I will admit right from the beginning that I am a total packing geek. I love the process of planning, organizing, test packing, weighing, starting over.... crazy, right?
So, for my fellow nerds, here is a detailed report on how we packed for our 2-week trip to Spain last month. Hope it helps anyone in a similar situation – I know I got so much good advice from this forum as we were getting ready for our trip. Thank you to everyone who posted!
There were five of us traveling – myself, husband, daughter (age 13), son (age 12, who is disabled), and my mother-in-law (age 76, very fit and active). We did carry-on only, except for my son's special needs stroller, which had to be gate-checked for each flight. We stayed in apartments and had access to a washing machine throughout the trip (no dryers).
Daughter and mom-in-law were responsible for their own stuff, start to finish, for the entire trip. They each had a roller bag and a personal item. MIL had a 22" lightweight roller plus a small backpack; she stored her purse inside her backpack when we moved from location to location. She was able to handle everything herself except for lifting the roller onto the overhead racks for trains and planes, not because of a packing issue but because she is only 4'10" tall. I have no idea what she had in that roller, but she was entirely self-sufficient for the trip; never needed laundry, always looked good, always dressed comfortably for the weather, never asked for anything. Perfect traveling companion.
Daughter packed her own bags. She has a RS rolling backpack, which I also have and we both really like; we've had them a couple of years. Relatively lightweight (5.6 lbs), small enough so you don't overpack, and my daughter uses the backpack feature fairly often. They even fit in the overhead bin on commuter jets. She used her LL Bean messenger bag as her personal item; it's also her school bag, so gets plenty of use. She packed a small fabric purse inside her suitcase and used that when walking around town. She was responsible for packing her own stuff and did a great job. I planned on laundry every few days on the trip, so her instructions were to pack for 5 days. Like MIL, she was always comfortable, never needed anything, was able to handle it all herself
Husband packed his own stuff as well. He carries an eBags Motherlode Weekender Convertible backpack, no personal item. Husband is responsible for pushing my son's stroller when we're in transit, and then he either loops the shoulder strap of his bag across the stroller handles or he carries it on his back. Husband also carried a full set of backup medications for my son in his backpack in case the ones that I carried went astray.