Traveling Light with Three Kids

Orla Kiely orange flower print roller board suitcase with knitted striped scarf tied to handle

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What I Packed for a Long Weekend

Orla Kiely orange flower print roller board suitcase with knitted striped scarf tied to handle

  • What: Packing light
  • When: Traveling with kids
  • Why: Carry less, use only what you need
  • Where: Your favorite destination

Hopefully you’ve never gotten stuck in another state (or worse, a totally different part of the country) when traveling with your family. But if you have, like me, you get paranoid about being separated from some of the basics, like clean underwear and socks. We recently traveled with all three kids for three nights and I packed everything into our carry on luggage to save time, money, and possible anguish with lost luggage.

Suitcases and stroller parked for travel with young kids
Here’s everything I needed for a three day trip with three kids.

We traveled fairly light, with one four year old, one seven year old, and one eight year old. Since we didn’t need car seats at our destination, that made life much simpler. I took a stroller, our JetKids BedBox, a roller board suitcase, and one of the kids’ smaller hard sided suitcases. They would have packed all three of their suitcases quite happily, but we didn’t need that much carrying capacity and I didn’t need to keep up with three suitcases worth of toys we didn’t have time to use.

Child's suitcase and roller board packed for three day travel with three kids
I fit everything we needed into two small suitcases.

So we compromised with three suitcases, plus my personal bag (which was really just my purse dropped into a backpack so I had room for extras like sippy cups and water bottles). I allotted each kid and myself one Eagle Creek large Pack It Cube. I filled each cube with three outfits and one pair of pajamas per kid. I normally toss in swimsuits even if I know we won’t be anywhere near a pool. But the kids did their own packing this time, and didn’t include swim stuff, which worked for me.

JetKids BedBox shown open packed inside with headphones and snack bag
Our BedBox held the inflight entertainment and snacks as well as the mattress and pillow.

I also took a heavier layer for each kid, as well as a hat. Turns out, even in June with temperatures in the mid 60’s, with winds blowing at 15-20 miles per hour most of our trip, we used the heavier jackets and could’ve taken winter hats. Lesson learned for next time.

All that clothing, plus my own cube, and my youngest child’s two fluffy blankets and each child’s favorite (fortunately small) stuffed animal fit easily into those two suitcases. I could’ve ditched the BedBox completely, as it had only onboard entertainment like tablets and headphones, the mattress, inflatable pillow, and snacks. The entertainment and snacks could go into my personal bag, but since the extra set of wheels provided a seat as well as a toy and bed for the kids, we took it.

Kids traveling on city train with luggage under their feet
Our luggage fit neatly under the seat on the train.

I had no trouble flying solo with all three kids and getting everything on board. When all three kids wanted the BedBox, I easily loaded the stroller with both suitcases (the smaller one in the seat and the bigger roller board on the stroller board on back) and still had a hand free. With two kids riding the stroller, I had my oldest pull a suitcase and the BedBox and pulled the bigger suitcase myself. But no matter the arrangement, it worked out, and we all got home with all of our belongings and minimal fuss. (If only everyone could sit next to me on the plane, we’d be all set.)

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