5 Steps to Minimalist Family Travel


You found the perfect destinations for your family vacation, and now it is time to pack and make sure the whole family has everything they need for the trip!

But did you know that 62% of people overpack for their vacation?

Here are 5 steps for minimalist family travel recommended by the Gowhee App’s parent community, to help you pack light.

1. Pack Efficiently

When you’re traveling with kids, it seems like there’s a never-ending amount of items you need to bring with you. But that’s not true if you’re smart about packing! Here are some packing tips to lighten your load.

  • Take advantage of laundry onsite. Many hotels have guest laundry, and sometimes they’ll even do your laundry for you.

>>> Filter for accommodations with laundry on-site, here.

Laundry provided in accomodation
Laundry provided in accommodation. Photo by @gowheeapp
  • Bring a capsule wardrobe. This means that you should choose outfit pieces that you can mix and match. It will help you save the amount of clothing you need to bring.

  • Use packing cubes to organize your suitcase. 

  • Help older kids pack by going over items with them and asking them what they think they’ll use each item for.

  • If you really do need them, pack smaller, lighter versions of heavier items like strollers or playpens. 

2. Only Take What You Need

You probably don’t need nearly as much equipment for babies and little kids as you think you do. Here are some ways to cut down on the number of things you bring with you.

  • Take advantage of amenities onsite. Many hotels and AirBnBs will have cribs, high chairs, playpens, and even toys for kids.

  • You can rent baby needs like high chairs, cribs, feeding solutions, bathtubs, baby monitors, car seats, and other necessities from Babyquip and other rental services. These services are handy and do a great job cleaning the items and making sure that they’re just like new for you to use. 

  • Use the Gowhee app as a tool to find out what’s on-site and what amenities your accommodations have for kids.

    >>> Download Gowhee App here
kid's toys and amenities in accomodation
Kid's amenities provided in an airbnb. Photo by @gowheeapp
  • Examine your itinerary and figure out what you’ll actually need to accomplish your travel goals. If you’re eating out every night, you don’t need to bring your own high chair or booster. If you’re renting a car, most rental companies will arrange car seats for you. 

  • Some items are essential. You should always have reusable water bottles, for example. 

  • Eliminate checked luggage. Each family member should be able to fit everything they need in their carry-on luggage and a backpack.

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3. Don’t Bring Toys

Kids play best with their environment, and this is especially true when traveling. You’ll spend so much time exploring and sharing experiences that you won’t have time to play with what you brought from home. Here’s some advice on how to travel light when it comes to kids’ toys.

  • Something small and interactive like an activity book and crayons might be good for downtime and when you’re waiting in lines.

  • If your kids have a favorite comfort object, definitely let them bring that. 

  • Look up the various attractions ahead of time and see if they exit through the gift shop.

>>> Find kid-friendly museums, theme parks, and other fun places for kids here.

  • If you’re on a road trip, you might want to pack a few travel games that the whole family can enjoy, like license plate bingo.

  • Kids love to buy souvenirs– use that to encourage activity books and other travel-size fun instead of bulky toys. 
Kid playing at restaurant with a couple of toys.
Kids play with everything. One small bag is enough to go out with.

4. Shop local, save and travel light.

You can send things to your accommodations ahead of time instead of traveling with them, using amazon and the post office. This can be very helpful when you’re trying to reduce the amount of luggage you bring on your family vacation. But shopping local will save your budget, sometimes more than you think!

  • Most places in the world have stores, and some things are more budget-friendly to buy onsite. This is especially true for groceries and baby items. For instance, in the UK diapers are much less expensive than in other countries.

>>> Find stores with kids’ items, at your destination, here.

Store with children items
Store with children items. Photo by @gowheeapp
  • You can always send souvenirs home through the mail so that you don’t have to pack them when you’re returning home. If you’re staying at a resort or a hotel, the concierge can help with this.

  • Have a plan for what to do with anything you buy or have shipped. Are you going to take it home? Are you going to leave it behind or donate it? 

  • Call your hotel ahead of time to see if items can be taken up to hotel rooms before you get there, or if you need to pick them up at the bell desk.

Find what you need at destination and start your minimalist family travel journey

Try the Gowhee App for FREE.

5. Thoughts on Strollers and Car Seats

Strollers and car seats are large, bulky, and absolutely necessary if you have small children. But if you’re traveling light on your family vacation, that stroller and car seat don’t have to be yours.

>>> Choose the best places to go to with the “stroller friendly” on the Gowhee app.


  • Rental car companies can help with car seats.
  • You can use a baby carrier instead of a stroller.
  • A few cities have Uber options where you can request a car seat.
  • Stroller rental companies exist, especially in big tourist areas.
  • Look for short-term car rentals that have car seats.
  • If you normally use a big stroller, consider getting a smaller, “umbrella” folding version to travel with. It will be lighter, easier to take on public transportation, and will take up less space.


After all the planning and the packing, make sure you take time to enjoy your well-deserved vacation!  Do you know someone that could use these tips? Share this page by clicking one of the options below.


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