4 Tips for Packing in Two Suitcases for a Family of Four
Packing for a trip can be daunting no matter which way you slice it. But, throw in a couple of toddlers and it can add a whole layer of added stress! When we planned our Europe trip, I knew that I would have to pack light. And I mean LIGHT!! So I made myself the challenge of packing for four people into TWO suitcases!! You read that right!
This is why… The situation I was looking at was difficult: two kids that can’t pull real suitcases and things, because they are 3 and 4, which meant that I had to really dial it down. I also potentially was planning to lug around a giant double stroller so I could contain my crazies from running all over the city/airport/etc. That literally left me with two hands to pull suitcases between two adults (me and the hubs), and if one is stuck pushing those giant double strollers because it’s near impossible to push/steer with one hand. YIKES.
The other struggle: European airlines can be pretty small as you hop from city to city so having giant amounts of luggage and carry-ons wasn’t a good option either. And so I took on the challenge of taking two suitcases for all four of us for 17 days! Our first stop was going be NYC for about 3 days. From there we headed to Portugal (Lisbon) for a week. And then the last week, would be spent traipsing around parts of Switzerland. But you guys, we did it. I was able to carry everything we needed in two suitcases for a family of four, and today, I wanna share my top 4 pro-tips to make your vacation travel a little easier!
Before we start, here’s what our final luggage looked like:
- A backpack each
- A suitcase that also had a carry-on counterpart that attached to the main suitcase so all you had to do was pull one thing (you can see these stacked in the picture above!)
- Another regular suitcase
- A double stroller (and a case for gate check)
Here’s my tips on how to go about this crazy task!
1// You don’t need as many clothes as you think.
I know it sounds crazy, but are you an over-packer? Do you end up at your destination with a ridiculous amount of clothes and most of it you never even ends up getting worn?? I’m notorious for that guys! But, when packing for long vacations like this, it’s all about being strategic. It’s almost as if you doing a little mini capsule wardrobe for when you’re away!
Here’s a mini snapshot of what I took:
- 1 pair of jeans
- 2 pairs of shorts (summer time)
- 1 utility jacket
- 3 pairs of shoes (sandals for walking, sandals for the evening, tennis shoes)
- 10 pairs of underwear/several bras
- 2 sets of pajamas
- 4-5 shirts
- 2-3 dresses
Before I packed it all up, I made sure all of it was able to create multiple outfits within the things I had chosen. I tried to stick to more neutral instead of lots of patterns to make outfits super versatile. And I would wash and dry in our room so everything stayed nice and clean! I used the same methodology in terms of packing for my kids and the hubs and it was totally fine! I never felt like I didn’t have anything to wear! Trust me, pack less and I’m positive you won’t miss all that extra stuff!
2// Wash, rinse, and repeat is the name of the game.
I touched on this one a little bit in number 1 and you may have cringed because you don’t want to do handwash things. I get it…but at the same time, it’s so worth it because you can actually shop and take all the things home. TOTALLY WORTH IT GUYS! I would literally wash things while I showered, and then hung them up on the little luggage rack that most hotel rooms have. We’d leave for day, and when we got back, our clothes were dry! Most hotel rooms also have an iron, so if things needed to be ironed, I would just do that really quickly if need be!
Also, if you’re staying at an AirBnB/VRBO/etc, most tend to have some laundry facilities which is what we had when we stayed in our Portugal house! So I also did a giant load of laundry to wash all of our things while I was there to have clean clothes for our following week in Switzerland!
3 // Packing cubes are your best friends.
This one I cannot stress ENOUGH. Buy these and use them every time you travel! I even use them if I’m just going to Houston for the weekend to visit my parents! It helps separate everything, and if you need something, you don’t have to shuffle everything through your suitcase and mess up all the folding!
I have two pro-tips for packing cubes:
- Make sure you roll your clothes when you’re putting them into the packing cubes. Creates for quite a bit of space and you’ll be shocked as to how much you can actually get inside one of those cubes!
- Keep a list of what you put into each cube in the notes app of your phone. I say this because, let’s say you just have an overnight somewhere, and you don’t want to go digging through or opening all the cubes to figure out which ones had your pajamas. Pull out your handy dandy list, and you can find it with ease!
4// Pack a whole duffel bag that goes inside your suitcase.
This one sounds crazy, but it’s awesome! Trust me! Instead of packing your stuff directly into the suitcase, pack it all into a duffel bag. And then, stick the duffel bag into the suitcase. You can fill up the rest of the suitcase by stuffing things around the duffel bag. I filled up the sides of the suitcase with lighter shoes and things that weren’t as heavy since the majority of the weight went into the duffel bag.
You’ve basically given yourself a whole extra bag in case you want to bring home souvenirs or whatever shopping you intend on doing while you’re away! And the reason I like using a duffel bag is because once you need to use it, you can always stick it on top of your suitcase when you’re in the airport/etc. And you’re not having to pull around a whole another suitcase! It’s GENIUS guys.
As we acquired things while we visited all the different cities, we were easily able to easily expand by the end of our trip and bring home everything without worrying about weight! Plus, if you’re headed home, it’s ok to add an extra bag because you no longer need to worry about trains/planes/boats/etc.
Packing tends to be the part of the vacation that most people hate, but with these tips, I guarantee it’ll make your life so much easier!! If you have any tips, leave them in the comments so we can all learn how to pack lightly!
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Hi, This is an informative article about suitcases packing for the family. I agree with your list. I also added with this we should take our mobile phone charger when we are going somewhere. What do you think? Thanks for the sharing such a useful article with lots of information.
I agree with you but duffel bags are really light and can handle oddly shaped item