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Packing light is key when traveling with kids and especially when you tend to city hop like we do. On our most recent trip to Europe we visited Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Brussels. Constantly on the move every few days and going up and down the stairs, as most apartment buildings in Europe do not have elevators, packing light was an easy way to reduce frustration. For this week long trip pictured below is all we packed. Had I chose to purchase diapers in Europe or if Kennedy was no longer in them I could have ditched the Dory suitcase as it was only filled with diapers and wipes.
Child suitcases can become annoying really quickly. Jordyn loves to pull her own suitcase but sometimes when we are in a rush it slows her down or if she gets tired of course it then becomes your responsibility to hold it. I love that her Dory suitcase has a strap on the back that goes over the handle of my suitcase so I can push/pull both with only one hand. So how do I pack for a family of 4 for a week in one suitcase?
When deciding on our clothing for a 7 day trip I only pack 3 bottoms per person. Jeans, especially men’s are very heavy and take up a lot of space. You really don’t need a different bottom for each day, you can re-wear. I pick darker bottoms as they typically go with more tops and if I get a little dirt on them it’s not noticeable. I pack 1 shirt for each day. If the weather is warm where you are going packing dresses for women and shorts for men over jeans will also save you space and make your suitcase lighter. Since we typically stay at Airbnb’s they usually have washing machines and I always pack travel size detergent or a few detergent pods so we can do laundry half way through the trip if necessary. If your thought is “I might wear it, let me pack it just in case.” PUT. IT. BACK! Lol but seriously, it’s like the shirt you always want to give away because you haven’t worn it in years but you somehow decide in your head you will because you like it but then of course you never wear it. The same thing will happen with this extra outfit you’ve convinced yourself you need on this trip, just leave it at home. Remember the less options you have to choose from, the quicker you’ll be able to get ready and out the door to start your adventures.
This is exactly what we packed in one suitcase for our week long Euro Trip. Details below on how we fit it all in one suitcase weighing 43lbs total!
Shoes can take up a ton of space in your luggage and they can be very heavy. I always coordinate our clothing so we can get away with wearing the same shoe with each outfit. This way we only have the shoes we are wearing on our feet the day we leave and we don’t require any space in our luggage to pack shoes. Worst case we will each have two pairs of shoes with the heaviest one being worn on our travel days to save weight in our bag.
We put all of our toiletries in travel size clear containers and I label with a permanent marker. The pressure from airplanes can cause items to escape so I always put each of them in a snack size zip lock bag to prevent spillage. I then put everything in one of our packing cubes.
If you don’t have packing cubes you need to get some! My friend used them on our trip to Australia and I was amazed at how much she could fit in them plus how organized her bag was. I immediately ordered some and they are the best. Here’s why:
They help us stay organized! I ordered a different color packing cube set for each of us. This helps automatically know whose clothes are where in case of an emergency. I wish I had these in Australia because I was de-boarding a flight when Kennedy had an explosive diaper. Poop was all up her back and her pants and shirt were done for. When went through our bag I pretty much had to take everything out since her clothes were at the bottom. Had I had packing cubes I’d simply grab her color cube without disorganizing my entire bag and then having to repack everything.
They turn your luggage into drawers like at home! Everyone packs their cubes a different way. When we are traveling to multiple cities in one trip I will pack mine based on city, putting the outfits I plan on wearing in each city in one cube so I only have to open one and everything else stays organized. However, when staying in one place an entire trip I might pack based on item: underwear and socks in one cube, shirts in one, and bottoms in the other. Instead of unpacking everything I will just put my cubes in the drawers and everything is easily accessible but also stay together and organized.
The black cubes have all my husbands belongings, the red has Kennedy’s, the yellow/black has Jordyn’s, the big yellow one has mine and the small yellow has all of our toiletries. Below they all neatly fit into our regular sized check in luggage.
Here is our bag with all of our stuff all under the 50lb maximum weight for a total of 43lbs!
The packing cubes seen in our suitcase above are from eBags and you can get them here. However, I recently started using packing cubes from EzPacking. The reason is because I love that they too also come in various colors so we can each have our own set but I also like that they are completely see-through on the top so you can see everything inside. Most importantly I love that they are completely sealed which keeps the stench from your dirty clothes away from your clean clothes especially when traveling to multiple cities on one trip. Use promo code ‘thetravelingchild’ to save 15% off EzPacking packing cubes.
What packing tips do you have? Drop them in the comments below!
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Ok you have me convinced on packing cubes. I seriously LOVE your blog. I travel at least once a month with our almost 7 month old, usually by myself and your blog has helped me so much. I recommend it to everyone! ❤️
Monet Hambrick says
Awww, thank you so much Elisa!!! That means so much to me and I am so happy it has been so helpful to you. Yessss, packing cubes are life, I swear by them now!
April Kitchens says
Girl I need those packing cubes!! And definitely a ziplock for toiletries. Thankfully Target has a few of the brands that I like in travel sizes and I just refill when needed.
Ok! I just figured out what I’ll be getting us for Xmas! I like to do a family gift, and what better gift than the gift of travel?! I have so many ideas for road trips, and, hopefully, one big trip that will require a plane for next year, and these packing cubes will be perfect!
Yes, the gift of travel is truly amazing. Packing cubes have seriously changed my life lol, I hope they make it easier for your family to pack light and stay organized as well!
Tiffany Haywood says
You definitely have this down to a science and a skill I have not mastered yet. I will be adding this packing cubes to my shopping list for our next trip for sure.
Stephanie Saint-julien says
Seeing this blog gives me life !!!! I swear because I live in Miami where I dream everyday of traveling especially with my 1 y.o. son Aiden and Boyfriend Tyree. This gives me the extra push to travel because I always wondered how in the world can travel with a baby it must but hard. But now looking at things in a different light I thank you for this great info. Hope to be on the same traveling path to.
We live in South Florida too!! I won’t lie it’s hard sometimes but that’s just being a parent in general so I’m like might as well have some of those hard days be in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Take advantage of the free flights for your son while you can!!!
Carmelita Watkins says
Hello, I have a question…When you pack for 4 people is the luggage you used a carry on luggage or a check in luggage size?
When it’s all four of us we use a checked luggage sized suitcase.
I used different size bags that you roll to let the air out then zip and lay then flat. Takes up no space. I might get some cubes for toiletries and shoes