Power Packing: Tips for Traveling Families

How to bring less and pack smarter than ever before.

When you master the art of packing light, every trip — whether business or pleasure — can be spent focusing on doing the things you traveled to do rather than keeping up with the things you packed. Here’s my best advice for how to bring less and pack it smarter than ever before.

1: Decide on a basic color palette.
This helps minimize what you pack. Try to pack tops that work with every bottom and everything should match one pair of shoes. This footwear limitation helps you limit your wardrobe choices, too. I also pack exercise shoes in addition to the shoes that go with my clothing. If you’re taking boots, wear them and pack your smaller shoes in the carry-on to save space.

2: Rethink those appliances.
Don’t pack a hair dryer. Hotels, motels and your friends already have them and it saves space for a specialty appliance like a flat iron. A razor is smaller than an electric shaver, so go with that, or pick up a disposal razor once you arrive.

3: Ship ahead or buy when you arrive.
The best diaper bag strategy if you're flying is to buy diapers when you arrive or ship them ahead (easy with Amazon Prime’s free shipping). One mom I spoke with suggested packing a diaper for every two hours of travel. Another mom recommends only packing a toy(s) your child has played with in the last three days.

4: Wash while you’re gone to minimize what you pack.
Underwear and light clothing can be washed in the sink using hotel shampoo. No need to buy laundry detergent. Roll your wet clothes into a towel (like a burrito) to extract the water, then hang them up. The entire process takes about three minutes.

5: Use roll sacks and compression packs within your suitcase and carry-on.
Consider using reusable sacks, which are easier on the environment and last longer. Pack "like with like" to make finding everything easier. For example, I pack my socks, underwear and bras in one sack. T-shirts, shorts and nightwear go in another. Jeans and bulky items are best in a compression sack. Toss the three into your suitcase and go.

6: Roll your clothes.
That’s right, instead of folding them, roll your clothes. Even if you compress them in a roll sack, clothes travel better and suffer fewer wrinkles when rolled. For "finery" and fabrics that easily wrinkle, roll those pieces between layers of tissue paper.

Tamela Rich is an award-winning author, storyteller, adventurer and mom who has extensively traveled the U.S. and five Canadian provinces on a motorcycle, which has far less room for luggage than even the smallest of cars. Read more from Rich in her blog, Travel with Purpose.