Sunday, April 14, 2013

So, you want to travel...Internationally...with kids?!

Noah is about to start kindergarten, Gigi is about to turn 2, Josh was able to secure a bit of time off, and I NEED A VACATION!
Of course we considered many possibilities, some more reasonable/practical than others, and in the end we chose to leave practical and reasonable in the dust and head to Italy!
Josh and I visited Italy a year before Noah was born (almost 6 years ago) and we have wanted to go back ever since!
We are especially excited to share the experience with Noah and Gigi...
Now you may scoff at the idea, but we are no novices to traveling with children, Noah traveled with us to Alaska, Ireland, and Hawaii all before he turned 2!
And when Gigi was 6 months old we crossed the "pond" to visit England!
(I should interject here that compared to my sisters-in-law, one of whom lives in England, and the other in Turkey, I am a novice in the traveling with kids department, but I do have a few tips and tricks to share!)
Tip #1 seems pretty obvious, but is probably the hardest to accomplish...Pack light!
This means, pull out everything you think you will need then cut it down by 1/3!  You can do it, remember, almost anywhere you plan to go they will have stores where you can purchase items you may run out of!
This pile represents the sum total of our gear, and that's for all four of us!
Choose bags that are sturdy, roomy, and can roll or have back pack straps for versatile carrying.
This duffel is a back pack which leaves Josh's (yes the heavy bag is his responsibility ;) free to carry other items or corral children...
But packing everything in one large bag can create a real problem when it comes time to get dressed since everything gets mixed together...
My solution is somewhat primitive, I pack each individual into their own grocery bag.  You can purchase fancy bags made for organizing just this way, but grocery bags are free, and are also useful as dirty laundry bags as you go along!
So that solves the problem of finding your larger clothing items, but what about socks and underwear?  
For the small and sneaky items I pack pouches, brightly colored, easy to find, and since they are all different, easy to match to the individual in need!
So now you've taken care of your main bag, but what about a carry on?
You are allowed to have two carry on bags per ticketed person plus an extra diaper bag if traveling with an infant, but if you bring that much you will look like crazy bag people stumbling through the airport and worse...through security!
So we bring 2...
The first carry on bag is our camelback which will also serve as our day pack once we arrive at our destination, holding essentials like snacks, jackets, diapers, etc. and it can hold several liters of water eliminating the need to carry bulky water bottles!
The camelback will hold non-essential items for the flight including non-liquid toiletries, guide books, and the emergency kit...
Sidebar: the emergency kit contains Motrin, band aids, nail clippers, toilet seat covers and neosporin!  
The primary carry on holds all of the things you will need to get to frequently during the flight, like wipes, diapers, entertainment devices...
And snacks!  (They feed you on international flights, but kids especially tend to eat more than the average box of flight food provides!  Be sure your snacks are contained in a zip loc and can be squished if necessary, and don't pack liquid snacks or you could face the wrath of the powerfully ridiculous TSA...
This bag should also hold the liquid toiletry essentials...
You want to bring your toiletries on board with in case of lost or delayed luggage, so I also ways pack them into the carry on.  
By keeping all the liquids together in one easily accessible bag, I make going through security much easier...
Don't get me wrong, people see you + 2 children coming and their eyes will still roll, but by following this simple organization method you will shock them with your efficiency!
You also want to have all passports and IDs in one easy to access location (this is for moving through the airports, once you reach your destination you can decide on the safest place to carry such items)
Knowing exactly where your documentation, tickets, and IDs are at all times will also aid in the efficiency with which you glide through security...
And remember, technology is your friend as far as entertaining the kids in flight.  Tablets, Ipods, and Iphones are excellent ways to bring books, games, and movies along while taking up minimal space!
So now we are packed and ready for 10 days of pasta, fromaggio, and Vino!


  1. dude. you are amazing. have a wonderful time!

  2. These are great tips Vanessa! We share some of the same techniques! Well, THIS sister-in-law still needs to learn how to pack lighter! You would think I would have learned by now! I guess another tip would be to pack in advance and not wait until last minute!!! You are an inspiration! Have a blast in Italy! I wish we were meeting you there!

    1. Thanks, Sharon! I learned many of my packing techniques from you! Wish you could join us!

  3. In that first picture you look just like me!!!!

  4. Great job! I can't even begin to imagine how you packed so lightly for four people for ten days! Amazing! We will really miss you, but you will have a fantastic time!!!

  5. I enjoyed seeing all of the fun stuff you made (I'm not quite ready for "traveling with kids" tips yet)! Have an amazing time in Italy!