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Rules for Packing when Traveling with Kids

Looking for some basic rules for packing when traveling with kids? Packing for a family vacation can be even more challenging when you are bringing along your children. Children may not be familiar with concepts of roughing it, simplifying, or improvising, when it comes to going on vacation. Here are some tips on how to travel practically as a family and keep your children happy.

First, understand that you have to simplify your inventory and then teach your children what you are doing, why, and what would be the best way to go about it. It may help to make lists of everything you need to pack and to follow these lists closely. You could even make a list for your kids or encourage them to make their own list if they are of age. Emphasize to the kids (and yourself!) that not only must you pack sparingly to begin with, but that you also need room to make way for any souvenirs. Some travelers have packed away backpacks for this purpose. Be sure to designate one bag of must-have items at all times and explain the same lesson to your children.

What are some items that you might take along or that you should expect to see packed by your family? If you have an infant child then bring along bottles, baby food and a spoon. You also have to factor in space for pacifiers, diapers, bibs and wipes. Pack about three spares to be on the safe side and store them in your must-have bags. Don't forget an extra plastic bag for used diapers.

What kind of toys should you pack? For infants or toddlers, think about quiet toys, such as mirrors, plush dolls and essentially anything that can't be thrown across a plane. Noisier toys like rattles or talking devices should be packed in your checked luggage.

Older children may appreciate wind up toys, cardboard books, activity books and cards. Preteens and teens may not be able to stand it without their handheld systems, such as portable video game systems, DVD players, CD players or iPods. Bring alone headphones for a courtesy to other travelers. Remember that if you things get too boring you can always amuse children with a creative word game, such as "I Spy" or "Who am I?"

Emphasize that there is a big difference between need and want, when planning for a short trip. You may find that taking time to explain the mission, along with some advance planning, will make the great packing experiment go much easier.

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