WELL, the holidays are upon us, and for many families living away from their extended family this also means travel season is here.
Whether you’re flying across the globe or across the county, you’ll benefit from less baggage.
After years of making holiday treks around the globe with my rather large family, I’ve come up with a few simple tips to help reduce, minimize and breath a little easier around this time of year.
First and foremost, I should tell you that my children and I all have relatively minimal capsule wardrobes. They consist of pieces that are easily mixed and matched for each season. I know this isn’t the case for a lot of families, but when packing you should adopt this capsule mentality. Gone are the days where you need a separate pair of shoes for each individual outfit. When thinking about what you should pack for yourself and your children, you should consider this:
- How many days will you be travelling?
- Will there be a washing machine where you are staying?
- What are the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe?
No matter how long you are staying, I suggest never bringing more than 7 outfits. Unless you’re a fashion blogger or a celebrity, I doubt you’ll have anyone following you around photographing your daily outfit choices. You can easily get away with wearing items more than once. Get creative and think about wearing pieces in different ways so that you don’t need as many options in your suitcase.
Once you’ve narrowed down what is going into your bag, it’s also helpful to minimize the number of bags you take with you. There’s nothing more exhausting than trying to wrangle up a massive pile of bags along with your children after a long flight. My tip here is to pack all or most of your children’s belongings into one large bag instead of an individual bag for each child. To keep things organized and separate, my favourite thing to use are packing cubes. I like to get these in different colors so that the inside of the bag is color coded and easy to distinguish which cubes belong to which family member. When you arrive at your destination and it’s time to get settled, it’s also very easy to take out the cubes and unpack in each family member’s respective wardrobe/closet/room. Another tip to get more items in each cube is to roll your clothing instead of folding- you’ll be surprised how much more space you have!
Let your kids help out!
For the flight, I’ve found that it takes a lot of stress and weight off my back to let each child have their own small carry-on. This way, I’m not lugging around a huge tote with entertainment and snacks for everyone. Of course, if you have a new baby or a child under two, you’ll still need to be responsible for their stuff, but I’ve found that empowering even my 4 year old twins with being responsible for their own carry-on has made travel so much easier for us. This way, they don’t have to ask every time they want a snack or a new coloring page, and as long as they keep the contents of their carry-ons fairly minimal, they should be able to carry them on their own. I suggest a small backpack instead of a rolling suitcase so that they can store their carry-on under the seat instead of the overhead stowage area. Again, this minimizes the amount of work you have to do getting up and down to retrieve items from their bags.
My final tip is in regard to gifts. Many times, especially when travelling for December holidays, families may feel the need to bring gifts to exchange with family and friends when they arrive. We’ve stopped doing this altogether. Instead, consider experience gifting for this time of year. It will take up ZERO room in your suitcase and it’s much more environmentally friendly. Take a look at Norbyah’s suggestions for experience gifting for some inspiration.
Happy Holidays, and safe travels!
Written exclusively for WELL, Magazine Asia by Emily Kelleher