Travelling carry-on style with kids!

At our house, the countdown to Spring Break is on! Where we live, the kids are off school from March 17 – April 3rd. We get two weeks for Spring Break and then Easter just happens to fall on the tail-end. This year we are off to Maui for 10 glorious days and I can’t wait. We have been to Maui about 6 times already, and it is our favorite spot to travel with the kids.

A few years ago, we started to travel with only carry-on bags, and now I can’t imagine lugging a big suitcase and standing around waiting for it at the carousel! This is a pretty big deal for us, because I used to be a chronic over-packer. Steve travels a lot for work, and always with just a carry-on, so when he would travel with us and had to deal with all the checked bags, it drove him a little crazy.  I can’t tell you how many trips started off with us arguing while loading the car to go to the airport! I would pack everything under the sun, and then Steve would go through and start taking things out at the last minute and I would get furious! In my defense, this tendency to over pack all started when the kids were little and required a lot of extra “stuff”. Here is a picture of us in Maui 8 years ago:

Looking back at the older photos and remembering all the gear is pretty funny now. Car seats, pack-and-plays, strollers …it’s a wonder we ever traveled! But vacations are really important to us, that family time is precious!

Now that the kids are older, we need way less. What helped me learn to travel light, is that I started to notice that I wouldn’t wear half the clothes and shoes I packed and the kids wouldn’t even touch the toys we brought on our vacations. When I really started thinking about what we use on a beach holiday, I realized there was no need to pack so much stuff! Bathing suits and flip flops and we are good to go! We don’t typically do anything “fancy” while we are in Maui, maybe a few dinners out, so a sundress and nice sandals are the most dressy thing we require.

Today, I want to share with you what we take with us to Maui and how I fit everything into just a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. To preface this, I have to say that one of the things that makes it easy to travel light is that we are able to purchase some toiletries and sunscreen at our destination.

When you are travelling light, every bit of space counts! This is one of the best things about Maui is that when you land in Kahului, there is a Costco, a Walmart and now a Target right near the airport. The other thing that enables me to pack light is that we always stay at a condo that has laundry, so I don’t have to pack enough clothes for the whole trip, I can do a load of laundry mid-week.

Packing light for the kids is pretty easy. They are older –   13, 10 and 8 – so like I mentioned, we don’t have to worry about car seats and all the gear that you need when you travel with littles. Here are their carry-on suitcases:

Can you guess which suitcase belongs to Stella? If you said the colorful one with the white fluffy dog on it, you would be correct! She picked that out a few years ago at Walmart and she loves it! I love this cute little purse she bought a few trips ago:

The first step is to make a list of what you think you will need for your trip. Pinterest is great for this, you can get lots of ideas for capsule wardrobes. I made this fun collage on Polyvore when I was thinking about what to bring for my girls:

Girls Tropical Vacation Wardrobe!

 My older daughter Sadie really liked this collage and wanted to buy the whole thing! If I had started this process a little sooner, I could have just ordered what they needed online. But alas, my timeline didn’t allow for that so it was off to Old Navy for me yesterday. This is where I get the majority of the kids stuff. You can’t beat the price and the quality never disappoints me. We love their flip flop selection, so many fun prints and such a steal!

The other thing that really helped me was this checklist I made:

The intention of this checklist is to print it out and give it to the kids and have them collect the items that need to be packed. I always try and involve them in this process, I think it is a great life skill to have! Plus they are old enough to help out, and to be honest they get really excited about packing for vacation. If you would like to use this checklist for your next vacay, just click on the link below!

Printable Kids Packing Checklist – for girls

Printable Packing Checklist for boys

I made little lines beside the clothing items so if someone else is using this checklist, they can fill it in with what they want to take.

Lets take a look at what I packed in Stella’s suitcase:

On the Left:

  1. 4 sundresses

  2. 4 t-shirts/tank tops

  3. 3 pairs of shorts

  4. 1 pair of light pants

  5. 1 cardigan

On the Right:

  1. 3 bathing suits

  2. 2 rash guards

  3. 7 pairs of undies