Europe – 6 Weeks, 2 Kids, 1 Suitcase

Exploring Pompeii

Exploring Pompeii

This past summer 2 Moms Travel spent 6 action-packed weeks in Europe. Our time was primarily spent in Helsinki, Belgrade and Rome with a smattering of side trips in between. The first half of our adventure would be 1 Mom Travels (me) with 2 children. Unfortuantely, my wife couldn’t take the extra time off work and had to meet up with us after 3 weeks. Without another adult to help manage suitcases and carry-on’s there was no.way.in.hell I was going to become a Sherpa. I am seasoned traveling with the kids alone but haven’t attempted a transatlantic flight to a new country. This could prove to be logistically challenging. When they say it takes a village to raise kids, that refers to the help needed at home just to get kids out of bed, fed breakfast and rushed off to school with hopefully their lunch and homework in tow and bonus points for brushed hair. Schlepping multiple suitcases alone through airports, in and out of taxis, up and down narrow stairwells filled with clothes for ‘just-in-case’ or shoes for ‘just that one outfit’ did not sound appealing nor like much fun. The days of traveling with just a backpack are a very distant and blurry memory. Heck, we pack the house for a weekend getaway. I began to wonder if I could manage with 1 – read ONE – suitcase for 2 kids and myself for 6 weeks.  I decided I was up for the challenge.

We loved our Airbnb studio apt in Helsinki!

We loved our Airbnb studio apt in Helsinki!

INSTEAD OF HOTELS TRY AN APARTMENT

Traveling with young children for any length of time requires us to have some of the conveniences of home.  By this I mean having the ability to cook-in (choice: do you want to eat out every single meal for 6 weeks with your kids or jump off a cliff? I think I know your answer…) and having a washing machine. Because we were to stay both in Helsinki and Rome for extended periods of time, I opted for apartments in those locations booking through Airbnb.com. The main requirement in my search criteria was a washing machine. This was a necessity for my game plan of power packing. Because my kids are slightly older (but really not less messy than a toddler….) I was banking on being able to get a few days out of each outfit (my goal was 2 days…but score if longer!).  A couple weeks before our trip commenced, I started making lists of what each person would need (note: I didn’t say want). Not only did I need to pack for day-to-day activities, but we had a big wedding to attend in Serbia. This wasn’t a typical wedding with just an afternoon of festivities. This was the mother of all weddings….days of festivities spanning several locations. This could be the monkey wrench in my packing plan.

LET THE PACKING COMMENCE

The size of my suitcase was important.  It needed to be large but not the size of a small house. It would have to fit in the trunk of small European cars. My good ‘ol 28″ Eagle Creek wheeled suitcase from REI.com met my critieria

Eagle Creek Suitcase

About a week before we left I began orgainzing outfits, choosing what could be mixed and matched and dry quickly. Over the following days, I whittled it down to 6 outfits for each of us and 2 pairs of shoes. This did not inlcude the formal attire for the wedding but there was no way around that.  I simply had to leave room for those outfits.  Believe it or not, the final product was a success! There wasn’t much room left for a bunch of souvenirs but I managed to fit 6 weeks of clothing into 1 suitcase for 2 kids and 1 adult.

HOW DID I MANAGE?

Let me summarize how I managed to pack for 2 kids and 1 adult for 6 weeks in Europe using 1 suitcase (we were each allowed a small backpack carry-on as well):

I used my 28″ Eagle Creek suitcase

All clothes were rolled tightly to maximize space

6 outfits per person with ability to mix and match and layer depending on climate changes. This included the outfits we wore on the plane and an extra in our carry-on’s.

1 pair of sandles per person

1 pair of tennis shoes (worn on the airplane) per person

6 pairs of underwear per person

3 pairs of socks per person

1 bathing suit per person

Sun hats for each of us

Sunscreen

10 Tide laundry pods for washing

Toiletries carried on plane

1 set of PJ’s that we each put in our carry-on

Our carry-on backpacks consisted of what each person wanted to carry – a few new toys, leap pads (with new apps), my ipad, my iphone, headphones.

We also each carried a NorthFace Tri-Climate jacket on the plane. These are awesome for their ability to be flexible with the weather. A 3-in-1 jacket with waterproof exterior shell paired with a removable insulated liner makes for the best travel jacket.

There you have it!  We wore the same outfits a lot – but it made navigating planes, trains and automobiles much easier and kept mommia happy.  Remember: if mommia is happy, everyone is happy.

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