August 2014 I spent a month abroad with my children. The following is the post I wrote about packing for that trip in October 2014.
I’ve had some questions about how traveling abroad for a month with kids looked in regards to packing. I planned and put a lot of thought into packing and tried to pack as light as I thought I could. As usual, I still overpacked. I’ll breakdown both our carryons and the checked luggage. For about a year now I’ve been trying to pack light. It seems that with every trip I get better. This trip, however, was a different animal seeing as we are gone for a month.
One area I continue to struggle with is my kids. My kids are not new to traveling. From the time my daughter was only a month old we’ve gone on long trips. I would say that they are pretty good travelers, better in fact, than some adults I’ve traveled with. All that said, I still feel like I need to have a ton of stuff for them to do and to cover any incidents that may happen. Couple that with an almost twenty-four hour travel time and you can imagine my angst, but I was determined to pack lightly.
So here goes: each child had their own backpack and would carry their own extra change of clothes tightly rolled and in a ziplock. They also each had a pack of gum and tic tacs. Part of our schooling throughout the month was a travel journal so they had that and a zipper bag with crayons and a pencil. Both children have a lovey, so that was their responsibility. I added the Busytown Airport book for my son. Those books never disappoint. My mom gave him a set of small airplanes when we checked in so those were also put in his backpack. Nadya brought a magic clip doll in addition to her lovey. Neither of their packs were too heavy, though Nolan did give me his a couple times when he was tired.
As for my carryon, I had my change of clothes, our liquids – one zip lock bag, Nolan’s meds, the electronics (my phone, iPad, charger and headphones), fruit gummies, individual serving bags of almonds, and my journal. In the past, we had packed a small gift for the kids to open up half way through the trip or if we were in need of a change of attitude, so I had a car for Nolan and a magic clip doll for Nadya. If I was not traveling with the children, or if Andrei had gone with us, I would have brought a book. But I knew that IF I got time to read it would be short and probably better spent napping. Plus I had a few books on the iPad if I was desperate to read. It was so nice to not be bursting at the seams. I had room for a bottle of water and a souvenir I purchased in Paris. I only had the carryon – no purse and it was so wonderful to only have one thing to worry about. I carried money, passports and boarding passes in a small travel wallet that I would hold as we went through security or had to check in. It also made trips to the toilet easy!
Earlier this summer we took a week vacation to the beach and traveled light and it was glorious! I was determined to do the same for this trip. We had a few things going for us. First of all, when you go anywhere for a month, you obviously are going to wear outfits more than once. Secondly, we knew for the most part what to expect with the weather. Also, since becoming a minimalist, I’ve gotten much better at pairing clothing together to create multiple outfits. Especially with my clothes I took tops and bottoms that would all work together, so I had a simple color scheme -reds, blues and browns and my Noonday Collection goodies to spice it all up. Three pants, two button up tops that would layer, one open sweater, two t-shirts, one cami, one dress for the ballet (that I didn’t even wear because we didn’t go), and my TOMS and my cowboy boots. Not to mention the underwear and lounge/sleepwear. Honestly, I still overpacked. I could have left one pair of the pants, some of the loungewear, and the dress at home.
As for the kids, I definitely overpacked. Partly because their grandmother wanted to buy them some clothes and partly because she did laundry almost daily. I packed nearly the same amount for them as I did for me, maybe one outfit more each and again did the mix and match as best I could.
Just a quick disclaimer. I have nothing against fashion. If anything I’ve gotten more fashionable since becoming a minimalist. I also do not freak out about how light can I possibly go. As if its a sin to overpack. There are many who can pack lighter than I do. I’ve just learned that I tend to overpack and its out of fear; fear of what other people think of me, fear of not being prepared, etc. The simple truth is I am not going to spend my time worrying about either of those. I will be prepared as sensibly as I can and know that most places will have what I need if necessary. Packing light is not some slavish mentality I have adopted, but rather its just the opposite. I am free to enjoy a trip with my children half way around the world without being weighed down by so much stuff. In shedding the stuff I have shed the fears and insecurities and hope to inspire you to do the same.