Be sure your carry-ons are the proper size.
Many airlines are cracking down on size and number of carry-ons. A carry-on should be a total of 45 inches (114.3cm) --length plus width plus height. The templates they have at check-in are 22" X 14" X 9". Some airlines are using this as a guideline; others (United is one) have changed the size of the opening to the x-ray machine so anything outside those measurements won't fit, and will have to be taken back to ticketing to be checked through. Check with your airline ahead of time to see how this will affect you!
Be sure to label your bags-- inside and out.
In addition to having baggage tags on the outside, make sure you have a label inside each suitcase. This will help identify your bag in case it should decide to visit a different location. An additional trick is to be sure you have at least one unusual item per bag:
My in-laws recently had a bag go missing. Turns out the handle-- to which all identifying tags were attached-- fell off. They were able to identify the bag based on two things: a professional book that they knew was in there, and the fact that they knew there were 3 shoes (the 4th was in a different bag). They jokingly told the airline rep that maybe they'd pack shoes that way on purpose next time, and were surprised to hear that it wasn't such a bad idea!
General packing tips for carry-on luggage:
I admit it. When the girls were little, I always hopelssly overpacked. Trust me: that's not what you want to do!
Do not take too much carry-on luggage. It is tempting to overpack because you don't want to be caught without, but it makes it very difficult to get on and off the plane with all that to carry in addition to carrying kids. Remember that anything hanging on the stroller or in the basket will have to be carried when you leave the stroller at the door. It may not be far to your seat but it is a hassle.
Keep in mind that many airlines are not only stricter with their carry-on limits, they're also doing away with early boarding for families with small children. If you won't be able to handle all your carry-ons without early boarding, maybe you'd better re-pack....
On the other hand, don't try to cut it too close, especially on a long flight or a trip with several connections:
Ever since the time a 1.5 hour flight took 6 hours, I make sure to have extra snacks and drinks available. That wasn't supposed to be a dinner flight anyway, but they ran out of snacks and juice while we were stuck on the runway.
How many outfits?
When packing for a vacation, there's always a question of how many outfits to bring. Do you bring enough to last at least a week, or do you travel light, and plan to use laundromats (or hand wash and air dry) extra clothes as needed? You'll find advocates for both options:
We packed way too many clothes for all of us - we only used half the clothes - a lesson learned. We had those washer/dryer-on-top units everywhere we stayed so we could wash whenever we wanted, except for a 2-night stay at Embassy Suites in Los Angeles, but even they had some washers/dryers on a different floor.
Be prepared for changes in the weather.
Even if you're trying to limit your packing, bring at least one warmer outfit per child in the summer, and one lighter outfit in the winter. In addition to unseasonable weather, you should be prepared for over-airconditioning and over-heating in the winter.
We just went on a 10 day vacation, 3 day cruise to Nassua and 7 days at Disneyworld. We packed enough outfits for them to each have 1 cute outfit a day and then we packed enough onsies for them each to have 1 a day. We also packed a few sleepers in case it was too cool for them. The only problem we had is thet we were expecting it to be mostly warm and the weather freaked out on us and a cold front and many rain storms came thru Florida while we were there. We didn't have very many warm clothes for the babies.
There are many web sites, such as CNN.com/WEATHER, that give global weather reports. You may want to check before you go. But remember that the temperature can change very rapidly. We once spent a month in Paris which started with us borrowing heavy coats for the girls, and ended with temperatures near 90F (~33C).
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