How to pack for a year of family travel

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How do you pack for a year of travel with a toddler and a baby? This is what we did.

When we were preparing to head overseas for a year with our little family, we had plenty of things that we had to get ready for and think about, such as cancelling mail and bills, renting out our house, making sure we were up to date with anything medical we might need, setting up bank accounts, and so much more. One of the top things we put a lot of thought into was our suitcases. After all, we were about to travel for a year with small children with only what we could check into airline baggage. Pinterest was our best friend in all of this – I don’t know how many variations of “what to pack for a year of travel” went into the search engine, but it was a lot. What I found was really helpful, but not enough. There are plenty of families who do what we are doing, but not so many who do it with a four month old.. Having a family makes our situation unique, as the different ages of our children make it harder to fit them in a category with the many other families that have done the same thing.

I thought I would write a bit of a post with what we packed, hopefully to help other families who are about to set off on a similar adventure (and maybe our family and friends who are reading this might find it interesting too!).

Our Story

To put our situation into context: We are Pete and Megan, both in our mid-late twenties, with Elena (2 and a half), and Kilian (4 and a half months – when we left). We are from Sydney, Australia, and were setting off on a year long adventure – landing in England in the Winter, and aiming to spend 6 months in the UK. In Summer we are heading over to Europe, and will spend 3 months there, before heading over to the U.S, for Autumn/Winter. I (Megan), am a chronic under-packer, and Pete is an over-packer.

Our first main consideration was how many, and what size suitcases to bring. We ended up getting 3 120L suitcases, one for each of the adults, and one for the children to share. Many airlines allow infant luggage as well, so I think we could have gone with four, but we decided that 3 should be plenty for the four of us, and we wanted to have a bit of wiggle room if we needed it at the end of our journey.

Our challenge

  • to fit a years worth of clothing, toys and essentials in three suitcases, covering all seasons.

I will tell you what we packed in each suitcase, what we wished we packed, and what we wished we didn’t.

Pete’s Suitcase

Winter
  • 1 Jeans
  • 1 Chinos
  • 1 Rainjacket
  • 1 long sleeve top
  • 2 down jackets (1 lightweight, 1 not so)
  • 1 North Face everyday jacket
  • 2 small jumpers (haven’t used, although probably will when it gets warmer)
  • 2 gloves
  • 2 thermal tops, 1 thermal bottoms
  • 1 beanie
  • 1 scarf
Summer
  • 3 shorts
  • 1 boardies
  • 3 t-shirts (I have since bought 3 new £2 t-shirts to replace these 3 from my last Europe trip)
  • 2 polos
  • 2 soccer jerseys (Sydney FC & Liverpool for those curious)
Running Gear
  • Salomon running pack (inc. 2 500ml soft flasks and 2L bladder)
  • 1 Long skins (top and bottoms)
  • 1 Lightweight rainjacket
  • 1 Skin shorts
  • 2 hats/visor
  • 1 Buff
  • 2 shorts
  • 4 lightweight tops (not just for running)
  • 2 injinji toe socks
  • 1 mud crew socks
  • Small box of mixed gels, bars and electrolyte tablets
Shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Nike casual joggers
  • Inov-8 trail running shoes
  • Adidas casual shoes
Other
  • Lots of undies and socks
  • 2 torches (1 handheld, 1 head)
  • Contacts (enough for the year)
  • Glasses
  • Toiletries
  • Map of UK

Megan’s Suitcase

Winter
  • Thick warm jacket with hood
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 5 long sleeved tops
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 set of lightweight thermals (I have hardly worn these, and probably could have gone without)
  • 1 raincoat
Summer
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 dresses
  • 4 tops
  • 1 swimsuit
Shoes
  • 1 pair comfortable leather boots
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair running shoes
  • 1 pair sandals
Other
  • 8 pairs of undies
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 3 bras
  • Running clothes – 1 long tights, 1 mid length tights, 1 shorts, 2 tops
Things I have bought/will buy over here:
  • gumboots (winter in England can be very muddy!)
  • I will probably need to buy a lighter jacket as the weather gets warmer

Elena and Kilian’s suitcase

Elena

Winter
  • 2 warm coats (one thick and warm, one lightweight down)
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 6 long sleeved tops
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 4 pairs of leggings/trackies
  • 1 set of lightweight thermals
  • 1 pair of pyjamas
  • 3 singlets
  • 1 raincoat
  • 2 beanies
Summer

We didn’t bring many summer things as we didn’t have much that would still fit Elena in six months.

  • 2 dresses
  • 1 top and harem pants
  • 1 swimsuit
Other
  • 10 pairs of undies (this was too many)
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of gumboots
  • 2 pairs of trainers

We bought Elena a pair of boots when we arrived.

Kilian

Size 00 (3-6 months). Long sleeved/legged
  • 5 outfits (mostly onesies, 1 top and pants set)
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 3 singlets
  • 2 beanies
  • 2 jackets
Size 0 (6-12 months)
  • 5 outfits
  • 3 singlets
  • 1 set of lightweight thermals
Size 1 (1 year)
  • we had a few odd things that were gifts that we brought, but otherwise we will buy as we need.
Other
  • 2.5 tog sleeping bag, size 6-12 months
  • 3 small baby toys for Kilian + ‘teddy’ a soft bunny
  • Elena has a small backpack that we filled with toys and activity books – it fit 1 Anna doll, 1 dory soft toy, 1 soft owl
  • 2 cot sheets + 1 mattress protector
  • Baby memory books for both children
  • Nappies and wipes (enough to last us for a few days after we arrived)

We have bought some extra toys and books for Elena since we have arrived.

Extra items

  • Mountain Buggy Swift and travel bag
  • Phil and Ted’s traveller travel cot (lightweight and packs up small)
  • Shrunks indoor inflatable toddler bed (lightweight and packs up small)
  • 2 x ergobaby carriers
Electronics
  • Megan’s laptop
  • Pete’s laptop
  • Camera Sony a6000
  • GoPro Hero 3 Silver
  • Kindles
  • 2 power packs (one was seized at Hong Kong airport for some reason)
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • UK adaptor and an AUS powerboard

We knew that we would almost always have access to a washing machine, so we kept that in mind as we packed.

We used packing cubes to sort out all our things in our suitcases, and we all had plenty of room to put more stuff in (Pete not so much). We were also all under the weight allowance, and Elena could still fit in her suitcase after it was packed.

We really hope these lists help other families who are dreaming of or planning their own adventures!

One Response

  1. Justin
    | Reply

    Legends!! I would definitely recommend read this and probably consult you personally if I found myself in this situation!!

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