Minimalist Travelling with Kids – Mommy Connections Guest Post

Re-posting a guest post I recently did on Mommyconnections.ca. I’ve attended Mommy Connections events and workshops in the past and I am thrilled to be featured on their blog.

Mommy Connections Alumni, Bronwyn Hannelas, shares how she packed for a One-week trip, with 1 Baby, 1 pre-schooler and NO checked luggage.


For March Break our family of four flew to Vancouver for a week.  We spent time chasing waves on Tofino’s sandy Pacific beaches, atop snowy mountains, cycling in Stanley park and touring the city centre. Even with baby in tow we managed to avoid checking any baggage here’s how.

Maximize your Carry-on Limit

Since baby flew for free, we were left with a carry-on allowance of 3 pieces plus 3 small bags. I forwent a purse and opted for a diaper bag instead, the camera bag also did double duty holding some snacks and small toys.

Okay let’s get real with a 3.5-year-old and 15-month-old snacks and toys were inevitably stuffed everywhere but in clear ziplocks to maintain some sanity.  Wearing my daughter in her carrier also avoided the need to find space for that essential but bulky item.

Bring that Stroller

We gate checked our umbrella stroller for free. I travelled alone with the two kids on the flight over and the stroller doubled as a luggage dolly- a real life saver.

Any modest sized stroller that folds seems to be fine and I even saw a couple doubler strollers being stowed at gate.  Just beware as if its too bulky you could be looking at additional fees to check it.

Limit Shopping

We ended up being that family at airport rearranging suitcase contents and shovelling snacks into our kids mouths after our suitcases had mysteriously expanded past acceptable dimensions on the way home.

We planned to buy nothing, but I was the first to crack when I fell in love with Pinterest-worthy dessert bowls at a farmer’s market. We also did a Value Village run to replace some soaked sneakers and succumbed to ‘mom please’ requests for new dollies..

Forgo the Hotel

With Air BnB over a traditional hotel you can scout out a family friendly home that offers more options for meal prep, enclosed backyards and can seriously limit what you need to bring. We made sure to ask questions about high chairs, cribs and kid-friendly dinnerware ahead of time.

While visiting Vancouver Island the home we stayed in had an enviable toy collection that included ride-on toys- a definite hit with our littles. Our lovely hosts also passed along this outgrown rain suit for our daughter which was perfect for the ocean spray on the island’s sandy beaches.

Plan Activities Ahead

Limited luggage for us meant a trade-off in spontaneity. We brought hiking attire for some planned modest treks but opted not to bring swim suits. This meant having to forego the local pool on a rainy day and instead discovering free train rides and a cherry blossom festival at the local mall. Both kept the kids active indoors for a couple hours.

Minimalist travelling requires some additional planning and trade-offs much as it does in our daily family life in our small Toronto home. Ultimately though, keeping things simpler meant having the space and money to focus on taking in more new experiences.

Bronwyn Hannelas lives in Toronto’s west end with her husband and their two young children. She writes about trying to live a simpler life with less stuff at www.smallhousebigcity.com

Old Fashioned Thrift

I have a copy of a 1924 Popular Mechanics for Women magazine that I inherited from my grandmother. And while I don’t suggest you attempt to build the terrifying DIY chicken wire playpen, I was struck by the advice to rotate stroller wheels to equalize wear.

play pen
1920s Portable Play Yard

The short article advised readers that when baby stroller tires are the same size, the rear tires wear down before the front ones. Rotating tires would make it “unnecessary to renew them until all are worn out.”

Thrifty mom saves herself from buying a new set of four tires until all are worn down.  

My Stroller Stash

I own three different strollers- three! The single, the double (which also has jogging wheels) and the umbrella. If one of the wheels were to wear down, I’d shrug and order a new set online. 

There is a connection between how much stuff we own and our sloppy care of our possessions. I’m willing to bet that ‘1920s momma’ didn’t have multiple strollers at her disposal.

Three strollers is actually my pared down minimalizing number. I just gave the single running stroller away as the amount it got used didn’t justify its storage for when we return to being a single stroller family.  The others I just can’t part with yet.

The double is the daily go-to for outings farther than a few blocks. The single does nicely for short runs to the library and nearby parks that are walkable for our preschooler.  The umbrella fits neatly into our packed car for outings and is light to lug onto our inaccessible street car and commuter train.

transit stroller

Taking Stock

The stroller tally doesn’t even include our other wheeled methods of pushing kids from A to B. The small wagon and push car.

I wish I could just let some of these go and clean up our front yard but its all so handy right now. While I sometimes long for a suburban garage to hide things away, I am grateful for the trade-off of living in the city where I can walk to so much.

Suffice to say, if we were in a condo without backyard spill over options our storage locker would be scary. Or maybe not.

With limited storage I’d have refused the kind offer of the push car and sold the single stroller. And maybe with less possessions to care for, after seeing that 1920s article I’d have even gotten out the tool kit and rotated the tires on my umbrella stroller.