How to Pack Light with Kids 8 Hot Travel Tips

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You know how everyone is saying you need to double and triple the things to bring when travelling with a baby or toddler? Our family advises otherwise, we prefer packing light… ultralight. It’s this minimalist travel approach that has allowed our family to focus more on the journey than anything else.

Whether you’re travelling around the world, road tripping with family, or travelling solo with your kids, minimalist travel and packing light can essentially make or break an epic family holiday with kids.

Quite honestly, there’s never been a time where I regret not bringing something, but rather it’s usually the other way round. I always find myself using only half of what I’ve brought, especially on long trips.

In this post, we’ll share our top 10 travel tips on how to pack light with kids. We’ll also explain the reasons behind minimalist travel and why less is more when travelling with family.

You can also find our cool interactive minimalist travel packing list for road trips and packing list for beach vacations here.

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Packing light: What to pack for road trips with kids

1. Reduce the number of ‘options’

If you pay close attention to tantrums in young kids, a lot of the meltdowns come down to having too many options. This important rule of ‘either-this-or-that’ also applies to international travels for our family. Kids behave better when there are fewer options, and we really believe minimalist travel is the key to a pleasant family holiday.

How to pack light with kids

Toys: Only bring 1-2 of your kids’ favourite toys or lovey.
Apart from the lovey our toddler likes to cuddle to sleep. She usually loses interest in toys quickly, especially when she’s in a new environment with many new things to explore.

Clothes: Summer vacations are the best for packing light clothes.

  • Roll your clothes up to save space!
  • Bring one extra set of clothes for short holidays and try to pack layers.
  • Girls and ladies, go for dresses (one piece) clothing rather than tops and pants.
  • Wear your thick jacket if you’re flying from a colder country, and you only need one quality jacket!
Travel-Light-Minimalist-Packing-Luggage-Carry-On-Family-Vacation-Tips
10-days holiday for me & my toddler

© Photos by Kida

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Interactive packing list for beach vacation and island summer holidays with kids

2. Less bags = easier to manage

Take note of the items that you’ve only used once or twice during previous trips. Those are the things you can leave behind when packing for the next holiday. There is already a handful of kids to manage, don’t overload yourself with more bags.

Forget about the just-in-case items, those are unnecessary worries. You can purchase essential items at a local store most of the time and probably for a better price too.

Minimalist Travel

It may be fun to lug around a trunki for each of your children, but how often do they ride on or carry it themselves?

If you booked for check-in luggage, try and pack your and your kids belongings in that one large suitcase. That way, you only have one handbag and kids to carry on the plane and in-between hotels!

The other perk of carrying less is you can get away with hiring a small car or booking a smaller apartment. A lot of accommodation in destinations like Hong Kong and Japan don’t give you a lot of storage space.

Have you ever paid for storage just to keep a bag of unnecessary things that you didn’t need for that long holiday? We have.

We limit ourselves to one carry-on luggage for each family member if the trip is shorter than a month. Waiting at the airport for baggage collection after a long flight is never a fun start to a holiday.

We also like to check into our room asap without having to wait for an available bellboy or a luggage trolley.

Girl Solo China Travel Light Minimalist Packing Luggage
My luggage for a month-long China trip

© Photos by Kida

3. Organize your luggage

The more you bring, the more organisers and bags you need to bring to keep things in place. Those are the extra weights you do not need. That’s like… the more you bring, the more you need to bring.

The last thing you want is to flip your bag upside down at the airport, looking for a nail clipper that just beeped under the x-ray. (Yup, that happened to us before.)

How to organize your suitcase

Clothing: As mentioned above, roll up your clothing to maximise the space in your suitcase. This includes face towels and the likes. (if you must bring them)

Toiletries: Use a small ziploc storage bag for your wet toiletries and put it together with the dry toiletries in one big toiletry bag.

Accessories: Use one big storage bag for all your accessories and miscellaneous items. E.g. cables, batteries, sunscreen

Mom-Baby-Solo-Travel-Light-Minimalist-Packing-Luggage-Carry-On-Family-Vacation-Tips
Checking in stroller only, jumping the queues.

© Photos by Kida

4. Be a minimalists

The biggest enemy of packing light is actually ourselves. A good example is when ladies bring their whole makeup bag on a holiday. Then, of course, they are often taking too long perfecting their makeups and choosing the right outfit when the rest of the family just wants to go out and explore.

There were instances where our toddler had a hard time choosing what she wanted to wear for the night. At the same time, my partner was stressing over whether this shirt or that shirt was more appropriate for the restaurant. Then everything ended up in a fistfight because we were running late. Fun times.

How to be a minimalist

Being a minimalist naturally eliminate conflicts in the family. So, ask yourself, do you really need to look a million dollars when hiking in the bush? Do you need to dress fancy rushing to the airport? If you can reduce the number of accessories, your kids will follow too.

If you’re like my ex-colleague and think makeups and high heels are necessities, perhaps dig a little deeper within yourself and see if anything in this post helps: how to be happy with yourself.

Family Photo Muriwai New Zealand with Baby
No bags to carry, just a baby. Happy days…

© Photos by Kida

5. Lose the things that require many accessories

The more gear we bring, the more accessories we need, such as batteries, chargers, containers, pouches and organisers. Some families are serious about taking professional photos and videos, and I totally get it. But just ask yourself whether one-for-each-occasion accessories are really necessary.

For example, I used to always bring a camera backpack with all of my photography equipment. However, I’ve realised 90% of our family travel photos are taken with my mobile phone. Because of this, I buy the best camera phones out on the market. I’m a big fan of Google Pixel phones and I always have it with me when I’m out and about. It only takes a second to whip it out of my pocket and with a double click on the side button, I’m ready to capture that special moment. With some quick Lightroom presets and a few adjustments, the quality of the photos from a high-end mobile is just fine for web use.

So unless I’m planning to shoot milky ways, long exposures or prints for commercial purposes, I now leave my DSLR behind most of the time.

6. Don’t bring expensive or valuable items

There are so much to think about when you’re travelling, and constantly worrying about valuables getting lost or stolen is just draining. So leave that Chanel bag and diamond ring back home, travel low key and keep the thieves away.

Packing light also means carrying less on your mind. The fewer valuables to worry about, the happier you will be.

Mom-Baby-Sydney-Australia-Opera-House-Travel-Light-Minimalist-Packing-Luggage-Carry-On-Family-Vacation-Tips
That’s all we’re carrying, honestly!

© Photos by Kida

7. Don’t buy a whole lot of souvenirs back

You know when you’re in the holiday mood, browsing through local markets and souvenir shops, you tend to buy lots of souvenirs on impulse. Especially if things are cheaper there, and the place is surrounded by tourists who are also buying. So if you’ve followed the above packing tips, this will be the time your subconscious mind tells you there’s no more room in the suitcase.

Almost every time after our holiday, I either regretted buying low-quality souvenirs or found out I paid way too much for an exotic pretty dress that I thought was perfect.

So having limited space in the luggage works really well, and I’ve never regretted not being able to bring back something. Because nowadays, you can find almost everything online at a better price anyway.

Toddler Trunki Baby Luggage Packing Light Travel Minimalist
No more room for new toys, sorry!

© Photos by Kida

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Family Camping Checklist with a Baby

8. Free your mind, more space for new beginnings

Minimalist travel isn’t just about lightening up the load physically but also mentally. It declutters the mind, leaves the old behind, and makes room for the new.

Embrace this mentally shift, carry less on your shoulders, and let the change of environment surprise you.

This is a good time to set new goals and adopt new habits. Introduce new ideas to the kids, and broaden their minds.

Mom-Baby-Summer-Beach-Vacation-Travel-Light-Minimalist-Packing-Luggage-Carry-On-Family-Vacation-Tips
Go anywhere and go everywhere.

© Photos by Kida

Interactive Packing List for Every Vacation

If you need a packing list for things like travel essentials, baby bag, beach vacations, camping, clothing and toiletries, be sure to use The Ultimate Interactive Packing List we’ve compiled for families just like yours.

This packing list is interactive, meaning you can tick them off after you pack to make sure nothing is left behind!

Ultimate-Packing-List-for-Every-Vacation-Family-Holiday-Essentials-Kida-Blog-Banner

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In the meantime…

Do you travel light and pack minimal? Share your tips on travelling with kids below!

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