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Packing for family of four

Hi, traveling to London and Ireland for 2 weeks - family of four (kids ages 9&7) - looking for recs on two backpacks that the two adults can carry. Thx!

Posted by
1455 posts

Besides the motherlode backpack mentioned in the other thread the two brands most frequently mentioned in this forum are those made by Osprey and Cotopaxi. If possible you and the other adult should go to a store and try on the backpacks before buying. So much goes into finding one that works. Things to consider include how long your torso is, whether you want a hip belt, how much weight you can carry,and whether you use packing cubes. An outdoor store like REI or LL Bean will help you test and fit a travel backpack. Also bear in mind the size and weight restrictions of the airlines you are flying .

Posted by
18778 posts

RS back door bag. Used one for 15 years..... I didnt worry too much about the egronomics of the thing cause I only wore it from the parking lot to the airport door; and vers visa...... I hate being around people with back packs in crowded places like airports, airplanes and busses and shops and restaurants .... well any place but on a wide sidewalk. So I just carried it most of the time. But for the short hauls it was pretty perfect..

Are the adults going to carry everything? If so, get packing cubes in bright, different colors for each kiddo. Kids’ clothing is smaller and lighter.
Alternatively, consider kid’s backpacks or luggage. The 9 year old could handle a RS Appenzell and continue using it in future years. The 7 year old could handle a small rolling underseat suitcase. Again, use a neutral style - so, the bag can be used as the child matures. A bright sticker or luggage tag or paracord on the handle can “jazz” it up.

The RS Oslo is a small pack and could be worn by a child - just use packing cubes.

Posted by
22 posts

I would prefer to have the adults carry most - kids have 2 small ospreys for their own stuff to bring on plane etc, but I would like to split our family clothes etc into 2 bags that the adults will carry. i am struggling to know what size bags to get - essentially each bag would carry enough for 2 people for 2 weeks.

Plan on dropping off laundry at a laundromat and paying for someone to do the laundry. Or, do it yourself. It’s well worth it. Then, pack for 4-5 days each. Stay with packs around 40 - 45 liters. Any larger and you are getting into bulky, camping type packs. Be more minimalist in packing.

If the kids are using Osprey packs - take advantage and use the space for useful things. Limit the kids bringing all kinds of stuff. Just a few items like coloring books, stuffed toy or blanket for bedtime comfort, etc.. Don’t let the kids load up on all kinds of junk. Teach them to be selective.

Posted by
18778 posts

I am with Sun-Baked, pack enough for one week max, then do laundry. If you paid a hotel to do it, it might add $50 to the entire trip. If I offered to carry a weeks worth of your family clothes for two weeks, for $50, would you pay? No different.

Posted by
1455 posts

Are you planning on checking the adults backpacks? If not, the two constraints on size and weight are going to be what the airlines allow you to carry on. Airlines like Iceland Air, Condor and Ryan Air are all very strict, think less than 20 pounds and size limits of 55cm x 40 cm x 20cm. If each adult is carrying clothes for two people you won't be able to get much more than 3-4 days worth of clothes in each bag.

Trotter makes a good point. You need to look at your airline’s luggage allowances. For a family, it may make sense to take one larger rolling suitcase that conforms to weight and dimensions allowed and pay for a checked bag. Then, use underseat “free” bags as allowed by airline. It comes down to fees, luggage policies, and math. Still - use packing cubes and do laundry to lighten the load.

Posted by
1259 posts

Everybody makes a 40 L (approx. max carry-on size) backpack these days. Just look for a style, color and price that you like. My only suggestion is to get one with a good hip belt to take the weight off your shoulders.

I would suggest that you consider the following alternative.

A 25 to 27-in roller suitcase has about the same volume as two 21-in rollers or two 40 L backpacks.

When dealing with two young kids in the past, we found it was easier to deal with one large suitcase rather than two smaller ones. One adult can handle the suitcase and the other can deal with the kids, especially in a crowded and unfamiliar environment. Check the big bag in the airplane hold and keep your hands free. If one adult has to run in to buy tickets, the other can keep an eye on the one big bag and the two kids.

All four can carry small backpacks for extra storage in addition to the big bag, if necessary. I would not put too much into the kid's backpacks. You always run the risk that Mom and Dad will end up carrying them.

Good luck.

Posted by
1101 posts

I always made my kids roll their own suitcases at that age. (At that age they often find it exciting.) We do 4 carryon size bags for 4 family members and never check anything.

Posted by
2241 posts

We too always had the kids take their own bags. Our first international trip was when they were 4 and 7, and yes, they had to roll their own bags. I bought small 19" bags for them, and we actually still have them (26 years later). The kids did fine, even the 4 yr old.

Posted by
290 posts

Our family travels with us adults carrying the 40l Osprey Farpoint/Fairview.

Our daughters each carry a 30l Osprey Stratos and have for years. Get them used to carrying their own stuff ASAP and your future travel will be much easier.

Posted by
457 posts

I agree that it could be tricky to get clothing for 4 into 2 backpacks. What about having two backpacks for the adults, and one 21 inch roller for both kids to share? Kid clothes roll up small and that size of bag is easy to maneuver. Typically our family of 4 travels with 2 backpacks and 2 roller bags. My kids are younger but they each pull a roller bag when they can, and then my youngest would hand it off to one of us if needed. Good luck!