Preparing for a Family Adventure in Spain

Afton and PassportOur next European adventure is booked and we’re heading to Spain next week! This trip will be a little different as we’re bringing along our nine month old daughter. There are plenty of blog posts and websites that offer tips on traveling with infants, so I can’t say I’m unprepared. But, there is always the element of surprise with children. Take into consideration feeding and napping schedules and then toss on a five hour time difference. All the makings of entertaining “remember when” stories are there.

As we plan and pack, there is a lot more to take into consideration. It’s become second nature for me to pack my bag. I know what I typically use and what is not worth bringing. I have packing light down to a science. But, now we’re packing for our daughter who is not known for packing light. For the most part she always has diapers, wipes, toys, spare clothes, pacifiers, bibs, bottles, food, a car seat – and occasionally a pack and play.

As much as I want to bring everything she could possibly want in order to keep her happy and entertained, I know I have to pair things down to the essentials. She will survive. As my husband likes to remind me, “They have babies in Spain too.” Anything we need we can get while abroad.

Packing light was one of the lessons I learned on our first family getaway to Snowshoe Mountain this past winter. You don’t need as much as you think. Bring less and you’ll make do with what you have.

Family Photo

Other tips that have helped me prepare for this first of many vacations as a family:

Don’t prepare for things to go wrong. Allow for the possibility for things to go right.

Be flexible. Sometimes a baby’s desire to eat or sleep will take precedence. Mentally prepare for that now. I’m sure there will be evenings when we won’t be able to make a late-night tapas run.

Ultimately, it’s not worth over thinking it. The essentials will be packed, and we’ve left some room in our bags for lifelong memories.


5 Packing Tips for Your Upcoming Vacation

Three days until the Olympic Games! That also means I’ve got three days to figure out what I’m packing. I would bet money that most people find packing their least favorite thing about traveling. It’s definitely one of the most important parts of planning a trip though. There’s an art to not overpacking or under-packing.

Finding that sweet spot has been a process of trial and error for me. It seems that with every trip, I pack less and less. I’ve realized that I always end up wearing that same favorite shirt or pair of shorts. Packing less also means I’m more mobile. I don’t end up feeling like I’m dragging my house with me on my vacation.

  1. Pack clothes and shoes you’ve worn before. If you’ve never worn it at home, what makes you think you’re going to wear it on vacation?
  2. Traveling for two weeks or more? Pack what you need to get through one week and then find a local laundromat.
  3. Planning a multi-leg trip? I highly recommend using a travel backpack over a rolling suitcase. Backpacks make getting on and off trains and buses much easier. Plus you get to dodge all the rolling backpacks and cut through foot traffic faster. I learned the hard way trying to get up and down train station platform steps with a suitcase.
  4. To avoid overpacking, lay everything out and make outfits before you pack it away. Choosing neutral colors allows you to mix and match with a limited number of tops and bottoms. Check out this packing checklist written by travel writer Rick Steves. He also has a list tailored to women.
  5. Just because the airlines allow you to check a 50-pound bag doesn’t mean you should. You can get by with a lot less and your back will thank you for it.

BONUS TIP: Been wanting a new wardrobe? Consider packing clothes that you wouldn’t mind donating to a shelter or shop when you’re done wearing them. Your bag will be so light on your way home.

Clothes for two-week trip

Wes’ two-week travel necessities

Wes' two-week packing
Threw in a tenner for a little perspective