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What's REALLY important?

My family of 4 is traveling to Italy for close to a month late Aug-mid Sept. (We have two children 6 & 8 years old)

I've been looking through travel catalogs trying to figure out what are the most important gadgets, luggage, clothing that we need? What is necessary and will make our traveling much easier, and what is just fluffy, nice-to-have-but-is-a little-overboard? For those of you who have ever shopped for your first baby when you're pregnant and clueless will know what I mean...

I've read luggage boards, so we don't need to discuss that, I just want to know about all those pages and pages of things that are for sale in travel catalogs.

Thanks so much.

Posted by
144 posts

don't forget to take some clean clothes on the plane with you, for yourself and the children. i know more than one mom who has been thrown up on while in the air and had to wear her disgusting shirt through the long, long flight. it's not just babies who throw up on airplanes. last year i took my grandchildren of similar ages to germany, and they each had a backpack of stuff that they packed for themselves--gameboy, markers, disposable camera, their pillowcase from home, etc. they were troopers and loved going into foreign stores to buy whatever was forgotten.

Posted by
1568 posts

If you will be traveling around from place to place on trains; I would suggest 1 bag for each person and do laundry every few days. Mom and Dad could each carry a back pack with a child's clothes in each. One hand for your luggage and the other hand to hold on to the child.

Due to the fact children have a short attention span, I would make sure I had something with me to entertain them on the plane and replace those things in Italy with something new. They do not have to be expensive. Something different from time to time keeps them happy.

Just remember you can buy anything in Italy. You don't have to take it all with you.


Posted by
5871 posts

I agree with the above sentiment, in that if you look at items as whether they are easily purchased along the way or not, it helps in packing. I go light on shirts for instance, knowing that if needed, it is an easy item of clothing to pick up. Same for toiletries, picnic items, and the like. Gadgets I try to stay away from, they usually just take up space and are specialized for tasks that you may not even need to do. That said, for my last trip to Greece, I brought along lexan wine glasses that the stem and base screwed off and became a lid for the cup portion. It was a splurge, but sitting on the coast, drinking our wine out of a nice glass vs a dixie cup was worth it. Other than that, best gadgets out there are Ziploc bags in about 3 or 4 sizes.

Posted by
320 posts

Melissa - Remember - less is more. You are travelling to a "first world" country. Anything you really need is available there. You'll thank yourself over and over again for packing light.

When we took our kids we made sure to have a few small things to amuse them during the long flights and car rides - my 8 year old got an entire months entertainment out of three things 1) a deck of cards 2) his gameboy 3)On the nights we went out to a longer fancy dinner we presented him with a brand new pack of baseball cards and he was placated. Our older daughter did just great with her ipod and a visit to an internet cafe now and then.

Have fun!

Posted by
576 posts

As far as catalog travel gadgets are concerned, these are the ones we've found most important: a travel clothesline; an inexpensive compass to help make following a map on curving, mazelike medieval streets much easier; eye masks and blow-up neck pillows to help get some sleep on the overnight flights to Europe; and a small, expandable extra tote or bag to help sort laundry in and/or check on the way home to carry purchased souvineers. On this past trip we brought along inflatable hangers, which helped our laundry dry faster, which was nice but not a necessity. Also, electrical coverters are most likely a necessity if you have camera batteries to recharge.

Posted by
75 posts

Daybags for everyone are great. Bed bath& beyond are selling the $9 keychain ones that would be great for the kids. They will like that they collapse into themselves. And cheap Target toys for the inside. I suggest bigger, stronger daybags for adults,'cause you will each be carrying for yourself and a child. A collapsible insulated thng for picnics in the heat of August would be a moneysaver. A bag rick or AAA sells that is large and completely collapsible will help getting stuff you buy home. And, have fun, your trip will indeed be like having a first child, as you discover you can do it without tons of fancy gadgets. The things you want (water bottles, juice boxes, snacks, etc.) for your kids will be in the grocery stores. The suggestion about the braided clothesline is spot on. Taking children will open many doors for you; the italians love kids. Happy travels.

Posted by
75 posts

I forgot to mention disposable cameras for the kiddos, as well as highly replacable "travel animals" if they have a stuffed friend they sleep with. You could buy them now and have them start sleeping with them now so they feel like they have a friend in each bed in each city they sleep in. The key is highly replacable; they don't want to take their favorite anything with them and lose it.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks you guys! That's a good reminder for me- it's not a 3rd country. If I need it, I can buy it. I think it's part of the unknown for me.

I have to laugh (and my husband will never let me live this down) that when we went to Mexico for a month I brought everything! The kids were 6 months and 2 years and I brought this enormous suitcase of just diapers of all sizes! Did I not think that Mexicans didn't have babies like the rest of us? I had every riduculous baby item.

The stuffed animal idea is great. I would have never thought about that AND it's a big issue in this house. They both each have a blanket and puppy and losing them would be catastrophic (for me too, I love those small mementos of their babyhood.)


Posted by
3313 posts

Buy a simple composition book and some scotch tape. Tape all the pieces of paper you get as you go -- boarding passes, restaurant receipts, entrance passes --. Buy a postcard from every place you visit and tape it in. You'll be looking at those little pices of paper the rest of your life.

Why a composition book? The pages are sewn together instead of glued. I paste town maps, museum guides, etc into them and don't have to worry about the pages falling out.

I have one from 1995 that I still pull out to show to friends.

Posted by
17 posts

Just got back from 23 days in Europe. Most used/appreciated items: Camping clothes line (no clothes pins required), sink stopper, 1 clothes pin for curtains that don't close all the way, inflatable clothes hangers(speed up the drying process), small flash light. Items I didn't use: neck pillows (daughter and I used them, but still couldn't sleep), travel wine glasses, travel bowls(they fold flat). Enjoy - and yes, you can buy most things there.