One of the biggest priorities we had when planning our 5-week cross-country trip this summer was to pack light. With three kids and a dog in tow, I wanted to make sure that I had the least amount of “stuff” to worry about as we traveled.
Our trip consisted of driving in a car and staying in hotels or cabins; staying with friends and family; and traveling in an RV, staying at campgrounds. At only three stops during our 36 nights on the road did we stay for more than one night, which meant we were never going to completely settle in to a specific place. We had to keep our stuff together and it had to be easy to “check in and check out” of wherever we were each night.
With that in mind, we decided each person would have a backpack for all of his or her clothes and personal items. I had been inspired by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple and how her family of 5 packed for a year-long worldwide trip, so I knew we could do the same for our 5-week trip.
So how did we fit everything we needed into the backpacks? It actually was easier (and more fun) than I thought! Here’s a list of what we each took:
- 3-5 pairs of shorts (I chose to switch out 2 of mine for skirts)
- 4-5 short sleeve shirts/tanks
- One long sleeve shirt (I took one 3/4 sleeve lightweight shirt also)
- One pair of pants (the girls and I had cargo pants that dried fast and rolled up)
- 1 set of PJs (other items doubled as sleepwear when needed)
- A swimsuit
- A small mesh laundry bag for dirty clothes
- 5 days worth of undergarments and socks
- A lightweight jacket with hood
- Toiletries (we used the hotel shampoo and purchased a bigger container once we were in the RV)
- Books and journals along with coloring and writing instruments
- Kindles for the kids and laptops and phones for the adults
- Some work paperwork for me
- My husband also had the dog’s food and supplies in his backpack
- I had the chargers for all of the devices in my backpack
Along with our backpacks, we took the following:
- One pair of sneakers apiece and a pair of flip-flops (Keens for my husband) which we kept in a bag whenever we weren’t wearing
- A bag of travel books and brochures, magazines, games and paper for writing and learning throughout the trip
- A cross-body bag that I used on short day-trips and that we used to carry the dog in at times (more on this on a future post)
- Quick-dry towels (used throughout the trip as a pillow, blanket, beach towel and bath towel)
- We also had sheets to use at a cabin one night, which we just left in the car until the night we needed them.
And because we had the goal of not eating out at restaurants and instead, getting food from the grocery store when we needed it, we took:
- An insulated cooler bag that could be carried on your shoulder
- A bag of non-perishable food
This amounted to five backpacks and four extra bags plus the dog. So this meant that whenever we checked in or out of a new place, each of the five of us was responsible for carrying two things, our backpack and one of the “extra” bags (or the dog).
I realize that many people follow the logic that the longer the trip, the more they need to take. Let me assure you that we had what we needed. Yes, we wore the same clothes regularly, yes we did laundry once a week (or so), and yes, we made a trip or two to the store to replace an item or replace a toiletry when it ran out. But by choosing versatile, wrinkle free, dry fast (colorful) clothing, and having food on hand so we didn’t have to eat out, it worked out great.
Each time we made our stop for the night, it was incredibly freeing to be able to easily get in and out in just one load. The kids did great being responsible for their items and making sure they didn’t leave anything behind. And we saved a lot of time and money by having food with us as we traveled. Traveling light meant less worry, less lugging, less weighing us down and, ultimately, more time to roam and explore.
I know traveling light is possible and I want you to be able to do the same! I’m happy to share more details about how this worked for us so please reach out to me if you have any questions.
Meanwhile, I wish you much simplicity and joy!