Is it possible to Travel Lightly with Kids?
Many people are light travelers, but how does that translate when you have kids? We all know that kids need more stuff, right? My husband and I were both seasoned travelers when we met. I had gone to Europe with just ONE suitcase. for a summer. My husband had endured shakedowns of backpacks at the Philmont Boy Scout camp.
In my family it was a badge of sorts to have the least amount of luggage leaving on a trip. I can remember one of my brothers packing clothes in his clothes so he could say he had the least luggage. How did we become minimalist travelers? My mother had a rule that we had to carry our own bags. Before the days of airlines restricting luggage we generally traveled with one carryon (such as a backpack) and one other bag, sometimes with a third bag packed inside to bring home the goodies.
I became such a ultra light traveler that on one family trip when my luggage failed to arrive I was able to survive in Mexico with my carry=on and some borrowed shorts from my brother. The only thing I had to purchase was a bathing suit.
Traveling Lightly with Kids
So how do you translate being a light traveler when you have kids? Is it possible to travel lightly with kids? Let me share with you have I have been able to travel lightly for 13 years with my kids.
- No matter how long the trip is pack for 3-5 days. You can always do laundry, a bathroom sink, works well.
- What I recommend for clothing to pack for everyone is as follows. You can modify this based on your destination and the season you travel
- Keep in mind is that you will probably not even wear this much clothing.
- Layering while traveling key to comfort and making your clothes go far.
- Pack clothes that coordinate, not outfits. Outfits take up room.
- Think could I carry this all by myself?
- No matter how long the trip is pack for 3-5 days.
- Roll, Roll. Roll everything that can be rolled. By rolling you will be able to fit more in your bag than by simply folding
- Pack an extra bag for souvenirs and dirty clothes. For some reason dirty clothes coming home always take up more room, and who wants to contaminate the clean clothes.
- Don’t be afraid to have kids pack and carry their own bags. Just be sure to give them a list. My kids have been packing for weekends away since they were 3 or 4.
Pack Just the Essentials
- one bathing suit (you never know if there will be a pool where you are going)
- 2 pairs of shorts – one nice- one comfy t-shirt type (the second pair can be used as pj’s )
- one pair of long pants – a dark color these can be dressed up nicely (or if summer khaki)
- 2 plain colored t-shirts
- one button down shirt – like a basic white or denim oxford – in the summer a long sleeve polo can be substituted as a layering option or stand alone shirt
- one pair of jeans of appropriate weight (light weight for summer, heavier for winter)
- one sweater – cardigans can double as a dressier jacket
- a blazer and tie for men. You never know if you will need a tie and jacket for dinner- Really it happened to my Dad on a family trip, the resort required tie and jacket for men for dinner.We had to go buy them for him
- a long dress for women – simple dress for girls
- a large scarf or sarong – may be used as a shawl or sling or dress or blanket. So many uses here.
- one pair of nice yet comfortable shoes
- one pair of shoes such as river walkers, keens or teva’s. No need to bring sneakers if you have these.
- five pairs of underwear –my family prefers a wicking type of bike short style as this can double for workouts or swim shorts
- bras –two for women – one sports long tank style(can be worn with shorts to work out or bike shorts to swim even do double duty as a tank top and one convertible)
- 2 = 5 pairs of socks (depending on season)
- toiletries. – bare minimum tooth brush, comb, brush, travel size of Castile Soap
- long lounge pants for all ages – or yoga pants – can be worn as pj' bottoms or after a swim
- a cham-wow – perfect for rolling up your wet clothes in. They will be dry in the morning.
- Sunglasses, hat, sunblock
- dirty laundry bag
- rain jacket/umbrella
- sweatshirt or fleece jacket
You can adjust this list as the seasons change- but generally this is what I take no matter when/where I travel. If we have an event, like a wedding where we are going, we will often take a separate garment bag to pack the special clothes all together. Since we are able to fit the above clothing into a bag the size of a carry-on we have the room and luggage allotment to take an extra bag. We rarely use all of our allotted pieces of luggage when traveling by plane.
Techniques and Strategies for Traveling Lightly with Kids
picture credit - totsy
- As a mom who often travels alone with my kids, yes even babies I learned a few handy things. I started having my kiddos carry some of their own things as soon as they could. For us that meant as toddlers. They had child appropriate sized back packs, and would carry
- a water bottle
- a book to read
- a sweater/jacket
- a small lovey/stuffed animal
- a change of clothes in a zip lock bag
I would carry the same in a rolling pilot case but include for everyone. If you are traveling by car all you have to do is grab this bag for any overnight stays. No dragging everyone’s stuff in to to the hotel and packing it up each night.
- toiletries, a
- change of clothes for mom
- some snack foods
- a sling
- if traveling by plane some gifts (chocolate) for the flight attendants.
What are you must haves when you Travel?
Do you travel lightly and pack nothing more than a toothbrush or do you pack everything but the Kitchen Sink?
If you would like more info on traveling lightly with kids please check out these great sites.