Travel packing tips

One of my personal highlights of the trip was the packing which we NAILED even if I do say so myself. Cause I just did! In fact, even though I am quite an organised/tidy person, I am not a print the checklist kind of person who packs and plans for ages in advance. I always pack at the VERY last minute and this trip was no exception. We did it the day before/morning we left and it still worked. Thought I would share some insights (I couldn’t call them tips, just thoughts on the subject given that I am no expert at all).

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Here’s what we took. 26 KILOS FOR THE 4 OF US. For 5 weeks! A Christmas miracle. Because I usually have this much when I go away for a weekend trip.

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I am a serial over packer (usually wearing 1/3 of the stuff that I take) and I was determined this time to not make that mistake. When I was away in Noosa (which about 30 bloody kilos of luggage for 4 days) I interrogated others with tips. Foxy said that I need to only take the things I LOVE. Styling you informed me that I needed to pack smart. Woogsworld & Hair Romance that I needed to leave room for shopping. So with all that in mind I took to the task with precision and determination.

I purchased 2 new suitcases for the job. One for the girls to share and one for Rob and I to share. I’d never ponied up for luggage before and thought that investing in some quality would mean that they would last.

Ours (green one): Antler cyberlite medium roller case (3.1kgs 70cm x 30cm x 47cm) which was $279
Girls (black one): Stratic takeoff medium trolley (3 kgs 65cm x 29cm x 42cm) which was $299
(got both 50% off…schweet)

Interesting to note that you should remember the names of the bags that you have. If you have lost luggage (like we did) they need to know the name/size/colour etc so the more you remember the better!

I also remembered this post from Caz & Craig before they set off on their big trip about packing cells but being the not organised person that I am I forgot to get to Katmandu to get them so had to pick up some other similar ones that I got from the luggage shop at the same time as I got the suitcases.

1. Choose clothes wisely

We needed to have stuff for cooler weather in the UK, and then summer for Europe & Singapore. I choose 1 of everything with the exception of summer dresses for the girls (where they had 2 each). One jumper. One pair of jeans. One pair of sandals. One pair of sandshoes. I was STRICT and made the girls sit with me and choose which the one item would be. They had control so (hopefully) there would be no shitfight at the other end. I did the same for myself and in the end there were 3 or 4 things that I STILL didn’t wear. Plus a wee bit of extraย shopping too). I am usually terrible with shoes taking waaaay too many but I was strict. Runners (I went for 2 runs that was IT) Sandals. High tops that was it). I took 2 scarves to mix and match with one pair of jeans and a good selection of tops to mix it up with. Was I sick of my stuff? A little but I really didn’t care plus I got to raid my sister’s stuff when we met up later in the trip.

2. Use packing cells

These things were the BUSINESS. I got ones similar to these (came in a pack of three) for next to nothing. I choose different colours so Harper had black and Daisy white so I knew easily what belonged to who. Their clothes went in the big ones, shoes in the medium and then underwear in small. You can squish them down and wedge in between and it was just the easiest best thing!

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3. Have a spare plastic bag

I used a bag I had from shopping for dirty washing. It kept things separate and it was easy when I got to washing machine to quickly empty it and know what was dirty versus what was clean.

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4. Choose smaller carry on bags for the kids

I was initially going to choose those wheelie backpacks for the girls to use figuring that they were old enough (aged 4 and 7) to drag them along. Again, not being organised I had to use bags that we had at home because I never got around to buying them. This was a lucky move. While I had visions of all of us taking ownership over our carry on, EVERY time the girls were tired and shitty and more interested in running and punching each other as soon as they got off the plane rather than drag a suitcase along. It also stopped the amount of crap they took with them. Harps had a few Sylvania families, some pencils and drawing and Daise her camera, books and journal and that was it. The planes give good stuff to kids to play with (Emirates were EXCELLENT at this as were Lufthansa) that gets used way more than their stuff from home. Don’t take stuff from home! You’ll just end up dragging it along. The smaller bags could also be stacked on the pull out handle of my carry on case meaning it was one bag pulling 3 plus by handbag.

My carry on (the orange one) had my shoes on one side and laptop/cords/all devices on the other.

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Other tips
    • Our bags got lost and when they were returned they were TRASHED. As much as the lady in the luggage shop said these bags would last 10 years…I’m not sure they will. Other people on Facebook said that they had the same experience and always buy cheaper ones. The hard cases may also be a good option – although the lighter the bag to start the more room for stuff and cheaper ones are usually more expensive.
    • Pack a spare change of clothes for all of you in your carry on for lost luggage (I meant to do that, but again: NOT ORGANISED)
    • Pack and then HALVE it. Seriously. You don’t need all that stuff, you just don’t! And if you get sick of your stuff then buy something new! You have space to!
    • Check baggage allowances for other airlines you might be using during the trip. Some airlines in Europe have smaller limits than what we have leaving Australia.
    • 4 wheels are better than 2 on suitcases – I find you can manoeuvre them much better.
    • Have a luggage strap or tag that will help your black luggage stand out from the rest.
    • Avoid taking stuffed toys (we lost one in London Piggy up there pictured and then had to carry around 2 VERY annoying ones that the girls got at Hamleys with money they had saved) they were a complete pain in the arse.
    • Ipads loaded with games are life savers.
    • Take kids earphones if you can.
    • Pack a power board if you have space. Sometimes hotel rooms have one shitty plug and that’s it PLUS if you are OS where you need adapters it can be a pain trying to get all devices charged. We had lap tops, iPads, cameras, phones to charge and these can be a really good time saver.

So there’s my tips while it’s all still fresh in my mind. But as I said, I am NO expert. Over to you guys!

What’s your best tip for packing with kids overseas?
What did I miss?

Comments

  1. I’m into week four and still going strong with my 10 frocks for five weeks plan (although I’ve cheated and bought two which I’m wearing A LOT!). I packed things I couldn’t bear to lose in my carry-on – so my fave shoes and fave frock. I bought five pairs of shoes with me, too many, two next time (I’ve also bought two pairs – my sandals which I’m wearing to death, and a pair of Docs which I’ll wear to death when I get home).

    I bought big ziplock bags for shoes which I’ve been using for dirty washing, and to repack the shoes in when we travel. We bought new suitcases, Antler with four wheels – LOVE. They have a hard case bottom so seem quite sturdy (only two plane trips so far).

    Loved following your holiday ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. i love the idea of the packing cells, and having a boy and a girl, we have purchased one small case each for them, and my husband and i share one larger case. Agree with all points of limiting the kids’ carry on – they do not use it. Husband carries a handy back pack with iPads, chargers etc, and a pocket for passports/boarding passes. He is, and shall always remain, captain of all things official and we love this. I carry a larger carry on with a change of undies and top for he and i, and a complete change for the kids. Really like your idea of having shoes in your carry on – might steal that as shoes can be the devil to replace if lost.

    • Love that… “The captain of all things official”. And what a big job that is! I’m it in my fam. Not sure how I got the gig, but it’s stuck now. One day I shall memorise all 4 passport numbers… Would make all that entry paperwork much easier!

      Thanks for your tips Beth! Love the cells idea! Onto that ASAP!
      I went to tassie for work last week and my suitcase went to Darwin for 2 days! Had to buy new outfits, one for a black tie gala function, pjs, toiletries and make up. Spent more than I made in 2 days working!! Thankfully got it back in one piece. Love my hard shell Samsonite!

    • Rob was the official captain this holiday (never has before) and I LOVED it. Didn’t have to worry about one hotel check in, one immigration card, one baggage thing…it was fab!

  3. I’m a very organized packer, I do all those things plus I colour coordinate my clothes so everything can be mixed and matched. I always limit the number of shoes as they take up so much suitcase room. I’m also very careful to limit my toiletries as these can also take up lots of room, I ask my hairdresser for samples so I’m not carrying shampoo bottles etc. and always just use the hair dryer at the hotel, it may not be as good as mine but it does the job. Welcome home. X

  4. Cassie Webster says

    I just can’t get over that you have shopped, changed sheets and filled vases with fresh flowers…AND written a blog post – on your first day home! It takes me a week (at least) to just unpack a suitcase. Go you, always inspiring ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Great tips! I have none to offer I am a serial overpacker! Just letting you know though Kathmandus cells were on sale 3 for $25 which is soo cheap! I think it might finish tonight or tomorrow!

  6. Oh and if your ever staying in a fancy hotel rummage the drawers for the laundry/washing bag you can send away your clothes to be ‘laundered’ in and steal it! They are the best size, fabric and have a drawstring for keeping your dirty laundry separate.

  7. Great tips. Did you buy much stuff whilst away? I did read your post but wondered what else you bought and if it all fit……

  8. What about toiletries??? Did your bloggy uber-wise friends have any tips? My toiletries and first aid kit (for kids mostly, and asia travel) are KILLEr and always make my bag heavy and overloaded ……

    Thanks for the tips. I am doing carry on only to Bali next week. Now, there’s a challenge!

    • Me too – always the heaviest part of my bag. Maybe just getting samples to use rather than the big ones from home? Have fun – jelly!

    • Gibbergunyah says

      Nalgene bottles (from outdoor stores like Paddy Pallin). They never leak. Decant your stuff into them. Simplify and streamline. If you’re only away 3 weeks you might not need conditioner or exfoliant or nail polish.

  9. NO WAY is that all you took? I pack way too much just for a night away! I will be coming back to read this when I head to NZ in Sept for family visit!

  10. PACKING CELLS. QUADRANT. TOPPER. The things I learn from you, Bethaniel.

    I’m planning a trip. Fuck knows where … somewhere out of this country come October is all I know. Thanks for the tips. Rocco got a pair of “story” dice for his birthday recently, they’re hexagonal with all these different pictures on them so when you roll them you have to tell a story based on the pictures. So cool. I’ll be packing those – they’re also a good cafe distracter.

    xxx

  11. HI Beth,
    thanks for the tips. Your trip sounds wonderful and i am sure your kids will never forget this time they got to share with their parents, grandparents and cousins.
    We travel a lot with my two kids (4 and 7 too), last year twice between south america and Australia and your tips sound spot on. Though I over pack and my partner hates me for it. We have the Antler suitcases too and they have worked out well. They are light so this helps stuffing more stuff in them. We also pack a small luggage scale that I got at Peter’s of Kensington. The hand scale is really really handy since between Sth america and Australia we can have 2 bags each weighing 23kg and we usually travel back after Christmas in Australia full of kids toys plus a carry on each. We are always just under the limit in terms of kgs, as my engineering partner makes sure the numbers are always well under, and the airline hosties are always happy about that! I love the idea of the clothing cells, will look into this!
    Hope you get over jet lag quicksticks xx

    • Thanks Yamila…thought we were doing so well with the jet lag but we all slept in until 9am this morning which made for a mad school rush! The only annoying thing with the Antler case is the fact it has no side handle. That really bugged me!

  12. Thank you so much for your amazing tips – I haven’t come across the packing cells but am popping online tonight to get some! We are venturing overseas with a 1 yo in December (absolute madness I am aware!!) for a short trip and the packing cells will be perfect!!
    PS. Absolutely LOVE your black and white spotted bag – where do you get it?? Have been looking for something similar for our trip for months!!!

    • The bag was something Daisy got for her birthday. I got it from a local kids shop in fact – no brand name on it I’m afraid. They had all kinds of plastic coated ones some with vintage London prints on it which were cute. Sorry that’s not much help!

  13. fantastic – I just went straight online and ordered cells in various colours – with three daughters plus myself they will definitely make it easier and neater to share suitcases! excellent tip!

  14. I’ve loved reading your travels away so much. We’re into our 3rd and final week of a trip to Canada and the USA with our two boys and love your travel tips! I’ve never heard of travel cells but I’m sure I’ll be sourcing some when we return as one of the most annoying things about living out of a suitcase is rummaging through (and messing up) your clothes piles!

    We travel quite a lot so thought I’d throw my two cents in! We have 4 Samsonites – two medium and two large. We put the mediums into the large ones, taking it down to two bags. Then the kids share one and we share one and as we go along we can expand (the shopping is great in the USA for example!). Each bag has a blue ribbon, a florescent green lock and identical tags so they’re all immediately identifiable when they come out. We also had bags go missing so good tip re knowing what they look like. Ours have so far survived about 5 years and 15-20 trips with only minor damage.

    The kids take their school backpacks on board, and we each take our own – remember that us ladies can have a handbag AND carry on, so I maximise this opportunity!

    We take the bare essentials, right down to toiletries – most hotels supply shampoo and conditioner for example. I also take a laundry pack with powder in a ziplock bag, pegs, and 2-3 travel lines. So if you don’t have access to a laundry, you can wash by hand and hang out in the room. I also limit our clothes to a week’s worth – simplifies things and with kids you’ll need to wash after a week anyway!

    Agree re the power board – so many things to charge these days! We also travel with a tiny digital scale (the size of a small handle) so you always know where you sit with luggage weight.

    Hope you’re settled again – so nice to be home even though you miss the excitement of travel!

    • Great tips! Next time I am just going to utilise hotel supplies of shampoo & conditioner (except for my face cream) and use that. We stayed at a fancy place in Dubai that had amazing supplies that I took on the first morning and it lasted almost the whole trip!

  15. My only real top tip is pack a full change of clothes for kids in a plastic bag in their carry on. The amount of times we’ve had all kinds of accidents (wees, split drinks, meals, etc) and needed a full change including socks. Then the plastic bag holds the wet clothes. The last couple of trips I’ve taken a zip-up bag bag from IKEA (like those cheap stripy bags from $2 shop) to pack excess stuff on way home. Our last winter trip it was a lifesaver for booster seats and snowboard boots!

  16. Fabulous tips! I love packing for trips and plan weeks ahead with a list with every possible thing we’ll need. I know, you can imagine it.

  17. Yvonne Duke says

    The 6 of us spent 4 weeks in the US with 2 cases !! You never need as much as you think and is quite liberating not having loads to choose from !! We are going again in a few weeks, we use inexpensive cases bought from Walmart as have had too many ruined !! I bought those travel cells in IKEA, think it was about $7 for 3 !!

  18. Right! I’m off to Big W to see if they’ve got those packing cells. I’d heard about them, but was unsure. Now, with all the ringing endorsements, they sound like the way to go. Thanks, everyone!

    Yvonne

  19. We’re off to Paris , London, KL in September so love your tips. First time ever I have read every comment to a post. Thanks everyone for your tips. I’m going to try to be really strict about what I take and read very carefully what is supplied in our airbnb accommodation so I don’t take anything unnecessary. Not long to go for me.

  20. I’ve just spent the past hour studying your post and all the related comments. Thanks for all the tips, they have certianly got me thinking. I’ve even sent this post onto my Hubby – he shall be the captain of all thing serious. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Awesome tips Beth. I’m a serial OVER PACKER! I took the kids away last week {no hubby, just me and them} up the Sunshine Coast for two nights {1 hour away} and I packed so much friggen stuff that it looked like we were running away from home for good. I didn’t use 3/4 of it!!!!!
    I’ve loved all your posts and photos of your amazing trip. Your girls are lucky little chickens to experience such a grand trip at such a young age. How cool!
    Claire x
    P.S. Are you going to the ProBlogger event in Aug? I’d love to meet you in person – not in a stalkerish way but you are one of my ‘bloggy idols’ and I’d love to say hi.

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