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feb 03 2010

Family travel: "Stop telling us to pack light!"

An interesting discussion broke out in the comments on our recent post about whether shipping your bags to your destination is smart.

It began with this comment from G:

Every time there is a post like this, someone chimes in with the useless comment that I should travel lighter.

Well, I travel with two car seats, a stroller, two children, two adults and we travel internationally and stay for weeks.

We actually come with a few empty bags (to buy the great bargains in the US for my children's feet, especially) but really—a DSLR, three compact cameras, a netbook, a Macbook, a large business required Dell laptop, two Nintendo DS, a bunch of coloring books, dolls and the Kindle (which has lightened my load) as well as chargers and adapters.

Do these folks have any idea what it's like to travel as a family?…

Diana responded first:

Good grief! You don't have to take your whole house. Find other ways to entertain the kids. When I was a kid we would travel 8 hours and all we had to for entertainment was whatever my folks wanted to hear on the radio and looking out windows.

B chimed in:

I've traveled with 4 children and never needed to take that much. As for the extra suitcases, buy the stuff, pack it in a box and ship it home.

G answered back:

Gosh, B, shipping it to Germany from Florida would be more expensive than the actual plane tickets. It's $6/lb shipping NY to Germany.

[Our stuff is important] because while gone from home for a month plus we need to take family and vacation photos, keep in contact with work, be reachable in emergency (or reach emergency services) allow our kids to be amused on 18+ hour transits, read a book?

Maggie wrote:

I tried to resist making a comment, but I just can't.… Seriously G, you don't need three computers, four cameras and two DS to take photos, keep in touch with work and amuse the kids. And I am speaking from experience in traveling internationally with two adults and two children.

Mike F. spoke up:

"G" needs to rethink his/her travel method, a lot of that stuff really is unneeded. 3 cameras ? Can't people share the camera ? I have been travelling with one carryon & 1 personal bag for many years, domestically, to the caribbean, and if you are smart about packing only what you will need you'll be fine. I'm a gadget nut & love my electronics, but people need to experience and look at the place they're going to, interact with real people & events there, & not be glued to a computer/nintendo/etc. That's the whole point of travel! If you need email, web, etc, get a smart phone, leave the computer at home. You can buy /rent things you didnt bring at wherever you go, if you really need to.

Ernest pointed out:

When we were growing up, my parents had a strict "carry-on only" rule for themselves and the five of us kids. So we never checked any bags, even on long European trips. If we couldn't carry it on the plane, then we couldn't take it. Simple.

M agreed:

G - I'm agog that you need three computers and three cameras, two nintendos, and two carseats, plus the extras you noted. I can understand one computer and one camera, but triplicate? Do the children need to be entertained by electronics, especially one who's young enough for a stroller? Car rental companies rent car seats, and strollers can be inexpensively purchased at your destination and then left with the relatives you mentioned. If you're willing to pay all the fees and charges associated with the excess baggage (and that's *not* a snide comment), then more power to you. My family's rules? One carry on per person, no matter how many adults, children, babies, teens, seniors are traveling.

What do you think? We don't want to pick on G, who is on an extended, super-sized trip with his family and may have unusual needs. But more broadly…

Is "packing light" reasonable advice for families? Or is it unrealistic?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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