I take packing very seriously. From packing lists to packing cubes, I pride myself on always having what we need without overpacking — and without having to check bags. But I wasn’t always this way. I’ll never forget the first overnight trip with my then-4-month-old son for a weeklong conference in New Orleans. Being first-time parents, we packed everything we thought we would need and even more that we didn’t. But it’s better to have and not need, right? Not always.
A lot has changed since that last trip over four years ago, including the addition of another kid and countless trips, both domestic and international. Now with a 3- and 4-year-old in tow, I pack more efficiently from head to toe — literally.
Here’s what’s in my bag(s) when I travel with my family.
Pack travel bag
I’m obsessed with my new sling bag from Pakt. I love large, satchel-type purses for my day-to-day needs, but when it comes to travel days — or even just days when we’ll be out of the house for more than an hour — I need a backpack or crossbody bag. The Pakt travel bag is the perfect combo of both.
There are two main compartments in this bag. In the front zipper, I put extra masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. And on the inside, I put literally everything else, including my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite that I never travel without. My phone, Kindle, wallet, passport, pen for filling out immigration forms, Dramamine and Kleenex all fit inside the larger compartment with ease. And because overpacking is impossible with such a compact space, I only have what my family and I really need.
Carry-ons and packing cubes
I know that a lot of my colleagues are big fans of Rimowa and Away luggage, but I’ve loved me iFly hard-side carry-on for years. I also rarely travel without my EzPacking cubes. I have sets in different colors for each of my family members and am often able to pack myself and both of my kids in my carry-on thanks to the compression and organization that my packing cubes provide. When we arrive, I don’t even bother unpacking. I just place the packing cubes in the drawers and go from there.
Now that my kids are old enough to carry their own backpacks, I let them carry a few of their own items. I always pack them a couple of device-free activities, like coloring books and small toys, in addition to their iPads and wireless headphones.
Clothes with pockets
This might seem like a weird thing to mention, and I understand that it’s not exactly a bag, but hear me out.
As I graduated from an overpacker to a more conscious packer, I started to really take advantage of what I could wear that could also hold some of the more important things I found myself constantly reaching for. Examples include my wallet, passport and lip balm, and eventually, I added masks and hand sanitizer or wipes. I almost always travel with me Levi’s jean jacket because of its inside pockets that hold all of these things, not to mention helping ward off the freezing temperatures on airplanes.
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I no longer pack every single item my kids could need when we travel. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve become a more conscious packer, taking advantage of packing cubes in my carry-on, a slingback travel bag and even inside pockets in my favorite jacket. I also make a list of what we’ll need for each trip to ensure I don’t overpack or forget anything.
All in all, my family’s travel bag(s) always have everything we need.