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Here's how I pack light when traveling with my family

Nov. 28, 2022
4 min read
Mixed race young adult woman writing list of accessories and travel stuff before going on summer holidays - Travel and vacation concept
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I take packing very seriously. From packing lists to packing cubes, I pride myself on always having what we need without overpacking — and without having to check bags. But I wasn’t always this way. I’ll never forget the first overnight trip with my then-4-month-old son for a weeklong conference in New Orleans. Being first-time parents, we packed everything we thought we would need and even more that we didn’t. But it’s better to have and not need, right? Not always.

A lot has changed since that last trip over four years ago, including the addition of another kid and countless trips, both domestic and international. Now with a 3- and 4-year-old in tow, I pack more efficiently from head to toe — literally.

Here’s what’s in my bag(s) when I travel with my family.

Pakt travel bag

THE ANYWHERE 5L SLING/PAKTBAGS.COM

I’m obsessed with my new sling bag from Pakt. I love large, satchel-type purses for my day-to-day needs, but when it comes to travel days — or even just days when we’ll be out of the house for more than an hour — I need a backpack or crossbody bag. The Pakt travel bag is the perfect combo of both.

There are two main compartments in this bag. In the front zipper, I put extra masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. And on the inside, I put literally everything else, including my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite that I never travel without. My phone, Kindle, wallet, passport, a pen for filling out immigration forms, Dramamine and Kleenex all fit inside the larger compartment with ease. And because overpacking is impossible with such a compact space, I only have what my family and I really need.

Carry-ons and packing cubes

CARMEN CHAN/CALPAK TRAVEL

I know that a lot of my colleagues are big fans of Rimowa and Away luggage, but I’ve loved my iFly hard-side carry-on for years. I also rarely travel without my EzPacking cubes. I have sets in different colors for each of my family members and am often able to pack myself and both of my kids in my carry-on thanks to the compression and organization that my packing cubes provide. When we arrive, I don’t even bother unpacking. I just place the packing cubes in the drawers and go from there.

Now that my kids are old enough to carry their own backpacks, I let them carry a few of their own items. I always pack them a couple of device-free activities, like coloring books and small toys, in addition to their iPads and wireless headphones.

Clothes with pockets

This might seem like a weird thing to mention, and I understand that it’s not exactly a bag, but hear me out.

As I graduated from an overpacker to a more conscious packer, I started to really take advantage of what I could wear that could also hold some of the more important things I found myself constantly reaching for. Examples include my wallet, passport and lip balm, and eventually, I added masks and hand sanitizer or wipes. I almost always travel with my Levi’s jean jacket because of its inside pockets that hold all of these things, not to mention help ward off the freezing temperature on airplanes.

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ASHLEY ONADELE/THE POINTS GUY

Bottom line

I no longer pack every single item my kids could need when we travel. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve become a more conscious packer, taking advantage of packing cubes in my carry-on, a slingback travel bag and even inside pockets in my favorite jacket. I also make a list of what we’ll need for each trip to ensure I don’t overpack or forget anything.

All in all, my family’s travel bag(s) always have everything we need.

Featured image by XAVIER LORENZO/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
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  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
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  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees