How to Travel as a Family Using Only One Suitcase

It’s easy to fit your vacation essentials into one suitcase or carryon when you’re traveling solo. Traveling as a family, however, often requires much more space. It’s easy to acquire so much luggage that you end up paying sky-high fees and wrangling numerous suitcases along with your children through crowded airports, putting an immediate damper on your trip.

But fear not: Packing a family of three, four, or even five into one suitcase is possible. All it takes is a little strategizing and a bit of a minimalist attitude. These trips come from traveling experts and jet-setting parents, and they really work.

Create a solid list a week in advance

A list will keep you organized. | iStock/Getty Images

The first step is packing light is to plan ahead. Creating a list in advance will help you be strategic about what you take and ensure you don’t forget anything essential.

Choose the right suitcase

Traveler pulling suitcase

Make sure your suitcase is large enough. | iStock.com/Fizkes

Choose a large rolling suitcase with spinner wheels to ensure you have enough space for everyone’s essentials. Another great option is a large high-rolling duffel bag with compartments that will keep your gear separated.

Roll and fold

Opened suitcase with crumpled clothes

Park garments strategically. | iStock.com/Denisfilm

You’ve probably heard that rolling clothing is a more effective way to pack than folding, but not all fabrics roll well. Try to choose knits, wools, and cottons, which naturally resist wrinkles. Roll softer garments and fold stiffer ones.

Never pack for more than four days

Packing lightly is easier than you think. | iStock/Getty Images

Pack enough clothing for four days only. If you’re traveling for longer, plan to use a laundromat or book accommodations with laundry services. It may seem like a chore, but it can actually be a relaxing break — plus, you’ll save a ton of room.

Pack as much underwear as you want, however — it’s small.

 Discover the miracle of packing cubes

Packing cubes are the key to keeping everyone’s stuff separate. Give each family member their own distinctive colored cube. This will make it much easier to grab the right clothes for the right person and keeps everything organized.

One pair of pajamas is plenty

You don’t need fresh pajamas for every night. | iStock.com

Packing just one pair of pajamas for each family member is a great way to save space. If you’re traveling with young children, giving them baths just before bedtime will keep their pajamas clean.

 Share toiletries

Essential travel toiletries

This will save a ton of space. | PhillDanze/Getty Images

Sharing toothpaste, face wash, and shampoo will make packing a breeze. Share as much as you can and keep everything in one toiletry bag. And leave non-essentials at home.

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