Packing Tips for Family Travel Abroad

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Some say that packing for a family vacation is the most stressful part of traveling! It’s tricky to know just what to bring and what to leave behind. Some of us tend to bring everything including the kitchen sink, while others, who are blessed with the travel-light gene, somehow know just how to keep it simple.

Here are our top 16 tips to pack for your family vacation abroad.

1. Start early and sleep on it.

When packing for your family vacation, always start a week before leaving, that way I can sleep on it, ponder, wonder and wait for various brainwaves to hit, or just have time to absorb the various reality checks like “No, I will not need those heels because I may only wear them once, if at all.”

2. Choose the size of your bag wisely.

One always fills whatever space one has, so be cruel to yourself to be kind and pick a bag a bit smaller than the one you would ideally have. This will automatically help you to pack lighter. Less space = less stuff.

3. Roll stuff.

A classic trick. Somehow rolling your clothes reduces their volume. It’s also a good way to keep things from getting too crinkled. Jeans and t-shirts are ideal candidates, as are kid’s clothes and accessories such as scarves or belts. Use ribbon or rubber bands to keep them in place.

4. Ditch the beach towels.

They take way too much space! You can either buy some on the spot as a souvenir (who knows how you will bring them back though?!) or the place you are going to will provide them.

5. Stuff every teeny tiniest corner.

Don’t leave any corner unused. Shoes are ideal hideaways for underwear or socks.

6. Forget liquids and toiletries.

If you are travelling with hand luggage only (not likely), you will be aware of the restrictions on liquids. Regardless, if you are checking the luggage in, you must be aware that those bottles of shampoo and conditioner are worth their weight (and then some) in gold. Buy some on the spot, use the hotel’s amenities or decant into smaller bottles but don’t lug around products that will probably come back with you.

7. Check the wrinkle factor.

Some fabrics travel better than others. Linen is lovely and lightweight but does not fare well in a scrunched up suitcase. Check your fabrics before you pack so you don’t end up with useless items on arrival!

8. Go barefoot.

Well, perhaps pack flip-flops? Shoes are bulky and heavy, making them a double disaster in the packing stakes. Be realistic about which shoes you are actually going to wear. Party shoes are a nice idea, but think about the weight/space/to wear ratio and it will all make sense.

9. Invest in Ziplocks.

Ziplocks can serve many purposes when packing. Whether you want to bring along a little detergent powder, to act as an extra waterproof barrier for your decanted cream container, or if you want to keep junior’s socks together or even day by day baby outfits so it’s all to hand…

10. Color code.

When picking clothes, stick to one range of colors. Pick items that match each other so you can maximize the combinations while minimizing what you bring.

11. Use your tech.

Leave the guidebooks behind and download apps or guidebooks to your phone so it’s all there in one device, which you were going to carry in any case!

12. Emergency Kit

Do bring a small bag of kit in case of emergency. Especially for kids, it’s always useful to have their regular medication on hand.

13. Buy disposables.

If you’re traveling with a baby, look into the wonderful world of disposables – from bottles to bibs and mats, you can find all sorts of kit you can use and bin as you go along!

14. Check into the laundry situation.

Some hotels charge crazy rates to do your laundry, so check into the situation before packing. Going somewhere with an on-site laundry room? Pack less and schedule a load.

15. Wear it until the bitter end…

Traveling for several weeks with a growing toddler? Bring stuff that’s almost too small and leave it en route, creating space for souvenirs!

16. Think inflatable.

Space for toys is always an issue. Inflatable toys are great for the beach, ideal to carry (so light and airy!), and won’t be missed if they are left behind…

Rowena Carr-Allinson contributed this to MiniTime. Since the arrival of her son in 2011, she has taken him everywhere from Bangkok to NYC, writing family friendly articles en route.

 

Great Portland Attractions for Family Fun, Rain or Shine

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Portland, Oregon is an excellent place to take a family vacation thanks to the many kid-friendly attractions found throughout the city. From children’s museums and roller coasters to indoor parks and science playgrounds, Portland has a little bit of everything when it comes to things to do.

Here is a list of the 5 top kid-friendly attractions in Portland to see during your visit. Between the 3 indoor activities and 2 outdoor activities, you should be able to plan a great Portland family vacation whether the sun is shining or it happens to be raining outside.

The Oregon Museum of Industry and Science. Better known as OMSI, this large hands-on-science museum is one of the top kid-friendly attractions in Portland, jammed packed with exhibits for all ages. For young children, there a special area just for babies and a large science playground for children 6 and under. Older kids will enjoy performing real life experiments in one of the labs. You will want to visit this kid-friendly attraction when it’s rainy or likely to rain.

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Oregon Zoo. A family vacation in Portland must include the Oregon Zoo because it is just as great as OMSI. Portland’s sprawling zoo, right in downtown, covers 64 acres and is home to all kinds of monkeys, lions, elephants, penguins, and over a thousand more animals. There are live kid-friendly animal talks throughout the day and sometimes live music in the evenings. You can bring in food if you like or dine at one of their eateries.

Playdate PDX. This massive indoor play place is another awesome must visit for kids. They have a three-story kid-friendly play structure for children to climb, slide, crawl and dance their way through. They often host events like puppet shows, magicians or jugglers. On the certain nights, they turn on the black lights for a cosmic play experience that may even include laser tag. For parents, they have a cafe with drinks and food, as well as free wifi.

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The Portland Children’s Museum. The Children’s Museum in Portland is a great kid-friendly museum that just underwent a remodel to be better than ever. There is a designated area for babies now so they can play and discover and many different play areas for building, shopping, digging, water play, and more. Visit their website to find out which traveling exhibitions are best for your kids.

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Oaks Park. No trip to Portland with kids would be complete without a visit to Oaks Amusement Park, Portland’s very own amusement park. It is home to all kinds of fun rides. Younger kids will enjoy the kiddie area with age and height appropriate rides like Frogger while older kids and parents have thrill rides that will leave screaming even the bravest ones. Keep in mind that depending on what part of the year you are taking your family vacation, the rides may not be in operation. Oaks Park also has an indoor roller skating rink that is open year round.

Meagan Shamy contributed this to MiniTime.

Headed to Disneyland this Spring? Grab These Deals Before You Go!

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Something exciting is happening in Southern California this Spring. As Disneyland Anaheim, dubbed “the happiest place on Earth,” is gearing up for its Diamond celebration to celebrate its 60 years of magic, the park is offering some great offers for families looking to visit in the springtime or the early summer. Not only will families experience and enjoy their beloved Disney characters and favorite Disney fairy tales, they will save some serious cash as well!

Up to 20% off on Disneyland Hotels

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What: For select nights from April 5 to June 16, 2015, Disneyland is offering huge savings when you book and stay at one of the park’s onsite properties. Families will enjoy a 15% discount* on standard rooms and 20% off* on premium rooms. For bookings through May 7, 2015.

What’s Included: Reap the benefits of quirky, themed rooms, easy access to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, exclusive entrance to California Adventure, fun pools and waterslides (Disneyland Hotel Anaheim and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel only), kid-friendly interactive activities, and that extra magic hour that gives guests early access to the parks to avoid crowds and long lines.

Special ticket offer exclusively for Southern California residents

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What: From now through May 21, 2015 (with blocked dates), Southern California residents may enjoy two to three days at the resort at special rates**, starting at $139/ticket for a 2-day base ticket, representing up to 25% in savings!

What’s Included: Special rates are at $139 for a 2-day base ticket, $178 for a 2-day Park Hopper ticket, $169 for a 3-day base ticket, and $208 for a 3-day Park Hopper ticket – a bargain considering regularly priced 2-day base tickets are at $225 a pop! Plus, also for a limited time, meet and greet favorite Arendelle sisters Anna and Elsa, sing-along to the songs we all now know so well, and many more with Disney California Adventure’s Frozen Fun.

* Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room at the same hotel for select Sunday through Thursday nights between 04/05/15 – 06/16/15. Book from 03/25/15 through 05/07/15, with travel completed by 06/17/15. Ask about savings in other room types. Not valid on previously booked rooms. Advance reservations required. Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Excludes applicable fees and taxes. Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and five (5) people maximum per room. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate Theme Park admission required to enjoy the Parks.

**Valid only for Southern California residents within ZIP codes 90000-93599 and Northern Baja California residents within ZIP codes 21000-22999; proof of residency is required for purchase and admission. 2-Day, 1-Park Per Day ticket is valid for admission for two (2) days to either Disneyland® or Disney California Adventure® park, but not to both parks on the same day. 2-Day Disneyland® Resort Park Hopper® ticket is valid for admission for two (2) days to both Disneyland® and Disney California Adventure® park on the same day. 3-Day, 1-Park Per Day ticket is valid for admission for three (3) days to either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure park, but not to both parks on the same day. 3-Day Disneyland Resort Pak Hopper ticket is valid for admission for three (3) days to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park on the same day. Each day of use constitutes one full day of use. Tickets expire May 21, 2015. Blockout days of 3/20/15-4/4/15 apply. May purchase up to 5 tickets per person per day with valid ID. Tickets may not be sold or transferred for commercial use. Offer may not be combined with other ticket discounts or promotions. Tickets not valid before 1/7/15. Subject to capacity, restrictions and change without notice.

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.