Five years ago, my boyfriend and I took an unforgettable travel adventure. We spent a month in Cusco, Peru living with a local family, learning Spanish, exploring the Incan ruins, and volunteering.
Today as husband and wife, we dream of returning to Peru with our toddler. We missed the annual Semana Santa celebrations by a few weeks and would love to return with our child to experience one of the amazing spring festivals in the heart of Cusco.
Traveling with your kids can be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and taking your children to a local festival will immerse them in the culture unlike any other tourist experience. But packing for travel with children is quite a different experience than packing for solo travel or travel as a couple!
What to pack for children
Pack only what you can fit in your carry-on bag; you’ll save on baggage fees and time when you don’t need to check bags.
Small backpack or tote bag
Pack one in your carry-on so you can have a day bag on the plane and on your trip, but don’t have to pay extra baggage fees.
Navigating foreign streets, uneven hillside trails, and underground train terminals is much easier without a stroller. Leave the stroller at home and use a carrier or backpack instead.
GPS kid tracker
My child loves to wander, so a GPS kid tracker is one of the first things I pack. Even if your child dreads leaving your side, a GPS kid tracker will help you keep track of your child in big crowds if you get separated for any reason. The one I like best is “My Buddy Tag.”
Lovies —- those special small plush toys or blankets your child can’t sleep without -— should have a special place in your luggage. These toys are saviors for kids feeling rundown after long flights, exhausted from jet lag, or scared in unfamiliar places.
Wet wipes, hand sanitizer and zip-top plastic bags. Germs are everywhere and kids are messy.
Personal Busy Bags
Give each child their own little bag filled with coloring supplies, snacks in containers with lids, little games or puzzles, and modeling clay (doesn’t dry out like playdoh).
What to pack for parents
Anti-theft travel accessories
Bring a money belt, neck pouch, or clothing with secret pockets to carry your cash, cards, and passport when traveling internationally. Also, use TSA-approved locks to protect your belongings en route, as well as in your hotel.
Depending on where you are headed and where you live, universal adapter plugs can save you a headache when you need to charge your devices.
Bring a small pill container with a few melatonin capsules to help regulate sleep, ginger root capsules for nausea or motion sickness, ibuprofen for headaches, and vitamin C capsules to boost your immune system. Also, bring travel-size children’s medicine and a few ginger chew candies for upset little tummies.
What to leave at home
Don’t fill your bag to the brim so you have room for any souvenirs or keepsakes you want to bring home.
Beach blankets are far too bulky to pack in your suitcase; use a sarong instead. Thin enough to shove into a backpack, sarongs can also double as a blanket while on the plane or for a picnic.
Don’t pack clothes with light colors or thin material that will quickly get dirty and destroyed. Instead, pack attire that is versatile, durable, light-weight, and wrinkle-free with solid colors that mix and match easily.
You don’t need more than seven days’ worth of clothing (even less if possible). For longer trips, use a laundry service or pack powdered laundry detergent.
Never bring toys with lots of small pieces or toys that make loud noises when you’re travelling. The small pieces will likely get lost, and the noise will drive you (and fellow travelers) mad.
Unless you are going somewhere very remote, don’t bring items you can buy or get for free when you arrive — shampoo, conditioner, soap, flip flops, etc.
Traveling the world with children doesn’t have to be impossible. I’ve learned these tips from experience, and I hope they give you the confidence you need to travel to the places you’ve always wanted to see. Proper planning will ensure you have a safe and unforgettable trip. Finally, be sure to bring your camera — cultural festivals will create some of the most incredible memories you will make with your children.