23 Traveling Families with Kids Share Their Best Packing List Tips

Packing is never easy – and it doesn’t get less complicated when you are traveling with kids.

Just how much do you need to bring, what can you leave at home and how do you bring everything with you without carrying way too many heavy bags.

To improve how we pack and prepare, we have talked with 23 experienced traveling families and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (many of the families have been traveling for months or even years, so they know what they are talking about!).


The 23 Traveling Families


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A Pashmina/Sarang type wrap – This is always handy for many things. I use at the bottom of my backpack for cushioning my laptop. It is also handy to have as a blanket on the planes, trains and bus or all folded up as a small pillow. It is great for an instant scarf or wrap, when you need to cover up or be a bit warmer.
  • Boudreaux’s Butt Paste – I know this is random and is a diaper cream and we don’t even have little ones. This is like no other cream and is great to have handy for any type of dry skin, chafing or rash, especially when traveling in hot humid places. Our kids are now teens, but we still bring a small tube of this when we travel.
  • Swiss army knife to have everything you could need in one little place. Great for cutting tags off of luggage or if you go to a market and buy fresh fruit you have a knife handy to cut. Amazing little things!

How do you bring things with you?

We have various bags, but like the Samsonite hard plastic luggage, as it is light weight and sturdy. We also have a variety of backpacks, depending on our trip. We usually organize things by rolling our clothes and using ziploc bags for the small stuff and to organize electronic accessories, snacks and more. We pack light, so usually have enough room.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Pack your bags and then remove about half of what you packed. Seriously. If you are going for a week or a month, you only need about 5 days of clothing. You just mix and match! To keep up with under garments, just hand wash each night and bring enough for 5 days. So you are wearing one, have one just washed, one drying and two to spare. If it isn’t something you are going to use daily or often, do you need to bring it. Can you get by with 1 or 2 pair of shoes for everything? Don’t bring clothing or shoes that have to be worn together or only once. The key is to repeat and pack light. Your back will thank you. Also layer your clothing, so you don’t need to bring heavy sweaters or the like.

We have been traveling for over 5 years as a family of 4 and are currently home based in Southern Spain. We have been on numerous road trips and even spent a year exploring Southeast Asia. We have many more tips to share on our blog and we also share our routes and expenses too. Just get out and explore the world!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Solid Shampoo Bar- When you travel full time and only own what you can carry, a little touch of luxury makes you feel good. Solid shampoo bars are essential for carry-on only travel and more practical in checked luggage. They do for hair, body and hand washing clothes.
  • A flexible plastic coat hanger- It is SO much easier to dry items you hand wash on the road if you can hang them on a coat hanger overnight in your air-con or under a fan. Not everywhere you stay will provide coathangers, or they will not be removable from the wardrobe.
  • Jeans- All 4 of us live in jeans from freezing winter to tropical summer, they are tough, durable and work in any climate. Special ” travel” clothes are generally a complete waste of money.

How do you bring things with you?

We have 2 large backpacks, both are Lowe Alpine, and 1 carry – on sized backpack each. The carry ons sometimes have to work as trekking packs or as our sole luggage on shorter trips. They are a mixture of brands, some cheap, some expensive.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Just take what you own already. Don’t think you have to go out and buy a new ” travel” wardrobe, take what you have and replace or upgrade as you go. Every country has shops, many countries will have all of the shops you are used to at home plus their own local specialty fashions and garments well adapted to local climate. You will want to buy the lovely things you see so always travel with your bag half empty if at all possible. Cut back as far as you can, you really won’t need as much as you think and buy as your items wear out, it’s easier to travel that way and better for the planet to not buy more than you need.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Book of Greek Mythology – we read the stories for months, looked at the pictures, learned so much, bonded. Later, we found our favorite heroes in the stars and saw some of their history life in ruins in Turkey.
  • Guitar – it created bonding and fun in the family and helped pass hours of boredom with creativity and joy.
  • 5 liter jug of water cut in half long-wise for a family salad bowl- We like eating healthy salad for breakfast every day so this jug lasted for about 4 months as our family salad bowl. It was genius!

How do you bring things with you?

We started out with backpacks, all five of us; tried to move to rolley bags for a while, and then decided that backpacks was really our thing.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Just do it! We were terrified before we left and after, couldn’t remember why we hadn’t left earlier. Our three and a half year world wide adventure was the best, most educational, bonding, precious thing we could have done as a family. Pack super lightly for everywhere you go you can buy anything you lack.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Packing Cubes – nothing worse than putting everyone’s belongings in one suitcase and then not ever be able to find things. I love colour coded packing cubes for keeping everyone’s items separate. We also each have an underwear one and a swimsuit one. That way when we get to the hotel, we can grab the swimsuit cube and hit the pool as soon as we land.
  • Portable scales – I hate getting stuck at the airport with exorbitant luggage fees. I carry my portable scales every trip so I can weight the bag and make sure it’s ready to go before I get to the airport. I did manage to get away with heavy luggage once because the airport staff fell in love with my Darth Vadar bag. Pays to have nice luggage too 😀
  • Sarong – We use it for everything. As a towel to sit on at the beach or dry yourself. As a lampshade in hotels when you can’t dim the lights so the kids can sleep, but need some kind of light. As clothes. As a blanket. As shade on a hot day or as a wrap on a cold day. You name it. It’s lightweight and multi-purpose.

The most useless things I’ve seen people bring are towels. You can get a towel anywhere, you do not need to bring one. Unless maybe you are camping or a backpacker.

How do you bring things with you?

I adore my Star Wars collection of American Tourister bags. We carry Darth Vadar, R2D2 and C3PO. I also love my slash proof PacSafe carry on. I’m usually seen with both of these bags on any trip over a week. If it’s less than a week, it’s carry-on only. For my family of 3, I can get us into 3 carry on’s for a 2-week domestic trip.

My bags are organised with loads of packing cubes. One for each person’s clothes, then each person’s underwear. One for all the swimwear, one for shoes. And then we have toiletry bags.

After 5 years of nomadic travel, I learned very quickly that a large bag for each person is too much and not necessary. We got down to 1 bag for all of us and leave the carryons for new purchases.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

The younger the kids are the more stuff you need. But it’s a huge mistake to over pack. Buy nappies, and wipes and formula at your destination, because when the plane land at midnight and you need to carry a sleeping child off the plane, you are not going to have any hands left for all that luggage.

Don’t worry about packing car seats. If you are heading to a country like the US you can buy them super cheap at Walmart. Or consider packing an inflatable BubbleBum that takes so much less room and weight.

Don’t be scared if you forget things. You can purchase most products anywhere in the world. There’s nowhere you can’t find panadol, clothes or shoes.

Give even the smallest kids a responsibility of pulling a bag. Not only do they find it extremely fun to wheel around luggage, it will free up your hands for handing over tickets and passports. Also, make sure you utilise the stroller service right up to the door of the plane. If anything you can load it with all the bags instead of the child.

To get out the door. Book a ticket. Nobody works better than with a deadline!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Even though my kids have (thankfully) been out of diapers for a long time, I ALWAYS travel with diaper wipes. They are handy to wash hands, wash faces, take spots out of clothes, wipe down gross surfaces I have to touch, etc.
  • I always pack a sarong in my carry-on bag as it’s a lightweight and compact item that is handy as a wrap or blanket if it’s chilly, and once you’re there it can be a dress, a skirt, a swimsuit cover-up, a nursing cover, a baby carrier, and (of course) a superhero cape 🙂
  • I always have a decent stash of snacks on hand because my kids can be picky eaters and I don’t want to risk their “hanger” if they get hungry and there’s nothing around that they’ll eat.

How do you bring things with you?

The key for me is finding a bag with enough pockets to keep organized but not so many that you can’t find anything. I loved travel with a diaper bag when my kids were little because it held everything that they needed and still had room for me to cram in a few items of mine. The Skip Hop Dash was my go-to because it looked like a messenger bag and my husband liked it too.

I’m still on the lookout for a post-diaper bag decent bag to travel with, honestly!

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

  • Follow a detailed list so you can be certain you won’t forget anything. I can think of no worse feeling than realizing you’re 30,000 ft. in the air and didn’t pack that ONE ESSENTIAL THING 🙂
  • Don’t stress yourself out about packing light. So long as you can manage your belongings, it’s nobody’s business or concern how much you do or don’t pack. If you overpack, with every trip you will discover for yourself what you can live without next time.
  • The first trip is the toughest. It can be daunting just getting out the door when you’re a new parent, never mind a new country. But with every trip your comfort and confidence grows and you will all look forward to new adventures together.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A portable power bank. These are incredibly helpful for travel, especially to destinations where electrical availability is not always available or consistent. There is nothing more frustrating than having that perfect sunset and your camera is too drained to capture it.
  • Snacks – I always carry food with me wherever I go. This is extra important as I travel with children. There are few things worse than being far from a town with hungry children.
  • Packing cubes – I can’t say enough about them. Because I travel with family, there are usually four sets of everything to organize. Packing cubes allow me to keep all our clothes, documents and electronics neatly organized so nothing gets lost.

How do you bring things with you?

I normally travel with luggage. I love my Heys ultralight bags. They help keep the weight down so that we can pack more gear into each bag and limit the number of bags we have to carry with us. My camera gear and extra clothes are packed into my Osprey Stratos backpack. It’s strong, durable and can hold everything we need for daytrips or quick overnights.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

It takes a few trips to know what you can do without when you’re traveling. And packing light can be hard to wrap your head around. It’s always best to pack a little extra just in case the weather swings away from the expected, this goes double if you are planning to be on-the-go during your travels. If you are based in one or two spots however, you can usually risk packing a little lighter, as shelter is more readily available.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Besides all the necessities, we never travel without 1) portable charger power banks (for when phones, ipads, camcorders, etc run out of juice), 2) a 3-axis gimbal (Zhiyun Smooth Q) for getting smooth video while walking around a city, and 3) our own comfortable blankets and pillows for use in the hotel (as long as we are not flying and we have room to just smash it into the back of the minivan).

The power banks: We travel with multiple power banks, because we travel with multiple electronic devices. We have our laptops, cameras, phones and iPads and they all need to stay charged. Since the kids (and grandma) rely on the iPads for their entertainment and our sanity, it is super important to keep them charged. They come in handy during layovers in a busy airports when all the outlets are in use.

The gimbal speaks for itself. If you want good quality video of your kids and family while traveling then a 3-axis gimbal is a must. No more shaky video, even if you are running after your children while holding the camera!

Humans are creatures of habit and comfort. The kids will sleep more normally if you are able to bring some of the pillows and bedding items that you use at home every day. Sleep is super important any time, but is especially crucial when traveling as a family.

How do you bring things with you?

I like to keep things compact, so we usually pack our family of five into two suitcases maximum. If it is a shorter trip and we can get away with less clothing, I will squeeze all of us into just one large roller suitcase. We mostly use our 29″ Kenneth Cole Reaction Hardside Expandable Spinner. Not only do we have room to spare, it is lightweight and has four wheels for easy maneuvering. Rolling our clothes as opposed to folding them helps to save space as well as prevent wrinkling. Packing cubes are also useful for maximizing space and keeping everyone’s items organized.

You also want to be hands free as much as possible, so backpacks and travel vests (for reference: https://hotmamatravel.com/best-womens-travel-vest/) are a traveling parent’s best friend. I also like to pack each child with their own backpack filled with snacks and activities so that they are responsible for their own entertainment.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

When you are on the road with kids, you want to keep your luggage to a minimum. Packing outfits that you can mix and match will help reduce the amount of items you need to bring. If it is an extended travel, do laundry as you go, then you can rotate those same outfits throughout the trip. The biggest mistake I used to make was to pack multiple new outfits per day and end up bringing way too much stuff that I didn’t use.

When you are traveling with a family it can feel overwhelming just to get out the door. My suggestion is to prep early. The more time you give yourself to get things done, the easier it is to get on the road when the time comes. I start packing a couple weeks in advance, that way if I am missing something I will have time to get it and all I have to do the day of the trip is dress the kids and go.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

We always carry coconut oil, tea tree oil, and Blutack.

I use coconut oil for everything – for cooking, instead of soap, as a moisturizer, as toothpaste, for skin allergies, and more.

The tea tree oil is for scratches, cuts, acne. We’ve successfully used to get rid of fleas too. I mean, we need to learn how to get rid of fleas if we’re not gonna stop playing with street dogs, right?

Blutack is used as playdough, phone holders, to safe-proof sharp corners, to actually stick stuff to the windows and make the houses and hotels feel more like home, as stress balls, and more. The best is that they don’t stain, don’t stick to clothes, and they don’t get too hard even after a long time.

What’s useful to one may not be useful to others, so there’s no how to see what’s useful or useless as a universal thing but for us, anything fancy, or more than 3 changes of clothes – that’s useless.

How do you bring things with you?

We carry backpacks. An Osprey Farpoint 55 for me, a Deuter Transit 50 for my husband, and Osprey Nebula for the older kids. The little one carries a wheeled school bag.

We have a packing cell each, but other than that, we don’t really organize in any specific way.

For us, it’s perfect. We carry very little anyway and it keeps things harder to lose or to make a mess, and we do laundry often.

We have enough room, sometimes a bit too much – especially when we’re traveling carry-on only. It’s easy to buy just one more souvenir and put it in the bags…

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Enjoy the ride. I know we get tired, kids can be a pain sometimes, the house or hotel may be horrible, but these times are precious and they can be turned into a beautiful memory. Laugh at things, find the funny stuff, tell something you appreciate about them, anything.

And carry a third of what you think you’ll need – you can buy almost everything anywhere anyway.


©Exploramum

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Exploramum writes about family and luxury travel but even the most luxurious resorts and hotel suites often miss the little basic essentials.

  • Manicure Set – I can’t believe it but I seem to break a nail every time I pack!

    Also useful for removing splinters, clipping hangnails and other travel mishaps.

  • French Press / Coffee Plunger and freshly ground coffee – I am amazed that many luxury hotels don’t offer their guests decent coffee in their rooms/suites. I love to wake and have my ‘quiet time’ alone with a good cup of coffee whilst my son sleeps. A good day needs a good start to the day, and for me, that is a good cup of coffee.
  • Multi-adapter for charging electronics and USB. It is worth investing in one unit that adapts to any country with the flick of a button.

The most useless thing I started travelling with was a micro fibre towel. I don’t like the feel of them, and invariably they are too small for the beach. We also started out our world travels with a nice leather compendium for all our travel documents. It was far too heavy and bulky and was soon replaced with a clear plastic sleeve – perfect for travel itineraries.

How do you bring things with you?

We use 2 bags each.

A lightweight wheelable cabin bag with a front opening zip that enables easy access to remove our laptops at the airport.

We also use Samsonite Cosmolite hard suitcases because they are about 2 kg – so lightweight, flexible and strong. We add a groovy stretch nylon protective cover for easy identification and added protection.

We have the large and medium size Samsonite suitcases and that fits 20-25 kg each which is perfect.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

  • Layers – pack plenty of clothes that can layer on and off as weather conditions change throughout the day.
  • Shoes – ensure you invest in nice and comfortable walking shoes. Otherwise, feet and leg are tired and sore in no time and your travel plans come to a standstill.
  • Dress to impress – it will give you the possibility of an upgrade, and it will make you feel good about yourself.

Ladies, bring nice scarves and always carry one in your handbag. It is important to be able to adapt from casual to elegant in an unexpected situation. Tours often run late and there is no time to go back to the hotel and change etc.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

We all bring Kindles (and my two kids bring Kindle Fires). I love them because, for the kids, it gives them the option to play games, read a book or watch a video. All in one small package. Having children, we also always bring several types of medications just in case – kid’s Benadryl, kid’s immodium and children’s pain reliever. They can be a lifesaver sometimes. And being a professional photographer, as well as a blogger, I always bring a good camera!

How do you bring things with you?

It really depends on the type of trip we’re going on, but usually the kids like to have their own little suitcases and my husband and I either share a large suitcase or each bring a medium sized one. We have all sorts of different sized suitcases and usually buy them pretty cheap at Target. We always each have a carryon, as well. If we’re going somewhere warm, where we don’t need big, bulky cloths, we always try to bring a carry on only. We hate checking bags and try to keep things streamlined. We try to stay pretty minimalist in our trips and don’t have babies anymore, which really cuts down on the amount of “stuff” needed on trips. We always roll out clothes to maximize space in our suitcases.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Don’t bring as much as you think you need. Women don’t need 5 pairs of shoes for a week long vacation. A comfortable pair for walking and some dressier sandals is adequate. maybe some flip flops that you can easily slip into a side pocket. Also, I usually don’t bring a hairdryer either. A fun vacation isn’t about looking perfect. I see too many people out there overpacking by far. Pack a Tide packet if you feel you might need to wash something and only bring 2 tshirts, rather than the 6 you were planning on bringing. A couple of skirts, maybe a sundress and you’re good to go!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Packing Cubes – These things are great! You can get them in stores or online for the price of a beer! We found these helped when trying to locate our things. We are a family of four, travelling the world for nine months, so we have all our things in one large bag!
  • Found You Wrist Bands – We got these very cheap online but you can’t put a price on the peace of mind they gave us. They are wrist bands that velcro around the children’s wrists and inside contain vital information to help in getting them back to us if they got lost.
  • GoPro Action Camera – This helps us to capture memories in a different way. When we are on a rollercoaster, it films the same as what we are seeing and if we turn it around, it films our faces. We use it in the pool and in the sea, so we can really relive the experiences. We had it on when Maddison, our little girl swum for the first time 🙂

How do you bring things with you?

We carry four bags in total.

Our largest is an Osprey 130L Transporter – We chose this because it doubles as a carry bag and backpack. There is an area that you can tuck the straps away when they are not in use. There are compartments all over the bag and it is heavy duty and great quality which is essential for us as full time travellers. It also looks really great! They come in a variety of colours but we chose black.

As travel bloggers we carry a wide range of camera equipment and to carefully transport all this, we use the Manfrotto drone pack. It has enough room inside to carry a drone and an additional two dslr’s, action camera and accessories, all our wires and our apple mac laptop. It is heavily padded to help protect everything.

We also carry two smaller backpacks. These are suitable for children, so on travel days where Ian and I carry the large backpack and camera bag, the kids carry the smaller ones. When we have arrived at a place, these are then used as our packs for activities.

Osprey Pogo 24 – This is an everyday bag that has a good bit of padding and a lot of room. It is also very stylish, so we use this when out and about to carry our things and a selection of equipment.

Osprey hiking pack – This is small and light empty, so is prefect for the kids to carry on travel days. When we are not travelling, we use this for the long walks or hiking. It has too many hidden compartments to count so we also use this to carry our valuables as they are not easily accessible. This gives us more protection against theft or loss as they are well hidden. Lots of spaces for water and to clip things on.

We never feel stuck for room using this system but we do struggle for weight on flights. Generally they vary on what they allow and this leaves us having to make sure we are under every time but its not too much of a problem.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Packing tips:

  • We are travelling for nine months but we only carry enough clothes each for one week. With washing it is plenty.
  • Keep shoes to a minimum. These weigh an awful lot and if you can carry universal shoes, you can really save on space and weight. When you are carrying everything, not rolling, this is really important.
  • Roll everything. When you are struggling for space in particular, it really helps to roll your clothes tightly.

The one mistake we always see other travellers make, is carrying too much. We did a trial run before we travelled full time and spent a month in Mallorca. It was a test for us to see what we didn’t wear and maybe what we were missing. Especially if you are travelling hot countries, where your clothes will be thin and smaller in general, you don’t need a lot.

If you really want to travel the world, everyone in the family needs to be on board. It has to be a family goal and everything you do everyday is geared toward making that happen. Planning is also really important and helps the family to get excited and prepared for such a big life change. Do as much research as possible and make sure you have enough money behind you. We made a lot of sacrifices in a small time to be able to save enough to make our dream happen, but it was so worth it!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Ukulele. One of the best parts of traveling is that my kids have a lot of downtime. Instead of reaching for electronics, they play music and have become very good at teaching themselves songs. I love that there is always playing music in the background wherever we go.

Surfboards and Climbing Gear. Our travel centers around surfing, rock climbing, and hiking, so we never step on a plane without our surfboards or climbing gear. Letting our sports dictate where we travel to has allowed us to see some of the most incredible off-the-beaten-path destinations in 26 countries like Bali, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Spain, France, and Switzerland. Sometimes we even travel with tents and sleeping bags to these places so we can camp closer to the action.

TRX and other workout gear. We aren’t all surfers and climbers. My husband and oldest son can’t travel without working out and so we always pack a TRX, a few resistance bands, massage balls, and a yoga rug. It allows us to all stay in shape and take care of our baodies as we travel.

Useless…

  • Too many shoes…we have trail shoes and flip flops, that’s it.
  • Too many ipads, iphones, kindles, etc…Don’t make entertainment so easy for kids. Force them to be bored so they have to pick up their heads and see the world.
  • Fancy clothes…actually, I don’t even remember what those are becasue I don’t own any anymore (we got by in all the big cities in Europe with jeans, a tank top, and flip flops…*gasp!*

How do you bring things with you?

For 7 of us, we usually carry 5 backpacking backpacks . We always carry our luggage on our backs and travel with the bare minimum amount of clothes (although this last trip to Hawaii, New Zealand, and Bali we brought some clothes for cold weather that we never used). Each person has one small compression sack to help organize their clothes in their bag and all our rain jackets and warm jackets, like our Patagonia Nano Puffs, pack down into their jacket pockets.

We have a wide variety of backpacks. My 16 year old daughter has the REI 65L Cresttrail, my 13 year old daughter has a Gregory Wander 70L, and I carry Patagonia Crag Daddy. All three are the perfect size. My 18 year old son has a REI 70L that I’m not a fan of becasue it doesn’t pack down tight, making it hard to fit in the plane’s overhead compartments. We have an REI 85L that is way too big. We usually end up having to check it, but it gives us a chance to put any sharp objects like our SOG knife in it. We also have a coffin surfboard bag and one backpack with climbing gear. If we are tent camping for the trip, we put the tents in the 85L that we check and have one duffel bag with all 7 sleeping bags.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Travel as light as possible. Every trip we take, we lighten up more and more. Not only does it save us money, but the weight I literally feel stepping on a plane trickles down to how I feel when I land at my destination. Keep in mind how much space your rental car has too. Many times we’ve carried our luggage on only to not be able to fit it in our rental car. We’ve literally had to unpack backpacks and sit on our clothes to make it fit. When we traveled for 6 months in Europe we each only carried about 4 outfits and got by just fine. I like carrying backpacking backpacks better than suitcases because they are more comfortable to carry if we have to walk a while, they are smaller and fit better than suitcases if storage is tight, and, that way we have them if we want to go backpacking on the trail,

The difference between getting on a plane and just dreaming is mindset (not money). You can travel very cheap if needed, but if you have the wrong mindset, you won’t make it happen. Vacations are about comfort and reward. Travel is about experiences and learning. If you have the mindset that it may not be easy, but you are willing to fail and learn, then you will be be able to adapt easily to new situations and find that you are capable of more than you first thought.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Head phones for the kids – on public transportation they love to listen to e-books and podcasts that we have downloaded to an iphone/ipad. Our kids get motion sickness, so that is a great way to occupy them on long trips.

    We also carry a head phone splitter so the kids can listen to the same device, saving battery life and requiring less electronics.

  • Mosquito Protection – we carry ultrasonic mosquito repellers to plug in when we are in countries with malaria and dengue. When the kids were younger we used the Paraquito bands that use natural ingredients to repel mozzies.
  • Cable lock – we carry an expandable cable lock that we use to lock our bags to something when we need to leave our bags somewhere or on transit if we are sleeping.

How do you bring things with you?

We are Canadian and all of our bags are from MEC. We like to use a backpack travel bag that opens up completely and has a daypack attached to it. This is the more modern version of the bags we have. We can travel with two of these for the 5 of us, plus daypacks.

One thing we can’t live without is our packing cubes, colour coded for each family member. The kids can actually find their clothes each day and it keeps our bags organized. We also love using a thin mesh laundry bag to put the dirty clothes in.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

  • You usually need less stuff then you think you do. Pack once and then try to remove some things. You can buy almost anything you need as you go.
  • Buy quick trying clothes, so you can wash them on the road. But don’t go buying a whole separate wardrobe for travel; regular clothes work just fine.
  • Travel with a light-weight luggage scale, so you can avoid extra baggage charges when flying.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Besides the normal camera gear and gadgets like our iPhones, we always pack at least one tote bag, a “refreshment” pack for long haul flights, and a mini first aid kit with band-aids, ibuprofen, and imodium.

We have a variety of smaller tote bags that are fantastic multi-purpose items and can easily be squished into any overly filled suitcase. We use them for shopping at markets or stuff them with the essentials for a quick day trip somewhere. And when it is time to leave, they can double as a bag for dirty laundry or hold wet/muddy shoes in our luggage.

Our little “refreshment” pack is always in our carry-on and essential for those 15 hour flights to see family back in the US. We have disposable toothbrush and toothpaste (which we snag from hotel rooms so we never pay for them), mini hand/face lotion, small generic deodorant we can both use, and a miniature moisturizing mist that you spray on your face. After 15 hours in economy, a little refreshing makes you feel a lot better and energized to hit the ground running when you land. And an additional tip: hit the bathroom just as the last meal is served prior to landing. Everyone will be eating and there won’t be a queue for the bathroom.

Finally, the first aid kit is basic, but has come in handy for us, even on short weekend getaways. Being able to reach into your luggage to take a few ibuprofen for a headache or snag a band-aid for a simple cut is much easier than locating a nearby pharmacy. We store them in a travel pill container that is small and can fit anywhere. Having a few essentials in your bags can bring peace of mind when you aren’t feeling great.

The thing you won’t find us traveling with is a travel pillow. We know that many people love them, but the bulkiness goes against our packing mantra of travelling light. It is a large item that serves only a single purpose, which means it will never be part of our travel routine.

How do you bring things with you?

We have a variety of luggage pieces for different situations. We have very small (and very inexpensive) Dunlop rolling carry-on bags that we use for overnight trips or for weekend trips when we did a bulk of our travel around Europe on low-fare carriers like Ryanair or easyJet with tight carry-on restrictions.

For longer journeys, we have a Briggs and Riley Expandable International Carry-On that was expensive, but has performed like a champion for almost nine years now. It is an incredibly well-built bag that is worth the hefty price tag. We also recently purposed an inexpensive, hardside 3-piece luggage set from Coolife on Amazon for our move to China. The best feature of this set is that can fit within each other for storage, so we only have to make room for the largest 28″ trolley case in our apartment. Truth be told, we can feel the difference in build quality, so this set might not be around nearly as long as our Briggs and Riley piece.

When we are packing, we try to avoid checking luggage at all costs. Our mutually travel pet peeve is the wait at the luggage carousel that always feels like an eternity, so we try our best to skip using our larger suitcases. We use packing cubes to help organize our things, especially socks and underwear, and can help minimize any wasted space. We rarely feel like we don’t have enough room. If we do, we simply cut down on what we are bringing. We celebrate minimalism!

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

The key to packing light is self-editing, which is a difficult thing for many people. We talk with each other about what we really need for a trip while we are packing. Do we need to take three pairs of shoes? Do we need to bring that many shirts or pairs of pants? We try to cut down as much as possible. How many times have people brought things in their luggage that they ultimately never wore? It is such a common packing mistake that we just avoid now. That may mean that we wear the same shirt for another day, but is that really that big of a deal on holiday?

Our last piece of advice for packing is to wear your bulkiest things while traveling, if possible. It seems silly to waste tons of room with a winter jacket or pair of boots that you can simply wear while in transit. You can always store the jacket in an overhead bin on the plane and kick off the shoes at your seat. Pack smart!

Finally, for those armchair travellers eager to hit the road, the best way to make travel a reality is to be open-minded. If you insist on Paris in the summer, then you have to face the reality that you won’t find many deals on hotels or airfares. If you are more open to travel dates and even destinations, then you can discover deals that fit any budget. Years ago, we spent four days in Iceland in the winter because the airfare was about $250/rt, about half the average fare during the peak summer travel period. We saved a ton of money and still saw all of the sites that we wanted to see. Win, win.

But just remember, when you are finally hitting the road, just remember: pack light. You’ll thank us later.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A Scrubba laundry bag. We travel with a minimal amount of clothes, which means we constantly seem to be doing laundry, especially with kids! The Scrubba just does a better job than a sink wash, and it tends to be quite a bit faster because we can wash multiple items at once.
  • Packing Cubes. Everyone in our family is colour coded, and different items go inside different size packing cubes. This makes packing and unpacking super easy, and it’s a lot faster to find what we’re looking for based on the packing cube it’s in (or supposed to be in!).
  • Carbon filter water bottle. We tend to end up in a lot of places where tap water isn’t necessarily safe to drink. Having a filtering water bottle on hand significantly reduces our plastic use (no more plastic water bottles!) and ensures that as long as we have running water, we have access to drinkable water.

How do you bring things with you?

Randy and I both have Osprey backpacks. I have a Kyte 46 and he has a Kestrel 48. The girls both have an REI Tarn 18 kids backpack. Everyone carries their own clothes, shoes and play things (electronics for the parents, toys for the girls!). The rain jackets, swimming bag, toiletries and a few miscellaneous items are split between my bag and Randy’s bag, ideally with the heavier items going in Randy’s bag! Most of the items are organized into packing cubes, and then put into our packs, with a few random items loose at the top. At this point, we definitely have enough room in our bags. I never like to have a full bag, because I need room for “must-have” purchases along the way!

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Packing light takes practice, and you’ll get better every time. Having a few multi-purpose items definitely makes it easier, but it’s not necessary. Remember that you can do laundry on the road, and you can buy pretty much everything everywhere. Sure, it might not be exactly what you’d buy at home, but if you’re desperately in need of a particular item, you’ll be able to find something that will suffice. Don’t pack too many “just-in-case” things. These weight your bag down, and you’ll rarely ever use them.

One of the biggest things I see travellers do wrong, is carrying too many clothes! If you invest in a few fast drying items (like merino wool), you can wash at night and wear them the next morning. There’s no need to have more than 3 of anything (except maybe underwear, it’s nice to have 5 pairs of underwear!). Even if you don’t have fast drying clothes, 3 of anything is still enough. Then, one can be dirty, one can by drying, and one can be worn.

My recommendation for turning your dream into a reality is to write it down, and then just do it! If you write it down, and post it somewhere, it makes it more real and you’ll be more likely to make it happen. Alternately, tell someone (or lots of people) about it. If you say it out loud, you’re more likely to follow through!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Probably the most important would be a good refillable water bottle. That may seem like a common thing that most people would have with them, but it is relatively new to me and its a real life saver. Especially in a place where drinking tap water is not an option. After even one time of experiencing dehydration I highly recommend a nice big water bottle that will keep you hydrated throughout the day. I take mine everywhere with me.

Another that I have found incredibly useful is a product that helps divide thing in your bag. Whether you’re backpacking or just on a vacation it’s super helpful to have things organized. You can find many different forms of “packing cubes” online, but I have even used simple plastic zip lock bags to achieve the same thing. It definitely comes in handy to have something like this.

Last but not least, a universal outlet adapter. Depending on the place you’re traveling too it may or may not be your standard pug you’re used to. With some research beforehand you have always fin out what exact type you’d need, but I much prefer to cover all the bases. It is super easy to find a cheap one online before a trip and than you have nothing to worry about.

One of the most useless things I have seen someone pack is an entire bag for shoes. I’m talking a large suit case only full of shoes. And not even useful shoes. As far as I could tell they were all fancy, uncomfortable looking dress shoes. I’m not sure what the lady’s thought process was, but to top it all off I only ever saw her wearing the same pair of shoes the whole time I was with her.

How do you bring things with you?

The two types of bags that come to mind are regular suitcases and a travel pack. Even though being able to wheel a suitcase around is sometimes easier I still prefer a good pack. When I know I’m gonna be out on the road for a long time I find it easier to just throw everything on my back and go. The only problem with that is the space of course. For one, you physically can’t fit a huge amount into even a larger pack. And second, you don’t want to have to carry so much weight that you hurt yourself. Packing light is definitely a good idea. It can be difficult sometimes, but over time I have gotten more and more used to it. And then organizing is crucial for packing as much as possible into one bag. As i was saying earlier, having something like plastic bags or some other form of packing divider is the perfect way to organize a bag.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

The biggest thing I would say to anyone dreaming of actually getting out and traveling would be “just do it!”. The world may seem like a big and scary place sometimes, but when your get out and see for yourself you start to realize that its a lot smaller than you might think. Don’t get me wrong when I say to just do it. That can be a really big step. I know it was for my family. And it can definitely take time to be ready for a full on traveling lifestyle.

If the idea of leaving your whole life behind is overwhelming. Don’t be discouraged. Maybe start slow. Save up and take smaller trips to places you’ve always wanted to go. Try being more and more adventurous with each one. Say “I’m going to try something I have never done!” and see where it takes you. Stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing past the little fears has always lead to the most life changing experiences.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

The most useful things that I pack are sometimes not obvious until I forget to pack them.

One example is my wireless headphones (Sennheiser PXC 550) which I forgot to include on a flight recently, and I only remembered once I reached the airport. Good quality noise cancelling headphones can make a flight, train or bus ride all that much more pleasant, by blocking out unwanted noise and creating a haven of serenity.

The humble USB cable tie goes a long way. A simple, but effective way to tame those unruly USB cables in your bag and prevent them turning into an octopus.

The Tile Sport is a simple little gadget that you can pop into your luggage, handbag or backpack, and not worry about ever losing them again. I also attach them to my keys so I avoid the awkward “where are my keys gone” moment. They use low-powered Bluetooth signals to communicate with your phone and can make an alarm sound to help you locate the missing item. With the Tile app it’s also possible to track missing items using the worldwide community of Tile users.

How do you bring things with you?

I currently use 3 pieces of luggage: Samsonite Omni 24-inch suitcase, a Vanguard Alta Fly 49T carry-on bag, and a Peak Design Everyday backpack.

I’ve researched luggage extensively and these 3 provide me with the best combination of durability, protection, storage space, and lightweight design.

I organise my luggage using eBags Ultralight Packing cubes. These little beauties are an essential tool for any serious traveller. I can get any piece of clothing out of my bag in just a few seconds. All t-shirts are rolled together into 1 cube, pants in another cube, and underwear in another cube. In locations where I stay for a few days (or longer) the cubes can be pulled out and placed in a set of drawers easily for quick access. Due to the clever designs, the cubes can be packed into the suitcase again in just seconds.

I also use a eBags handheld luggage scale to check my suitcase weight before heading to the airport, so there’s no unpleasant surprises.



What are your top tips for other families on the road?

I’m pretty ruthless with my clothing. Each item has a very specific purpose, and I try to choose complementary colours so all t-shirts can match with all shorts or pants. This uniformity might be more utilitarian than what some travellers prefer, but I like knowing that whatever I grab out of the bag is going to be comfortable and look good.

I discovered kids need a lot less toys than you think. When my children were very young I packed an entire carry-on bag with toys and found out that they were just as happy playing with a cheap small plastic toy, as their fancier toys. So when needed I pick up new toys along the way.

Kids are far more durable and flexible that most parents think. Mine have experienced a lot of unique cultures, languages, food and events and have become more well-rounded for it. Even if your young kids don’t remember every single day, take lots of photos and remind them of what they’ve done. These experiences will shape them into who they become as adults.

And to give yourself a nudge out the door, I suggest simply booking a 1-way ticket 2-3 months in advance. That will give you a firm deadline and somehow you’ll find a way to make everything happen that needs to happen beforehand. Don’t procrastinate another day!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

First of all, I bring different sizes of Ziploc bags. They come in handy all the time. I use the gallon sized bag to protect my electronics from rain, spilled water bottles, and other hazardous liquids. I bring the quart sized ones to check my liquids at airport security. If I go on a water ride at an amusement park, I throw everything into the Ziploc bag and I can get wet to my heart’s content while my stuff stays dry.

Second, I always bring games or puzzles for entertainment. A deck of cards always comes in handy, no matter what. You never know when your batteries are going to die or you are going to get stuck somewhere for a long period of time. It’s good for the kids to have some mental stimulation as well. Other pocket sized games we have on hand are card games like Rook, 3 Up, Down, Family Feud Card Game, and the Scrabble Card Game. We also have a fun game called Pass the Pigs, which is a game of chance and strategy involving dice that look like pigs. These games are small and compact and have been worth having along on our trips. Puzzles are a great way to do something while you watch television in the hotel room. You can stimulate your mind while watching late night TV. This is especially good for multiple night stays in the same hotel.
Finally, I never leave for a trip without my fanny pack. It’s actually one of those inside-the-pants packs to hide your money, but I wear it everywhere as a fanny pack. I started using it in Europe this past summer and it was so convenient. I didn’t have to bring my purse or backpack around with me and if I was feeling particularly fashionable, I could just hide the fanny pack under my clothes. It may not be the coolest accessory, but it comes in handy all the time.

As far as useless items, I never bring a blow dryer with me. I know some people insist on having their favorite brand to keep their hair perfect, but it’s so cumbersome and hotels usually have one in the bathroom anyway. I just feel weighed down with extras like that. Also, on flights, I don’t really bring sunscreen or over the counter medications or really anything I can buy on the road. If you can live without it until you make it to your destination, it makes it easier to trek across the airport.

How do you bring things with you?

I am a HUGE proponent of buying luggage cheap. I am talking watch the sales and check out discount retailers frequently and purchase the cheapest bags and suitcases you can find. I learned my lesson when my husband’s grandparents bought us some high end suitcases for our honeymoon. After their first voyage they were so beat up. Wheels were broken, handles were jammed, and the zippers got messed up. We approached the luggage counter to lodge a complaint and they basically stated their was nothing they could do. It just happens. So now we buy cheap and we don’t care if it gets banged up because it was a steal in the first place.

As far as the types of bags I purchase. I usually go with carry ons because many airlines we fly with offer free carry on bags. If I have to pack too tight on the way there. I pack a duffle bag in the suitcase because that way I will only have to buy extra luggage one way instead of two. I do prefer bags that have wheels though. I am a classic overpacker, but I have gotten better now that my kiddos are getting older. When they were little you never knew if they were going to poop through clothes, throw up all over themselves, get generally disgusting. I always played it safe. Now that they are older I have just brought a backpack and they wore a jacket on to the plane and let me tell you, it is so freeing to grab you under the seat bag and just prance around freely. Now I am trying to pack much lighter.

I organize things by how we are traveling. If we are on a road trip I pack a couple of outfits per person in each bag. That way we don’t have to bring in all the bags at every stop. If we are staying some place for awhile I pack everyone their own bag. I don’t really use any special compartments for packing, I just fold or roll up the clothes tight in the bag. I try to keep outfits together, so you don’t have to unpack the entire bag to find a matching outfit.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

My advice is to make a Google Doc of what you are packing. That way every time you travel you don’t have to write a new list every time. I have a cruise packing list, a beach destination packing list, a cold destination packing list, a warm destination packing list. I keep them all online so I can access them from anywhere. I get the job done a lot quicker when I have it all pre done. Also if you are packing for other people have the different adults and older children in charge of certain things. For example, my hubby always packs the entertainment, electronics, kid’s backpacks, and I do all the clothing. We aren’t allowed to blame someone if we forget something because we are splitting up the task to get the job done faster. We double check each other. We actually rarely forget something because we have a focus and it is less overwhelming.

I guess the biggest packing mistake I have ever made is bringing too little and then having to do laundry on the trip. I understand if you are gone for several weeks and need to do laundry, but I only brought a few outfits for a two week road trip. We ended up dragging around wet laundry half the time because the dryer didn’t work. It was exhausting and not a fun way to spend our trip. Now I will pack enough undershirts/tank tops and have everyone rewear clothes a couple of times before they go in the dirty laundry suitcase. I only pack a few bottoms because those can be reword more without being smelly.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

When traveling, we make sure that we are always pack enough zipper bags, a travel clothesline and an headphone audio splitter.

Zipper bags are most likely the most versatile item I can think of when it comes to place saving travel gear. They are great to pack snacks for the kids or leftover foods when moving from one place to another. Zipper bags also can be used as emergency cereal or salad bowls and they are making great packing cubes as well! If you are traveling eco friendly, use them to keep a wet washing cloths – that’s a good alternative to wet wipes!

The headphone audio splitter is an indispensable item when traveling with two children and only one ipad. I like especially that we all can plug in and share a movie experience instead of doing each something different in front of our screens.

How do you bring things with you?

How we are traveling depends heavily on where we are going and how. If we are depending on public transportation, we’ll travel with back packs. Normally we carry 2 big packs that hold most of our things. The kids are carrying a backpack as well, but while our older son has to carry his clothes, the little one only carries his personal things like a plushy, some toys and his coloring books. He is using the Junior model from Deuter and we are very happy with it. It has a great size for a 6 year old and comes with very good back and shoulder padding.

If we are traveling by plane and with a car at our destination, we just go with a suitcase. We are using two trolleys from Samsonite since years and very satisfied with the quality and the organization within the bags.

Either way, we usually have enough room in our bags as we became very good at traveling light. We never pack more than for 7 days and leave radically everything at home that we might only maybe need. If something really is missing, we can still buy it, but so far we always just managed without. When it comes to organization, we like to use packing cubes – they are helping to find things easily and also are a great asset on road trips. I usually always pack one or two cubes with the items for the next stay, so we don’t have to unload the car at every destination.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

My best tip for everyone that is travelling with their family is to relax, and that’s probably although the most challenging thing to do. Set yourself free from expectations – you’re kid had no shower and no fruit in 24h and is awake way past bedtime? That’s OK! You are all on vacation 🙂

I think the biggest “mistake” families are doing when traveling is trying very hard to have everything like at home. But in a new and unknown surrounding, with a different kind of comfort and with too high expectation. It can almost only go wrong and will leave the entire family stressed out. It’s hard to let go but necessary if the vacation should be great for everyone.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Packing cubes – these keep our clothes organised inside our suitcases which is especially important when packing ours and the kids stuff together.
  • Snacks – little travellers are happier when they get familiar snacks while on the move so we always pack little snack packs in each of our carry on and extras in our luggage.
  • Activity packs – our kids actually look forward to transit time now because they know they will get their activity packs with new things in them like colouring books and crayons, surprise eggs (with little toys inside), puzzles and more.

How do you bring things with you?

We are still on the hunt for the perfect bags however these days we use hard cases because they seem to fit so much more in them and the fact that most have a divider in the middle means we can pack for all of us easily in one case for shorter trips. We use our packing cubes inside to organise each of our clothes so they are easy to find.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

Pack clothes that are easy to wash and wear. No special fabrics that require extra attention. Sometimes you need to be able to rinse a shirt in a bathroom sink and hang it to dry, so you don’t want to fuss. Go for outfits you can mix and match so you can pack less and get more variety from the items you do pack.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Our travel items have changed over the years. When our boys were younger, this list was very different. However, now that we travel with little boys (ages 4 & 6), our 3 most common items that we travel with include a bag full of snacks, water wings for swimming, and medicine for the unexpected.

We never trust that we can find kid friendly food on travel days, especially if we are flying somewhere. We use a dedicated bag full of snacks. Inside it we include: water, bars, instant noodle soup (the kind the only requires hot water), instant oatmeal (the kind that requires hot water and comes in it’s own cup), raisins, nuts, lollies (great for ear pressure on the plane), cereal (that can be eaten with both milk and without), and almond milk (for our son who has a dairy allergy).

The water wings we use are called puddle jumpers. They are amazing and although they take up room in our suitcase, we use them all the time. It allows our kids the freedom to explore in the water, but also gives us piece of mind that they are safe.

Medicine always comes with us as well. We always have our son’s epi pen (for his allergy), Benadryl (great for any type of allergic reaction), Tylenol, Advil, and gravel. Even if your child does not have any known allergies, we suggest that you always have Benadryl with you because you never know what they may come in contact with.

How do you bring things with you?

As a family of 4, we travel with two checked suitcases and each of us has a small backpack carry on. The boys each bring either a backpack or a small kid rolling suitcase. They fill it with small toys, their stuffies, a small blanket, crayons, and electronics to keep them busy.

We, the parents, bring small backpacks as well with extra clothes for us , a blow-up foot rest (called 1st Class Kid) so our kids can lay down, and things to keep us busy like books, our phones, and playing cards.

We would love to eventually get to a carry-on each one day, but we still require too much stuff.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

We always tell traveling families to bring snacks, and lots of them! It has saved us in so many situations. If you can pack light, that’s great. But in all reality, we know it’s hard. Bring what you think you’ll need and don’t sweat it if it’s a bag for each of you. Also, bring an extra change of clothes for each member of the family and have them accessible at all times. You never know when a little tummy might get upset or a pee accident may occur.

Also, one final tip is even if your child is fully potty trained, bring a diaper or two on the plane. Unexpected turbulence can occur, as well as unexpected emergencies where you’re not allowed to leave your seat. If you have a diaper, your child can use it in an emergency situation.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Mentholatum: this little, but mighty salve is a must-have for us on our flights. We apply it to the inside of our noses (yes, totally looks awkward) but it keeps our nasal passages from drying out during long flights. We’re certain it helps trap germs from all that circulated air. Since using mentholatum on flights we haven’t gotten sick from a flight once!
  • Lotus travel crib/toddler cot- both are compact enough to fit inside our suitcase (both are also approved to fit in the overhead bins on airlines, should we need to bring them as carry-ons.
  • Waterproof blister pads: these pads go SO FAR above and beyond band-aids for sore feet.

How do you bring things with you?

We try and condense everything into as few of bags as possible. We successfully traveled around SE Asia for 10 weeks with our 3 year old daughter with just one rolling suitcase, one basic REI brand backpack and one lowepro camera bag!

We compartmentalize items as much as possible. We carry all toiletries in plastic ziplock bags (we love the XL size ziplock bags from the storage section of the store) for larger bottles. We reduce the number of items we bring by sharing as many items as possible (toothpaste, shampoo, body wash). We also bring extra ziplock and garbage bags with us and then come in hand for dirty/wet clothes.

We keep each person’s items all together and in the same places so that we can access them quickly and easily. We roll many of our clothing items to help save on space and keep them less wrinkly. When traveling, we wear our heaviest/bulkiest shoes so they don’t take up room in our suitcase.

We pack our bags pretty full, but that works well for us to keep everything in just a few bags.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

We think most people (including ourselves) tend to bring too much when traveling. We’ve learned to scale back over the years. When we went on our 10 week trip abroad we each only packed 2-3 outfits, and yes, you get a little bored of the same clothes, but you really don’t need more. We’ve found it helpful to bring neutral lightweight clothes that can be mixed and matched and layered. Pack lots of underwear, but just 2-3 outfits and 2 pairs of shoes (one close toed and one that works well in water/sand).

It’s worth it to bring your preferred medicines and toiletries because you may not be able to find them on the road. Share as many items as possible and transfer/condense items into smaller containers. For example we put our tylenol and L-Lysine into one bottle. (This only works for pills that are easy to distinguish between!).

As far as getting out the door, we have found that one of the biggest reasons people don’t travel is the financial investment. Having to pay for flights, land travel, accommodations, food, and entertainment all at once can feel incredibly daunting. We tend to plan and pay for our trip in stages. For example, we might book our big international flights first and have a general plan for where we will visit. We’ll then book a few of the main attractions/accommodations that we really want to visit. We don’t usually finalize our exact itinerary or domestic flights until closer to the trip, or even while we are traveling. It’s so easy to find great last minute deals on flights and hotels these days, and it allows us some flexibility in case we find a place where we want to spend more time.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Folding Hand Carts – We have to travel with two convertible car seats for our toddlers and compact hand carts are by far the best way to navigate them on trains and planes. They fold up very small and can be stored easily with carry on luggage. We also use them throughout the trip to transport multiple luggage items at once (which comes in very handy when a child is tired and needs to be carried). Another bonus is that they roll so smoothly my children can pull their own car seats through a busy airport!
  • Bed sets – In general my packing is very minimalistic. The one area I break that rule, however, is when it comes to bed items for my kids. For me, the hardest part about traveling is getting my kids to sleep in different locations. I find it easiest when we’ve brought familiar sleep items from home. If I have the space, I’ll bring their toddler pillows, stuffed animals, and even their blanket they use to sleep. When we get to the hotel room, we’ll make their bed areas together so they feel comfortable. When I started doing this is really changed how well my children would fall asleep, and stay asleep, on vacation.
  • Painter’s tape – I first read this on a travel blog and thought they were crazy… until I packed it for myself. We ended up using the painter’s tape all the time: to cover outlets in hotel rooms, to label water bottles, sealing diaper bags, making a “road” for the kids to play on a restaurant table… Seriously, super helpful little item to pack.

How do you bring things with you?

Like many others mention, our family swears by packing cubes. We have a different color for each family member to keep the clothes easily separated and accessible. We pack the cubes in one of two large suitcases.

Our packing is always limited to two large suitcases (+one backpack) and it’s always the perfect amount of storage. Two large bags, for our family of 4, gives us room for everything we need but discourages us from bringing extra things we don’t. We don’t encourage our toddlers to have backpacks of their own because, honestly, my husband and I would end up carrying it anyway.

What are your top tips for other families on the road?

When packing, remember that every thing is negotiable. Ask yourself if every item is really, truly needed. Can one item’s use double for another one? Can an item be bought along the way? We try to only bring things that we are 100% certain will be used – no “just in case” items.

And lastly, always have your next vacation (or two!) planned and on the horizon. This ensures your traveling dreams become reality.




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