Our family prepares for a two-week trip, driving to Barcelona from Capestang and then flying to Budapest via Ryanair.
The regulations for luggage size and weight on our Ryanair flight are the strictest in the industry. Extra bags are expensive, many times as much as your cheap flight itself. When you add in a 6 Euros priority line check-in, which I suggest for families with children to ensure together seating, and an onboard drink, your ticket is not so cheap after all. They will however, get you there on time! They do boast the most on time flights in Europe over any other airline.
We take the opportunity to challenge ourselves to travel with one carry-on bag under ten-kilograms and two fifteen-kilogram suitcases for our family of four. It is the same equivalent of four carry-on bags, which will be our next goal. I want to be that family of four with only carry-on bags, going straight off the plane without waiting for luggage and continuing through the exit door.
Here are our top twelve packing light tips.
Tip #1 Check Weather Forecast
To travel light we first need to look at the weather forecast to know exactly what we will need and what we will not need on our trip.
Budapest will be between 14-17 degrees during the day, and will drop to 8 degrees over night. Barcelona will be 16-18 degrees and will drop to a mild 12 degrees overnight.
No need for shorts or flip-flops this run, so we stick to the basic jeans and t-shirts.
Tip #2 Clean Clothes in Advance
We were a little tight for time trying to get our clothes washed and dried by departure, as we live without a clothes dryer and line dry everything. The day before yesterday, a whole load of laundry was caught in a down poor of rain. No time to rewash, I hung it all back up to dry in front of the fireplace along side of the last load of laundry for our trip. Half are dry now and the other half is still damp. By tomorrow it should be fine. If not, the Westfalia will have our clothes hanging as we drive to Barcelona, Spain with windows open.
Tip #3 Wear it 3 Times
The rule of thumb for packing is each item other than underwear and socks has to last three days.
Any pair of jeans, sweaters or shirts, will go on our body three times before I wash it on any trip. (Unless something spills on it!)
At home we do not go this long wearing our clothes. When we ‘short term’ travel with limited carry-on space, travel sacrifices are made.
Tip #4 Socks and Underwear Five Sets
On my bed are five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, two bras, two pairs of jeans, one long sleeve shirt, two tank tops, one t-shirt, one sweater, and one pair of pajamas and one trusted pair of shoes that I will wear with every outfit. Imagine that ladies!
Included in our list is what we are wearing to Spain.
I have found on my travels five to be the perfect number.
Tip #5 Quick Dry
One trick is to buy quick drying underpants. Alfonz and I both have them; they dry in about an hour, and are made out of rayon and take up little space. He also has t-shirts and socks out of this same material, and makes rinsing them out super easy if in a bind for clothes.
Tip #6 Launder If You Can
Once in Hungary we will have access to our washing machine. We will probably do a load around the half waypoint of our trip, on a down day.
Even campsites have Laundromats or you can always take a ‘hand wash day’ if you are in one spot for 2 days. Most things will dry overnight. When camping, I use a washbasin, throw in our underwear and socks with soap, and by the end of the day we have clean essentials.
Tip #7 Wrinkle-free Clothes
A few must pack items for travelling are clothes that look great straight out of the suitcase. Wrinkle free, easy to wash, hang up and wear clothing. With so many brands out there, you can find many which are designed with the suitcase in mind.
A great example is my Lulu-lemon parachute sweat suit.
Tip #8 Layer
Outerwear can be tricky going from warm to cooler to warm temperatures.
The rule of thumb is to layer your outerwear, especially when travelling with kids.
A hoodie and a vest is the best combination, but a windbreaker couldn’t hurt as a third item.
Tip #9 Pack Extra for the DIVA
I pack extra clothes for Angelina, my six-year-old going on 20. She can be a challenge to dress and it is a battle I choose not to have. Letting her feel comfortable is an essential part of us having a good time, and I would give up my personal clothes space for hers. Where I don’t particularly care what I wear trekking by foot around town, she does. I would much rather have comfortable clothes that keep me safe from the elements on travels, she would rather look cute. (God doesn’t punish with a stick eh Mom!)
Lucky for her, she is tiny and we have extra room in her carry-on and luggage for our particular dilemma.
Daniel and Alfonz are the easiest to pack for! Alfonz got his luggage into our shared bag before I could get a picture of it.
Tip #10 Make the Most of your Purse
I am allowed a purse, and will carry our passports, sun glasses, chap stick, gum, a book, my travel sized make-up bag that holds one mascara, powder, an eyeliner and a lip-gloss, wallet, ibuprofen, wet wipes, deck of cards, my translator, plus misc items depending on the trip that vary. I can handle any problem with the correct combination, which is why I spend the most time packing my purse.
Tip #11 Travel Sized
Anything you can repack or buy in travel size for your toiletries, do it. It saves room, packs well into a toiletries travel bag, and if done right, there is no double packing for the family, meaning one toothpaste, one shampoo, one brush…you get the idea.
On this trip we decided to bring our Canon SX30IS. It is much smaller than our Rebel 3 and can fit alongside my travel-sized toiletries in my carry-on with room for my MAC on top. I enjoy travelling with this camera, as it has 30 times zoom, and when on a tour bus, we zoom right in. Cannot wait to share the photos!
Ryanair let us know we were way underweight and could have easily doubled our luggage. Which is great news, as our family is in need of a few things from Budapest.
We were the first on the plane because of the priority seating I mentioned before and our 2 bags came off first too. A little different from other airlines, where we often get on first and our stuff gets off last.
Tip #12 Leave Space for Souvenirs
Clothes are far cheaper in Central Europe than in France. With summer around the corner the kids can always use a few things, and Alfonz and I haven’t bought any clothes since Canada and need to replace a few items with holes in them….
A funny thing happened when I opened the bag in Barcelona. Alfonz forgot to pack his pants. The ones he meant to bring was left on the line drying and the others he put in the laundry forgetting I had no time left to clean them. No wonder we were so much underweight!
SO if you were wondering how to pack a carry-on bag, let’s hope