With spring break around the corner, family travel is at the forefront. And for many of us, that means gathering all the travel necessities before the big day. There’s nothing worse than having to lug around big, bulky suitcases to and from the airport. So one of our favourite mommy bloggers, Kerri Hansen, is sharing her best tips on how to travel with carry-on luggage – even for a week-long trip to Maui! Take it away, Kerri!

Only pack what you’ll actually use on vacation. The smaller things can be purchased once you get there!
Only pack what you’ll actually use on vacation. The smaller things can be purchased once you get there!

As a notorious over-packer, carry-on-only travel was introduced to our family a few years ago, and now I can’t imagine lugging a big suitcase around and waiting for it at the carousel! My husband travels with a carry-on for work, so when he had to deal with our checked bags, it drove him a little crazy. I can’t tell you how many trips started off with an argument loading the car to go to the airport! In my defense, my tendency to over-pack all started when the kids were little and required extra “stuff”.

Now that the kids are older, we need way less. I noticed that I wouldn’t wear half the clothes or shoes I packed, and the kids wouldn’t even touch the toys we brought on our vacations. When I thought about what we actually use on a beach holiday, I realized there was no need to pack so much stuff! Basically, we just need bathing suits and flip flops, and we’re good to go. We don’t typically do anything “fancy” while in Maui (maybe a few dinners out), so a sundress and nice sandals are the dressiest items we need.

Make sure you utilize every compartment in your carry-on luggage. Rolling your clothes saves room, too!
Make sure you utilize every compartment in your carry-on luggage. Rolling your clothes saves room, too!

When you’re travelling light, every space in your luggage counts. One of the best things about Maui is that when you land in Kahului, there’s a Costco, Walmart and Target right by the airport. Another thing that helps us pack light is that we always stay at a condo that has laundry, so I don’t have to pack clothes for every single day of the trip.

Packing for kids

Packing light for the kids is pretty easy. They’re 13, 10 and 8, so we don’t have to worry about car seats or the gear that you need when travelling with little ones.

Only pack what you’ll actually use on vacation. The smaller things can be purchased once you get there!
Only pack what you’ll actually use on vacation. The smaller things can be purchased once you get there!

Make a list of what you think you will need for your trip. Pinterest is great for this because you can get lots of ideas for capsule wardrobes. Here are a few handy checklists I made to cross off what I need to pack:

For girls…

These checklists are intended to be printed and given to the kids to collect the items that need to be packed. I always try to involve them in this process, because it’s a great life skill to have!

For boys…

These checklists are intended to be printed and given to the kids to collect the items that need to be packed. I always try to involve them in this process, because it’s a great life skill to have!

These checklists are intended to be printed and given to the kids to collect the items that need to be packed. I always try to involve them in this process, because it’s a great life skill to have!

Packing for yourself

Packing a carry-on and backpack for myself is a little bit trickier and requires me to be highly selective about what I bring, so I create a mini capsule wardrobe to help me out. I usually select basic neutrals and keep the shoes and accessories pretty low key. Happy hour at a local watering hole is about as fancy as we get, so no need for dressy clothes! My packing list is pretty similar to the kids:

  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of work out shorts
  • 1 dry-fit work out tank
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 5 summer dresses (a few casual-beach cover up styles)
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 1 bra
  • 1 sports bra
  • 3 bathing suits
  • 2 rash guards
  • 1 swim cover up
  • 1 light cardigan
  • 1 ball cap
  • 1 pair of sunglasses

Toiletry Essentials

Once I set aside what I’m bringing, I roll everything up as tight so I can to fit as many items as possible into my carry-on. It’s like the clothing version of tetris! Packing cubes are also very handy to use, and I don’t use them often, but I know people swear by them!

My toiletries are a bit more elaborate, but I try to pair things down:

  • Face cleanser and toner
  • Face cream
  • Eye cream
  • Toothbrush
  • Hairbrush and comb
  • Hair elastics
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion (body and SPF)
  • Lip balm
  • Make-up (tinted moisturizer, mascara, blush, eyeliner, brow pencil, tinted lip balm and lipstick)
Only pack what you’ll actually use on vacation. The smaller things can be purchased once you get there!
Only pack what you’ll actually use on vacation. The smaller things can be purchased once you get there!

I keep it pretty simple, but if there’s anything I forget, there are plenty of shopping destinations nearby! Other important items that go into my backpack are medication (prescription and other), passports, Nexus cards, and of course, my travel insurance!

I hope this gives you a few ideas on how you too can travel light with your kids. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made in our lives! Just imagine sailing past the checked baggage area and skipping out of the airport to start your tropical vacation – it’s the best!

Do you have any plans for spring break? How do you pack for your family? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Kerri

How to Travel Carry-On Only with Kids

Feb 26 2019