Packing for a long trip with kids

We haven’t started packing as there is still 3 months to go, although we always have great intentions to be finished packing a week before but often we are still finalising the packing the night before AARGH.

Over the years we have changed our packing style quite a bit and adding children to this mix has changed it even more. Back in our “backpacker” days we used to use our whole luggage allowance. After carrying 20kg on our backs for 12 weeks around Europe, carrying everything including Steins from Octoberfest, we have decided that less is more.

us with bckpacks

Now I call myself a Minimalist in training. Having less stuff when we travel is one of the things I love about our trips and it always inspires me to make our house a bit more minimal each time we return.

Now when we pack we are aiming for bags around 10-15kg and if possible, we take 3 big packs rather than 4. Rarely do we use everything in our pack, despite our best intentions and not having to sit on the bag to do it up and being able to lift it is always a great feeling.

I have greatly improved my packing style, rarely now do I pack clothes that I am not wearing much at home in the hopes I will suddenly feel inspired to do this whilst I am away. These are the outfits that never get worn. I also try to limit myself to 3 pairs of shoes (obviously dependant on where we are going). Speaking of shoes, if anyone has a great suggestion of a light weight, ideally slip on shoe that is good for lots of walking and looks good with all sorts of outfits ie Jeans, dress or shorts, please let me know.

Another thing we must factor in this trip is the heat of our first and last destination and the wet, cold and muddy factor of most of our trip. Also, Dubai being part of a Muslim country we need to ensure that we have appropriate clothes to meet the cultural expectations.

And just to add a little more complexity, during this trip Pete will be completing in the Glencoe marathon gathering  which will be a half marathon up a mountain and requires specialist equipment as part of this.

A final factor  making it difficult to keep the weight down in my case, is the packing of my low protein supplement and food. Dependant on the length of the trip I could have 200 sachets of my supplement with me, not counting spares in case of lost luggage. I usually try to divide this between my main pack and day pack as well as some in the rest of the family’s bags, again to minimise the chance of missing out with lost luggage. Despite each individual sachet being very light, this may add 7kg to our total luggage. Not to mention any low protein food products I might take.

We also use bags with wheels now which is something we have slowly come around to, as people pulling wheeled suitcases with no regard for anyone around them, has been the bane of my travelling existence. We have travel packs with optional pull handle (currently Macpac and Kathmandu for myself and my husband) and the girls have bigger duffle style bags with the pull handle that comes out. This gives us the option of not having to get a trolley at an airport, giving one less thing to negotiate through the crowds. It also makes it easier for the girls to pull their own bags, which is always helpful and keeps them from disappearing themselves.                                                                                                                            pulling-roller-bag.jpg

I love the travel pack as the straps zip away when they are on the plane but gives you the option of free hands by carrying the bag on your back. The newer version with the wheeled option makes it easier for short distances or if your back is not up for it, although they are very well padded and supportive. Being softer bags, they tend to fit better into hire cars and other places that suitcases can be a bit awkward.

Currently we have small backpacks for the plane which the girls our now starting to carry themselves. When they were younger they had Trunki ride on suitcases which are great fun with a toddler, as you can pull them along and it gives them somewhere to sit down during those long waits at check in and security. But as they have got older they are less practical, and we would end up carrying them anyway.

Packing for a long trip through many different temperature conditions is a challenge but I am taking inspiration from people like Tsh Oxenreider  who travelled around the world for 9 months with her 3 kids taking only 5 backpacks ( 1 each)

Booking this trip, we do have a few accommodation options that will have a washer and dryer, mostly about a week apart so this is another chance to minimise how much we pack. (note to self , remember washing powder) . We often forget that wherever we go we can usually get anything we have forgotten. So far we haven’t been to anywhere too remote with the girls, Yet. But even if we did, most places still have the option to get the most important things. It may just cost twice as much.

In terms of entertainment we really don’t have to pack much in our plane bags as mostly the planes have great inflight entertainment for the longer flights and this is one of our factors in choosing which airlines to book. The most important thing is not to stuff the bag so much that you can’t easily repack after security and getting on or off the plane. Usually we have used back packs the kids had at home from daycare. For this trip I am trialling a new pack I have bought- Kathmandu transit which I am hoping is a better compromise to carry my photo equipment and other plane needs which previously my camera bag has not been so good at. (I will let you know after the trip how it went)

Things have changed a lot in terms of the type of things we take on holidays. On my first trip to Europe I had no technology with me. I may have bought a phone card to try and call my family when we had a stop. A pen and notepad and somewhere to write postcards and store them until I could find a stamp. We are not a big technology family, but it would still be expected that we would pack a laptop, tablet, e-reader and phones where we would look for a local sim.  We try to disconnect more whist we are away, but I don’t think my mum would accept a month without contact these days.


My dream of 3 bags instead of 4 main bags for this trip is looking more and more unlikely, but I will keep you posted. I will write a more detailed post after the trip including packing lists for the family with what worked and what didn’t. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment or send me an email it would be wonderful to hear from you guys reading this.

Until next time…. Happy Travels







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