Now that the kids are seasoned travelers (Charlie has 30 flights under his belt and Olive has 28), I don’t worry about how they’ll handle all the travel. But going to a remote island in the Philippines still requires a lot of planning because we have to book several plane tickets, a hotel in Manila (twice), a cat sitter, someone to pick up our mail/water our plants, plan for all the time off work, and of course pack. Whenever I travel, I always reference my packing checklists to make sure I don’t forget anything, and thought it was about time to write an updated one.

We’ll be checking in 2 large suitcases (one filled with supplies Mr. Bee’s parents can’t buy there), and taking 1 carry-on suitcase, 2 backpacks (electronics + mom bag), and a backpack for each kid onto the plane. I’ll have some nifty printable packing checklists made soon (including one for traveling with babies/toddlers), but this is everything we’re bringing on our 15-day trip to Manila and El Nido with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old.

packing checklist


C H E C K E D  I N  L U G G A G E

clothes/underwear/pjs for whole family
swimming suits for whole family
hats for whole family (I got these visors for the kids because they fold up small in a bag)
water shoes/flip flops for whole family
life jacketsnorkel for Charlie
sunglasses for whole family
sunblock (tons!)
bug repellent/bite treatments
kid shampoo/conditioner
adult shampoo/conditioner
body lotion
wide tooth comb
Dove soap (use as face wash/body wash)
face lotion
makeup remover wipes
nail clippers
hair clips/hair ties
Miralax (our kids always get constipated when we travel)
Melatonin/Unisom (to combat jet lag)
dried seaweed/granola bars/fruit pouches/mac and cheese

C A R R Y – O N  S U I T C A S E

2 changes of clothes for kids (because we’ll be traveling over 24 hours from NY-Seoul-Manila)
1 adult change of clothes (there are free showers in the Korean airport!)
family sweaters for plane
feminine hygiene products (I’m going to be on my period the entire trip womp womp)
travel pillows (we have this one and this one)

C A R R Y – O N  B A C K P A C K  ( E L E C T R O N I C S)

waterproof camera/recharger/usb cable/camera float
dslr/recharger/usb cable
ipad/recharger/external batteries
earbuds x 2
power strip (we have to recharge a lot of devices and there are never enough outlets)

C A R R Y – O N  B A C K P A C K  (  M O M  B A G )

Clorox wipes (to wipe down airplane armrests and tables)
baby wipes
fanny pack
Dramamine (kids and adults)
children’s ibuprofen
lip balm
face lotion
dental floss (I can’t live without this)
extra Ziploc bags (always the freezer variety which are thicker)
lightweight extra bag like a Baggu
snacks for kids (pirate’s booty, fruit pouches)
food for kids (I usually pack dried seaweed wrapped rice w/ soy sauce+apples)
prescription medication/vitamins
family passports
gum (to chew during take-off and landing because Olive’s ears get super plugged like mine)

K I D S ‘  B A C K P A C K S

Now that Olive and Charlie are older and potty trained, we don’t need to bring as many things. But with 6 flights and lots of layovers, I like to get a couple of small new toys for them. I’ll download a season of a tv show for each of them, download a couple of new games, and this is what we’re bringing as far as toys and books:

Travel Toys for Kids

1) Suitcases – My friend gifted Charlie and Olive these Skip Hop suitcases last year and we’ve used them on every trip since. When we stand in security and immigration lines, they can’t resist goofing off, but when they pull their own suitcase, it really keeps them occupied. They also love packing their own bags with the things they want to bring. Since we have so much stuff on this trip we’ll probably just have them wear backpacks instead, but we’ve really been loving these suitcases for sleepovers, camping, and domestic travel.

2) Little Gadget Bluetooth headphones – We’ve owned 2 pairs of Kidzgear headphones in the past that have broken. The sound works fine, but I stepped on the cord and broke one, and one of the ear pieces fell off the other. I got Mr. Bee these awesome Bose bluetooth headphones last Christmas, so I decided to upgrade Charlie to bluetooth headphones since we travel a fair amount and he’ll get many years of use out of these.

3) Splitter – Plug this into the ipad so two (or 5!) kids can watch the same program.

4) Melissa & Doug Scratch Art – The kids love these black sheets that you scratch to reveal rainbow colors underneath.

5) Travel Spirograph – You might notice that the toys are either art related because both Charlie and Olive love to draw equally. I thought Charlie would really get a kick out of this classic drawing toy.

6) Water Wow Coloring Book – Olive loves these painting with water coloring books. They’re fun, satisfying, and don’t make a mess. I always bring these and Imagine Ink Coloring Books to keep them occupied at the airport. Target’s One Spot is the best place to pick up the Imagine Ink books for $3/each.

7) Coloring Book – Olive has really been into coloring lately, and she is really good at staying within the lines. The pictures in this book are super cute and don’t have too many details, so they’re easier for younger kids to color.

8) Travel Journal – I’ve been excited about having the kids start travel journals for years, and this year Charlie is finally old enough since he can read and write. I’ll be blogging more about this in a separate post!

9) Glitter Markers – We go through our glitter markers and pens pretty quickly so I picked up a new set for the trip. I’ll also bring our scented markers. (I give these as birthday gifts to all of Charlie and Olive’s friends and they love them.)

10) UNO – Charlie is super into card games lately and we’ve been playing Uno, though I think it’s a little too hard for Olive.

11) Travel Tangoes – I love games that are both fun and educational like these magnetic tanagrams.

12) Playdoh – I always take playdoh when we travel. It never gets old!

13) Magnetic Bingo – The kids play board games almost every day and love Zingo, so I bought this magnetic Bingo for them. We also have Magnetic Hangman, but we can play on paper to save space.

14) Cards – Go Fish, Old Maid, Crazy 8’s, Memory, Slap Jack, War… so many games with just one deck of cards!

15) Princess Bedtime Stories – We own several of these Disney story compilations and the fairy one is their current favorite. Though these books are pretty heavy, they have a ton of stories in them so we’ll only bring this princess one for Olive and this superhero one for Charlie for the whole trip. These books are only $10 and I love to give them as gifts!

16) Legos – The kids are Lego obsessed. These little sets are only $5 and keep them occupied for hours.

17) Neck Pillow – I got the whole family neck pillows for this trip because I hardly slept last year. A little comfort goes a long way, and you can use this in the car with car seats as well!

18) Stuffed animal – Each kid brings their favorite stuffed animal. Having a lovey really helps when you’re traveling.

19) Lovey – Olive’s lovey is an Aden & Anais blanket which does double duty as a blanket on the plane!

.  .  .  .  .

I debated whether or not to bring a stroller. We never have in past years because we can’t really use one in El Nido, and I just wore Olive a lot. This year we’ll be spending more time in Manila than usual because for the first time, it was hard to get flights to El Nido. But Olive is almost 4 and has always traveled without one, so we’re going to try to make do without one!

Like last year, our flight out of New York leaves at 1am, which is a brutal time, but that means the kids will sleep for most of the longest leg of the trip (14.5 hours) to Seoul, Korea. Then we have a 4-hour layover in Seoul. I don’t mind too much because we can eat Korean food and buy Korean beauty products! Plus Incheon Airport has free showers and they provide towels, soap, and shampoo. I can’t tell you what a difference it made being able to take a shower and arrive feeling fresh at our final destination!

After a 4 hour flight from Seoul to Manila, we will stay at a hotel there for 2 nights because we weren’t able to get tickets to El Nido. In years past we’ve gone directly to another small airport, had a couple hours layover, then took a 1 hour flight to El Nido… we’d travel for over 30 hours straight! Spending 2 nights in Manila will make the trip a little less hectic, but I hate having to haggle with all the taxi drivers who try to charge us foreigner prices when we know how much it should cost. But I’ll save that for my post about Manila!