I regret that I don’t have better pictures for this post, but unfortunately, all my bags have been shipped already, so I will have to update later with more pictures.
I know when you are packing for a trip with a baby or a toddler, all rules blow out the window. However, when you pack for a family with school age children, your burden is so much lighter! Your child should be able to wear clothes for a day and not get them soiled. They should be able to have good hygiene and be able to groom themselves. What used to take hours to get ready for the day now takes 30 minutes when everyone can take care of themselves. The same is true with packing. When you travel with a baby, you need a whole suitcase just for baby items. Mountains of diapers and wipes and extra clothes, not to mention toys and safety equipment you need to bring with you. When you travel with older children, you should be able to pack very light. For our cruise, we are bringing much more than we normally would for a trip. We have formal clothes, pirate clothes, gifts for our cruise buddies, and lots of little extras to make the trip magical for our children. With all of that extra stuff aside, we packed all of our “normal” travel items into 2 large carry-on backpacks. They look huge and I wish I took a picture, but I will add one later when we are heading out on our cruise. They may look big and bulky, but each bag only weighs 20-25 lbs! We have clothes, toiletries, travel books and any extra accessories we need for a family of 5 stuffed into the bags. I will be doing laundry one day on our cruise, which cut the clothing bulk in half. I also told everyone not to bring jeans. The only one that didn’t listen was my teen. Jeans weigh a lot and don’t dry quickly. She said she would be fine in wet jeans. I told her I would not stay in the laundromat to dry clothes an extra cycle for jeans 😉 This is, after all, a vacation.
These are the bags I bought to hold all of our belongings. You can see that the shoe bag at the top already has shoes in it. There are different size bags. I bought 2 large ones for Nathan and myself. I bought some medium sized ones for the kids, small ones for misc. stuff (phone chargers, pens, etc.) and some small thin ones for toiletries: one for boys, two for girls. Cruise ships have very small bathrooms, but the Disney cruise actually has 2 bathrooms in each room. One with a toilet/sink and one with a tub/shower and a sink. So we will have boys get ready in one room, girls in the other and at the vanity in the room and we will see how that works out.
This is a picture of the bags in the suitcase. We were able to close the backpack without having to extend it. We could have fit a lot more stuff in the bag, but I wanted to keep the weight down.
This picture shows the suitcase with the large bag at the bottom and one medium bag.
This picture shows the bag full. It has the large bag, 2 medium bags, a shoe bag and a thin bag. Nathan’s suitcase has a large bag, 2 medium bags, and a thin bag.
We will be carrying these bags on the ship with us, to see if we can handle the weight walking around for a few hours. This trip is a test to see if we can pack light when we head to Europe. We will bring all the extra cruise stuff in a suitcase, since we will not be bringing any of that to Europe. It’s amazing how little “things” you need on a vacation. I remember a time when our car was loaded down with stuff, half of which we never would use. Now I have become a light packer, and I realize that most places you go to will have what you need that you can buy. Now, if you are going to the middle of nowhere, you will need to bring more, but even in other countries, they usually have band-aid’s, Tylenol and other things you may or may not use. We will be wearing the same few items of clothes multiple times on our trip. Make sure whatever you bring can be mixed and matched. You don’t need a make-up bag full of make-up. You should be able to have a complete set of make-up with less than 10 items in your make-up bag. You may not have the variety you do at home, but it will lighten the load a lot! If you are driving, make sure the kids have their toys/snacks in bags that are near their seats. If you are flying, try to fit what you need in carry-on’s, so you don’t have to deal with lost luggage. If you are flying to see family and have to pay for carry-on’s, it may be cheaper to ship your items to your family. For our cruise, we shipped most of our belongings to family and saved money. We also don’t have to worry about lugging it through the airport, or having lost/broken luggage. I always bring along a safety bag when I travel. I don’t use it at home, only for travel. Actually, I have 2. My older one my daughter uses now. They both have special locks to prevent pickpocketing, and wire through the strap so someone can’t cut the strap and steal the bag. I love it. My new one has a water bottle holder, and can be used by men or women. So I know my passports and money are safe. Don’t ever take your purse off when traveling. Even in a diner, people can steal it. Just put it crosswise over your body while you eat. Here are some pictures of the bag I have. It’s a lot bigger than it looks. It holds a lot of stuff, but since the strap is thick, it distributes weight well. I am excited to use this while we are walking around the islands.
Well, I hope you are able to pack light, pack smart and have fun without having to worry about lost, broken or stolen luggage!