Most of you realize by now that we went on a 7-night Disney Cruise through the Caribbean last week. I will not lie…it was 90% fan-freaking-tastic and 10% awful – a mixture of good and bad because you are spending 24/7 with your spouse/parents/children. And I’m speaking for them as well. HA!
I am a last-minute packer. I know it’s hard to believe (if you know me in person) but I do not have a typed-up go-to pack list. I just throw things together the last few days before vacation and pray it all works out. Therefore, usually, I over-pack…but just a bit. Because I am a better-to-be-prepared type of packer.
So here are the major things I never leave home without.
Luggage, Backpacks, and My Carry-on Purse
We like to travel. A lot. So for Stella’s birthday she got her own piece of luggage. And for Henry’s birthday he got his own. Charlotte’s birthday isn’t until February…and you guessed it. So for this trip each kid had their own carry-on sized roller dedicated to him/her. It made packing so much easier than last year when the kids and I shared a large suitcase.
Each kid also has his/her own REI backpack to take in the car and/or on the airplane when we travel. We honestly don’t use these backpacks for anything else. They are stored inside a piece of luggage at the end of our trip when everything is unpacked. The contents of the backpack? Depend on the trip. For this trip each backpack had a reusable water bottle, a granola bar, a lightweight jacket, books, crayons, paper, a favorite stuffed animal/blanket, and a bathing suit for when we arrived on the cruise ship. (Because your actual luggage doesn’t arrive until hours later.)
And finally, my needs. At home I run around with a wristlet wallet holding my phone and a single car key. On the road? I require a bag that basically holds the kitchen sink. I just found this great travel purse/tote at Marshall’s before our trip. It held everything – electronics, snacks, wipes, gum, a book, my huge camera, my reading glasses, my sunglasses, my bathing suit, etc. And it had a zipper and a shoulder strap – which is a necessity for me. Although I unloaded a lot of the contents once we boarded the ship…I still took it everywhere we went loaded with excursion or dinner essentials.
The Entertainment and the Snacks
For some, electronics are all you need to keep kids entertained for hours. However, there is a time and place for everything and the iPad or Kindle weren’t always an option. I always bring along some sort of “entertainment” to keep the kids quiet on the airplane, in the airport, on a shuttle bus, in a hotel room, at a dinner, etc. This trip I found some create-a-face books that were smaller than normal sheets of paper. (They are at Walmart near the crayons and coloring books.) I also grabbed a Pirate travel puzzle. Stella always brings a chapter book or four. Charlotte brings blank paper to write her own books. Each kid has his/her own stash of crayons and pencils packed as well.
And snacks? We were on a cruise! Where you eat all day and all afternoon and all evening. However, there are times when we’d need a SNACK and not a meal. The cruise was very limiting for that unless you wanted pizza, fries, a burger, ice cream, etc. I always pack a box of granola bars for each kid.
I call these the extras because they definitely are not NEEDED…however, they are awesome to have on hand. When shopping for Charlotte’s school backpack, I came across the Pottery Barn Kids Toiletry Bags when they were on sale. I ordered two of them for the girls and LOVE them. They were really helpful in the cruise stateroom bathroom because they have their own hanger and space is limited.
I also ALWAYS pack my own pump hand soap. A bar of soap used by three kids for a week is just gross. And they usually just run their fingers over the top because it’s stuck to the counter. So for $2.00 I pack two unopened pump soaps in a Ziploc bag. Every trip.
The individually wrapped makeup remover wipes are pure convenience. After using one I liked at a hotel (I have super sensitive skin), I purchased a box of 48 on Amazon at the beginning of the year. I keep a few in my foyer bathroom for late GNOs when I don’t want to wake Andy washing my face in our bathroom. I keep one in my purse and one in my travel bag. This trip I only used one. When you cruise, you give up your luggage the night before you depart. Which also meant I gave up my face wash. So later that night, I used one of the wipes. If normal soap and water work…this is totally unnecessary. But my skin doesn’t always react well to new soaps.