Traveling With Kids: Packing Tips

When our family of four planned a 10-day trip to Italy we had an ambitious goal: Travel with Carry-Ons Only

We knew that we would be navigating trains, cobblestones and airport transfers throughout the trip, so we wanted to pack as light as we could. With 6 and 8 year olds, we knew that, realistically, we would end up carrying their stuff at some point… or the whole time… so I was motivated to keep their bags manageable!

Inspired by this guide, I packed each of the boys into a carry-on bag and a backpack. Scroll down to get the full list of what I packed. 

Altogether, here’s what we carried:

  • One of these carry-ons for each kid (my husband and I carried them on our backs)
  • One wheeled carry-on for each parent (I did wish I had splurged on Away’s Bigger Carry-On!)
  • For my personal item, I brought the Catalina Deluxe Tote from Lo & Sons. The separate compartment for shoes on the bottom was so handy.
  • The boys each carried a backpack as their personal item. 

We also used packing cubes for all of our clothes. These might not matter as much if you’re headed to a single destination where you plan to unpack, but for a trip like ours, when we would be traveling to multiple locations for short stays, packing cubes were very helpful to keep us contained and reasonably organized.

We kept their backpacks light as well. Each one carried his own iPad (loaded with games AND digital books!), charger, headphones, hand sanitizer and snacks. 

My boys were happy for me to pack for them. If your child wants to pack for themselves, let them go for it — with some guidance! Explain that your family will be packing light to make traveling easier (it helps if you tell them they’ll be responsible for carrying their own bag), then let them pick out their own items using the packing list you give them. It might be hard to give up that little bit of control, especially if you’re a planner/organizer, but it’s a great chance for kids to develop independence and responsibility. Just ask them to show you their picks before they go into the bag. That way, you can do a quick check to make sure they’ve followed the list and packed appropriately.

Bon voyage!

10-Day Carry-On Packing List For Kids

  • 5 shirts (one for every two days of the trip)
  • 2 pairs of pants (pack one pair, wear one pair)
  • 10 pairs of socks (one for each day)
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • 2 pairs of shoes (pack one pair, wear one pair)
  • Packable jacket (check to see what the weather will be like before you go)
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
  • Hair styling items (brush/comb, product, hair ties)
  • Sunscreen
  • Essential personal care items (glasses, medications, pull-ups, etc.)

Parents can follow the same packing list! Remember to add personal items like deodorant and makeup essentials. If you’re staying in hotels, you can leave soap and shampoo at home. You may want to bring a small bottle of hair conditioner since that often isn’t included in hotel toiletries, as well as some laundry detergent and Shout wipes or a Tide pen.

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