Go on, admit it. Who has had their kid sit on top of a bulging suitcase to help get the thing zipped up? Don’t we all struggle to carry luggage and keep children in sight on the way to check-in at the airport? Ever slammed the car boot shut hoping the contents don’t fall out as soon as you open it again?
Whether it’s a weekend away or an overseas adventure, a lot of people pack a lot more than they need, and having children exponentially increases what goes in the suitcase.
For most adventures I pack our family of five into one large suitcase. Yes, it is possible. Here are a few of my favourite tips on how to avoid over packing for a family.
I start with a list before I pack. That list covers everything from clothes for each person and medical kit to nappies or food needed for young children and the iPad charger. This helps me not pack ‘extra’ things on a whim and ensures nothing gets left behind. We keep ‘master lists’ saved on the computer for summer, winter and adventure holidays and simply tweak as needed each holiday.
I pull out everything I think I might want to pack for the holiday and pile it on the bed. Then I go back to my list and use it to choose what really needs to be packed. If the list says I need four t-shirts then I pick the four in the pile that will be most worn and versatile. It might mean putting back a couple I really like, but if it isn’t on the list, it isn’t going to be packed.
Shoes are bulky and heavy so choose wisely. I try to limit our shoes to only 2 or 3 pairs each on a holiday. This might be a pair of sneakers or comfortable walking shoes, a pair of thongs/sandals and a ‘pretty’ pair. Extra tip – if you are flying wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane.
It’s easy to over pack toys and books for the kids. I always have that niggling thought, what if we get a rainy day and I don’t have enough stuff to entertain them? My girls get to choose one teddy/soft toy each to take on holiday. They like to have something for comfort on the plane and to fall asleep with at night. Keep everything else simple; pack a few toys and books that have multiple purposes and trust that your kids will create entertainment wherever you are with what is around them.
Babies definitely increase the volume of packing – nappies, porta-cots, bottles, baby food etc. Remember you only need to carry enough to get you started for the first day or two, stock up on things like nappies once you arrive at your destination. Consider hiring bulky items like porta-cots or invest in a small, lightweight travel cot if you travel frequently. Ours is small enough to carry as cabin luggage.
Just because you’re entitled to check-in 23 kg per person on most flights doesn’t mean you need to carry that. Limit yourself to one or two suitcases and then find a way to make it work for you. We manage to fit all our clothes and shoes for a family of five into one suitcase. We then use the storage compartment of our baby travel pack (which we take instead of a stroller) to pack nappies and other bulky baby items You will inevitably fill whatever space you have, so try not to go crazy on pieces of luggage.
Not convinced you can leave that extra dress or shoes behind on your next holiday? Give it a go, travel is so much easier if you are not carting extra suitcases around, and if you find you REALLY did need it … treat yourself to a new dress while you are away!