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To Bring or Not To Bring?

Matt Villano

In our family, some of the biggest questions before a big trip revolve around which essential baby and toddler items we should bring from home, and which ones we should just suck it up and buy on the road.

Generally speaking, it all depends on how long we’ll be away.

For quick weekend trips, we’re total schleppers, and we bring along everything we can—baby food (including puffs), diapers, wipes, medicine, the works. For longer trips (i.e., anything more than four days), we carry with us only the essentials—enough food and diapers for the plane ride and one round of emergencies—then we hit up a local supermarket to score the rest.

In most cases, this two-pronged strategy works wonders. Sometimes, however, the pack-light-and-buy-later approach can be spendy, especially when the only options are convenience stores.

Eager to see how others approach this issue, I recently crowdsourced the Bring or Not to Bring question, informally polling a bunch of mom and dad friends on Facebook. Their answers surprised me; most respondents said they actually do neither.

Instead, the group said they order most supplies ahead of time (from sites such as, Amazon and others), and have them shipped to their respective vacation destinations before they arrive. (If you want to try this, here's a tip: Call the concierge or front desk to tell them to expect your stuff.)

Whatever your strategy, it certainly pays to plan ahead; even if you bring all of your own supplies, go online or ask a concierge for details on the nearest Target or Safeway so you don’t have to search frantically for formula at midnight. We parents spend enough of our lives reacting to drama; on a family vacation, being prepared can eliminate a lot of angst.

Which essentials do you bring on family vacations? Which ones do you buy? Leave a comment.