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.
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