One bag packing for the whole family is totally possible. Minimize travel stress and make your vacation more peaceful with these one bag strategies.

Minimize Travel Stress with One Bag Packing for the Whole Family

When asked, travelers said that the planning stage of travel was the most stressful part of a vacation, especially the packing. This should be a chance to relax, unwind, and have fun, so find ways to cut down stress wherever possible. If you are a mom packing for her husband and kids, then the packing struggle is even more real. Therefore, consider embracing minimalism. Even if you have three or four children, one bag packing is possible. Cutting stress in this area allows you to spend more time planning activities, so you and the family can really enjoy your trips together.

*This is a guest post Written by Thom Brown, travel writer at Arcido. Arcido is a brand of carry on travel backpacks championing the concept of minimalist one bag travel.

The One Bag Packing Rule

It might seem hard enough to be a solo one bag traveler, let alone sticking to a single case for a whole family. However, limiting yourself in this way gives you a guideline to work with. It is also the most convenient and financially sensible way to travel. If you can fit everything into a carry-on, then you won’t add extra stress to your vacation. When traveling with kids, you need all the help you can get.

Even if the bag does go in the hold, waiting for several bags can significantly extend the dull time spent in the airport. Whether you choose a suitcase or a rucksack depends on personal preference, but get something rugged that can hold a lot of weight. This bag will be carried by one person, so make sure it is easily transportable. A high-quality backpack with plenty of back padding is the best option, but a solid suitcase on wheels can work too.

Use Packing Cubes

Since you are using a single bag, you need to keep on top of the organization to prevent everyone’s items from getting mixed up with one another. An easy way to do this is with packing cubes. Give one cube to each family member so that they know their limits. This prevents one person from taking up more than their fair share of space in the bag.

It also means that when you arrive, packing cubes can be handed to their owner, making unpacking a breeze. Using compression cubes will help you to squeeze more into a smaller space. If your case doesn’t already include them, you can also purchase straps to compress items further.


Space is limited, so clothing needs to be thought about carefully. Even for trips of several weeks, each family member should only pack two changes of clothes. Shop for outdoor and sports clothing, which is designed not to pick up smells and dry quickly. This will make these outfits last as many days as possible.

Dress the kids in the bulkiest items to save space in the bag. Coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shirts, jeans, and shoes should all be worn. That should just leave a couple of T-shirts, pants, and underwear, which can be rolled up tightly and packed.

Share Toiletries

A big mistake many families make is allowing everyone to pack their own bathroom products. You’ll end up with several tubes of toothpaste, shampoo bottles, and deodorants. Instead, mom should take charge and pack more minimally. Even for a trip lasting several weeks, you only really need one of everything. You can always buy more if it runs out. Simply pack one tube of toothpaste, one neutral shampoo/conditioner, and one shower gel.

Slip them all into a single wash bag, which can then easily be thrown on top of the packing cubes with the clothes. If you are bringing the bag on a plane with you, then you will have to be a little more strategic. The law only allows liquids in containers up to 100ml so it would make sense to have one travel size of each then buy the full size once you reach your destination.

Ditch the Gadgets

According to Pew research, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online, while children age 8 to 12 spend six. All parents agree that their kids need to spend less time on their gadgets, but if this can’t be achieved day to day, then why not opt for an annual digital detox? For just a couple of weeks out of the year, encourage your children to put down the gadgets and explore the physical world. You never know how long landmarks might be around.

Restricting gadgets will not only help them to enjoy their time more, but you will have saved space in your one bag packing. Laptops and their power cables can be especially bulky and heavy. Even tablets take up a surprising amount of room. Cell phones can, of course, be carried in pockets, so aren’t so much of a problem. You could download some games and movies to help the kids deal with long journeys, while still knowing that laptops and TVs are being left long behind.

Family vacations are so crucial to the wellbeing of children and their relationship with their parents. Don’t let stress cause tension. By limiting your whole family to a single bag, packing becomes quick and easy. You will all benefit from living simply, even if it’s only for two weeks a year while traveling. Pack light, pack smart, ditch the non-essentials, and head off on the family adventure of a lifetime.

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