Yashy, a family travel blogger, gives us the scoop on 5 must have items when trying to pack light while traveling with kids.

Author: Yashy is a guest blogger for HomeExchange

Family travel writer Yashy and her husband Chris continue to maintain their pre-baby lifestyle with two kids under the age of 6. With a passion for traveling the world as well as exploring all that downtown Toronto has to offer, they focus on food, fun, and culture. You’ll find some hilarious parenting stories along with inspiration and tips for your next family trip on their family blog, Baby & Life. The family is currently spending five months traveling and are staying in HomeExchange homes while traveling throughout Europe and Morocco, relishing the opportunity to meet their local hosts.

Meet Yashy, a Canadian member and mummy blogger 

We’ve been traveling with our kids since our eldest was just two months old, clocking in quite a few miles in the air and on the road. There is no shortage of places to go with kids, and we’ve discovered that every city has something for all ages. After much trial and error, we’ve learned that as long as we’re prepared with a few necessary comfort items, our kids are happy, which means that my husband and I are happy.

As we embarked on this 5-month journey with a 3 and a 5-year-old, we took a long hard look at the 5 things we would need for traveling with kids. I’m talking beyond the passport and travel insurance of course! With only two suitcases and four backpacks between two adults and two kids, space was definitely at a premium!

1. Portable car seats

We knew we’d be driving through the winding roads of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and Spain’s cultural hot spots. Instead of trusting car rental companies to have the right car seats, we brought our own. Luckily for us, we’ve seen huge reductions in the size of car seats over the last five years. We no longer need to lug around full-sized, 15 kg car seats. Inventions like the RideSafer vest and the miFold booster seat fit in my purse! Keeping our kids safe and secure on the road is something we take very seriously.

A happy Wifold car seat user.

2. Electronics

There are various schools of thought on when and for how long kids should be allowed to use things like tablets and phones, but our kids are great travelers mainly because we allow them access to their screens while we travel. Long journeys seem shorter for kids when they are watching their favorite movie and many educational apps let them do homework on the road. While we do, of course, limit usage, we do allow them to indulge on travel days. We also advise parents to travel with comfortable headsets for their kids. Trust me, neither you nor those around you want to hear the SAME My Little Pony or Paw Patrol episode over and over on a four-hour train ride!

Tips for long ride with kids in the car: indulge on the screen time

3. Toys

When our kids were infants, we didn’t need many toys but now that they’re older, they need their favorite toys for comfort (it’s also one way to ensure they aren’t on their screens the whole time!). We’ve encouraged small toys for travel and so the BIG bunny doesn’t travel for bedtime cuddles, but the smaller more travel-friendly version does. When it comes to dolls and action figures, it’s the miniature versions that we allow the kids to bring along. They each carry about 10 compact toys and we are surprised at the comfort those toys bring in the most hectic of places. Needless to say, the kids are BEYOND thrilled when we stay at a HomeExchange home where kids normally live. Our houses in Ronda and in Madrid were two favorites of theirs, simply because of the many toys the families had left behind.

My little ponies flying
Toys in transportation means entertainment for the kids

4. Containers

I know this is definitely a bit frivolous of us with space being at such a premium but I find that my kids are ALWAYS hungry and to keep us all relatively sane, I’m always carrying snacks and drinks. I never leave home without two travel cups and two small containers of food and have been doing this since they were infants. When hunger strikes in the immigration line or when we’ve been standing in line for over an hour at a popular attraction and our five-year-old is ready to throw a tantrum because she’s thirsty…I am READY! These containers need a daily wash of course and in the past, when staying at hotels, I’ve been forced to use shampoo containers and hot water to keep them clean. When searching for HomeExchange homes, I always pick homes with dishwashers whenever the chance arises. Dishwashers are definitely more popular in some countries than others, but it’s a search feature I use often to narrow down the best homes for our family trip.

Travel sippy cup for the little man and glass of wine for daddy.

5. Medical kit

With kids, one always need to be prepared for everything, from simple cuts and bruises to fevers and allergies. That is why I’ve built a small travel kit for our trips that contains supplies to help with mild fevers, headaches, aches & pains and of course, cuts. Antiseptic wipes and Band-Aids/plasters for those MANY scrapes that a simple kiss can’t solve are a must have.

With each stage of childhood, our kids’ needs have changed, and while they aren’t AS easy to travel with as toddlers and pre-schoolers (we found the infant stage to be extremely easy), it’s quite amazing to watch their reactions to new things, places, and people. As each day passes, they grow more and more curious. Soon, we won’t be able to answer all their questions, but we will always make sure to carry along the items they need to travel comfortably and discover life’s answers on their own.

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