We recently visited the Savour Stratford Food Festival for a two-day overnight. I had only ever visited their uber-quaint downtown area (great restaurants, unique shops) and wasn’t sure if they’d have any place easily accessible to pick up any items that we might have overlooked during the packing process.
Turns out, they do have all of the same big box stores, but it was still so great to be able to really relax and enjoy our weekend and not have to run out for something, or make do without it. I’m sure you all know how to pack, but I wanted to share how I packed for an indulgent, foodie-friendly, and low-stress weekend away with my kid, without over-packing!
- 1. Versatile clothing, and one “extra” outfit for every two to three days (depending on age of children). I wasn’t really sure what we would need to dress for, but I didn’t want to pack 7 different clothing choices for a two-night stay! I opted for three nice but stain-treatable outfits, a bathing suit, and a sweater. I knew we wouldn’t stay outside if it rained, so a jacket wasn’t necessary, and it would have been too time consuming to have separate “messy” and “nice” clothes. Black, or nice items with small (unnoticeable) stains fit the bill perfectly. I packed one oversize t-shirt for pyjamas for both nights.
2. Small cooler of snacks (for the car ride there and back, down time at the festival, and for evenings in the hotel). Goldfish s’more crackers, apples, hummus and carrots, pepperettes, a few cans of Sanpelligrino Lemonade… and a lemon meringue pie. I packed the pie so we could have a special treat during the evenings at the hotel. They can be left out in the hotel room and don’t need any reheating to be delicious. (However, I did forget to borrow forks from the front desk, which led to Ella improvising with a credit card.) We usually bring reusable water bottles, but I knew there’d be drink stations at the festival and I didn’t want the extra weight in my bag.
3. Hotel coffee and tea are usually none too impressive, and most people want to get ready for the day ahead before they leave for breakfast, so my suggestion is to pack some good coffee or tea that you are okay with drinking “black.” (In case you can’t find cream or sugar — our hotel only had that powdered coffee whitener for “cream.” Bleh.) We brought along our own steepers and a travel mug (but you can just use disposable tea bags and the hotel mugs) and stopped by David’s Tea on our way out of town and bought a few samples of their Summer Teas. It was a lovely treat at night and in the morning.
4. Something indulgent and something productive. I brought along a bottle of wine (to go with the pie) and my laptop, which provided the perfect balance — I was able to have something completely indulgent that I don’t normally have (wine) and I was able to take advantage of downtime to be productive, but not overly ambitious. Even though there is plenty of downtime on vacations, I would plan on only being productive for half of it (or less) — relaxing, sleeping in, or early bedtimes, and the like, are all perks to vacation time that you deserve to enjoy! And if you bring a ton of stuff that doesn’t get done, you’ll feel guilty and unproductive — which is not the point of a vacation!
5. Unique toiletries. Most hotels provide soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and have free toothbrushes and toothpaste if you forget — the big ones to remember are those things that you will be a total wreck without. For me, that’s my facial moisturizer, children’s tylenol (just in case), mineral sunscreen, and hair oil. Remembering everything you actually need for the weekend is great, but if you’re going to focus on something, focus on the things you won’t be able to replace easily. (Oh, and pack just a couple of feminine hygiene products no matter what — you do not want to have a surprise and a mad search for a drug store!)
6. One special, new treat per kid. It can be something as simple as a colouring book and new crayons, or a kid-safe camera or binoculars, but something that is special and will keep them entertained if any hiccups arise, without being too distracting that they spend more time on the new toy than enjoying their surroundings. You may be able to find something while on vacation, but I always pack something small, just in case. (And, yes, my ideal is to have children who self-entertain, but it’s always nice to treat them every once in a while.)
7. All chargers — and possibly a camera. Vacation is a great time to slow down and take some nice pictures of the kids (rather than cell phone pictures). Charge everything the night before and pack all chargers first thing when you wake up — if you have extras, pack them as early as possible.
8. Change of shoes — both pairs comfortable! We walk a lot on vacation, so a broken or wet show could change our whole day — and tracking down a comfortable, well-priced pair when you don’t know the area is just not a fun way to spend any of your precious vacation time. There are some cute “travel shoes” that roll up to practically nothing, but even just a pair of flip-flops as a back-up are a good option.
9. For any trip with kids, their own backpacks! Many children can start carrying around their own snacks, water bottles, and that special toy once they are around 2 years old. Keep the contents light and make sure the straps are comfortable and you are good to go!
10. And a bonus item for car trips — top up your oil and windshield fluid, and have extra containers in the car. Also, make sure that your emergency kit is restocked, just in case.
What are your light-packing, travel essentials when travelling with kids?