Minimalist Travel Tips

luggage.jpgSince Violet's arrival, I've been wondering whether we need to upgrade from our little four door sedan to something like a small-footprint wagon or SUV to accommodate our expanded family (not to mention an extra booster for Laurel's playdate buddies). We haven't taken any steps on car shopping so far, instead opting for super minimal packing when it's time for car travel. During our getaway this past weekend, I jotted down some minimalist travel tips that I thought would be useful as you pack for summer travel. I hope these are helpful, and if you have other favorite minimalist travel tips, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Now first -- obviously, travel needs will differ depending on the ages of your kids and the length and type of trip (e.g., for work travel, admittedly, my packing weakness lies in the shoes...), but I'm still pretty impressed that by following the below tips, we still had room to spare in our small trunk and the backseat was not at all crowded. We were packing for our family of four (including a 6-year-old and 3-month-old) to a casual weekend destination for 3 days, 2 nights, but I use many of these tips when I'm traveling solo for work since I always try to travel carry on only.

1. Limit your bags. I basically retained my carry on only mindset, limiting myself, Laurel, and Violet to two bags each -- one small (that could fit under the seat on an airplane) and one larger bag (that could fit in the overhead compartment on an airplane). My rationale being that the bigger a bag (or greater number of bags) you allocate, the more you pack.

2. Pack mix and match basics. I'm a big fan of mix and match basics coupled with bright accessories to give outfits punch. Basics (such as the black pants I wore repeatedly through the trip!) allow you to pack less.

3. Stack and pack. I forget where I picked up this packing tip, but I've been using it for years: lay all of your like-category clothing (e.g., shirts, pants) in a stack then fold over into a bundle. Clothes folded in a stack vs. individually take up less room and also help prevent wrinkling (important for me, since I hate ironing!).

4. Reserve large items at your destination. Whenever we travel, I scope out large items that I can rent or borrow on site. I reserved a pack n' play at the hotel instead of bringing ours. And ultimately, I was extra glad I didn't bother packing ours because we ended up sending the reserved pack n' play away because there were enough beds for me to co-sleep with Violet, which allowed us to have more floor space.

5. Think old school. Violet is only 3 months old so she doesn't need a ton of gear, but when you have a small car with a small trunk, things like bouncy seats and Moses baskets take up a lot of real estate. We decided to only bring the bare essentials -- stroller and a Baby Bjorn carrier -- and skip things (like the bouncy chair) that our parents' generation never bothered with. It worked out perfectly fine!

6. Limit the entertainment bulk... Laurel and my small bags were pretty sparely packed, especially since I used my compact Amelia tote to carry both my things (camera, wallet, notebook, etc.) + Violet's diaper supplies and other essentials. Laurel brought flat things (chapter books, activity books, card games) in her messenger bag. Basically, we skipped anything big and bulky and during the car ride busied ourselves with verbal travel games (also a necessity since we both get carsick in about 2 seconds if we try to read anything while driving).

7. ...And/or bring things you don't mind leaving behind or are done with. This is more of a critical strategy for me when I'm flying (and try to shave off every ounce possible to lighten my carry on) but I used it this trip as well. I like bringing magazines I haven't yet read and don't mind leaving behind for others to enjoy, or personal care products that I know I will finish up during the trip, so I'm a little lighter on the return.

So what about you? If you've got favorite travel tips to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below!

Image credit: Simon Howden via