Luggage 101 for families
Adults: Depending on the reason for travel, most adults are pretty good at packing their own stuff. Unless you are traveling for a formal event, or a long period of time without washer/dryers, each adult should be able to pack in the typical carry on roller (for a week long trip I definitely use the zipper extender part and check it). My theory when traveling with kids is check everything you can, the more use you have of your hands, the better. We travel Southwest a lot so I tend not to think about baggage fees domestically.
Never pack your husbands luggage.
There is always something he will blame you for forgetting, and it just adds to your list of things to do. So if you already started doing that early in your marriage, undo it. It’s dumb. You can certainly make out a list of recommended items or events that HE should pack for. Or if there is a special event that you want him to dress accordingly for, lay it out and let him pack it.
Women/Wives/Moms: There are two camps for women packing luggage. Everything but the kitchen sink or wearing the same thing (shoes included) for the duration of your trip. With rolling luggage it’s easier to pack too much, since you hardly ever lift it. I tend to pack one too many outfits, no matter what the destination or who I am traveling with. It tends to be worse when I am traveling with other couples for fun. Lay out everything, pack flat, and take out one outfit before you close the lid.
Also, create a travel makeup stash that will fit inside your toiletry bag. No separate makeup suitcase, you are out to see the world not be a supermodel, get over it.
Mom’s purse for travel tends to be larger, the smaller the kids are. When my kids were between 7 and 10, I began to only carry a large purse or backpack. In the early days,I had that AND a diaper bag. I carried one change of clothes that was about the middle child’s size. The older kid rarely had clothing mishaps and it would fit too big on the smallest child if needed.
Under 5: With little kids still in diapers, extensive car seats, bottles, etc. you will be hard pressed to pack light. It was too hard to keep up with 3 little carry ons for each kid, so Hubby would carry a backpack with books, video games, blankies, etc. I try to use one medium roller bag for 3 kids. I have one toiletry bag for all of them.
I HIGHLY recommend investing in a decent car seat cover bag. You can find them at Babies r Us or online at One Step Ahead. At one time, we had 3. My husband would stack one on his rolling bag, I would stack one on mine, and we had another one that had straps like a backpack. They also provide a great place for extra packing. I’ve put dirty shoes, life jackets, wet swimsuits, and extra purchases in them just to get home without looking like a sherpa.
5 and Over: For domestic travel, I still pack all 3 kids in a medium roller bag. However, each child has a small rolling backpack (or day pack) for a carry on. They each pack books, video games, snacks and small toys for travel. You have to start teaching them to pack early in life, so this is a good place to start. We are down to one car booster seat that fit in one of our old car seat carrier bags, which helps with overflow packing during the trip.
For international travel, all bets are off. Understandably, roller bags seem to make sense with kids, even when you are headed to some mega resort in the tropics. But when actually navigating foreign countries, getting on and off of trains, buses, subways, dirt roads, etc. it drives me crazy helping every child navigate thresholds and gravel.
So we use backpacks. Even adults.
My 6 year old was fine carrying all his clothes on his back in Europe and Alaska in the same year. They are excited about getting a seat on the train to rest their pack on, but they power through. I still use one toiletry bag for all 3 and have the oldest child carry that burden. You’ve been prepped for what bags to carry, so get packing… Oh, I’ll help with what to pack and how to get your kids to help pack in another post…bon voyage!