Time for Some Light Travel with a (Not so Light) Toddler

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!

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13 thoughts on “Time for Some Light Travel with a (Not so Light) Toddler

  1. I’m a notorious over packer LOL like it’s bad, but I hate not having options and I hate wishing I had something I didn’t bring. I have been that seriously since I was like 6, my mom still tells stories about how I used to back πŸ˜‚ You should have seen us going to Hawaii in January, we had a ridiculous amount of stuff (one suitcase was just diapers, toys, life jackets, etc.) You have permission to laugh at my expense, I do 😁

    Can’t wait to see where your next adventure is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg, life jackets?! Rentals, all the way. If there’s anything I can get at my destination, I don’t bother packing it. I honestly don’t have a lot of clothes, so I tend to pick my favorites and the most comfortable. We take active vacations, so walking/active gear is a must. And of course, if it doesn’t fit in a carry on, it doesn’t go. (Unless I’m visiting my parents. Those are usually longer trips and require more clothing options, gifts, etc.)

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      1. Yup, had to have their puddle jumpers. For me I’d rather pack it and not have to mess with renting things. Plus my kids can be weird about having their own stuff, well mostly Wyatt (he gets it from my dad). I’m definitely better than I used to be though. What’s funny is I typically don’t over pack for myself, it’s always the kids’ stuff I go overboard with LOL

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      2. Yup, had to have their puddle jumpers. My kids can be weird about having their own stuff (mostly Wyatt, he gets it from my dad). I’m getting better though! I rarely over pack for myself, it’s the kids I go overboard with LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Emily.

    Thank You for Your lovely story about traveling and Your life. It was enjoyable reading. To me it was a surprise that You have worked an airline. I worked for Finnair nearly 40 years! This means that I know something about travelling and flying. There are hundreds of stories about flying. I do not know if You read:

    About me,

    because You never left Your comment there. It tells about my work history, my passion for driving fast not in Finland, but in Germany and it is a window showing about what “my” Finland really offers. More than 500 comments verify that it is worth for reading.

    Next Wednesday I present a happening in Finland which unique in the whole world.

    Happy weekend to You and Yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Matti,
      Thank you for your comment. I don’t think I’ve read all of your “about me” page, but I do remember looking at a lot of your pictures there. I’ll check it out again when I get a few free moments (hopefully this week).

      I hope you have a good week and I look forward to your upcoming post!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So. Much. Luggage. We did not ship anything as it was cheaper, and much more convenient, to buy all the big things once we arrived. My husband took a business trip to Helsinki about a month before we moved and brought the two large duffel bags in the picture with him then. He emptied and flew them back so we could pack them again. It was thrilling. πŸ˜’

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      1. Interesting to find someone with the same thinking as us – it seems most people decide to ship their belongings, even when they are planning only a few years in their new country. Have you kept your belongings in the US in storage or did you sell and get rid of everything? We are aiming to leave only a couple of boxes of sentimental items with my mum and will gradually bring them over to Finland.

        So tough to fit your whole lives into a few suitcases!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think we’re the only ones in the work group who kept our house in the U.S.. (We bought it a year before moving. I wasn’t about to give it up!) We built a storage space in the basement where we’re keeping most of our things; couch, bed, etc, and we’re renting the house. It didn’t make sense to me to bring everything over for four years. But we’re not sure where we’ll be at the end of those four years.

        It’s so tough! It’s nice to have people that understand. πŸ˜‰

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      3. I would have done the same in your position! We’re only renting here so when we move our only choices are basically to get rid of everything or ship everything… easy choice for me as I want to start our new lives afresh πŸ™‚

        How exciting to not know where in the world you will be in 4 years… scary but exciting, I’m sure!

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      4. I always feel like I *want* to get rid of everything, but actually being able to is incredibly difficult for me. Props to you for actually doing it! (Whether or not you have much of a choice.) I mostly miss kitchen items and pictures/wall hangings. I have yet to find a good way to hang things here, and most of our walls are cement.

        We have an idea of where we might go after Helsinki. It depends on Husbands job and what we want to do. I figure after four years, we’ll at least (hopefully) have a new president. If not, I’m opting to stay on this side of the world! (Unless they want to move us to Australia. There’s an office there too.)

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