Packing-List-IMG 5526Packing for solo travel is decidedly different from that of family travel. Not only can I leave behind the games and lovies, but I get to bring things to entertain myself, like a book. It’s even a little different from business travel—no suits required.


Make a List When Packing for Travel

Many a parent’s life is ruled by lists: lists for school, work, after-school activities, parents’ phone numbers. A packing list is also essential to make sure you have what you need. I keep a master packing list on my computer, which I can edit and print out whenever I need it.

I include everything on my list, including my toothbrush, a white noise machine for good hotel sleep, eyeglasses and a case, a book to read, and medications. I add and subtract as needed as well—if traveling by car or airplane, I’ll include knitting; if my son or daughter is coming, then I need extra snacks and activities for them.

Pack What You Can Carry
A trusty roller bag and a smaller carry on are usually enough for several days’ worth of traveling for me. If I have more than one suitcase and one carry on, I begin to feel like it’s more than I can handle. On the other hand, if I am traveling for a week or more, my carry-on-sized rollerbag just won’t cut it. In those cases, I will use a larger suitcase and check it at the airport check in to avoid having to lug it around with me—and risk there not being enough room in the overhead bin.

Leaving Something Behind on a Solo Trip
I try to leave something behind when my family is staying behind, such as a new small toy for the kids (like a fresh box of crayons), as well as a family dinner or two and a fresh loaf of bread. It makes me feel a little better about leaving and gives me peace of mind that they’ll get at least one good dinner while I’m away.

Are your packing habits different when traveling alone vs. with the kids?

Teresa J. Shaw is editor of the Free in 50 States section and writes about traveling as a working mom on Working Traveling Mom. Follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw.