As airlines continue to increase their checked baggage fees, travelers are getting around the extra cost by carrying on luggage. For families traveling together, this strategy can be challenging. Deciding what to bring and what to leave home is a difficult choice for everyone. Here’s some advice on how to pack everything you need for a family vacation in carry-on bags.
1. Share the Stuff
Sit down as a family to make a master packing list. You can use the list to make sure nothing is duplicated, such as toothpaste or other toiletries. In addition, consider packing items that can be shared, such as a paperback book that everyone’s been anxious to read. Also be sure to check with the rental property to see what is included so that you don’t pack anything you don’t need, such as towels or toilet paper.
Travelers should also remember that, at most destinations, a pharmacy or grocery store is nearby. Sometimes buying that toilet paper or toothpaste once you reach your destination is a good way to save on luggage fees. Also, if anything essential was forgotten, it can be purchased again.
2. Whittle Down the “Wants”
Carefully choose which clothing, accessories, toys, and other items each person packs. For clothes, put together an outfit for each person for each day – remember to mix and match items such as sweaters and pants that can be worn more than once! Then, roll each item up individually to pack into a suitcase. Also keep in mind that laundry facilities may be available; if this is the case, just plan to do a load or two of laundry at the destination instead of over packing.
Now is also a good time to pack those garments or other items that only have one more use out of them (such as almost-empty toothpaste tubes or shirts with a yet-unnoticeable hole) – pack them, use or wear them, and toss them. You’ll make more room for souvenirs on the way home.
Shoes take up a lot of space, so only take the pairs you need. Pack them around the outer perimeter of the suitcase and tuck socks and other small items into them.
Ask kids to pick no more than one or two favorite toys to bring with them, and remind them that the rest will be safe at home when they get back.
3. Suitcase Smarts
Each family member should be responsible for at least one bag. For young kids, this can be a small roller bag or a backpack that isn’t too heavy for them. Help them pack their essentials (read: toys) in these bags, along with a change of clothes and any other important items. Then, on the plane, they can keep the bags stored under the seat in front of them, saving space in the overhead bins for the larger suitcases.
Packing for a family vacation in carry-on bags means bringing no more than you need. Pack smartly by deciding as a family what everyone will bring on the trip and making sure to keep it simple.
Teresa J. Shaw is a Michigan-based writer specializing in travel and family content. Read more of her work at www.teresajshaw.com and follow her on Twitter @TeresaShaw.