Double-Duty Packing

Packing Less Means Schlepping Less, if You Can Pull it Off

Packing less stuff means schlepping less stuff.  However, when you travel en famille, your suitcase serves as your kitchen, bedroom, rec. room and sometimes pharmacy.  How do you not take every-friggin’-thing?!?  By packing double-duty items…


Parent Use: Load your mp3 or ipod with adult-friendly workout music (you’ll be more likely to keep up with your fitness routine if you have tuneful motivation).  Check out Consuelo Bernardi’s Workout Music Mix Vol. 2 [] for a great workout play list.

Kid Use: Load the same devices with a kid –friendly music play list to entertain during travel.  Music can range from cartoon theme songs for preschoolers to chart toppers for teens.  Children’s audio books are also great for portable devices; for example Robert Munsch’s virtual story room [] has many favourite audio books.  If your portable device has video capabilities, you can load age appropriate podcasts, tv shows and movies family entertainment.  Amongst the FREE podcasts, specific for kids, on itunes are Sesame Street and Nick Jr.


Mom Use: Shawls aren’t just for Grandma (no offence Grandma – it does look lovely on you).  Shawls are a “classic” fashion piece for yummy mummies.  Wrap one around your shoulders on a chilly night at the beach and you look fan-ta-bu-lus.  Wrap one around your waist at the beach and you have a micro-skirt cover-up.

Kid Use: Shawls are your one-size-fits-all family sweater – from baby to grandma – everyone can cozy under the warmth of a shawl.  Use a shawl as an extra stroller blanket.  Lay one over a stroller hood as a sun blocker.  A shawl can even become a picnic blanket in a pinch (hey, it’s washable!)


Parent Use: Packing snacks is never, ever, wrong on a family trip.  The best fast food is food you already have in your bag. Also, healthy snacks can double as “breakfast” in hotel rooms and airport terminals (e.g. individually wrapped granola bars, dry cereal, all-natural dried fruit snacks, etc…).

Kid Use: A snack has de-escalated many a meltdown in our family travel.  It distracts and engages both at the same time.  Let’s face it – eating is an activity for kids – its entertainment and fuel in one.

Double duty packing is an important strategy for trips where you are in transit.  Think: “what will we need in the next 24 hours?”  Then, consider which essential items can serve multiple purposes/use.  For example, on one flight to France, I took six disposable bottle liners and one bottle.  When the steward came by, I asked for a cup of boiled water (in which to dip nipple – for sterilization) and popped in a fresh liner as required. During the nine hour flight that one bottle was used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The last thing a parent needs is to carry an over packed bag, through an airport, whilst carrying a toddler, rushing en route to a connecting flight (been there – done that – no t-shirt).    Getting double duty out of your stuff streamlines travel.  Plus, it saves space for packing all the loverly shopping you bring back from your trip!...

Caroline Fernandez shares family friendly activities and tips on her site Parent Club. She is the author of Boredom Busters (Silver Birch Honor Book Award) and More Boredom Busters available in bookstores everywhere. Read her at and follow her on twitter @ParentClub

(Confession: I tweet during field trips... doesn't everyone?)