Practical Tips for Family Traveling

by Heidi Stutzman

I am always looking for new ways to pack lighter and more efficiently.

I shared in a guest post last year on how I started that process by packing in a color palette of only a few colors. Doing this maximizes my options once I arrive at my destination, especially if I have the opportunity to do laundry.

If you have a capsule wardrobe, you already do this on a daily basis. I don't have a strict capsule wardrobe, but I have started being very particular about the clothing I buy. I picked a few words to describe my style and what I want my closet to look like (Classic/Classy, Feminine, Comfortable). From there I only purchase the items that I absolutely LOVE the way they fit and how the colors look on me. If I'm on the fence, it stays in the store. It is an all-around winning situation because when I love it, I am content to repeat often.

Our first trip as a family of 3 was for a week-long family vacation. It was scheduled over July 4 and since I always feel like it is necessary to dress for the Holiday, I figured we would pack in red, white, and blue. Since my post-partum closet isn't super flexible, that color palette didn't work for me.

I packed each of us one item especially for July 4 so that I didn't feel like I was betraying the holiday.

We were flying so it was important to pack only what we needed as well as tro to be practical while flying with a 3 month old baby.

Color Palette:  White, Peach/Pink/Mauve, Black, White, Green

This was a week-long trip so I figured one outfit per day, knowing that a few of those days we would go through two outfits. We would do laundry and repeat as needed. We each had two pieces that didn't get worn. Next time I'll plan for less from the beginning.

What I packed for me: 1 Sweater, 7 tops, 6 skirts
In retrospect, I could have taken four of the skirts and still had lots of flexibility.

What I packed for my husband: 1 sweater, 6 shirts, 3 pairs of jeans
I figured he would probably be fishing or in the pond/pool a decent amount of the time so I didn't bother to take up space with more jeans. Nor did I take a photo of them because jeans are fairly basic.

My husband and I had the same color palette. Our son didn't have anything in this palette so I packed blue, white, and orange for him. The goal is that we won't completely clash, but coordinate. With my wardrobe being mostly black and white, it worked out great.

What I packed for my son: 2 rompers, 2 pairs of shorts, 4 onesies, 1 polo, 2 pairs of long pants, 3 sets of pajamas, Swim diaper and sleeveless onesie, 2 bibs.

+ Baby & Daddy have matching Hawkeye shirts that we had to take since we were going to Iowa.

Since this was the first time packing with a baby I wasn’t sure how much to plan for. We could have made it without two of the onesies, one pair of pajamas, and one pair of pants. But then again, you never know when or how often babies will need a clothes change from spit up or a leaking diaper.

How we wore it:

A few tips for flying with a baby:

1. Wear your baby. Going through airport security is much easier when your baby is in a wrap, sling or carrier + it’s just really great to have your hands free. I used the Ergo and didn't have to take him out when we went through the metal detector. Also, I got pre-check so, hooray, didn't have to take out baby formula or take my shoes off! We were able to check our stroller and car seat in for free at the check-in counter.

2. Wear something that has pockets. I did this by accident and it turned out so handy. I usually have my ticket on my phone, but with all of the extra things we were carrying due to a 3 month old, it wasn't super handy. My pocket was perfect for my license and ticket as we went through security.

3. Put your phone down. This is hard for me because I love to have it close to take photos. (Typically, I like a real camera, but that is really not practical while traveling with a babe.) I felt much more relaxed waiting to get it out until we were settled in at the gate and knew we had time to spare while waiting for our flight.

4. Keep only what you need in your hands or pockets. All else should be in your purse/backpack/carry-on. We get through security and I'm 2nd guessing myself and wondering if I actually had all my stuff + not remembering what pocket I shoved it into. Just carry your ticket and license and get whatever else you need once you have cleared security.

5. Wear a long, loose top. Especially if you are going to be wearing your baby. I find that the carrier always wants to pull my shirt up in the back and it’s very uncomfortable. Wearing something long and loose keeps me comfortable.

A tip I picked up from a fellow traveler:
6. If your baby has reached the crawling stage, pack socks for their hands and feet. They can crawl around on the floor and then when they are done, their hands are still clean! Yay, what a great tip.

7. Allow yourself at the minimum 1 hour between flights. (1.5 hours is more practical). Baby will most likely need a pamper change before you board that next flight.

Must Have List:

  • Wrap/Sling/Carrier
  • Backpack  - Preferably a cute one. I just used what I had. That happened to be the Thirty-One Camera backpack. The small compartments worked out very nicely for all the baby things and nothing shifted to the bottom because it opens from the side plus no fear of things falling out when you need to bend or twist. If I had other options, I'd skip the backpack because it’s just not me, but practicality wins!
  • Crossbody wallet or very small purse. - I love that this can be shoved inside my backpack and then upon arrival at my destination I don't have to haul a big bag around.
  • Blanket(s) for the baby. Flights and airports can get cold.
  • Pacifier clip. - Nothing makes me more desperate than my child's paci flying out of their mouth in a public area. I can handle dirt, but not other people germs. :)

I love these tips I just read on Urban Southern. https://www.urbansouthern

Especially the one about skipping the PJs as travel/airport attire. I love to dress up while flying and if I am traveling without a child and have easy connections, you might find me flying in heels.

Drop a comment and let me know how you like to travel light and comfortably.


Heidi Mast Stutzman is a photographer from South Carolina; check out more of her creative ideas and lovely images on her blog: Heidi Stutzman Photography .


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