Before our relocation to Helsinki, I was working in a small(ish)-town airport. A lady came up to the check-in counter wanting to check a bag. After pulling up her reservation, I informed her of the $25 fee to do so. She proceeded to flip out, hollering across the lobby (which echoes, by the way) to her husband about this atrocity, then telling me about how she just paid so much money in order to sit in better seats. And NOW I was making her pay more?? She couldn’t possibly go somewhere for three weeks WITH AN INFANT and NOT check a bag.
This is the point where I tell you, dear reader, that I was at least seven months pregnant when this happened. Hormones raging, I bristled at the idea of NEEDING to check a bag. After all, Husband and I had done two weeks in Europe with a backpack each. Not even one of those hunormous hiking backpacks. We’re talking book bag. I’m pretty sure I over-packed and didn’t wear all the clothes I brought. So no, crazy lady, you don’t NEED to check a bag. *Deep breath as the morning sickness reared its ugly head*
Fast forward to the part where I actually have a baby. Yes, now you can laugh. I know, I know. You don’t really understand until you live it. HOWEVER, I spent almost three years working for an airline, and before that, Husband and I had our luggage lost for the entirety of our honeymoon. So excuse me if I still don’t like checking bags.
(Side note: working for the airline, I saw people overpack ALL the time. Not liking to check bags has nothing to do with the way those bags are treated by our highly lovable and humorous baggage handlers. If you pack poorly, things will break. The same thing happens to groceries in your car. Please stop hating on the baggage handlers!) Also, the above picture is from the day we moved to Helsinki. Those bags contained our lives!
That being said, I’ve learned to pack the essentials. I leave out anything liquid if possible. Shampoos are typically provided at hotels (or a family members home), and worst case, I buy a small bottle when I arrive. I pack enough clothing to have one outfit per day, and usually only bring one pair of walking shoes and a pair of flip flops. (They’re small, easy to pack, and sometimes you really need a break from those walking shoes.) Since I’m usually traveling for vacation, all hair supplies stay home. I either braid my hair or put it in a ponytail. I didn’t even luck out with easy-to-style straight hair; it’s curly and frizzes at the first hint of humidity. (Helloooo, Caribbean beach!) The same goes for makeup. It’s amazingly freeing to not care about your looks while also knowing that you’ll likely never see these people again.
Okay, that’s what I pack for myself. What about the toddler? (Is he really a toddler already?!) We seem to be past the spit-up-make-a-mess-at-every-opportunity phase, or maybe I’m just past the point of caring as much, but I only pack one outfit a day for Little Man as well. I’m not completely without need of a contingency plan, so two extra outfits typically find their way into the bag. (Unless I’m planning to do laundry. Then I stick to one outfit per day, usually up to seven outfits.)
Snacks are a must. It’s way too easy to lose track of time while traveling, especially between time zones, and little mouths will loudly remind you that it’s time to eat. Once again, my airline brain kicks in. Goldfish crackers and Cheerios are an airline employees worst nightmare. (Seriously. They’re AWFUL.) They crumble and get smashed into the carpet and let me tell you, ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, I’m opting for those horrible-for-the-environment, incredibly convenient squeeze pouches and baby granola bars. Both are Little Man approved and don’t make over-the-top messes. I’m also bringing raisins. He loves to fish them out of the box himself, so I’m hoping that will double as entertainment.
As for diapers, he’s going through approximately four a day, so I pack five per day, plus extras in the diaper bag. You know what? I’ve never been anywhere that you can’t buy diapers. If I run out (or get dangerously close to running out; I’m never going to cut it that close), I’ll buy more.
Wondering how I fit all this into a carry on? Here you go:
That’s just about everything prior to packing. (The cookies are for a friend I’m meeting. I wish I could say they were MY snacks!) Tucked in there are also some gifts for said friend.
There you have it. I even added a blanket and some toiletries (not pictured). Once it was zipped, I still had some wriggle room at the top, not to mention the empty side pockets. Room for souvenirs!! And since I won’t be bringing the diapers back, a considerable amount of space will open up for the return trip. I should probably mention that this is just a quicky; 72 hours to be precise. You’ll have to read my future posts to find out where I’m taking Little Man. Let’s go adventuring!