Please sign in to post.

Two people, two months, one carry-on backpack - what we packed (with links)

My kiddo (6 years old) and I are about to leave for two months in the Netherlands, and while we’ve always packed for trips in carry-ons, we’ve never attempted to have my son and I share a single carry-on backpack. This year, I was determined to pack ruthlessly light. We’ll be moving around quite a bit more than we usually do, and I like using a backpack rather than a suitcase to keep my hands free. Here’s exactly what I packed, with links to specific items.

For reference: we'll be traveling in June and July, when average temps are between 55-80F. We're coming from Florida, so the lower range of those temps will feel chilly to us :)

My backpack: Osprey Fairview 40 Travel Pack - Women's
Osprey also makes a slightly larger 45-liter size which is also made to carry on, but I like that this is formatted specifically to be used by women with a smaller frame. I’ve taken it on 3 trips so far, and I’ve been very pleased.

What I packed for me:

Two pairs of pants: this linen pair from Old Navy (new, purchased a few months ago) and a pair of Brooklyn ankle pants from Athleta (mine are 6 years old, have been on 8 international trips, and are incredible) .

Two pairs of leggings: the Lululemon Align leggings are my absolute favorite. I can wear them to workout or during they day and they feel like butter. I'll pack one pair and wear the other on the plane so I’ll have two workout outfits during our trip. I also packed two workout tank tops that I can wear to exercise or while sightseeing.

One sundress from Old Navy. I like that this dress is long and flowy, with pockets, and comes in a bright pattern that will hide any stains.

Three t-shirt style, linen-blend tops, similar to this

One linen-blend long-sleeve shirt. I sized up for an oversize fit, so I can wear it as a shirt, swimsuit coverup, or extra layer in the evenings.

One lightweight pullover sweater, which I’ll wear on the plane to save space. Mine is old, I’ve had it for 10 years now and have taken it on several international trips.

Posted by
268 posts

What I packed for my kiddo (age 6):

Five pairs of shorts. These Cat & Jack style are his favorite – they’re soft, easy for him to pull on and off by himself, and come in lots of bright colors.

Five shirts, various styles and colors (most also by Cat & Jack). I like dressing him in bright colors when we travel so he’s easy to spot across a playground.

One long-sleeve t-shirt that can be worn by itself or layered. My son was born in Colorado and seems to have thicker blood than I do - he never gets cold.

Five pairs of socks. Bombas are his favorite. They’re comfortable, durable, and come in fun colors.

He’ll wear one outfit on the plane (obviously) and I also pack a Ziploc baggie with a full change of clothes to keep easily accessible on the plane. That means he’ll have 7 total outfits, which should be plenty, even for a very active kiddo :)

Posted by
914 posts

“For reference: we'll be traveling in June and July, when average temps are between 55-80F”

Average temperatures are just that; averages. They say very little about what the day to day temperatures will be like. Next week for instance in certain parts of the Netherlands, the temperatures are expected to reach 30 C which is around 85F.
Also I notice you didn’t pack any type of jacket. Yes, we’re currently in a dry spell but due to our sea climate there will inevitably come days during your 2 months here that it will rain.

Posted by
268 posts

Other things we packed - electronics, toys, medicines.


  • iPad, with plenty of Disney+ downloads (we love Bluey)
  • Wireless headphones (we have and older version of these by Skullcandy. They're not specifically made for kids, but they're small enough to fit his head and they work great. They also come with an aux cord and can be plugged into the plane's in-flight entertainment system.)
  • Nintendo Switch
  • My work laptop and cell phone
  • All related chargers

I carry all electronics and related chargers in my personal, under-the-seat bag.

Toys: This year for the first time, my son will carry his own backpack (now that he's used to carrying one at school). This contains his change of clothes, coloring books, crayons, kid's travel notebook and glue stick, and his seat cushion for sleeping. We have used a seat cushion on every trip since he was two and required his own seat, and it's crucial to allow him to actually sleep on the flight. Having him carry his own backpack (with stuff that we can live without if it gets lost/forgotten) is a big help in freeing up space in MY personal item.

Medicines: (Yes, I know we can get most/all of these in a pharmacy in Europe, but (speaking from experience) when you're sick, it's nice to not need to navigate a foreign pharmacy.)

  • Kid and adult melatonin for the plane and the first few nights after we arrive. I think it helps a lot with jet lag.
  • Kid's allergy medicine
  • Kid's & adult ibuprofen
  • Midol and feminine hygiene products
  • Megababe Thigh Rescue - if you've never tried this or a similar product for a summer trip, it's a game changer
  • Tiny travel tube of Aquafor. This helps with everything from chapped lips to blisters.
  • Bandaids
  • Dramamine (for motion sickness)
  • Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen. (Again, I know we could buy sunscreen in Europe, but this is the only type my son will wear without complaining and sometimes it's just easier to bring what your kiddo knows and likes. This tube takes up practically no room and will last him for most of the trip.)

I'll come back and do a trip report to let everyone know how our experiment in ultra-light packing went!

Posted by
268 posts

@Dutch_traveler If it rains, and we decide we need a rain jacket, then...we'll buy rain jackets. I assume that's not impossible to do in the Netherlands? :)

Here in Florida, when it rains, it's generally the type of torrential downpour that comes in sideways. Rain jackets don't stand a chance against that sort of weather, so I don't own any sort of light-weight waterproof jacket that would fit the bill. I figure, if I have to buy something for a trip, I might as well wait until I know I'll need it and buy it there. Worst case scenario...we'll get wet.

Posted by
3698 posts

Pls do write a Trip Report, I'll be looking forward to reading about your experiences. Question- unless I missed this- shoes?

Posted by
5193 posts

You sound very organized! One question, will kiddo being wearing pants or sweats on the plane?

Posted by
613 posts

I think you’re being quite optimistic about the weather. I’d put a few warmer items in there if I was you. Your son only has shorts and T-shirts? He needs a fleece at least. It won’t be warm at night.

Posted by
914 posts

“ I think you’re being quite optimistic about the weather. I’d put a few warmer items in there if I was you. Your son only has shorts and T-shirts? He needs a fleece at least. It won’t be warm at night.”
I think so too. I tried to warn the OP that averages are just averages. It’s currently 10 pm local time here and the temperature has dropped to 15 C, but due to the northern wind it feels much cooler. You definitely need a fleece and jacket plus pants instead of shorts.

Posted by
268 posts

My son is wearing joggers on the plane, so he has one pair of long pants for the trip. We didn’t bring him a sweatshirt or a fleece because I truly don’t think he’ll need it. We were in Scotland this past December and he never wore anything heavier than a light sweater (and believe me, I packed and hauled his North Face jacket around everywhere we went). If he gets cold, OF COURSE I will buy him a sweatshirt. Or five. If that’s what he needs.

For what it’s worth, he doesn’t currently own a sweatshirt that fits. We live in Florida where warm clothes are not part of our normal wardrobes. So again, I figured why buy and bring something from the US when we could wait and buy it in Europe once we KNOW we’ll need it? Shopping in Europe is a fun experience in and of itself.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of everything we might possibly need. Of course there are items I would have thrown in, given extra space. A rain jacket, umbrella, hat, scarf, long sleeve knit shirt spring immediately to mind. I am absolutely not above coming back to say I should have packed more stuff in a bigger bag. But. Given the fact that I’m traveling alone with my kiddo for a chunk of time, I’d rather TRY to get by with less. I promise to do an update and let you all know how it went ☺️

Posted by
2214 posts

I would reconsider the no rain coat stand. I live in Florida too so I know where you are coming from. A rain coat can act like a wind breaker allowing you to not pack as much.

And having to buy one on the road doesn’t work that well. I know. I lost mine when rearranging my luggage to be stored in England. It was drizzling the next few days and I set off to buy a replacement. It was pricier and then of course there was my time. Rain coats aren’t sold every where.

I do think though that one pair of pants for a Florida boy is enough. My kids didn’t like pants at all either growing up in Florida. My son even wore shorts on the plane in January traveling to Chicago, shivered at the 32 degree weather, and said what are you supposed to do about the legs! He was 15 at the time so couldn’t tell him anything.

Posted by
104 posts

I don't think she will need to worry too much about night time temperatures, seeing as how her child is 6 and will probably be asleep before the sun sets!

Posted by
974 posts

Family of 6 here just wrapping up a 2 week trip in Sweden and Denmark. We packed very similarly, everyone just used their Jansport school backpacks with 5 changes of clothes (including the one on the plane). Electronics were phones and a Kindle.


Posted by
3 posts

You have the right plan for the "things you may not need" - just buy them if you have the means and they are things you can purchase fairly easily where you are going. There is no benefit to packing things you are less likely to need as all it does is weigh you down, which negatively impacts your travel 100% of the time.

I've done this many times and it's never failed me. My trips are usually in the 3-week to 3-month length so I always have time to look for things without impacting my loose schedule.

I prefer to keep my pack light on the start and end of the trip because this is, for me, when it's most important (when I'm mostly likely to be fatigued/annoyed by the long travel day). This means all "might need" items do not get packed.

I look at finding these things as something else to do besides the travel/tourist activities. If I am taking a long (by USA standards) trip, I will not want to do tourist things every day. It gets way too exhausting.

And as you noted, there is no reason to buy something at home that you are never going to use at home and only might use when traveling.