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Packing for Family Adventure Travel

People have asked about our packing strategy and how we manage our luggage. There is no one-size fits all. But, here is what works for us. And, it's always evolving. I think that's the key. Change it up, try new things, and continuously fine-tune.

I'm going to keep this post as a page link under "Traveling Tips" as it will be ever evolving with our travels.

When driving, rather than bulky luggage, we bring duffle bags. They're a bit big for the girls to carry any distance, so we don't use them for air travel. But, they are great for all the little pockets and large space, plus we can stack them all easily in the vehicle.

In anticipation of our next flights, we have just switched to one carry-on sized spinner for each of us since the girls are big enough to manage themselves independently (sort of).  Check my Costa Rica planning page and you will know how EXCITED I am to not have checked luggage.

MY GOSH if you haven't purchased luggage in many years, PURGE AND GET NEW ONES. You will be amazed at how luggage has progressed. So light! So easy to maneuver! So many smart pockets/compartments! These are amazing! The girls are racing through the house in excitement and I am thrilled with S-P-I-N-N-E-R-S. You can easily turn them sideways to get through the tight aisle onboard the plane. Adjustable handle for height.  These are totally kid-friendly and easy to maneuver.

On our last trip, I discovered packing cubes.  I know.  I know.  What can I say?  Nobody told me.  So, I'm telling you.  These are a lifesaver.  It was great being able to easily separate and find everything and anything at any moment.  Trust me.  You need these even if you are solo-traveling.  I got a different color set for each of us.  The kids loved them.  In fact, it was the first trip where I did not have to pack nor unpack for the girls.  They did it all themselves and stayed organized the whole trip. By themselves!

In the era of post-9/11 travel, the only reason I had for checking luggage was my struggle with the liquids - lotions, sunscreen, shampoos, conditioners, etc.  Oh right, we were also OVERPACKING.  But, no more. We are streamlining.  We are bringing what we will actually use.  And, it starts with getting over the liquid restrictions.  I didn't realize how much could fit into a 1 quart bag.  I've always use large zip-loc bags for protecting liquids in our luggage, and started with one for carry-on.  Because it lacked shaping, it didn't actually hold my travel-sized containers well and I couldn't close the baggie, but lo and behold, look what I found.  Bonus - I feel so much more worldly with my Flight Carry-On bag.  I can't wait to whip it out in the TSA checkpoint and place it on the conveyer belt.

Well, then it came to mosquito repellent.  I'm pretty casual when it comes to germs, but mosquito-borne diseases freak me all out.  As we ready ourselves for our Central America travel, I had to hunt down some serious bug-killer repellent, but finally managed to build up a sizable (according to carry-on luggage restrictions) arsenal.  We have multiple forms and I have no idea what will work best, but will report when we get back.

After reading through endless reviews of travel pillows, I finally decided on this one and have to say I'll actually use it again. 

I liked it so much that I ordered 3 more, so we each have one.  It doesn't sit behind your neck pushing your head forward.  I can set it as a head rest and not have it slide all over the place.  It's a comfortable shoulder that doesn't move every 10 seconds (I'm looking at you Rob).  This sits across the shoulders and provides all sorts of options.  Left side.  Right side.  You wear it "guitar" style.  Compact and easily inflatable - just a few puffs, done discreetly and quickly.    


I'm a book snob.  No e-books here.  I LOVE an honest to goodness real in-my-hands page-turning book.  I especially LOVE travel books.  They provide the nudge to get that trip booked - no more talking, just do it! 

If you have visited any of my initial trip planning pages, then you know that our vacations are planned well in advance of actual travel.  So, you probably guessed that packing is done ridiculously early.  I begin with travel piles for each of us.

Whenever I start the travel piles, our dog Piper knows what's up. She gets her binky and adds it to the pile. My heart melts every time.

Oops, got a flight to catch.  Time to load our luggage and gather the little travelers, so will have to cut this short.

On the road comforts!

Leave behind....

Rob got me a selfie stick. I tested it at home. It will stay home. It was fun for 5 minutes though.

I couldn't resist another pic of Piper trying to sneak along with us.

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