In this post you will learn the best nomad family packing tips. Most families will never consider the idea of becoming a nomad family because it is ingrained in western societies that stability is an important family value.
But, despite the odds, you’re ready to start an incredible adventure of traveling with your family! Congratulations!
Packing a family for a life of travel is tough, I’m not gonna lie to you. Sacrifices will be made and voices will be raised during the negotiations. Read these nomad family packing tips to better prepare yourself for the chaos that is about to ensue.
Pick Your Luggage
Two considerations need to be made when picking your nomad luggage situation.
Consideration number one, is whether you are going to check your luggage. Checking your luggage of course allows for more space but it also means arriving at airports earlier, possible stress of lost luggage, and more weight to drag around.
Consideration number two, is to decide if each family member will be utilizing one or two pieces of luggage. This could mean one checked and one carry-on OR it could mean two checked bags.
When it comes to my family there are two adults and two children. At the beginning of our nomad life we began with two pieces of luggage each, totaling 8 suitcases. [edited August 2022 with updates] The kids couldn’t handle two suitcases. We ended up upgrading their small suitcases for extra large suitcases. Now we travel with 6 suitcases, all of which are required to be checked. Mom and dad each carry two suitcases and the girls each carry one suitcase each.
Start With Essentials
Each family member is confined to packing in the suitcase they are carrying so that they take full ownership of everything they are bringing. Items that are utilized by the whole family go in the parents luggage.
Clothes, toiletries, and sleep essentials are always packed first. Children who require a special blanket, pillow, sound machine, or light in order to sleep will know that these items may be bulky but they are essential.
Parents will pack their clothes, toiletries, and bedroom paraphernalia as first priorities. Take into consideration electrical changes in various countries and come ready with converters for not just laptops and phones, but also for vibrating items.
Because this is nomad family packing tips, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how drastically the weather can change from place to place. You can go from 80 degrees fahrenheit and sunny in Dominican Republic to freezing temperatures in France if you’re traveling in December. Packing rain ponchos, winter coats, and bikinis are all likely essential for nomad family travels.
Weigh and Re-Weigh
After essentials are packed then discretionary items can be put in until you reach capacity.
You have two choices on how you want to handle packing the optional items. Firstly, you could allow everyone to pack everything they think they want, then weigh it. Inevitably everyone will be over weight and will need to work on removing items until they get their suitcase to comply with checked luggage weight restrictions.
Secondly, you could have everyone put a few of their just for fun items in the suitcase and then weigh it, then add a few more and weigh again. This process of continuously weighing after each few items will mean they are packing with a sense of what more they can add, versus what they have to remove.
Either way, no matter the age of your children you’ll want to check their final suitcase in detail. Ensure they have all the items you believe they will need. This is not the time for them to be making decisions like giving up their prized stuffy because it won’t fit.
Plan Your Carry-on
Remember, you will have to carry your checked luggage plus your carry-on to and from each airport.
My suggestion is for each person to carry a backpack and skip cabin size roller bags. If you feel compelled to have a cabin size roller bag then consider carefully if you will have enough hands to manage all the pieces of luggage.
In each person’s backpack there should be:
- Extra set of clothes
- Toothbrush + Toothpaste
- Technology for the plane + associated chargers
Parents who are worried that their children can’t manage their own stuff should use their best judgement. My child has been carrying her own backpack since she was two and a half.
Packing Tips for Nomad Families
Choosing a life of full-time travel with kids is not the easiest path. But for many of us with dreams bigger than the suburbs, the rewards far outweigh the difficulty.
I hope these nomad family packing tips give you some clarity about how to decide your packing strategies. Your kids may not be able to carry fifteen stuffed animals around the world, but seeing fifteen countries will have a bigger impact on their mind and heart than the toy ever could.
Have fun traveling!