Next month I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a few years–actually, something that I haven’t done since 14 months before the birth of my second child. I’m going on a no-kids, no-husband trip to Amsterdam with an old friend for a girls’ weekend. Though my husband is my favorite travel buddy (nobody puts together an itinerary like he does) and I love showing my girls the world, I really need this little break to shake up my travel routine. But will my packing style change much since I’m packing for one and not myself plus two little kids? Actually…it won’t. Here’s a list of parent must-haves that benefit the solo traveler without taking up much daypack space.
1. Baby wipes
There’s no reason to go overboard with the huge packs; a 20-count travel pack of wipes will do fine. If you’re in a dusty place, hiking on a hot day, or indulging in some delightfully sticky street food (or maybe even just in a bathroom that’s out of paper), a baby wipe swipe is a fine way to feel a little cleaner until you can get a proper shower. I can also tell you from personal experience that baby wipes get fresh food stains out of clothes really well, and in a pinch it’s a nice way to clean off a scrape if you can’t get to a proper first aid kid.
Whether at home or on the road, I always have a Larabar and a packet of Emergen-C in my purse. If I start feeling sluggish or “hangry” (my new favorite portmanteau: low blood sugar = hungry + angry), that’s a healthy protein- and vitamin-filled snack to tide me over until the next meal–whenever that may be. It gives me a little more flexibility for meal times and makes me a better participant in dinner conversations instead of saying “I DON’T CARE WHERE WE GO, JUST FEED ME!” Hunger is the enemy of good travel, folks.
Not all travelers are extroverts; I enjoy meeting new people but I also need to be able to mentally check out for a while. I have a game or two on my iPod that doesn’t require WiFi that I enjoy, plus my Kindle app, and a pack of cards for when I’m feeling social. Something else worth looking into for the naturally antsy are “fidget toys”–stress balls, stretchy bracelets, a Silly Putty egg, or anything that fits in the palm of your hand to give you something to do while your mind is occupied.
4. A change of clothes
There’s no need to bring an extra full outfit, unless you know in advance you’re going to do something very active that will get you really wet or dirty. That said, it never hurts to carry an extra pair of socks or underwear. As Tina Fey once said of wearing a bra: “You’re never going to regret it.”
Are you a childless traveler who packs like a parent? What do you bring?