As most of you know by now, I set off on my first overseas adventure with all four boys in tow on September 8th. We are exploring London, Paris and Venice for three weeks this Fall, but I wanted to do it with as little luggage as possible. What does that mean? Well, it means that each of us is traveling with carry on bags only. Myself and each of the boys have only one carry on size pack, and Joshua and I both have small backpacks worn on our fronts when traveling that contain things like electronics, my medication and important papers. Trying to “guess” the weather and pack accordingly for a three week trip through foreign countries wasn’t easy, but I thought I would share tips for families on packing to help make the most of fall and family travel.
Choosing the Right Bag
First, I had to choose the right bag. I did some research and finally went with a pack I found online that opens like a suitcase and meets even the strictest carry on size limits.
Organization is Key
When it comes to packing the right amount of items into such a small package for a lengthy trip, organization is the key to success. That meant I needed an organized way to pack that would keep everything neat, but also maximize my space. For this reason, I went with packing cubes. A large one for my tops and dresses, a medium sized one for my bottoms and a zippered bag for socks, underwear, belts and scarves. I also purchased a shoe bag to keep my one pair of extra shoes in. Yes, I only took two pairs of shoes!
Because I knew that the weather can often be rainy in the countries we were visiting, and because it is early Fall, I chose to go with a mixture of items that could be layered or not layered should the weather either turn chilly or warm. I did actually bring a jacket, but I left it in the hotel room in Orlando the night before we boarded the plane to head overseas. I ended up not needing it anyway, so it was no big deal. The whole packing plan has worked pretty well for me and boiled down to the list below.
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 sweater
- 3 dresses (2 casual and 1 a bit dressier)
- 3 pairs of jeans
- 1 pair capris
- 2 pairs of leggings
- 3 sleeveless shirts
- 2 long sleeved shirts
- 3 shirts with 3/4 length sleeves
- 1 cami
- 1 pair dress flats
- 1 pair Converse Sneakers
- 2 belts
- 1 scarf
- 5 pairs underwear
- 5 pairs of socks
- 3 bras
Choosing the Right Pair of Shoes
Remember when I said I only brought two pairs of shoes for 3 weeks in Europe? Well, I had to make sure they were the right shoes. When you only have two choices and a massive amount of walking to do, choosing incorrectly could be detrimental to your vacation.
The first pair I went with were just an older pair of dressier looking ballet flats that fold up. These are not the most comfortable shoes when worn for long periods of time, and are only for those special dressy occasions, like the afternoon tea I took the boys to in London.
For my everyday shoes to be worn each day of our trip during all the long treks and sightseeing, I headed to Famous Footwear. I often shop there for the boys and myself because they have a great selection of the brands I love, and often run Buy One Get One 50% off sales! I am a huge fan of Converse shoes, especially their Shoreline Slip On Sneakers, I also love the Chuck Taylor All Star Madison Low Top Sneaker they carry there. They have all the comfort of a pair of sandals, but with the coverage of a sneaker, and they literally go with everything, from shorts, to jeans to dresses. You can check out the Famous Footwear Instagram for styling ideas for Fall!
So, when choosing my one main pair of shoes, I went with a new pair of black Converse Women’s Chuck Taylor All Star Shoreline Slip On Sneakers from Famous Footwear. Converse are literally one of the only brands I have ever found where I do not need to break in the shoes before traveling. These babies have been with me for almost two weeks of constant travel on all sorts of terrain and a few days of over 15 hours of travel each, and I never once had my feet hurt because of the shoes. Score! It is great to have the confidence to pack a pair of shoes for a massive trip with the boys and know that I don’t have to worry about my feet hurting.
Remember the Important Items
In addition to my pack for my clothing and shoes, I also have a small laptop backpack. I bring my laptop, DSLR camera with extra lens, chargers, a universal adapter and all the important confirmations and papers I need while away. Copies of our passport pages, our passports of course, multiple cards in case one doesn’t work somewhere, the boy’s birth certificates, and a signed travel confirmation from the father of my youngest son since he has a different last name than me. I also needed to pack my surrogacy medication since I am still on it for another week of this trip.
All of this fit nicely into my two carry on bags, and I found that the boys and I never once had to pay baggage charges, saving us literally hundreds of dollars on this trip!
Do you have any tips for long term carry on only travel packing? What about your favorite shoe picks for travel and the busy seasons of your life? Share them below in the comments or with @FamousFootwear on Twitter and Instagram.