In just a couple weeks, we’re heading out on a 4 city, 12 day, family adventure to Europe! We’ll be sightseeing through Lucerne, Switzerland on arrival, then Prague, Czechia, and on to Stockholm, Sweden, before finally one last night in Helsinki, Finland! So….. what to bring??
Last summer we went to Europe as well, that time with an 18 month old. When thinking this year’s trip through, we realized we needed to change up some of our gear. We’ll be leaving some things home, and taking some new things to try.
Here’s some of the current packing list:
When you’re doing a trip with this many stops, and this many chances for things to get lost, damaged, or even just cost more to check, what suitcases you want to take is the first important question.
The we’re each planning bringing on a simple rolling suitcase that can either be checked, or boarded with, depending on the best option for the flight. We’ve had several brands this size, but the Travelpro Crew 10 has stood up to the test the best, even when having other items tied on. Do keep in mind, though, if you’re going to be doing a lot of intra-Europe flying, you may be asked to check a bag much over 20,” and weight limits may be enforced.
A good companion bag to bring in the cabin, or to tuck in the seat in front is also key. For a lower price point we like the matching duffel to the Travelpro crew series, or if you’re looking for something that can be a small rolling bag, the Briggs & Riley rolling cabin bag is lovely.
What’s different this year is that Baby Flyer is two, and so she has her own ticket and her own baggage allowance. Keeping with family tradition, she has her own (pink, of course) Maxlite Travelpro roller. We decided to get her ‘real luggage’ instead of a kids-type bag, hoping that the quality and size will make it a long term purchase, while still being small enough for her to roll on her own when she’s in the mood.
Knowing that she won’t be in the mood yet to roll her own suitcase all the time, we ordered a simple attaching strap so we can clip hers onto one of ours for longer walks. This brand is universal, adjusts well, and fits most wheeled luggage models.
This is also the first major trip where we’re going to bring her car seat to install on the flights. We’ll update with how this goes, as well as some of the rules later, but keep in mind that not all airplane seats are compatible with car seats, especially in business or first class cabins. Check with your airline to make sure. Seats, even in economy, that are in bulkhead rows also may not work as they may have airbags in the seatbelts, and be narrower, so only some slim car seats will fit. As a general rule, most basic economy seats have a 17″ width, so that’s a good dimension to follow when measuring your car seat to see if it will fit.
Since we’re planning on taking the car seat through the airport, we’re trying out a harness that attaches it to a carry on size roller bag. It seems to work great, though takes a couple minutes to sort out at first. We recommend also packing a light gate check bag in case you decide to check it plane side to keep it clean.
This trip is also a first in that we’re leaving her well used traveller crib at home. She’s just recently gotten big enough that she rolls into the edges at night and wakes up. We’ve been experimenting with inflatable toddler beds like the Shrunks brand mattress. It looks great, sets up fast, and is a cut above other basic air mattresses. Baby Flyer really seems to like the idea and loved playing on it, but since she’s still in a crib at home, it’s just different enough that we’re not confident it’ll be worth it to drag around Europe. We’re keeping it for when she’s a bit older for travel, sleepovers, etc.
Instead, we checked with our Airbnb hosts, and at each location there’s either a crib already there, a kid’s bed on the ground, or enough extra mattresses that we can make her a safe place to sleep without having to bring anything with us.
We’re also not taking our own stroller this time around. Last year we brought our City Mini Zip and backpack, but didn’t use it as much as we thought we would. Baby Flyer likes to walk on her own, or be in a carrier. If she was a better stroller kid we would likely bring it again, even though it’s nice to downsize our luggage. Like the beds though, one of our Airbnbs has a stroller for us to use, and Stockholm has a convenient looking stroller rental option, so we’re more or less covered.
Plus, we finally admitted that she was getting too big for our Ergo 360, and upgraded to the Tula toddler carrier. It has a high weight limit – up to 60 (!!) pounds. This was one thing we didn’t take last summer that we really wish we did, so this is us living and learning.
We also are trading in our usual over the shoulder bag for an all purpose backpack to take on the plane, that should be easier to take around the cities when we get there.
A big trip is also a good time to pick up some smaller necessities. Last summer we definitely wished we had some extra plugs, so we ordered a spare Targus Universal Adapter, and a bigger remote power bank since we lost one in an airport earlier this year.
With all these things set, and our departure date getting close, we’re down to enjoying planning things to do and see! It’s the best feeling to be done with the nuts and bolts of a trip to get to the good stuff. There’s really no such thing as being totally prepared for an international family trip, but a little early organization can get you so much closer.
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