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Packing light with kids

I usually pack very light, but I'm not sure what to do this time. Need suggestions from folks who have traveled with family: We are in Paris for month and won't be taking any trains with luggage except the RER for airport. My children are 5 and 8. I would like to do the medium carryon for each of us but I fear the kids won't be able to lug theirs around. So I'm considering checking 2 medium suitcases instead, given that my husband and I will end up dealing with them. We'll also each have a small duffel for carryon items. I wonder what's more of a headache, dealing with 4 carryons (only) and no baggage claim at Paris end or checking and carrying and doing baggage claim.

Posted by
9363 posts

In your situation, I think I'd go with checking two of the bags. Having to handle two kids and four bags up an airplane aisle sounds like a nightmare to me.

Posted by
800 posts

Rebecca - we did the 2 bags for 4 people thing for our first many trips to Europe with kids. The suitcases are probably bigger than you are talking about as they are NOT carryon size. Each child also had their school backpack and could put as much as they wanted to in that bag as long as they could carry it. But my youngest was 9 at the time so understood the consequences of too much - with your 5 year old you would probably have to supervise what he/she is bringing.

I found it easy to keep up with everything this way. I am always the navigator, even for walking city streets, so daughter & I would have the map out and lead while son & husband took the 2 bags. I guess the other thought is that you could possibly get by with 3 carryon size suitcases and let the 8 year old be the only child to drag a bag.

And we don't really mind the wait at baggage claim - it always seems much quicker in Europe than when we return to Atlanta. We have also had the "adventure" of having our baggage delayed twice - once on our first family European trip and then again on our last one. The problem of course with the first trip is that it meant that 2 of us were without clothes as my daughter & I packed in one bag. We bought a few things and the bag caught up with us a few days later, no problem. It was better this last time as it was ONLY my son's bag that got delayed and it meant that we got to shop in the department stores in Milan and the markets in Palermo. Those shirts made for great souveniers.

Posted by
143 posts

Well, I can help with this! I am traveling with four ages 10, 8, 5, and 2 in a week.. We will be in France for two months. I also went to China two summers ago with an 8 and 6 year olds.

Each child gets a 19" carryon for clothes/shoes/toiletrie and a medium backpack for books, crayons, snacks, CD player and Audiobook CDs. That's it.

For China we did take on-board and the two kids were very able to take care of their own bags (I helped put them in the overhead).

For France now, I am checking them through because of a VERY LONG layover where we do not want to schlep the bags.

They will have the backpacks and I will have a stroller. They still have to pack in the small bags and we will do laundry when needed.

My 0.02, the kids are old enough to roll their bags if you keep it all light and are traveling straight through. If you have tight connections or long layovers, check them through - but still keep it light and have them roll them the rest of the time - it builds character! My 2 year old rolls his own!!

If you need specifics, just PM me.

Posted by
1567 posts

We have traveled for the last 8-9 years on 2 and 3 week international trips for 4 people with only 2 carry ons. You need to apply the same principles (packing light) to the kids too. Just plan on washing clothes as you move along.

However, in your case, since you seem to be staying the entire month in Paris and not moving around, you might as well take the larger suitcases and check them. Spending an additional 30 mins on the front/back end waiting for the bags is not that big a deal on a month long trip. If you are moving from city to city then I would recommend going with the smaller bags.

Posted by
12172 posts

Our youngest turned 8 on our last family trip to Europe. We traveled for a month with one carry-on each. Her carry-on was a largish daypack. Her pack list was essentially the same as everyone else's and fit in the smaller bag. It worked perfectly for her.

My bag was a convertible carry-on. Mom and our two older boys each took wheeled carry-ons.

Posted by
32 posts

You all have been great in offering advice/experience. I've got our "piles" going and am going to try to get it all in 3 carryons this weekend (we leave Tues!). If the plan fails, I move up to the checkable one. Wonderful help everyone! thank you.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks, everyone! We actually arrived a couple of days ago. Packed 1 small and 1 medium suitcase to check and took a tote size carryon. It was perfect amount. And yes, we do have a washer and have already done a load! I think I'm going to have to break down and buy some toys at BHV tomorrow, though, as my boys are getting restless in the "at home" hours. Donna--we bought our boys ipod shuffles (and they have nintendos)...the shuffles have been a superb diversion. it keeps them quiet in cafes, etc. :)

Posted by
347 posts

Good News.
hope you have the EU Nintendo DS chargers with you.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Rebecca!
We have traveled with our son including a trip to France when he was 7 & our recent trip to Austria when he was 9. We brought 21' rollerboards for each of us & a carry-on backpack. We no longer carry on our suitcases because of the airport security. Our son also brings his violin. He could usually carry a backpack & violin but needed help with the rollerboard. (So assume you & your husband will be helping to pull the suitcases).

He loves to draw, so I bring drawing paper & pens & crayons. He brings a nintendo & games (though next trip I think we'll invest in an ipod that also plays games). We also let him fill a gallon size ziplock bag with toys. I generally brought a few activity books for the plan ride but tear out sheets in advance so it's not heavy. We also bring a novel & journal for each of us.

I have some canvass grocery bags (similar to book bags but a slightly different shape) that fit inside the backpacks. These are great for keeping toys, art supplies, novels & journals neat in the hotel rooms.

Enjoy your thrip. It is a wonderful experience for you & your children! Donna

Posted by
347 posts

I take it youll be in an Apt with a washer in Paris?
If so Id go with the 2 big bags.
We were 5 and had 3 bags (my teen had to haver "her bag"). As long as your Apt is not a 6th floor walk up as ours was you will do fine.