Travel light… a way of travelling, not a lamp.
In my opinion, the word “essential” and “travel” rarely go together. Yes, it’s essential to have your passport if you’re heading overseas. Yes, a sense of humour is essential when travelling with kids. The rest should be flexible. I’ve recently read a number of checklists of travel essentials (the word essential here makes me nervous) to have with you when you’re on the road with a baby/toddler. A couple of these lists were so long they gave War and Peace a run for its money. One had over 100 items on the list (YES, 100!!!), including a baby monitor, a room thermometer, car sunshades, portable high chair, and a cot and bedding.
Here are some alternatives:
- Baby monitor: Unless you’ve booked separate hotel rooms for you and the kids, use the monitor that parents have used for centuries—ears, eyes, touch… crazy, I know.
- Car sun-shades: If you’re in a rental car and realize the sun is bothering the baby, then use a t-shirt, hook it into the window, and continue travelling. I’ve done this about three thousand times and find it effective.
- Portable high chair: It’s called a lap. Alternatively, travel with a stroller and feed them in that. The great thing about those cheap foldaway strollers is that your child can also be belted in there, unable to escape. This comes in handy in crowded markets.
- A cot and bedding: Portable cot is an oxymoron. Many people will disagree with me, and continue to lug cots around but I think they are a total waste of money. Be inventive—my kids have slept in a suitcase. Often, I’d push two armchairs together. On one trip, I removed a drawer and my son slept soundly in that.
- A room thermometer: Unless you’re sleeping in an igloo, I don’t see the point.
Travel light is not just another item for your essential list… it’s the best way to travel. All these things are a waste of space and more stuff to lug around. Lighten up… in every way.
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Jane Tara is an author, travel writer, and director of the children’s travel publishing company, Itchee Feet. She has lived in Tokyo, Taipei,
Vienna, London and New York, but currently lives at Bondi Beach with her partner and their four sons.