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I recently drove a friend and her family to the airport. The 4 of them were going to a Caribbean island for a 5-day vacation. They had seven large checked bags with them for their trip – SEVEN! I am sure they arrived with more than they needed for their time on the island. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder how much easier their comings and goings would have been if they’d been able to downsize their luggage. Do families really need to take so much luggage when they travel? The reality is people travel with carry-ons only all of the time. Is it really something one can pull off with children? Of course it is! Here are some packing tips for how to travel carry-on only with kids.
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Packing Tips For Carry-On Only with Kids
Think Before You Pack
The first thing you’ll want to realize is that all members of your family get the same baggage allowance. That means that your kids get a carry-on as well as a personal item (such as a backpack) just like you do. Take advantage of that rule and give each kid their own carry-on luggage. When you’re not trying to pack everyone’s outfits into two carry-ons, it makes things easier.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding carry-ons on the airline you’ll be flying. Airlines have their own rules and nobody wants to encounter surprises at the airport. Look over things when time is on your side and arrive prepared and informed.
Be sure to share your space. If one of your kids ends up with space in their bag, by all means, use that for another family member’s things. You can sort things out when you arrive at your destination. This is especially important if you have some bigger items that take up more real estate. Everything still fits in a bag, and you don’t have to resort to checking a suitcase. Use this tip when one family member’s bag is heavier than the others as well. They’re all headed to the same destination. Make them work for all of you.
Pack clothes that can do double-duty. A scarf that can work as a cover-up, a blanket, a skirt or a wrap is a great example. You’ll also want to look through your clothing and plan on wearing some items more than once. That black pair of pants can work with two different tops? Perfect – you now have two outfits instead of one. When you’re packing, lay out your clothing and try to pick outfits for the activities and days you’ll be gone. Clothes that mix and match or belong to the same color family work especially well, as they can be interchanged if necessary, or be recombined to create a new outfit.
Roll your clothes when you pack them and stuff smaller items into larger spaces like inside your shoes. Wear your biggest and heaviest items. Pack in layers so you are ready for all kinds of weather conditions.
Use travel-sized items when you can and try solid versions of things like perfume, deodorant, and shampoo to cut down your liquids bag. Free samples are great for this purpose.
Look to Your Destination for Help
Use the resources your lodging offers. Do they rent cribs and pack-and-plays,? Do they offer a box of age-appropriate toys or books, beach items, and supplies? If so, leave yours at home. If you’ve got an e-reader, load it up with books before your trip. Staying with friends or relatives? They may have what you need or might be able to borrow it from someone they know.
Buy things when you arrive at your destination. This is especially relevant for things like some toiletries, snacks, beverages, diapers, laundry detergent, and bigger bottles of items you’ll use a lot. One quick trip to a grocery or convenience store could save you time and space in your bag.
Don’t be afraid to do laundry at your destination. Some hotels may have a service available, some have washers and dryers, some are near a facility to do it yourself. You can always wash items in your room and bring along a portable wash-line in order to dry them. Being able to recycle or reuse an outfit or items in your wardrobe is a great way to cut down on what you pack.
One of the biggest enemies of packers is the temptation to start late and go too quickly. Give yourself enough time to assemble an intelligent collection of items. Then come back a bit later and eliminate those things you think you can do without. One-use items and “I think I might need this” items are perfect examples of things that may be eliminated.
Most importantly, though? Believe you can do it. Practice doing it. Continually refine your system if needed. You’ll soon be wondering why you ever lugged so many bags with you as you can now avoid extra bag fees and the baggage claim area. These great packing tips will have you enjoying traveling lighter and less burdened – no matter where your travels take you.
All photos courtesy of Sydney Treasures Photography.
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