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Packing for a Family Trip…

Oh Joy | Packing for a Family Trip

Oh Joy | Packing for a Family Trip

We're heading to Mexico tomorrow! As part of a partnership with St. Regis hotels, we're off to Punta Mita to experience Family Traditions at St. Regis, which is all about making a vacation with kids easier and more fun thanks to the hotel's family-friendly activities and accommodations. We're hoping to continue the tradition of at least one far-away vacation per year. France was super far away, so I love that Punta Mita is only a three-hour flight for us (it almost seems like a piece of cake compared to flying to Paris!). And since we recently traveled overseas with Ruby and now we're heading out of the country again to Mexico, I thought I'd share some of my packing tips for staying prepared, while still keeping things easy, on your family adventures…

Oh Joy | Packing for a Family Trip

01. Bring only one suitcase, and pack all your clothes in it. While it might seem impossible to fit clothing and toiletries for three or more people into one suitcase, you can do it. It's well worth bringing less stuff so you have less to lug around while traveling in airports, train stations, and taxi cabs. For longer trips or trips to cold weather climates (because of all those bulky clothes), we bring our largest suitcase. For shorter trips or trips with warm weather (which means we can take light and thin clothes), we bring a medium suitcase or even just a small carry-on.

02. For trips longer than five days, bring only half the days' worth of clothes with you (especially if you'll have access to a washing machine). We all do that thing where we bring way more than we need when we pack for a trip, but we never end up wearing half of it. However, when you're traveling with kids and have more to carry, this is one area I've really learned to pare down. We were in France for 12 days and brought only three or four outfits and two pairs of shoes each. We did our best to mix and match and simply wore the same clothes again after we had chance to wash them mid-way through our trip.

03. Pack comfy shoes. This seems obvious, but I know I always bring my cute, uncomfortable shoes only to never wear them. So I make sure to bring one pair that I know I can walk a lot in without getting blisters and bring another pair that may be less practical but way cuter for those light walking times.

04. Only pack toiletries/baby items that you can't find elsewhere and buy everything else there. If you're traveling within your own country, there's a good chance they have whatever diapers, baby foods, or brand names you're used to. But when traveling abroad, almost everything is different. For instance, we brought all the diapers we'd needed for our 12 days in France because we knew that the Pampers Pull-Ups that Ruby is using to potty train might not be available at a local Parisian grocery store. But we didn't bring two weeks worth of shampoo and soap because we were okay with getting whatever we could find locally. In contrast, when we visit my parents in Philly, there is no need to bring food, snacks, diapers, or wipes, since we can just go to the local drug store or supermarket and get whatever we need. Another example: There were seriously no high chairs in Paris, so we brought a portable high chair so that we could go out to meals with Ruby comfortably. Do your research to see what other countries have or don't have so that you know you'll need.

05. Keep toys and books to a minimum. Sure, you should bring your little one's favorite lovey, toy, or book, but you don't have to bring a mini-version of their playroom with you. Toys and books are heavy, take up a lot of room in a suitcase, and kids will have plenty to play with during their new adventure. I stressed so much about Ruby being bored in our rental apartment in Paris without her usual arsenal of playtime delights, but she barely noticed it because we were out experiencing new things every day.

In the end, it's all about bringing as little as possible while still feeling prepared. Now, our standards include one suitcase (for all our clothes and toiletries), a travel crib, an umbrella stroller, my baby bag, and one carry-on (for our laptop and cameras).

I'll be sharing photos from our adventures in Mexico when I get back, but you can also follow along on Instagram this week while I'm there.

P.S. The coolest part is that you can also enter to win a family trip to a St. Regis hotel of your choice…see here for more info!

{Photos by Oh Joy. Our shoes shown above: Melissa Artemis + Jason Wu sandals, Saltwater sandals, and Castaner espadrilles.}


  1. Great tips!! Love the idea of taking just one suitcase for everyone. That ways you don’t end up packing a whole lot. And yes a lot of the baby stuff is available in most cities, so save the space and buy what you need from a local store. I also use Amazon prime to ship things to where I am going. It’s cheap and fast and gets your stuff to the destination quickly! Specially if u want to gift big toys etc to friend’s babies!
    Enjoy your trip! Looking forward to the pictures 🙂

  2. Awesome! My hubby and I are going to Mexico in December too. We are going to Puebla (about 2 hours from Mexico City) and staying with family. So thanx for your tips. Now i won’t bring all of our shampoo bottles. 🙂 Bon voyage!

  3. Joy, I could not agree more about the toiletries. I love visiting stores/markets during my travels and trying local products. Sometimes I even bring back local soaps as gifts!

  4. I live in this region six months of the year and it should be a beautiful trip at this time. My only advice is: pack light. Anything you think you might need is now available. The US “style of living” has invaded Mexico. As for toys and amusements for Ruby, only for the plane. Once you get to MX, she’ll be dazzled (as will you) by the beach and all its amusements. Bien viaje!

  5. Have a great trip! I agree from first hand experience on packing comfortable shoes. For a trip to Vancouver, I packed “cute” sandals which were uncomfortable and hurt my feet.

  6. How do you handle feeding bottle sterilizing when you are away? My biggest problem is packing that super bulky bottle sterilizer!

  7. You’re so right about buying most stuff when you arrive at your holiday destination! and about the necessity for comfy shoes.
    My husband once insisted on our family of 5 setting off on a 2 week holiday in France with hand luggage only and guess what… we all survived!!!
    Have a lovely holiday.

  8. Great tips Joy! This sounds awesome!
    I’m so guilty of packing more than I need, especially for the shorter trips, like a weekend getaway. It’s crazy, but I just am so afraid to be unprepared, lol! Especially with kids (my son is 3 and my daughter 18 months)
    I love the idea of kid-friendly hotels and travel. Safe travels!

  9. Hi Jo!
    I’m so impressed with how you packed all of your family’s clothes in one suitcase and your Paris pics still looked like you had your whole wardrobe with you!
    I’m going to try harder to pack light but I have to admit I don’t like sharing with the hubster (he’s a lil messy)!

  10. I disagree with packing just one suitcase. Some airports do not allow one large suitcase because of the heavy lifting for the airport employees and when your suitcase gets lost you have nothing. I always pack some of my clothes in my boyfriends suitcase and vice versa so that when your luggage does get lost, you at least have some underwear and clothing to wear. I do agree with your other packing tips!

  11. Thank you for the wonderful tips! I will be traveling with an infant and toddler for the first time next month. One thing I’m debating on is what kind of stroller to bring? I know you’ve only got one child. But just wondering if you have any suggestions.
    I love the idea of packing all our clothes into one big luggage. Especially since we’ll have 2 car seats waiting for us at baggage claim….

  12. Hi Katie!
    Some people buy a seat for their infant and put them on the car seat on the plane. We never did that but checked the car seat with our luggage. Car seats are free to check so you dont have to pay for bringing them with you! 😉

  13. Thank you a lot for sharing these packing tips! I am going on a trip with my family next week. We are going in Venice, Italy and we are so excited! After that vacation we are going to move to another apartment and I hope that the moving process will be fast and easy!

  14. Great tips! My advice is to use book reader instead of book. It is light and useful. Your kid could enjoy more than one book this way. Thank you for sharing such an interesting article! Best regards!


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