Life, Optimized!

Last week on the blog, I had so much to say about how to optimize packing consumables for any short term stay abroad. Trust me when I say, when moving to any foreign land (but especially second and third world countries), food and toiletries make a huge difference in household morale.

In order to optimize packing for any [short term] stay abroad, you will need to know…

how to optimize packing accompanied suitcases for your extended stay abroad

It came to my attention while writing about how to best pack for consumables, that I should share how to best pack accompanied suitcases and baggage. Let us get to it.

weight limitations

Like packing consumables, knowing the weight limitations for the airlines and specific tickets is crucial. Sometimes the company sponsoring the trip arranges the airfare and as such, the traveler(s) does not have flexibility in terms of how much baggage can be checked without fee.

Next step: locate your bathroom scale, preferably one that you would be okay with either leaving behind or going into storage. Use it to verify the weight of each piece of packed luggage. If the luggage does not fit on the scale, pick it up, step on the scale, and subtract your weight. Allow yourself to rest easy as you (quite literally) roll up to the airport scale. Or….not.

questions to ask airline customer service prior to packing

  • How many bags are free to check with each ticket?
  • What is the weight threshold for the free bags for the travelers’ cabin / airline status?
  • How much is each extra bag to check?
  • If one of the travelers is under the age threshold of infant in arms, will the sponsoring company still purchase a ticket for the littlest traveler?
    • If so, is it free to check a car seat and / or a stroller?
    • If so, do these count against the ticketed baggage allowance?
    • If not, is the littlest traveler permitted to check a car seat and / or stroller?
    • If not, do these count against the ticketed baggage allowance?
  • If one of the travelers has an infant in arms ticket, is the littlest traveler permitted a carry-on / personal item?
  • How many carry-ons / personal items per passenger?
  • In the case of a connecting flight on another airline, are the airlines in the same alliance, in order to allow the baggage be checked to destination upon initiaL check in?
  • In the case of a connecting flight on another airline, research the above questions for both airlines and should they differ, pack per the more conservative limits.

think outside of the typical suitcase contents

In addition to apparel and toiletries, the suitcase contents needs to address needs for the family for the ~approximate~ month prior to unaccompanied baggage arriving. It is easier to prepare suitcases for summertime apparel, whether that be in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere. (Boots and coats weigh a ton and monopolize suitcase space.)

I wish I had packed a set of sheets for each family bed when we made our big move. The crib did not have a sheet on it and the sheets on the bed were a low thread count and super scratchy. For a below-zero climate, the blanket on the bed was unsatisfactory. Luckily husband stashed a quilt in one of his suitcases which we used to wrap and cushion the monitor I use for my nine to five.

In the time leading up to the move, I started collecting and saving all beauty samples. I finally cashed in all of my Sephora points. While shopping at CVS for the consumables shipment, I also picked up travel sized toiletries for the family. I highly recommend packing these in a carry on bag. In addition to the grooming items, I highly recommend ordering and packing a 220 volt hair dryer in a suitcase.

If you have extra room but minimal weight for a bag, pack the one or more of the following for low effort, high reward:

  • diapers (should one of the travelers not yet be potty trained)
  • cotton balls
  • rolls of toilet paper
  • rolls of paper towels

about carry on baggage and personal items

We were particularly strategic about carry on items. It was a relief to only need to tote them and the Pamper Pirate after rolling around the menagerie of checked baggage to the Lufthansa United serviced by Luftansa check in. Rather than packing carry on bags per person, we packed per need, highly suggested:

  • change of clothes / pajamas / underpants for each traveler in duffel
  • diaper / formula / Pamper Pirate pajamas / extra onesie in diaper bag
  • camera, iPads, Kindle, work laptops, and necessary chargers in tech bag
  • Visas, passports, checkbooks, glasses in day planner in Mom’s purse
  • coats
  • Pamper Pirate in BabyBjorn carrier


packing list

  • five changes of clothes, weather-specific to destination
  • three changes of pajamas
  • five sets of undergarments
  • sample size beauty
    • serum
    • sleep mask
    • face lotion
    • hair serum
  • travel size toiletries for every member in household
    • toothpaste
    • mouthwash
    • face wash
    • body wash
    • shampoo
    • conditioner
    • deoderant
    • lotion
    • contact solution
    • sunscreen
  • tampons and pads for two menstrual cycles
  • extra glasses
  • contact lenses
  • medication
  • sheets for every bed in household
  • travel towels for every member in household
  • computer monitor
  • 220 volt hairdryer

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