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.
Pakt 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, a 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 my 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 my Levi’s jean jacket because of its inside pockets that hold all of these things, not to mention help ward off the freezing temperature 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.