Ultimate Guide to International Travel Packing with Kids 2023

Packing for International Travel

with Kids

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International travel packing with growing kids can be tricky. We have packed up infants, toddlers, tweens, and more and have learned quite a few lessons.  The key, of course, to international travel packing is packing smart.  Only as much as you need for a short time, and then stocking up at your destination.

International Travel Packing Questions

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you invested in compression packing cubes? If so, get a different color for every family member.
  • Are you traveling long term or is it just a vacation? If long term, follow these luggage tips. If its just a vacation, go ahead and take a roller bag (carry on only!)
  • Have you invested in a set of dry toiletries? From shampoo & conditioner, to dry lotion, dry toothpaste, and more. This way you can travel with carry on only bags.
  • Read these travel mistakes that novice travelers often make.
  • What weather will you be packing for? This will influence how many items you take and whether you need to identify laundry options near your stay.
  • Do you need to pack medications or buy more medications on the road? If so, see the first section below.

How To Pack Over-The-Counter Medications when International Travel Packing

For all ages, packing medication is a biggie. Especially when you have kids like mine who are prone to headaches and migraines.  That pain is no joke, and can derail an entire trip for the family. There are cities where it’s easy to find a pharmacy, but most remote adventure travel destinations are notorious for being difficult.

Doing your research before heading out is key.  You’ll want to know what your specific over-the-counter medications are called in the local language. Be sure you check the typical dosage per pill or serving so you understand how much you are taking.

If your kids still only take liquid medication, you will need to bite the bullet and check your luggage with the airline. We had to do that for almost 11 years, as our oldest simply refused to learn how to swallow pills. We took a small amount of her migraine liquid medicine with us on the airplane, and the rest we checked.

We couldn’t live without that particular medication, so for us, it was worth it for that period of time. If you absolutely don’t want to check luggage when international travel packing, most airports will look the other way when it comes to kid’s medications.  They will often allow 1 bottle of liquid medications that isn’t too many ounces more than the regular allowed amount.

If you can take pill-only forms, those can be packed in your carry on.  Even so, if you are checking bags, I recommend packing a few days worth in your carry on and packing the rest in your luggage.  To keep things straight, and in one place, I take only one toiletry bag in our carry on, and use small plastic pill organizers for a variety of medications.

Packing Infant Formula & Breast Milk when International Travel Packing

The airline regulations for packing formula and breast milk change all the time. I highly recommend checking directly with the airlines that you will be flying with about how much liquid formula or pumped breastmilk they allow, and how they want you to pack it.

If you are a world traveling family, and a breastfeeding mother, you will most likely have your baby with you on all flights. That will make it easier, as some mothers have been unfairly targeted for carrying pumped breast milk without their baby present.

Keep in mind, laws are on your side, though. So don’t be afraid to check the regulations and stand your ground. Normalizing motherhood is important!

Packing Toiletry Items for the Family when International Travel Packing

Oftentimes when traveling with kids you can utilize the extra space in their travel packs, or your husband’s larger travel pack to fit in the family toiletries. Things that are shareable include soap, toothpaste, towels and face cloths, and more.  It’s super important for each member of the family to have their own travel towel and face cloth. Many hotels, hostels and apartments abroad don’t typically supply these like they do in North America. Our favorite travel towel is this Zumi towel.

I love that its large enough to be comfortable for adults, dries quickly, and can be washed easily.  Add your favorite face cloth and you are set.

In this post, I go into more detail about my favorite dry travel toiletries for International Travel Packing, such as why you should travel with a hanger, shampoo and conditioner bars, toothpaste tablets, dry lotions, dry laundry strips, and more! I will help you make sure you don’t overpack, while still having all the items you need when International travel packing.

Packing Bulky Items when International Travel Packing

Packing bulky items can be a space waster! The hardest items to pack for us are shoes, but I have found a few packing tricks that will help you.

  • Boots

If we need snow boots, we typically pick them up at second hand stores at our destination. I never pack snow boots when international travel packing, unless I know we are going to be in super snowy weather across multiple destinations.  My favorite multifunctional shoes are waterproof hiking boots.  I tend to get the tall ones, rather than the hiking sneakers, so they keep my feet and legs warm in colder weather.  And since they are waterproof, they double as rain boots too! One boot, three uses.  Hiking boots are often much narrower on the inside than they seem, since they are insulated and have thick layers. My children with wide feet always end up in Merrells, and I always end up with a Salomon or Columbia.

  • Winter Gear

Another bulky item to pack is winter gear. The jackets, layers, hats, scarves, gloves, and thick socks! Just one day of warm clothing can easily fill an entire travel pack!  Again, we often pickup the winter-only items at second hand stores at our destination.  This includes snow jackets and snow pants, hats and gloves.  The best socks you will ever wear when international travel packing are the Darn Tough socks. They wear and wash well, have cushion, and are warm when you need it!

We will travel with scarves regularly, since they can often double as a little shawl or blanket, and our socks are typically thin wool anyways, which I find easier to wash and lasts longer than cotton socks.

  • Towels

Do not forget this item when reviewing your list for international travel packing! Traveling with your own towel and face cloth is a must.  Most accommodations outside of North America don’t provide these basic items. We love large, quick dry towels like these Zumi ones, and any facecloth (but not a white one!!).  One towel/facecloth combo per person, and a foldable plastic hanger to hang dry them goes a long way. We LOVE these hangers.

  • Bedding

If you will be traveling through multiple countries, you need this item on your international travel packing list. We often times find ourselves on overnight trains, or in a family hostel, with minimal bedding options. We use these sleeping bag inserts to tuck ourselves into in a pinch. They are compact and lightweight, comfortable, and wash well.  We also travel with one standard size pillow case each. The kids tie-dyed theirs for a fun look!

There are so many packing hacks to consider! Read more here.

For packing lists, go here.