After so many people were amazed at how little I packed for my 25 day trip with Benton around Europe, I figured I would share exactly what we packed for our entire trip.
I booked all of our transportation on budget airlines that do not include checked bags or even the use of the overhead compartment in the ticket price, or on trains where Benton would not have his own seat. I knew that traveling alone with a toddler would mean hauling everything myself, including the toddler on occasion. My goal was to pack clothes for both of us in one backpack that would fit under the seat in front of me, with one small additional bag with everything else, and the potential for a small souvenir or two, that would fit under the seat in front of Benton. I intentionally only booked Airbnb’s that had a washer and dryer, save the one hotel we stayed in while in Amsterdam, and I knew our host in London had a washer as well. Knowing I had the ability to wash our clothes every few days, I chose to pack extra light versatile pieces that I would be comfortable wearing over and over again.
A general rule of thumb for packing light is never to pack something for vacation that you wouldn’t wear at home. Vacation is not the time to test out a new style. If you generally don’t wear boots, don’t waste space in your luggage thinking you will become a boot person on your trip. I made that mistake on this trip with a hat. I thought a summer straw hat would be helpful even though I don’t regularly wear hats at home. It did come in handy sometimes, but it was more of a pain to hold onto for the entirety of the trip than its usefulness, and I should have left it at home.
I packed all our clothes into packing cubes which help compress clothes and keep them organized. I took this LL Bean back pack for all our clothes and this Venture Pal lightweight day pack for everything else: books, diapers, snacks, toiletries, electronics.
Here is the full list of what I packed.
Clothes for me:
- 1 pairs of maternity jeans that I wore on the plane
- 1 pair of maternity leggings
- 1 very comfortable spring maternity dress
- 3 short sleeve t-shirts
- 2 3/4 length shirts (one of which I wore on the plane)
- 1 extra bra
- 5 extra pairs of underwear
- 4 extra pairs of socks
- 1 sleeping shirt and 1 pair of pajama pants
- 1 button down lightweight sweater
- 1 faux-leather lightweight jacket
- 1 spring scarf that could double as a stroller or plane blanket if needed
- 1 pair of comfortable walking sandals
- 1 pair of sneakers that I wore on the plane
- sunglasses and a hat
Clothes for Benton:
- 1 long sleeve t-shirt
- 1 button-down flannel shirt
- 4 short sleeve t-shirts
- 3 pairs of pants including the ones he wore on the plane
- 5 extra pairs of socks
- 1 pull over sweater
- 1 zip up hoodie
- 1 pair of comfortable shoes that he wore on the plane
- 1 pair of fleece zip up footie pajamas
Beyond clothes, my packing list aimed to be as minimal as possible.
Toys: I brought 3 books for Benton. 2 of them we had never read before and 1 I loved reading so I thought it wouldn’t be the worst to read it 2-4 times a day for 24 days in a row. I also picked up a new book from the Natural History Museum in London. For toys, I brought a set of crayons and a small pad of paper, a sheet of stickers and 4 small racecars. On our first stop, we were gifted a Peppa Pig coloring book that came with a set of plastic keys that ended up being his favorite toy of the trip. He asked for his key to unlock doors or cars we passed at least once a day.
I brought 1 paperback book for myself hoping that I would be able to read a little throughout the trip. I only made it half way through.
- Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera with charger
- my cell phone, phone charger, and USB phone cord
- this external back up battery and charging cord, which came in handy to charge my phone or camera on the days where we were away from our home for most of the day
- this universal outlet converter with multiple plugs and USB ports. It is about the size of a book and could charge my camera, phone and external battery simultaneously.
Toiletries and Extras:
- toothbrush, tooth paste and floss
- bar soap, shampoo, and conditioner for me
- small bottle of all purpose baby soap for Benton
- small first aid kit with Neosporin and band aids (which ended up coming in handy for my scrapes post ferry crash)
- a small bottle of sunscreen to keep both of us protected
- enough q-tips for the trip
- a few extra hair ties since they always seem to break
- medications like cough drops, Benadryl, Tylenol, and prenatal vitamins (I packed the exact number I would need for our trip instead of the entire bottle)
- 2 refillable water bottles, one for each of us, so we could avoid spending money and wasting plastic on bottled water
Umbrella Stroller and Soft Carrier: while I knew that I would more likely put Benton in the stroller over a carrier, I thought there might be some times where our Boba carrier would work better. I was worried I would regret bringing the extra weight of the carrier along with the stroller. How ever, there were enough times that I needed the carrier that I am really happy I brought both. Had Benton been slightly older and more trustworthy to walk on his own, I would have skipped the carrier altogether. On 3 out of our 4 flights, “gate checking” the stroller meant that it was available at baggage claim, and not as I got off of the plane. For 2 of those flights, baggage claim was AFTER I had to go through customs with Benton and all our bags. Our Maclaren umbrella stroller was also destroyed in the ferry accident in Amsterdam and it was over 24 hours before I was able to track down a replacement stroller, so carrying him on my back was the only alternative to the risk of him falling into a canal trying to pet a duck to retrieve a stick he wanted to throw again. Pro tip: a stroller awning can double as a tray for holding important things like pizza.
Diapers and Wipes: I packed enough diapers and wipes to last us a few days,. Many people would suggest only packing enough to get through the flight and 1st day, but I knew I wanted to reserve enough space in our backpacks for diapers since I would be buying replacement packs and traveling from city to city with them. I wanted to avoid a situation where we ran out of space for diapers in our backpacks and I was stuck holding another bag on a travel day. I had the same feeling about snacks and souvenirs. Knowing that we would pick up unplanned things as we traveled, I tried to leave a little extra space in our backpacks for the unexpected. Benton was gifted a small teddy bear from a police officer in Amsterdam after our ferry crash, and I picked up lots of candy in Bruges to take home and share with family.
This is our turtle like home on wheels holding everything we owned on our very last leg of our trip. I thought I did a solid job keeping our bags light, but in retrospect (or during the times like this pictured above when I hauled everything) I know I could have trimmed clothing and possessions, and limited the amount of stuff we picked up along the way.
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