Travel Series: How to Pack for International Travel as a Family

We’re travelers. Ever since we visited Italy in 2013, there’s been no stopping us. Every summer we take a big trip. Traveling with my people truly feeds my soul. I want to see the architecture, hear the stories, taste the foods, and live in different cultures.

Since Italy, we’ve visited 10 more countries. Crazy! Last month we went on a Scandinavian cruise and knocked out 7 countries in one 13 day period. It was AWESOME and I’ve received a lot of questions about our trip so I’ll try to answer those in this travel series.


It takes a lot to get 5 people ready for an almost 2-week vacation. Add to that 3 dogs, a cat, and a snake…Let’s just say I’m ready for the vacation when we finally get to our departure day.

Which brings me THE most important thing you’ll need when you’re packing for your trip: PATIENCE. Seriously. Loads of it. No one in your family will pack things the same way. And for the little ones, it’s necessary to pack for them or you’ll wind up with two outfits and tons of things you don’t need filling up their suitcase. That means more work for you. Patience is key to getting it done.

I never, ever go into packing without first getting organized. For example, I’ll lay out outfits to make sure I have enough pants and shirts for the trip. I’ll also get all the suitcases and packing materials together. And, I’ll make a list of everything each person in the family needs, so we don’t leave anything important behind, like deodorant, extra shoes, and hair conditioner. This whole organization part of packing gets things moving forward in the right direction and helps me save a little sanity!


Now, let’s get to the actual packing part. I pack everyone in packing cubes. I use these from Amazon. I like cubes because I can pack outfits all together OR I’ll pack shirts in 1, shorts in another, etc. So, it keeps things a little more organized while we’re on vacation. I’ve found that when I don’t use the cubes, the suitcase looks like it blew up from any one of use rifling through looking for something. And 2 days in, everything is a mess.














I also use a couple of jewelry organizers. I’m a fun-earring kind of girl, so I tend to pack mostly earrings and just wear the same gold chains and rings for the entire trip. For our cruise, and in the interest of small spaces, I bought this soft, flat organizer and it worked SO well.  For most of our trips, however, I use this jewelry case from Nordy’s. It’s pricey but I love it – there’s a space for everything and it has a hard shell so everything is well protected.


This toiletry bag was amazing. I actually have 3 of them ?(there ARE 5 of us, I mentioned). I pile all our shampoos and medicines (alllll the toiletries) in here and they hang right in the bathroom so everyone can grab what they need. It’s super convenient.








I bought this backpack for all our daily excursions. It has a charger built-in. I didn’t pack anything of value in here (see cross-body below) because we were warned repeatedly to watch out for pick-pockets. The backpack held snacks, spare phone battery charger, a couple of waters, travel umbrellas, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.










Helpful Electronics

Some electronics have become an essential part of our travel packing, not just to keep everyone entertained, but also to keep us plugged in when necessary. If you know me, you know I love to unplug as much as possible when I’m traveling. But I also keep my phone on hand to capture pictures while we explore, put up a quick Instagram post at the end of the day, or add to my story. And, of course, I always feel safer when we have at least one or two cell phones working in case of an emergency. 

These electronics were so helpful for this trip:

This universal adaptor was THE BEST. It worked everywhere we went and I highly recommend it (or 2!). It has 4 USB ports in it so it worked for many devices.








 A portable charger is a must while traveling and this one did not disappoint. It charged our phones so fast!


The RAVPower FileHub is so convenient for travelers! This small device has file storage, file sharing, and Wi-Fi hot spot capabilities all in one. I take a lot of pictures and videos when I travel, so I like having this as a backup, just in case I need to clear some off to make more room. And, thanks to its Wi-Fi hot spot feature, it’s easier to get internet when and where I need it.

Traveling with electronics can be stressful when you have several different chargers and cords for each device you’re bringing, which is why I love this organizer to keep everything in one spot. It has little cubbies for cords, adapters, headphones, and all the other techie stuff you want to keep together.

Miscellaneous Essentials

Before this trip, I bought some other stuff I thought would be handy on this trip with my husband and boys. Of course, one of the first things I thought of was FOOD. Do not – ever – bring boys on a trip (especially to another country) without snacks to keep them fueled. I love this mix of snacks that has something for everyone in the family and lots of yummy treats to keep bellies full and un-cranky between meals.

Here are some of my other must-haves:

These little travel umbrellas came in super handy while we were in Russia as it poured on us 1 day.








We bought 1 of these carry-on bags and once we received it, immediately bought 2 more. Bryan and I carried 1 and the boys got the other. It is SOOOOO convenient. A ton will fit in here and it wheels right on the plane and fits under the seat. So. darn. convenient. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciated these for a long flight with 3 kids.










How many of you have tried to squeeze your big ol’ suitcase on your bathroom scale to see how much it weighs before a flight? Yep, us too. And if we don’t weigh it, we’re inevitably (and embarrassingly) hunched in the airport trying to transfer sh*t from 1 suitcase to another to avoid paying $100 or whatever the fee is these days. SO, this time, I bought this little gem and it works like a charm. I brought it with us in the suitcase for our return trip because in some small way it helps me feel some kind of revenge for all those times I was transferring underwear from suitcase to suitcase inside the airport:)








I bought this wrap/blanket for traveling. It’s so soft and came in quite handy, particularly on the plane. Truth be told, I’m a sweat-er. It’s not glamorous, I know. But I am sweating most of the day. I’ve always been this way. And if you’ve ever taken children through the airport, sweat-er or not, I’d be willing to bet you’re sweating your *ss off. Having said that, when I do find myself cold, I don’t like it LOL. And one of the few places on Earth that I can catch a chill is on an airplane. So, this piece was fantastic for Sawyer and me to snuggle up with.










This “Shemergency Kit” is one of the best things I’ve ever seen for travelers. It has a bunch of stuff that’s easy to forget when you pack, like hairspray, dental floss, and tweezers. Even though I like to make a list before I pack, it’s inevitable that something will get left behind. Having this kit in my suitcase made me not stress so much about all the little stuff!

This memory foam travel pillow is amazing. It cradles your head just right to give you some comfy support while you’re going from place to place. You can even use it in the hotel room after a long day for some extra relaxation. 

I love anything that saves space when traveling, so this collapsible water bottle was perfect! It’s full size when you need to fill it, but contracts down to six inches tall to make it easier to store in a backpack.

So, that’s it for packing and traveling for this trip. I hope that’s helpful. As I get older, I find that I just want EASE and at this point, we’re fortunate enough to have traveled to some pretty killer places so I think we’re getting the hang of it. Let me know in the comments if you have any great travel products that you love. And join me for Part II of this series where I’ll talk about the cruise and some of the countries we visited.


August 8, 2019

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