The next post in the HOW series focuses on all the gear that inevitably comes when you are packing for a trip with kids. This post is dedicated to our tried and true backpack stroller which we retired right before this trip. After so much use after purchasing it used, it reached retirement. We will surely miss this highly reccomended kids gear! Now, on to the post.
A prior post focused on some of our essential gear, while this post will examine further how we decide what gear to take on each trip. For us, this is not always an easy task; just deciding what stroller to bring can take some analysis. We try to start the process by examining a two key things: how are we getting there what are we doing. Examining your mode of transportation lets you know how restrained you are in what you can actually bring. For example, if you are driving by car, you cannot bring anything that won’t fit in your car. If by airplane, you need to consider the cost to check said gear. Also consider how you are getting around when you arrive. Bouncing around Europe using public transportation limits you significantly more than a drive to Disney. Besides examining how we are transporting ourselves from activity to activity, we also examine the activities themselves. What gear do your activities require? Is it worth bringing gear with you or renting it? We also mention in a prior post how essential it is to try to secure gear at your location, but really you need to weight the cost of acquiring the gear in both your time and money. For example, renting snorkel gear is usually cheap and easy at the snorkel site, but what if you are going on a ski trip? You have to analyze the ease and cost of bringing your own ski gear with you (if you have it!), or renting it at the mountain.
We are currently in Hawaii on a 10 day vacation so let’s take our two main gear considerations (transportation and activities) into practice. For this trip, we brought only one stroller, a single stroller that travels well and is good for napping. We strongly considered bringing our double stroller because we rented a car at the airport and a house on the island, and thought it could be nice for walks to the beach and into town, but decided against it as it is quite cumbersome. We went with the single stroller and brought our son’s bike instead and that worked out OK – he didn’t want to ride it as much as we thought but it was still better than trying to maneuver a double stroller around the island. We knew we couldn’t go with our default of two single strollers because there would be times where one parent was alone with two kids when Dad was surfing. We also brought two baby carriers which were essential when hiking and in the airport. After our initial stroller/child carrier analysis, we moved on to sleeping and eating; we brought a portable crib for this trip as it was much easier to check it than try to coordinate a rental (and we had free checked bags). We didn’t need a high chair, luckily, as our daughter is finally OK to sit and eat without one. We then examined our activities and opted to not bring any associated gear. We could have brought snorkel gear, but it is too easy to acquire on the island. We also had to acquire a surfboard on the island which was quite an adventure in itself (Craigslist, surf shops, etc. to find the right board), but it was worth the effort so we didn’t have to pay the hefty baggage fee to bring Dad’s board. For beach and pool activities, we first checked what our rental house had to offer and were very lucky to have beach chairs, pool/beach toys, life jackets/water floatees, an umbrella, boogie boards, beach towels, and a cooler.
As you can tell, and probably already know if you travel with kids, there are so many gear items you could bring or use, but hopefully these two considerations will make it easier when packing for your next trip. Stay tuned as we evolve in our travels! Please comment with your tips and experiences so we can all learn together.
Happy (and Light) Travels!