How to Pack for Three into One Carry-on Sized Bag

packing suitcase

Are you trying to pack lightly for your flight or limited on space in your car during a road trip? I’m sharing with you how I fit my clothes along with TWO of my kids’ clothes into one standard carry-on sized bag!

We drove from Bedford, NH to Panama City Beach, FL, approximately 1,446 miles and a 21.5 hour drive. Roads trips are always fun and we’ve been going to Myrtle Beach, a 16 hour drive, for two years now. And even though it’s beautiful there with many fun things to do, we thought we’d take a trip all the way down to Florida this time.

Being a family of four, I thought packing into our family car would never be possible, especially for a long trip like this. My mind was going crazy as I was trying to jot down all of the things I’d have to bring along for the road trip there, the week-long stay at the condo and the drive home, onto my packing list. It was a loooonng list and most of you probably know that traveling with kids isn’t easy exactly for this reason! (I’m always afraid to miss and forget at least one item, which tends to be most important too).

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I was wrong, however!

I’ve found some tips and tricks that were super helpful and made our “road-tripping” significantly easier!

  1. Car Roof Bag-My husband got this amazing roof top bag, which saved us a lot of room inside for clunkier things like cooler, beach umbrella, umbrella stroller and other miscellaneous bags (I also recommend this non-slip mat along with the bag to protect the car).
  2. Minimize- I was able to fit my things along with my kids’ things into one carry-on sized bag. Packing minimally is easy and saves you a lot of headache!

packing for roadtrip


Few things to take into consideration prior to packing:

  1. Amount of time/days you’re going to be driving
  2. Amount of days you’ll be at your hotel or condo
  3. Will you have access to washer and drier
  4. What sort of clothing you’ll need. Warm sweaters or tank tops, etc. Check the forecast prior to leaving.


Given that we were headed for temperatures in the 80’s, it made it a lot easier to pack, of course, since it meant light summer clothes such as dresses, tanks, shorts and bathing suits. However, I did take one extra warm outfit for each of us in case there was a cooler day.

I kept the wardrobe simple for all three of us (luckily my husband likes to do his own packing 😉 ). I picked out clothing that I could mix and match, which made one piece of clothing one day, look styled completely different another day. This meant fewer clothes to pack, hence a lighter suitcase.


For myself to travel (same goes for the kids)

-Comfortable pants or jeans





For the beach: Myself

-2 shorts

-2 sleeveless tops

-1 short sleeve shirts

-3 casual summer dresses

-1 quarter sleeve top

-Couple undergarments

-Bathing suit

-2 pairs of flip-flops

-Beach towel


For the beach: Alina

-2 shorts

-1 sleeveless top

-2 short sleeve shirts

-1 Romper

-2 summer dresses

-1 cropped leggings

-Couple undergarments

-Bathing suit


-Beach towel

-Sunglasses (at target for only 1$!)


For the beach: Viktor

-3 shorts

-3 short sleeve shirts

-Summer overalls

-1 pair of long pants

-Swim shorts


-Swim diapers


-Beach towel


-Sunglasses (Also target)


In addition to packing all of the clothes, shoes and diapers into the carry-on, I had some room left for a cosmetic travel bag, which I filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair accessories, razor and makeup. I used the front zip up space for beach towels.

packing suitcase

packing carryon



  1. Pack Smart- Wear heavier, chunkier pieces of clothing on you when traveling by plane or car. This will save you lots of “weight” in the suitcase. Planes are usually cool, so sweatshirt or a light jacket is perfect and driving can get chilly at night (especially if you’re planning to nap in the car at a rest area at night, like we did).

2. Neutral clothes- Chose clothes that are neutral in color or solids for easier mixing and matching.

3. Use washer and dryer- Wash (or at least dry) your beach towels along with swimsuits every night.

4. Long sleeved swimwear– I personally like long sleeved swimwear for kids. Saves A LOT of sunscreen!

(I love Babyganics Mineral-based Baby Sunscreen and the Aveeno Baby Face sunscreen)


5. Toiletries- Check the details about your stay and see if you will have room service, fresh towels and soaps, that way you don’t need to worry about bringing those.

6. Roll- Roll your individual pieces of clothing instead of folding. I love this technique; clothes are visible and easily accessible for an easy pick. And less wrinkles!


And that’s a wrap! I know how frustrating packing can be, especially with smaller children, but I hope my tips were practical and will save you from all the stress! Enjoy your travels!

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