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  • Writer's pictureBird

The Secret Sauce: Traveling as a Family of 5

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

So for those of you who've been following, we are officially less than 1 month away from takeoff. In less than a month, Lion and I and the 3 offspring will begin our journey to spend 365 days living in 7 different parts of the world. (Wow, typing that just reminded me of a lyric that Lion wrote many moons ago in a song about me. It goes: 'Cuz you're a 7. That's perfection in Hebrew.' ---Did I ever tell y'all about how he wrote me a whole album for a wedding gift? No??? Well, remind me to tell you some other time. It's good stuff.)

ANYway. Back to the matter at hand.

We're getting the hell outta dodge. First stop is Diamante, Italy. And in order to get to Diamante, we must first:

  • Fly to NY

  • Then to Boston

  • Then to Portugal

  • Then to Napoli (where we'll spend a night in an Airbnb)

  • And then take a 3 hour train ride to Diamante

Yeah, it's a lot. BUT. I am a planner and I have been planning. My mama-brain and intuition is like a super power. It gives me the ability to anticipate needs/hiccups/issues and prepare accordingly.

One of the biggest issues that I wanted to tackle was how to pack for a year-long trip as a family of 5, without being one of those people pushing a cart stacked several feet high with luggage through the airport. I did not want to feel overwhelmed by "stuff" or outnumbered by bags. And so, with great pride, I present to you our baggage:

(1) large, (1) medium, (1) small luggage. (1) duffle bag, (2) Longchamp bags, (2 backpacks), (1) stroller.

That doesn't look too bad, now does it?

In this little setup, we have everything we'll need to function comfortably. And not only is it not "so much", but it's also super organized so as to prevent the scenario of no one else in my party knowing where anything is and thus, asking me "Have you seen the...?"10x a day.

No, there will be none of that! This time, everyone's stuff is in color-coded cubes. Yay.

So let me hit you with some links to some things that I feel were invaluable in this packing process.

(If you feel like you need any of these, buy them through my link so Jeff Bezos and them can cut me a little checky check)

Okay so first and foremost, the luggage. I always buy my luggage from TJ Maxx because they always have quality gear for the cheapest prices.

Second, and maybe more important; the carry-on bags. I am not a bougie person. I rarely promote brands, and I hardly ever buy designer. But I cannot recommend these bags enough.

I was gifted (2) of these about 7 years ago and have used them on every trip I've been on since. They are light and roomy, and the quality is A1. Especially the zipper. You know how zippers always fail you at the worst time? Well, not these. Not ever. And a bonus...these bags fold down flat when you don't have them filled with universal chargers, books you'll never get around to reading and snacks for your always-hungry kids. I highly recommend getting one of these if you travel often. 10/10 it'll prove to be worth the price tag.

And if you wanna get cute with it, grab some of these luggage tags to put on all your bags:

Another thing that I wanted to avoid in the airport: Placing my messenger bags on top of my luggage so that I don't have to carry them, but then having to deal with them constantly sliding off and annoying me. And sooooo, to solve that problem we have these little things:

Pro tip:

Ask for all these things for your birthday so you get them as gifts for free.

Also, I got mine in black to blend in with the color of my bag, so that from a distance it seems like my bags are all just perfectly balanced because I'm magical or whatever.

Okay, so now for what's inside of the luggage.

Well, before anything I had to break the news to my semi-hoarder children that we would not be bringing all of their favorite things. This was not easy, but they came around. For little-kid entertainment, I made the busy boxes (see previous post ) and packed a backpack full of games, puzzles, a ball and glove, MP3 players, art supplies, etc.

As far as clothes, we all followed the capsule wardrobe concept when packing. Essentially, every bottom that we packed matched every top. And we tried to pack clothing items that were multi-functional. (For instance, a scarf could be a headwrap, a shirt, a swimsuit cover or an actual scarf). This allowed all of us to "pack light".

And these beautiful babies allow all of us to have our own, easy to discern space within our shared luggage.

As you can see, I bought 2 different kinds of packing cubes. Mainly because I had never used packing cubes before and I just wanted to try out different kinds.

Here are the two I have:

These are the ones the kids used.

I like that they came in a variety of colors, as Lyss got one color and the littles got a different color. They seem to function well enough, but I wasn't in love with the shape/size/feel of the cubes.

Lion and I used these:

I liked this set much more. They just felt more spacious and fit better into our luggage.

To save space in my toiletry bag, I did something a little weird. I put all of my liquid-type products into reusable baby squeeze-pouches. I don't know how that idea came to mind, but I'm glad it did. Look, I can fit 3 bottles of hair gel and a couple ounces of rubbing alcohol in one hand using this method.

These are the ones I used:

And because I'm always paranoid that my bag will be overweight when we get to the counter at the airport, I got one of these to ease my mind:

(Get one too, to ease your mind)

Speaking of eased minds and whatnot, click on this photo for a link to this handy dandy passport holder. It holds up to five passports and then some

And the last ingredient in the secret sauce; the stroller that I've been using since Chapo was 6 months old. I still have it, almost 6 years later and I use it often with Amore. This thing is the best damn travel baby stroller. Period. It's been all over the world with us. It's light, but sturdy. It folds down easily and small enough to fit in the overhead compartment on the plane. It reclines and has a nice sized canopy. It's just an all around game changer for traveling with a stroller-sized kid. And actually, since the one I have is so old, it's not even available anymore. But this is the new model. It seems to be even better.

And there you have it, my friends. The Secret Sauce.

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