Is it Possible to Travel for Two Weeks, With Three Kids, Like a Minimalist?
Going to Europe with three children for two weeks is a feat! Thanks to Tidying Up star, Marie Kondo, luggage for five doesn’t have to be overwhelming. All you have to do is Marie Kondo your suitcase!
We went to Europe a few years ago and the hardest part about travelling for me was the lack of sleep on the plane and trying to lug our suitcases up and down the European train station staircases. I brought way too much and had a heavy stroller (relatively heavy, it’s quite a small, light stroller compared to the average North American stroller). This is the stroller I have, I’ve had it for six years now and still like it (very reasonably priced)!
I took it easily to California, it works great going to Canada, but Europe? I much prefer an umbrella stroller. When sightseeing, it’s so much easier when you can fold up the stroller and carry it. If we want to see a castle, there are stairs, the umbrella stroller is nothing to fold up and carry up. When going on and off transit and the trains, the umbrella stroller is just easier. It’s not the best thing for cobblestone streets but we have those in New York too and let’s be honest, those streets were made for horses. So beautiful. Not practical for modern conveniences.
I love these crazy inexpensive ones from Walmart and Amazon because I don’t care what happens to it on the airplane. Throw that baby around, it was only $20! I had one for my first son and it took a very good beating. Best $20 ever spent on a stroller. It’s not a high-end ride but it’s perfect for our needs.
What to Carry-On?
We have a night flight on the way to Europe and a day flight on the way home. This is perfect, I think, because it will help the children to adjust to the time change!
For the way there, we bought compact inflatable footrests that go between the seats and will turn the children’s seats into small beds. I want them settled and cozy. They also have cute neck pillows, which they can use as pillows when laying down, and as a surprise, I bought them awesome Mario and Luigi sleep masks!
They both have special books they will use to document their trip that we can work at on the airplane. For our four-year-old, he has a very simple, child-friendly book from Wee Society called, “Go! Kid’s Interactive Travel Diary and Journal”.
I was planning to let them get snuggly and watch one movie. They will bring their own headphones (the buds don’t fit well into children’s ears and I don’t like how loud they get, especially for our four-year-old). By the time their movie ends, their children’s Gravel should have kicked in and they’ll be out like little angels. The stewardesses will be so grateful for our well-behaved, lovely children. Ha, ha, ha!
Kidding… (no I’m not).
If all else fails, I am also bringing a Travel Edition Where’s Waldo book. I figure it’ll keep them busy whenever and wherever we need them to be.
Our youngest is gluten and dairy free so I’m also bringing a couple granola bars, just in case I need them for him. In their bags, they’ll have their toothbrushes and one day’s worth of clothing in case our luggage is delayed.
Our tiniest person needs a warm blanket, a sippy cup with powdered formula in it and a sippy cup for water, a few organic squeezy food packs, small disposable cracker packs, diapers (I love these ones from Amazon, they’re super affordable and don’t leak!) and travel wipes, a change of pajamas in case she get’s dirty and two days worth of clothing in case our luggage gets lost and she soils the first set.
My Husband and I
Is there room in our bags?! Ha!
We will both have one day’s worth of clothing, toothbrushes, our phone chargers and earbuds. My husband will be bringing his computer and I will bring a book. Granola bars for the adults and I’ll have earplugs. I really should bring the passengers some. My husband sleeping… it’s a sound like none other.
I will not wash my face, my ginger never goes out in public eyebrow-less, but I don’t wear foundation anyway. I’ll bring my Avene Eau Thermale Spring Water Spray to freshen my skin on the dry airplane and wash up properly when we arrive.
I got a sleep mask in the Fab Fit Fun box I tried out (very cool, a little $$ for me), perfect timing! I’ll bring my husband one as well, even though all these sleep masks might be wishful thinking.
I have a bag that straps onto the handle of my suitcase to make the trip easier and more hands-free (yeah, right!).
That about covers the carry on! For the way home, we will buy something special for the boys to do like a new book or puzzle. Otherwise, they can watch a movie and look at their photos from the trip on the digital camera we assigned to the children.
This looks like quite a few things but it really isn’t much when you’re travelling with a baby and a toddler!
Packing Small for Five
This is really a cheat and not a minimalist move at all but I’ve been waiting and saving my money so I could buy my (entire?) spring and summer capsule wardrobe as well as fill-in the spaces in my winter capsule in Europe.
The clothing is just better. There is better construction, the material is better, the fit is more tailored. Maybe it’s all in my head but the things I bought in Europe four years ago are the few things that have lasted and I wear consistently.
However, we’re now renovating our kitchen so that cuts into my shopping budget!
As such, I’m bringing three pairs of jeans, one pair of black trousers, a casual dress, a formal dress for the wedding, two tops, two camisoles, two over-the-head sweaters (I would have only brought one but I need the second one for my dress for the wedding in case it gets cold!), one longer sweater-jacket, and a raincoat (of course!). For shoes, I’m bringing a pair of white runners, black oxfords and my heels for the wedding.
And I’m packing an extra duffel bag to bring things home in because you never know what you may find! My Poshmark closet is going to explode when I come home, I am sure.
How to reign in the shopping and build a capsule
I keep running lists for my family of all the things we need and what would match what we already have.
My ten year old needs shorts desperately. He has one pair! He could also use two or three nice t-shirts for school, a swimsuit, a pair of summer pants like khakis and some slide-on sandals.
My four-year-old needs two pairs of summer pants, a swim suit, one t-shirt, rain boots, and sandals.
The baby really has quite a few clothes already. On her list is 2 pairs of shorts, two floral dresses (I have enough but I love them), a skirt, a romper, a bathing suit, rain boots and a sunhat.
My husband is more difficult to capsule because he wears his own thing! I think he needs plain tees without funny sayings on them, a pair of shorts, black jeans, two plain sweaters for work, a sweater with elbow patches (winter wardrobe), a grey dress shirt, a nice black hoodie, black cords (winter wardrobe), a plain black or dark grey tie, and tan slacks. Phew!
On my list I have two knee-length summer skirts, a pair of jean shorts, basic black or beige flats, two white pretty summer tops, a pair of white jeans, a pair of linen shorts, a casual black and a pink tank that fit well, two pastel summer tops, replacement trousers (winter), a dressy winter jacket (not likely to buy), a leather jacket (dreaming), slip-on runners that aren’t smelly (oh man, do mine ever stink but I won’t give them up until I find a replacement because I wear them the whole summer!), a floral dress, a plain dress, plain black and white t-shirts, a boatneck black top, white chino pants, tan chino pants, and a plain black miniskirt (obviously, not that mini).
And of course, a replacement for my long, amazing, cozy, favourite sweater that my husband put in the laundry.
Clearly, I’m not going to buy all of this all at once. But these are the things I would like to see in my closet and will keep an eye out for while building my capsule wardrobe over the next few years. Keeping a list helps me to stay on-track while shopping so I don’t bring home items, “I have nothing to wear with,” or realize I actually don’t like. That doesn’t mean if I found something I absolutely loved that I wouldn’t buy it, more that I’m being more conscious of what I put on my body and where I put my money.
A Kondo-Packed Suitcase
We could have packed all our things into one suitcase doing this method, I don’t know why we didn’t try! Here’s our suitcases and how we packed.
One day of clothing, a hat, gum for the airplane (sore ears be gone!), his adventure book, crayons, gluten free snacks and his cologne. Obviously.
The baby and I shared a suitcase. We didn’t take many diapers, bought them there and it lasted about two weeks (perfect!). Clearly, she needed to bring all the bows.
There’s a scooter in the bottom of that suitcase! It was the BEST thing we took! We left it at my brother’s for next time. The boys brought the most clothing because I didn’t want to shop much for them there. They’re too hard on their clothing!
I realize none of this has anything to do with addiction but since we’re talking about adventuring, I thought I’d share!