The phrase “less is more” might be overused, but it is really applicable in regard to travel! I used to be the mom who packed every possible baby/kid item in my carry-ons. I wanted to be prepared for anything. While my forethought may have been commendable, it left me with a lot of useless baggage, no pun intended! I would get to my destination and pull out a lot of items while thinking, “Well, I never used this, but at least I had it just in case!” After a while I realized that I was pulling out the same items every time. I was using up precious space and carrying bigger bags than necessary.
Having maxed out carry-ons can be such a drag while trekking through the airports with kids. It is frustrating when you’re in line at security and everything is spilling out every direction as you attempt to take out your electronics and whatever else they want you to take out on that particular day. When you have little kids, it is even more stressful to go through security because you must do everything for them. And you may or may not have a three-year-old who is terrified of security and never wants to give his backpack up to the x-ray machine. 😛
These days I ask myself, “Am I really going to use this? Do my kids really need this many toys to occupy themselves? Will we actually go through thirty diapers and two full packages of wipes in the next forty hours?”
I recommend going through all your carry-on items and making some tough choices. Decide what you can live without during your trip. Do you need your journal, a novel, crossword puzzle book, AND your Kindle/tablet? Does your toddler need to have a rolling carry-on on top of a backpack and their teddy bear?
This year I started packing a lot lighter in the carry-on department and it was the best decision I could have made while traveling with four kids for the first time. You might be thinking, “That works for you, but we had to put extra stuff in our carry-ons because it didn’t fit in our checked bags.” Been there, done that. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is always something I can leave behind, and I usually don’t miss it that much when I get to wherever I’m going.
My kids are still little (six and under) and for now I am a mean mom when it comes to packing carry-ons. I collect their backpacks the day before we fly and pack them myself, then keep them in an inaccessible location until shortly before we leave for the airport. That way they cannot stuff randomness into them when I’m not looking.
In my mind, less is more when flying with kids. When you have less stuff, you are more relaxed. You don’t have to worry about leaving as many things on the plane because you know exactly what was in your kids’ carry-ons to begin with.
If you are wondering what I DO pack in our carry-ons, be on the lookout for my next post about the necessities. Now that we’ve flown internationally with babies, toddlers, and kids every year for the past six years (sometimes more than once in a year), I am pretty set on what I need and what I don’t.
As I said in my post yesterday, there are no absolutes and what works for me might not work for you! However, I will conclude with the fact that I haven’t always been a minimalist in air travel. The Lord is continually reminding me that “stuff” is not all that important. Having the latest travel gadgets won’t make us or the kids any happier. I still get stressed about flying, but God’s grace is there every step of the way and that is something to be thankful for.