In my twenties, I would gradually move my bedtime earlier and earlier so that my body was accustomed to European time and I wouldn’t suffer from jet lag. I have found, in my thirties, I simply cannot avoid jet lag. I am usually in a bit of a fog, with a splitting headache for the first two to three days. What a difference a decade and two children make!!!
We have learned that many times the airline will feel sorry for parents and allow them to have the bulkhead isle. Thank goodness for that because there is plenty of room on the floor for the children to spread out and sleep on an overnight flight. Now the airlines will tell you that it’s not good for the children to do this because it’s dangerous, but when I asked if it was against any rules, they said no. So I allowed it. You must do whatever feels right to you and make sure you don’t disobey any rules of the airline.
We bring an ipad stocked with several games and movies saved so we don’t require internet connection. We also bring a few little figures (animals and mini my little ponies) and that’s it. We have made the mistake of taking too many things with us and won’t do that again. We always seem to acquire small stuffed animals or toys along the way that the kids play with. Besides, we are always busy doing fun things that our travels present!
As for packing… I pack extremely light and do laundry every day. I always stay in apartments that have washers, so I just throw it in at night, then hang our clothes in the morning. It takes about 10 minutes a day and saves so much effort in carrying bags up and down stairs, in and out of trains. I usually advise that you should do what works for you when traveling, but I will say that packing too heavy is absolutely foolish.
I wear a pair of jeans, shirt and loose cardigan with comfortable sneakers and a nice black rain coat from Columbia. I pack a pair of jeans, 6 shirts, 4 sets of bra and panties, 4 pairs of socks. As for make-up, I go through my make-up bag very carefully and only bring the items I use. I also will bring an old mascara or and old eye liner that I can throw away after I visit the Pharmacy in France for new French make-up! I always wear my glasses on my flight and pack two sets of contacts and a glasses case. My children don’t think vacation is an actual vacation until we swim, so we must bring a bathing suit. In addition to all of this, I like the small backpack that Ikea has in their travel section. It folds down into a tiny little bag, but expands into a good sized book bag. I throw that in there for wonderful acquisitions along the way.
Packing list for Europe (in addition to what I’m wearing):
1 pair of jeans
4 long sleeved shirts
2 short sleeved shirts
4 sets bra and panties
4 pairs of socks
2 pairs of PJ’s
two sets of contacts, contact case, glasses case
Toothbrush, Toothpaste & floss
travel size bar of soap
translation book and guide books
tampons and maxi pads
Tiny wallet purse that fits copies of passports, a pen, hairties, a tiny brush, international drivers license and US drivers license and cash
Tube for storing art prints purchased
I pack only a travel size bar of soap because I love European soap, especially French soap. I buy several bars as souvenirs and like to use it while I’m on vacation.
Sunglasses are nice to have when you are outside for hours at a time and don’t take up much space.
Phone chargers and ipad chargers are high commodity on my family vacations. Someone always forgets theirs and we end up having to share.
I bring our translation book and our guide books. This is debatable. I have always done so much research before my trip that we rarely need a guide book, but they’re like my security blanket. I like to have them just in case. We always leave them behind in the apartments when we leave. I figure someone else can use them and then it makes extra room in my bag to bring home a treasure.
I personally like to bring my own shampoo/conditioner and tampons and maxi pads. I like my own brands, although these items are readily available all over Europe.
Passports. Make sure you have these for yourself and each of your children regardless of their ages. I also keep copies of our passports in my wallet purse. My husband carries the actual passports just in case one of us gets pick pocketed, we always have something to get us home.
I don’t bring a large pocketbook. A tiny wallet purse that has a long strap that can be put over my head so it crosses my body is perfect. I keep my phone, copies of our passports in a plastic bag in case it gets wet, my international drivers license obtained from AAA, a pen, a strand of floss, hair ties for my daughter, a travel brush that I had my husband saw the end off to fit, my US drivers license, and about 200 Euros in cash. My husband will also carry some cash. It’s good to split it up just in case.
Essential oils. I find them useful for so many different things that I wouldn’t be caught without them on vacation. The DoTERRA key chain that holds 10 tiny vials of essential oils has a carabiner to attach to the strap and then I carry either a spray or a roller ball with my essential oil hand sanitizer recipe.
A cardboard tube for storing items I don’t want folded comes in handy. You can buy them in Europe, but reduce/reuse/recycle.
This might seem impossible, but you can always buy things along the way. I’ve also never been in a rental that doesn’t have a blow dryer, so I don’t bring one because it takes up too much space.
For the children I always have them wear comfortable clothes. Cotton pants with elastic waists and sneakers that are comfortable. I usually change them into their PJ’s for the flight and put them back in their clothes when we arrive.
Packing list for children:
5 sets of clothing that match
5 sets of underwear
5 sets of socks
2 pairs of PJ’s
That’s it! These items should fit into a book bag that the child can carry on their own. You shouldn’t even have to check this because you will need the PJ’s and toothbrush when you arrive after your overnight flight.
Happy Packing and resist the urge to over pack!!! You will not regret it!