Is the kitchen sink necessary for traveling with a baby?

I’m about ready to scream. Seriously.

climbing mt sinai with babies

Climbing Mt. Sinai with babies

I’ve been reading way too many articles lately about traveling with babies and each and every one lists an enormous pile of gear one “must” have for successful travel with little ones. It’s driving me crazy.

I am very grateful that we lived overseas when our twins were born. We were surrounded by expats and every expat family we knew traveled extensively with their children and nobody ever questioned it. It was simply a part of life and there was no hype or hysteria about it. We traveled. It’s what we did.

We didn’t travel with portable playpens or tents for the boys to sleep in. We didn’t stress over strollers and car seats or fancy toys to keep the kids occupied on the airplane. And no – we didn’t haul a childproofing kit stuffed full of doorknob covers, plastic outlet covers, and pipe cleaners or twisties to secure drapery and electrical cords either. We just traveled. A lot. And we watched our kids carefully.

We carried diapers and wipes with us. And a small pad we could put on grungy floors to change said diapers. We also carried a few sets of clothes for the boys and I made sure I had some snacks with me. We each carried a kid in a baby backpack. That’s it. We could go for months with that setup.

My husband and I knew from the start that we would travel with our babies, so we devised our parenting style around that. We slept with the boys from Day 1, so staying in cheap hotels with only two twin beds wasn’t a problem at all – one boy slept with me, the other with hubby. I breastfed so we didn’t have to bother with bottles and formula.

As I read through all these articles scattered around cyberspace, I’m flabbergasted at the sheer quantity of stuff people feel is essential to travel with small children. I wonder how much of that is simply parents feeling that, of course, there HAS to be more stuff one needs to travel with children. There has to be because parents are looking for an excuse to not travel.

So tell me, dear reader, what do you consider essential for traveling with little people? Do you really need a playpen and childproofing kit? Or, more accurately, do the children need those?

Posted by | Comments (13)  | February 28, 2012
Category: Family Travel

13 Responses to “Is the kitchen sink necessary for traveling with a baby?”

  1. Nancy Sathre-Vogel Says:

    You’re right that something like a car seat is a good idea. I wish airlines provided them because they are such a pain to haul around! If you’re going overseas and taking taxis, you won’t be using them anyway. Depending on where we went, we sometimes did take our carseats with us.

    But all that other crap? Fuggeddaboutit!

  2. Suzie Says:

    While we didn’t travel to exotic places we were on the go. I found all I needed were diapers (one was in cloth so it took some adjustment ), wipes, a change of clothes and my baby sling.

  3. Lisa wood Says:

    we never travelled with babies – but we are now travelling with only what we really need – we do not want to carry lots of stuff nor do we think we need it.
    If we could have our time over again we would have travelled a lot sooner.
    As we b/feed all of our boys we could have easily carried them in back packs with only what we really needed.
    I think its a security thing – parents are feed so much information about what “They must buy” for babies to be happy 🙁 When in fact all babies need is sleep, food, change of clothes. And time.

  4. walkingon travels Says:

    Every trip our load gets lighter and I am happy to say when our little guy entered our traveling lives not one extra piece of luggage was added on. We just made room for him and took a few things of our own out. Heck, I think I bring more camera and laptop gear than I do kid stuff these days. I only travel with a carseat if we will be in a car on the other end and if it is mandatory in that country. We check it with out luggage so it is one less thing to haul around. I loved my baby carrier too. I will say we pack our crappy umbrella stroller with us everywhere we go. We do a lot of city exploring and there is only so long I can carry a 30lb toddler on my back and we don’t always make it home for naps. The stroller becomes my luggage cart, kid carrier and anything else I need. But it also packs up small so we can throw it on the subway, in a cab or tuck it under the bed of a hotel. Other than that I am right there with you. Few clothes, couple diapers to get us to our location (then we buy local), some snacks and one quart size ziplock bag of toys is all the extra stuff we bring with a baby in tow. I did have to bring bottles and formula when he was little because I had trouble breastfeeding for a full year, but even that I had down to a packing science so it took up the least amount of room.

  5. Nancy Sathre-Vogel Says:

    Walkingon – I was so jealous of those other parents who could take a stroller with them! Twin strollers are (or were? Maybe things have changed in the past 14 years?) VERY bulky and unreasonable for travel. We had a stroller at home in Ethiopia, but left it behind when we traveled. The boys either walked or were in their backpacks (or many times, one was in the backpack and the other in my arms!). Parents with only one baby definitely have it easy.