Perhaps you’re wondering what it’s like to travel with 5 kids. To put it mildly? STRESSFUL!!!
The packing alone is daunting. I always try to minimize the amount of luggage that we have to take along but, at the same time, I learned the hard way from past trips that it’s safer to bring some extras rather than run out of, say, diapers or baby formula in a country where packages are labeled in a totally different script such as Thai or Chinese or Arabic.
Here’s my packing list:-
- Swimming clothes
- Kickboards for the bigger kids (1 each)
- Arm bands for the twins
- Day clothes (1 per day + 2 extra per big kid)
- Night clothes (1 per night + 2 extra each for the twins)
- Underwear (2 per day per child)
- Spare towels
- Diapers (4 for daytime + 2 for nighttime x 4 days x 2 toddlers + 10 pcs extra, just in case)
- Medicated oil (for tummy aches & insect bites)
- Baby oil (can be used as moisturiser, also for hair)
- Head-to-toe wash
- Toys (to play with at the airport, in the plane, in the van en route to/from the hotel)
- Pencils and paper (to entertain them when the toys get boring)
- Pokemon trading cards (kept them out of my hair during the entire flight)
- Travel Monopoly kid’s edition
- Assorted crackers & tidbits (because kids get ravenous after playing in the beach/pool)
- Instant noodles (for middle-of-the-night-tummy-growlies)
- 1 pack of Koko Krunch
- 1 carton fresh milk
- Milk bottles
- Milk powder
- Bottle brush
- Liquid detergent (for washing the bottles)
- Charcoal tablets (crush and dissolve in water, for the bigger kids) and/or oral rehydration salts (as diarrhea can strike anytime!)
Don’t you feel exhausted just by reading this?? And these are just the stuff that I had to pack for the kids! ;)
It’s a good thing that the bigger kids could pick out their own clothes already. So all I needed to do was to make sure they made suitable choices and then pick out clothes for the twins.
It’s a good thing, as well, that the kids have outgrown their asthma, so I no longer have to bring any nasal sprays or aspirators. For some reason, all five of them went through an asthmatic phase when they were babies. The twins were hospitalized at least once when they were about 8 months old. RoundBoy had to be rushed to the clinic in the middle of the night almost every month for like 6 months in a row. He also had an asthma attack when we went to Fraser’s Hill when he was about 3 years old.
Most of all, it’s a HUGE relief that the twins don’t have any stuffy-wuffs or blankies that might get misplaced before, during or after the trip. Several parenting sites recommend getting kids attached to a toy or blanket, so they’ll have something familiar to hold on to when they have to be left in a daycare centre or have to go on a trip. I did try introducing all sorts of soft toys and pillows to the twins but they never got attached to anything, unlike MyEldest who had his yellow horsie, OnlyGirl who had her pillow or RoundBoy who had Tiger. So that was one thing less to worry about.
Sanity-preserving tips when traveling with children:
Sanity-preserving tip #1: A few days before the trip, prepare a checklist of the things that you need to bring. Review the list a few times to make sure you didn’t miss anything and tick each item as you put it in the bag.
Sanity-preserving tip #2: Pack the food and ‘entertainment’ items (toys, books, colour pencils, etc.) in a small bag, preferably one that’s waterproof, and separate from the diaper bag, if you have a lot of kids like me. Once you reach your destination, make a quick trip to the local grocery store to top up the contents of the food bag – buy some drinks in small tetra packs as well as a few bottles of mineral water, buy a few packs of yogurt and keep them in your hotel room’s mini-fridge, buy a few sweets. I don’t usually buy sweets for my children but I make sure I buy a few rolls of Mentos (the tutti-frutti type) for the twins when on the road because Mentos can avert chaos.
Sanity-preserving tip #3: Prepare the clothes in sets – shirt, matching pants/skirt & underwear – so whenever the kids need a change of clothes, you just grab one set and not have to rummage inside the bag for the rest of the clothes.
Sanity-preserving tip #4: Bring basic medication for yourself and the kids – charcoal tablets or oral rehydration salts for diarrhea, some paracetamol, some oil or ointment for painful tummies or insect bites, medicines for your family’s specific condition(s), such as asthma. But keep in mind the latest airline regulations on the 100ml limit on liquids.
Sanity-preserving tip #5: Stuffy-wuffs and blankies can soothe children especially in a strange hotel room, but it can also mean major tantrums and last-minute frantic searches if a stuffy-wuff or blankie goes missing. So if you have to introduce your child to a teddy bear, for instance, try to keep an identical teddy bear as a spare. You can always give it away later on.