How to Pack for a Family Trip (and the 10,000 things I packed)

I’m joking, I don’t think it was actually 10,000 things. But it felt like it.
BY Taylor Davidson | April 28th, 2016

A few years I wrote a post called How to Pack for a Nomadic Life (and the 79 things I packed) while I was traveling around the world and living a nomadic lifestyle. Traveling light was important to me - and looking at it now, I think I still had far too much with me - because it gave me the flexibility to pursue what I wanted, change my direction, try something new, focusing on my experiences in the moment and not "what should I do with my stuff".

Today, it’s a bit different. While I still work to embrace minimal mode, traveling with a family leads a slightly, um, heavier load…

Light packing, Los Angeles, March 2016

Six years later, a husband and a new father, traveling is a different endeavor than it was before. And yes, it involves many, many more things. But my thought process about "what to pack" hasn’t changed. My goal has always been, and still is, to bring the things that help us have a great adventure on the other side. When I was younger and travled more nomadically, traveling light was one key to having a great adventure.

A little older, now traveling with a family, it now takes more stuff to have an adventure, because we have to be prepared for more situations - obviously - and so traveling lightly simply isn’t an option. But we’re still thoughtful about what we bring, aware about how each thing helps us travel and live. “Minimalism isn’t traveling the world with nothing”; it’s about being mindful and conscious about what we use, what we do, how we spend our time, who we spend our time with, and what we focus on. And that holds true no matter how small or big our bags are. Thankfully.

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There’s so many tips and tricks to traveling with a baby. Google is your friend, and also your enemy. You’ll never need to bring everything Google says you will. Many things can be bought or rented on the other side. Buy diapers at your destination (if you can). Get a big duffel bag (I picked up the REI Roadtripper Duffel bag, in size Large) to carry everything in one bag, for the simple reason that less bags means less things to forget.

I used the duffel (very hard to see, in bottom right corner of the picture) to pack his travel crib with a lot of other things stuffed around it; but obviously that’s not always necessary, as many hotels have cribs and many places will rent cribs. Speaking of renting, there are some great services out there that will rent you a car seat, car seat base, and a bunch of other children supplies, simply so you don’t have to travel with them. Car seats and strollers are expensive and can get damaged in the carry-on baggage process, so there’s a solid rationale for renting. First time, we didn’t want to take any chances with what we needed on the other side, so we chose to bring rather than rent. But do your research, there are so many options out there these days.

Related, 20 Things I Pack for Living from 2014 and How to Pack for a Nomadic Life (and the 79 things I packed) from 2009.