We leave for Zimbabwe in less than 5 weeks. I am slowly getting things together and have made a few purchases for the trip. Every time we prepare for traveling to another country, I get very serious about what things we really need to take. Suddenly, I realize how much we don't need. Still, there are a few things that I use almost daily and they will be coming with us to Africa.
If I had a mama holster for just the essentials, these are the things I would put in it:
My Hooter Hider: Although this one is not as important to use while in Africa, it's a must have in the States and on airplanes. Some people are just so weirded out by breast feeding. When traveling, you don't want to make any enemies, especially when they might be sitting next to you and your baby for an 18 hour flight! Plus, it folds up to the size of a pair of socks and I use it as a burp cloth, face wipe and "clean" place for Lazzy to play on the ground between flights.
My Little Seat travel high chair : This was a new purchase I made a few weeks ago. I've already used it a ton and LOVE THIS THING! We are currently using it as our "high chair" in the dining room. This little cloth seat is so supportive, machine washable and from what I can tell, it's comfortable. Oh, and it also folds up like a pair of socks. In my opinion, it's a must have item for all traveling moms.
Travel Potty Seat : Thankfully we no longer need to tote this around since Eli is beyond a potty seat. Still, I added it to the list because it's awesome and in about a year, we will be using one again. For a while, it was our potty seat at home and while on the road. It folds up very nicely and is easy to clean. Oh, and it's only $10 at Target.
Kidco PeaPod Plus : This travel crib is amazing. It weighs 6 lbs and folds down to nearly nothing. Because it is also like a tent, it's great to use in Africa where malaria is prevalent. I am so excited because my mom is picking one up for me in Nashville through craigslist at less than half the price. Woo Hoo! For parents who are on the go, this is a must have.
Last but not least, a pouch sling like the Peanut Shell. These things are incredibly light weight and easy to put on with baby in hand. Since they are reversible, I often use one side as a face/hands/nose wipe and just wear the cleaner side. Pouch slings have been around for a while so it's not uncommon to find them for $10 or $15 on craigslist. Yes, it also folds up pretty small.
There ya have it. Now you know what to pack if you're a traveling mom. The trick to it all is not over buying. Some parents feel like they need the travel stuff as well as the chunky plastic stuff for home. All the things listed above are great for at home use and when on the road. Keep it minimal and life will simply be, well, simple.
Feel the need for more stuff? Don't do it! Less is always best when you're crossing borders with young ones. Here's a quick list of what you don't need:
Baby spoons -Use the handle of a regular spoon. Grab a few plastic ones while at the airport. You know they will all get lost anyways. Might as well be ones you don't care about.
Wipes - Heavy and over used, wipes are one of those things we moms think we cannot live without. Guess what? We can. If you don't want to dirty up your sling or Hooter Hider, bring a hankie or small rag. Let it be your "wipe" for the day. By the end of your travel day, everything will have spit up on it anyways. Put a small amount of baby wipes in a zip lock bag and reserve them for dirty diapers only. Use the rag for everything else.
Sippy cups for older kids - These things are heavy when they are full but can't be filled up until
you're running for the gate after security anyways. At that point, just wait for the free water bottles and juice boxes on the plane. Plus, it can double as a distraction or toy later on. I usually pack an empty one in the suitcase to use while at my destination.
Speaking of, Toys... You all think I've gone crazy now, but think about it. Is that mess of toys really worth lugging around? What is a five minute distraction compared to an 18 hour flight? (or any flight over 4 hours). It's just going to suck. Embrace it and move on. Leave the battery operated light up contraptions at home and bring crayons or stickers instead. They make MUCH less noise and take up no space. You'll be surprised how entertained kids can be by seat belts, plastic cups and playing peek-a-boo with the sweet old lady behind you. I'm hoping all the in-flight entertainment will keep Eli busy. He LOVES movies.
Strollers - By the time you get it set up and ready to go, you could have been checked in and halfway through security. Chances are, if you leave the above items at home, you won't need a stroller to keep all your crap in. You will have a free hand to hold the baby (or two if you use a sling!) and your diaper bag won't be tearing off your shoulder. Plus, who really uses strollers outside the U.S. anyways? The side walks aren't big enough for your SUS (Sports Utility Stroller).
What are your travel must haves? What are your tricks for keeping toddlers happy on long flights? Seriously, advice and ideas are welcome!!!