If there is anything I have learned from our recent trip to Manila (and from our little mini-trips to Boracay, Tagaytay and around the city), it is how to collapse everything that the girls and I may need into as few bags as possible. In the last 25 days we’ve had to travel on airplanes, boats, tricycles, buses, and minicabs, and I can’t remember what else; so we’ve had a lot of recent practice and trial and error. Here are some of the essentials that I just had to have by my side, across all forms and means of travel:
A Carry-on “Potty” Kit that contains: 1) Lysol Disinfectant Spray, 2) Holy Seat Toilet Spray, 2) Baby Wipes, 3) wet and dry tissue, 4) Potty-Topper covers, 5) Liquid soap and 6) Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. Okay. Let me explain.
Of all the things that is out of my control, it is the cleanliness of the public bathrooms and the times as to when my girls (or I) will need to use them. The bathrooms on the airplanes are the ones I hate the most. Their space, their smell, and of course, they’re the first ones to get dirty on a long long flight (ugh!). Now in particular, that Sam is potty-trained, she does not discriminate between a clean or dirty bathroom: when she has to go she has to go. So, I try to make sure that wherever we are, the toilet seat and the surrounding parts that are within her reach, are as germ-free as possible.
First, I spray everything with the Lysol To Go spray. Then the toilet seat gets sprayed on as well. After a countdown to 15, I wipe it all down with the wet tissues, and then it is only then when I lay over the Potty Topper. Some bathrooms have them built in, but then I find them a little bit flimsy for my taste. Sam likes the ones we bring along because first of all, they are specially designed — Dora, Disney Princess, etc. It makes for a very interesting potty experience. Secondly they have enough “extra” lining on the outer part that when she has to hold on to the bowl, she is actually holding on to the cover itself.
Of course afterwards, unless the soap dispenser is automatic and hands-free, then we wash our hands with our own soap and apply the anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. Again depending on where we are and how dry her skin could be, then we add lotion into the mix.
It goes without saying of course that because of Jamie, I also have a set of diapers and a diaper mat (which I put on top of tissue paper so that it does not touch the diaper changing table, even after I’ve disinfected it…), all nicely tucked into my own bag.
Lesson #1: The less items I bring into a public bathroom, the less I have to disinfect later on.
A Floor Mat. I’ve learned that it pays to pack some form of mat or blanket where I can put the girls on without worrying about them falling off (sans their shoes of course, because that would defeat the purpose!). The one I own is actually a 50″ x 60″ picnic blanket that has one side that is waterproof, and it has come in handy during airport lay overs and delays. Admittedly it can be very tiring on both myself and Jamie if I am constantly holding her or carrying her in the sling, and sometimes the girls also don’t want to be strapped down in their stroller. Just don’t forget to wipe down and disinfect the side that hit the floor before packing it back into your carry on, otherwise it defeats the purpose of keeping everything else clean!
The Magic Toy / Book Bag. My husband always protests when he sees that I’ve packed a separate bag specifically for Sam and Jamie and their books and toys. He knows that it is one more item that we need to carry (as it won’t necessarily be something the girls will carry themselves). I have discovered however, that there is more appeal to my children if they know they have a bag of their own which contains only their items. Toys are definitely a necessity on a trip. Toys and an iPad that is loaded with videos and games. New books as well are preferred than favorite, “already read” books. Why? Well in the case of my girls, a new book is something that they are seeing for the first time, and are therefore discovering more new things for the first time, rather than re-reading a book that they’ve already seen before. In other words, a new book will make the time pass much faster.
Lesson #2: Toys with small parts are ill-advised, because those are more pieces you need to take stock of, not to mention, more little things to disinfect.
Then if you are a breastfeeding mom like myself, there’s also the breastpump and the breastfeeding cover, apart from the standard extra change of clothes for each member of the family (two sets for Jamie), the first aid kit, and all the necessary paperwork needed for the specific travel.
Each time we go on a trip my husband always feels we have more things than our hands and arms will allow us to hold. Well the kids alone are a handful, with one who cannot walk and the other one running everywhere. Then again, we are both travelers by nature and while the girls have made the choices of trips a little bit more deliberate and further between in interval, the amount of things we end up carrying hasn’t really stopped us from going places. If anything, it’s probably just given us a lot more practice!
How about you? What are your travel essentials when you go on trips with your children?