In the mad rush to pack for both yourself and the rest of your family, it’s understandable that you might leave a few things behind.The good news is that unless you are traveling to the most remote reaches of the planet, there is a good chance that whatever you forgot can easily be replaced through a quick trip to the nearest drugstore or supermarket. But there are a few items that are worth remembering — some aren’t really replaceable, and some will just save you a little hassle and hopefully make your trip a little less bumpy. Just make sure you don’t leave home without these!
Don’t Leave Home Without These 10 Things for Your Young Kids
1. Birth certificate and/or parent consent if you are traveling alone without the child’s other parent. Consent is particularly important for travel abroad.
2. Insurance cards and prescription and over-the-counter medications that you might typically give your child.
3. A few small toys, books, and stuffed animals from home. These are great “security” items that can help keep your child centered during stressful days of traveling.
But know that your child will adapt to these new experiences and grow from them. You don’t have to go out of your way to pack a suitcase full of toys. You might be surprised at what your child finds entertaining—a hotel pool, looking for shells on the beach … anything that is new and different from your home surroundings provides an opportunity for exploration.
4. A few little surprises. I like to pack one or two small wrapped toys (especially for traveling by plane) that my child can open to ward off boredom.
5. Downloaded movies or TV shows on your tablet. These are great for road trips or plane rides.
6. Hard candy, such as suckers, to suck on during takeoff and landing. For younger children, pacifiers and bottles are also helpful.
7. Diapers take up a lot of space in your luggage. If your child is still wearing them, plan to pack a couple of days’ worth, and purchase more at your destination. But pack a few more than your child would typically wear in a day or two, to cover you in the event of any accidents.
8. Extra full changes of clothing—for both you and your child—are particularly important during your travel days. Accidents can and do happen, especially when little ones are involved, and you’ll be grateful you grabbed an extra pair of pants when your baby spits up on the ones you’re wearing on the plane.
9. Obviously, cribs and pack-and-plays are cumbersome and inconvenient to travel with. Luckily, most hotels offer these on a first-come, first-served basis. Call ahead to inquire about their availability. For long-term stays, you might consider purchasing an inexpensive play yard and donating it to a nonprofit organization at the end of your stay.
10. Here’s a small thing, but one that can add up to big savings. If you have a family membership to your local zoo or museum back home, look into whether it’s a participant of a reciprocal membership network. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Association of Science-Technology Centers and North American Reciprocal Museum Association are three of the largest. Simply remembering to tuck these cards into your wallet can save you hundreds of dollars off admission fees while traveling.
Cynthia J. Drake is the author of the forthcoming book, Budget Travel for the Genius, which comes out in January and is available for preorder.