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Pack em up pack em in

Let me begin. 

Packing for a family trip is such a balancing act. Make sure you bring enough so you're comfortable and have what you need, but not so much that you're spending $200 in checked bags and lugging around a ton of suitcases.

Here I'll help you decide what's necessary for your whole family, the best luggage to use, and helpful tips to keep everything organized.


I would be team carry-on all the way if we could be, but with 3 small kids that aren't big or strong enough to carry their own things yet, we check bags. We are able to fit everything we need for our family of 5 in 2 checked bags. If you have older kids, I would definitely consider having a carry-on for each of them and then a backpack for a personal item.

The best piece of luggage

(not sponsored, just in love)

My love for Patagonia goes far beyond their clothing and outerwear. To be honest, my absolute favorite item we own from them is their 100L Black Hole Wheeled, my heart is pitter-pattering just thinking about it.

What we love about it:

1. Its extremely tough. It's made from 100% recycled materials that are extremely durable and water resistant. 

2. The wheels. You know you have a good suitcase when the wheels glide like butter. This piece of luggage has sturdy strong wheels.

3. Tried and tested. Not only have we been using these bags for months and months over the last two years and they still look and feel brand new, but my parents have had these bags for over 20 years and they absolutely hold up. It's a big investment at first, but these will last. Patagonia is also amazing with their lifetime warrantee and will fix or replace your luggage if anything goes wrong.

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For Carry on:


If you prefer carry-on luggage, Patagonia also makes a 40L Black Hole Duffel, which is identical to the 100L, just shrunk down to a mini me size that fits in overhead compartments.

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What about hard shell suitcases?

If hardshell suitcases are your thing and you'd prefer to go that route, Samsonite has quality hardshell suitcases of many sizes whether you're looking to check bags or bring carry-on. The bonus of these suitcases is that they have 4 wheels which makes rolling through an airport much easier.

Packing Cubes

How I used to travel without packing cubes, I have no idea. But as a family of 5 now, packing cubes are a necessity to keep all of our clothing organized. No one wants to tear a bag apart just to find one sock, right?

The two types of packing cubes:

Splurge: Compression packing cubes

These do exactly what they say: compress. They feature two zippers, one to close the packing cube, and then a second to compress all the clothing into a smaller space. I personally haven't used these, but at a higher cost, I don't know if they're worth it unless you're really jonesing' for space.

Saved: regular packing cubes

This is what we use and they work great. Our luggage that we shared above comes with compression straps, so squeezing our clothes into our luggage hasn't been an issue. We have these packing cubes. I would say one order is not enough for a family and I would suggest buying two.


How we pack with packing cubes

1. One packing cube per person to put everyday clothing

2. One packing cube for all our socks and underwear (we have small kids. If you have bigger kids, they might want to handle their own)

3. One packing cube for all our rain jackets

4. One packing cube for our bathing suits

Toiletry Bag

An additional piece you should have is a toiletry bag. This can be a spare packing cube, but if you want to be more organized, you can get a toiletry bag like this. 


What to pack
Make sure you have all the documents you need to travel with your baby and kids.

The all-climate trip

I'm a New England girl, born and raised up (my rap references are on point on this page). We New Englanders are taught two things from birth: that the Yankees are inferior, and to layer your clothing. The first piece of advice is shablah (a word I just made up to show my extreme apathy for the subject). The second is solid gold—yah gotta be prepared for any weather. 

When visiting countries with varying climates, with cold mountainous regions and sweltering tropical beaches and everywhere in between, you can still pack light. The thing is, you're rarely going to be in a place where you can't do laundry for more than a few days. Laundry doesn't mean a laundromat. Laundry means washing a a few articles of clothing with Dr. Bronners in the sink and hanging it on a make-shift line (backpacker mentality).


With that in mind, limit what you bring. Here's what we pack for an all-climate trip:

  • A good quality pair of shoes for walking or hiking (waterproof if it's a rainy area)

  • One pair of flip flops

  • 4 short-sleeve onesies or short sleeve shirts -- If it's a child 4T or smaller, I highly recommend First Peak shirts. They are my go-to because they are fast drying, the material kills odor fighting bacteria for multiple day uses, and they are also UPF rated. I love this brand and extra bonus is that it's a mom-owned company. Use code BORNABACKPACKER10 for 10% off.

  • 2 long sleeve onesies or long sleeve shirts (First Peak also has long sleeves)

  • 1 light fleece or sweatshirt (we love these from Patagonia because they're lightweight, warm, and versatil​

  • 2 pairs of shorts 

  • 2  pairs of pants 

  • 1 rain jacket 

  • 2 pajamas

  • 1 lightweight but warm jacket

  • 1 bathing suit and rashguard

  • 1 sun hat

  • 1 winter hat (if the place you're going requires it)

  • 3 pairs of socks (one merino wool pair)

carrying a baby on my back with other mothers while traveling in Vietnam

Pictured above is Zay and I trekking in the mountains in Northern Vietnam, where the population is primarily Meung. We forgot to bring his winter jacket from the States, so it goes to show that you can buy needed forgotten items almost anywhere (so long as you're not picky about color - but boy looks good in pink).

The warm weather trip

For a trip in warm weather, you can drop a lot of the cold weather clothing, but not all of it. Airplanes and buses sometimes blast the AC, and nighttime breeze can get chilly. Here's what to bring:

Download our packing checklist for your next trip, because just like Steven Tyler, you don't wanna miss a thing.

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