How to overpack for a family vacation

My car was comically packed when our family of three went to the beach for our first vacation. I believed it was better to have what I needed than be without an item in a moment of panic. The sheer volume of things my son would need was daunting and I seriously considered renting a small trailer. Unfortunately, my maternal desire to be supermom left me stressed and anxious in the weeks leading up to the trip. I even wished that we were staying at home instead.

Looking back over my list now, there were several things I could have done without:

I brought dozens of toys

I was so afraid that my son would get bored in the small apartment we rented. What I didn’t realize was that we’d be venturing to a new place, and for him, it was ripe with things to explore. He also was learning his footing so just walking around was a challenging and engaging activity. He forgot about the bag of toys I brought and toddled from room to room touching everything. When we got out on the shore, he didn’t play with the dump truck or sand castle construction equipment. He just took in the sights and sounds, and splashed around in the ankle-deep waves. So next time, I would go light on the toys and use the new surroundings for entertainment. Every day is a new and exciting adventure for a baby.

I shoved the medicine cabinet in a plastic bag

I really didn’t need all of the baby toiletries that I brought. I opted for 50 safety swabs, his bedtime bath wash that I never used at home, bug spray, multiple sunscreen choices, two full tubes of diaper cream, the snot sucker…all just in case! What’s more, I had duplicates of most of those items in the diaper bag, too.

I packed three outfits a day

While packing my son’s little suitcase, I made sure I had multiple outfits a day for any kind of weather. I also overanalyzed when choosing his “good” outfits so that I would be prepared to take the perfect photo on our family excursions. I also assumed that he would make epic messes every day and we’d have to change him all the time. Knowing that our apartment had a washer and dryer should have been reason enough to cut the articles of clothing in half. It would have been a lot easier to bring less and toss in a small load of laundry mid-week. When I unpacked upon return, I realized I could put half of his luggage right back in the dresser. Glad all those onesies came along for the ride!

So next time you go on a trip, make sure to bring just the essentials with you. Otherwise you’ll only be carrying a bunch of unnecessary items that will take up all your suitcase space. And try to be spontaneous and adventurous: your child will probably need half of what you consider essential to bring to a family trip. What he really needs is to be able to discover and experience the beauty and the magic of this new place. Let him explore and enjoy the time with your little one.

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