list.
- Regular baby wipes if we are going somewhere warm and if it involves ice cream. Sanitizing wipes if we are traveling by airplane – I wipe the whole airplane seat down and all the tray tables and armrests before I even let V sit down. I ask to board early to do this, and usually the airline doesn’t give me a hard time. Because you never know what the person before you was eating, I feel better “clearing” her area.
- I always pack the Children’s Motrin and thermometer since kids tend to get sick late at night.
- Our swim stuff isn’t always somewhere visible, so the list helps me find everything if it’s winter and everything is jammed in the closet. If we are landing early somewhere warm and we may not have a room yet, I include one bathing suit into our carry on just in case. I buy the small sized 3 oz sunscreens that fit into a quart sized bag for the carry on, as well.
- Snacks that are safe for V and me to eat are always included. I try to pack apples for myself and a banana; for V, her favorite on-the-go snacks are Goldfish crackers, apple sauce squeezers, cracker and cheese dip, and ranch flavored wheat thins. I usually include a few (non peanut butter flavored) granola bars for my son and husband, but because they are made in a factory that processes items with peanuts and tree nuts, I do not let V eat them.
- When all four of us travel, I pack two carry on bags (one backpack, one enormous tote I own). I include both sets of V’s Epi-pens and Benadryl – one into each bag – so that I have two sets total. The Epi-pens are sold in twin packs so technically I have four Epi-pens with me. They are sold this way in case you can’t get help quickly after using the first Epi-pen, and have to use a second Epi-pen if the allergic reaction continues. I bring both twin packs so that I have another whole set available if the first set has to be used and we can’t get a refill at a pharmacy quickly. The carry on bags also include the snacks, all the electronics, and any medicines we may need that we cannot lose in our checked luggage. If we are headed somewhere like hiking or an amusement park right away, I pack a whole bunch of bandaids and Advil just in case. Heat + sweating + lines at an amusement park = pounding headache.
This packing list gets more or less elaborate depending on the destination. Since we were going to Disney World on this last trip, I added dress-up outfits and princess crowns to my master packing list.
Last, when checking luggage with an airline, I always pack everything evenly into two suitcases – half the underwear, half the shirts, etc. into each suitcase. If you lose one of your suitcases, your second suitcase still has outfits for all the members of your family. I learned this tip from a Canadian couple years ago. Thanks, Canada!