Lisa has returned from her overseas adventure and is answering all the most-asked questions about the trip in a series of ‘Trip Rundown’ episodes.
Second up – The Packing
Without doubt, the journey of what to pack (and what to leave behind!) fascinated Lisa’s social media audiences.
With the children taking only a carry-on size backpack and Lisa taking a 70L backpack – how did they fit everything they needed in?
In this episode Lisa shares:
- How happy she was with the chosen luggage for the trip (and what they took)
- The importance of packing cubes.
- The one thing she would never do the trip without.
- The clothes and footwear she and the kids bought.
- What she ACTUALLY used from the first aid kit.
- What she left behind and what she wouldn’t take next time.
All your packing questions are answered.
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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here.
The bags have been unpacked and they’re away in the attic, and it makes me really, really sad. It was so sad to finally unpack the bags and our little companions that became part of our bodies. The last few months have been put away until the next trip, which we are already starting to plan. I had a lot of questions about what we packed and if you were following along on socials. I did do some lives about what we’d packed and things that were super handy, but I just thought I’d break down some key parts in this podcast so that it’s a place I can kind of direct people to, and it’s probably not going to be fully comprehensive, but it’s more about kind of the things that I learned along the way so that when you are planning your trip, you don’t have to learn the lessons.
I originally overpacked unsurprising. Our first stop was Sydney. No, our first stop was Brisbane and then we went to Sydney, and in Brisbane I thought I just need a bit of time here to cull things back because it really did come down to the wire. I mean, I booked this trip four weeks later. We were on the plane, so there wasn’t much time. The kids, I got sorted far easier than I got myself sorted. But what surprised me was all the little bits and pieces at the end, and I bought a bag after I left my house and was on the way to mom and dad’s to stay there The night before we left, I stopped at a shopping centre and bought an extra just backpack, carry on backpack to put all of those little bits in. I didn’t want to have done that. I wanted to go as lean as I could, but I was finding it hard to make those decisions while packing up my house, while saying goodbye to everyone whilst managing the kids’ emotions, all of the things.
I was also planning two live events in Brisbane and Sydney. It was a time, it was a time. So lucky. I landed at my friend Sam’s house and she helped me cull my stuff, which was a brilliant thing to have happen, but there’s things that I think we could not have done without and other things that were nice to have. So to start with the absolute basics, I am so, so pleased with the decision that we made about the bags that we took. So I had an Osprey Fairview, it’s called Fairlight in some places, so look for Fairview or Fairlight. It was a 70 litre backpack. The brilliant thing about it is that it also comes with a day pack that you can strap on to the front of it. This was great when I was walking long distances and wanted to have it all on my back instead of having the little day pack on my front.
It also meant that I could take an extra bag on my front if I needed to. The comfort of that backpack shocked me. I’d never once had sore shoulders or sore hips. It tightens up around your waist so a lot of the weight could be carried on your hips and it’s designed for women. So for a woman’s body shape, it was absolutely brilliant. And the day pack, the most comfortable day pack I have ever, ever worn. It wasn’t huge in terms of the space with the Dayak. It did have two bottle things, one on each side that was really strangely very important. The other backpack that we had was a Catman Do kids backpack, which was also great for me too, and I could wear that. Had two drink bottle holders as well. So we always had drink bottles with us. The ones that the kids took were worthy brand, so amazing because they were so, so light made of sugarcane actually, and a great Australian company to get behind.
And mine was a stainless steel one that I had already had from Quench and I also took the Quench Keep cup style thing, insulated cup for my coffees each morning, which was also something that travelled amazingly well. So anyway, the backpacks were really, really great. The kids had the Caribbean traveller, the 40 litre Caribbean travellers, and they could actually go on as hand luggage as carry on planes, which was great. So sometimes we didn’t actually have to check their stuff in. We always had to check mine in, but when we were travelling around in the warmer places, I could leave my big backpack at home and we just took the four smaller ones, which was so good because it was summer when we went to Munich to my friend’s house in Munich and we’d made our way through Scandinavia and Island and London where we absolutely needed long pants and jumpers and jackets when we were going to Croatia and Greece.
When we went to France and Italy and Switzerland, we really did not need the amount that we’d packed. We didn’t need all the winter stuff. So it was great to be able to have those. Well, no, actually we only took three carry-on backpacks, the three kids backpacks and I left my big backpack in Munich and it really is amazing what you can fit inside those things. Having packing cubes was a really, really great idea. I had got them from Amazon and they were all in different colours, so each person in the family had different coloured packing cubes and we got the ones that you could kind of compact right down and it just meant that always it was like the kids had one for their clothes, they had one for their underwear and bathers bang in it goes. And honestly, it just made life so easy for me.
It allowed me to really add a little bit more to my backpack. I could handle a little bit of the extra weight and squeeze a little bit more in. It was never really about that for the kids. I didn’t want them to have really heavy backpacks, but it just meant it was always organised and they could just take out their packing cube, undo that, and everything was kind of there. We folded all the way. We’re expert. I mean we rolled all the way. We are expert rollers, that is for sure. So the Caribbean 40 litre travellers for the kids and the Osprey Fairlight or Fairview for me in the 70 litre and just so good. My son also had a North Face backpack that was his, he was sort of a big fan of carrying around his own stuff sometimes. So probably the most essential thing that I packed, and it was a real question mark at the time, was a portable charger.
I didn’t know whether I was going to need one or not and I got it and I tell you, it’s the thing that was used absolutely every day. It was used overnight, it had different, so it had a couple of USB spots, I dunno what the word is, ports that you could stick USB things in and an apple one that you could also stick in. It had two of its own chargers, like little cords coming off with two different ports. You could lay it down and it would charge without a cord. What do they call it? Oh my god, I’m so not good with this technical stuff. And it also came with some adapters for different countries. I can’t even tell you that thing because you are using maps a lot throughout the day. I couldn’t be without charge on my phone, and so it’s just this little square thing that I could also pop in the day pack and use when we needed it.
It also just fit in my little carry on over the shoulder bag, which I was also super happy to have something that zipped up was the place I always had our passports hidden in, and that was a very, very good thing to have. It was just a little over the shoulder faux leather cheapy thing that I bought that’s actually falling apart now, but very, very useful. So that portable charger was everything. It was our little lifeline and it meant that I brought all different chargers, but we didn’t actually really need to use them. We could just plug that into the wall. Everyone put a cord into it and by the morning everything would be charged. The kids did take iPads and I took my laptop, which was really big and a bit annoying. I brought it for work. I also brought the mic that I am speaking into now and a little lapel mic and also a mic that I could sit on a table and record conversations with. So the interviews with Tony Anne and with Anna and things I recorded with the kids, all were done on that mic. So I brought a little bit of work stuff too. I would probably next time I don’t have my own iPad, but that would probably be something that I’d think about for travelling because it was really quite chunky bringing the laptop along.
Other just basic things were towels, so I wasn’t too sure what to do about the towel situation. I remember beforehand looking up all these amazing, there’s amazing travel towels and companies that are coming out just sharing all sorts of brilliant travel things, but I had Turkish towels at home that I’ve always loved because they dry really quickly and they fold up to be really small. I took two of those for us and in lots of places we stayed. There weren’t towels to take to the beach and we made do with those two towels. It just was not a bother ever. I’m really glad we took them. We took them every single place that we went and super pleased that we did. It was surprising how many times those towels came in handy, even just beyond needing them for the beach, needing them to sit down on somewhere as a little picnic blanket. It was really great.
In terms of our shoes at the beginning, I wasn’t sure what to bring for me. The kids all brought a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. So my son bought a pair of thongs and the girls bought tubes and tubes. T-W-O-O-B-S were also the sandal that I bought too. They’re an Australian company, brilliant company, super, super comfortable, really great. So pleased with that purchase and the girls lived in theirs. I lost mine. I lost mine in Ireland, which I couldn’t believe, but this is when being a slight over packer helped. I had also bought a pair of sandals. They’re actually just a pair of rolly sandals. I basically get them every summer in whatever colour, wear them to death for two years, whatever. I’ve got them in a few different colours and I had bought a pair because I thought maybe it might be nice to have something that’s a bit nicer than the chunky blacks if we go out somewhere if you need something a bit nicer.
So I brought them. They’re also really comfortable to walk in. As I said, I have lived in them in summer in Melbourne, and they are what I got around in. I didn’t have a pair of thongs. I just wore those and they were great for beach days and really hot summer days, but if we were walking around and doing lots of walking, it was absolutely always runners. And I got a pair of Nikes, I can’t remember, I’m even looking at them right now. I can’t remember what they were called. I might have to go to my story highlights for those. A friend recommended them to me because I just wanted something that wouldn’t look terrible if I was also wearing it to go out for dinner or just something nice that I could wear with skirts and that kind of thing as well. And they were fantastic.
I absolutely can’t fault it. So we nailed things in the shoe department in terms of my clothes I left behind things that I’d kind of doubled up on. Things like a long sleeve black top one in cotton, one in, oh no, I bought the two different long sleeve black tops. I left a few white or cream long sleeve black top beige or white long sleeve tops because Sam helped with that. I also probably brought too many originally she stripped them right back. I probably could have done with one extra, one more, but I really, you don’t actually miss what you don’t have. You just make do. I found it the absolute best thing to not have many clothes. Truly, I absolutely loved a minimalist vibe going on that I didn’t have to make choices about what to wear. It was just like, well, that’s my jumper.
So that’s the jumper that I wear. There is nothing else. Everything went with everything. I had a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants, a denim skirt, a denim shorts, and a pair of black shorts, and that was my bottoms and it worked really, really well. Didn’t need anything more than that at all. At one point in the trip, the jeans really started to feel a little bit tight, so I stopped wearing them. Haven’t tried them on since I’ve got home in a package coming back from Munich. So that’s something else that we did before we left for Thailand. We sent a package of things home that we knew that we weren’t going to need and a few little bits and pieces that we’d picked up for family and friends along the way as well. Oh, did I forget to mention my black boots? My black boots went with me everywhere and I just love that I bought them.
I didn’t take them when we were travelling around Europe. I wore them a lot in Munich and all before then. Island England, Scandinavia for sure. I was really pleased, especially because we were with people a lot of that time, so we’re going out and being invited places. It was nice to have something nice to wear and mix up the sneakers situation. The kids probably look, I mean they took things that they didn’t really end up wearing. They were the same stuff over and over and over again. We had washing machines in most places. I highly recommend that if I knew that we were going to have washing machines that often, I probably would have brought less, but I wasn’t sure. And there were some times where I had to wait to get to a laundromat and was maybe six days or seven days max we could do. And sometimes knickers were washed in a sink and it just sort of doesn’t really matter. It really doesn’t matter. Something that Amy gave me that was super handy to have with these really thin, it was paper, like washing powder. So they come in, well, it looks like paper, but it’s actually washing powder and super super light. So all you have to do is throw that into the washing machine and it’s your detergent. It was brilliant, very grateful to Amy for sharing that with me.
I did not bring a hair dryer and I thought that maybe most places would have hair dryers. They do not. So if a hair dryer is really important to you, I’d take one. I actually ended up loving leaving my hair wavy. It was easy because it was summer. I don’t like going out in cool weather with wet hair, not my jam. And I don’t like sleeping with wet hair. So if you are travelling in winter, I would absolutely recommend taking a little travel hairdryer. A lot of Airbnbs and places like that have just stripped everything right back. They must get stuff stolen, I’d say, and so they just don’t supply them. Do not travel and expect that there will be hairdryers for sure.
Headphones. So we got the kids headphones that have that kind of sound thing. What do you call it? You can’t really hear other things. I’m not very good with my words today are soundproof headphones. And they were brilliant. A really, really good investment. And unfortunately all three pairs were lost somewhere. We have no idea where. I think it might’ve been Switzerland. It was right at the end of the trip anyway, and such a bummer. But we got by then just with a couple of pairs of AirPods and some that you just plug in. Old school style, basically Lisa’s style. But something else that we really did need a lot of, because we have one snorer amongst us, not me with little earbuds. So my son in particular would be very, very sensitive if there was snoring going on and he couldn’t sleep. So just being able to block out the noise and put those little earbuds in and dull it out was very handy.
I massively overpacked a first aid kit and I don’t regret that I did because I always felt like we had the things if we needed them. But really it was band-aids that we used. Neurophin for kids just maybe once or twice, not really absolutely needed. The claritine for my son who has a dust allergy. We would arrive in places and I’d know straight away how dusty it was. He’d just start sneezing. So that was tough in some places. But yeah, he needed that. And I was also very grateful that before we left I’d seen my GP and organised for a broad spectrum ish sort of antibiotic. One for the kids that I could make up if I needed to. So it was just in its powder form and some capsules for me. I did end up needing them when I got cellulitis in my face.
That was not fun. But it was so great that I just had them on standby. I did take Armour Force a few times. If you’re not too sure Armour force, is it BioCeuticals, I think that make armour force. So just a really good natural product. That means that if you get sick, especially upper respiratory stuff, it just takes a lot of the, it boosts your immune system means that the symptoms are lessened. I mean, I don’t know how anyone would not know about armour force. Armour force is the best. We did not travel with masks. I did consider it and we didn’t. We did not get covid. I took covid tests. We didn’t need them. We did not get gastro. So lucky we didn’t have any big dramas apart from the sty thing that happened in my eye and then caused cellulitis. There were a few sniffles.
I was sick in Paris with a bit of a head cold. Once again, armour Force helped minimise that, but I bought bandages. There was so, so much stuff and we just didn’t need it. But I took it absolutely everywhere. Thing is there’s chemists overseas and the one thing that my best friend Danielle, she’s a nurse, and she made sure we had burn ointment because she said if something happens and someone gets burnt like scolded, like a proper burn, you need something on it straight away. You need to take this. So I was always very grateful for that. But other than that, I’m very, very lucky that everything else was a total exaggeration. I was really glad to have bought a little portable speaker so that I could play audiobooks for the kids at nighttime. And sometimes when we were on trips, it was a really, really handy thing to have.
Otherwise, having a Frisbee, having a bouncy ball, like a small bouncy ball would go everywhere with us hats, goggles, sort of forgot that the kids would need goggles. They like swimming with goggles. They ended up getting one’s snorkel goggles and lived for them. So they’re in just your everyday pool wearing a snorkel, goggle, snorkel mask because they just loved being able to do handstands and all of the things without anything going up their nose. So that was handy. We went through so much sunscreen and sunscreen is so expensive, but it was what can you do? You got to put on the sunscreen, that’s for sure. Things that we had to buy while we were over there were more bathers. So the girls, we were in bathers a lot. They each bought a new pair of bathers and I ended up getting myself a new bikini. I left one behind. See, this is a thing, you leave things behind and then you need to replace. The only thing that I bought for myself in terms of clothes was that those bikinis and also a pair of Italian leather boots, which are in the box coming home. I didn’t travel around with them.
I didn’t go shopping for myself. I wasn’t interested in doing that. My son ended up getting a few just new kind of plain T-shirts. The ones that he was wearing just wore over and over and over again. And same with the girls. They needed a few fresh teas and everyone was growing as well. It was quite strange. We’ve come home and everyone thinks that they’re a whole lot taller, but other than that, we didn’t really add to our packs very much. It was not a shopping holiday. That’s not what we were there for at all. I did let them buy a new outfit in Bangkok each and I bought a new denim skirt there as well. And that’s it. So what we left with, we really came back with and the kids each had very little. They really didn’t have that much. A few pairs of shorts, t-shirts and singlets.
A pair of tracksuit pants, two jumpers of which by the end, they only really had one. We did drop things that they were absolutely not wearing off as we went. Packing up stuff that you just know is never going to be used is annoying. And so we would drop. I think that is the major things that I wanted to share with you. I’ve got a list and I’ve gotten through the end of the list, but I have this feeling that there’s more. But if you’ve got any questions, you can always write to me, happy to help you out. I think overall with the packing, the easier you can make it for yourself to pack that bag up, the better. That is the thing that matters the most. You don’t want to be pulling zips and trying to shove stuff in. You just want it to be easy.
There was 27 different places we went, and that’s a lot of packing up and the easier it was, the better. Every kid had their two packing cubes and then there were extra things for their backpack. So someone had the first aid kit, someone had the tubes, someone had the towels, and that’s sort of how we rolled. They all knew what was in their pack. They were all responsible for their own school stuff. Oh, definitely paper and pens. So texts and extra paper, little crafty stuff we picked up along the way for the girls to play with was really, really handy. We had Uno everywhere we went, and Simo, which the Harry Potter, Simo, and that was really great as well. Always something for them to throw or play and if they wanted something new, they had to think about whether they could fit that in to their bag.
It was really, really great to do that. The little souvenir that we decided to get from each place was something to add to our Christmas tree from everywhere we visited. So we were always conscious that it couldn’t be something that was big and bulky and round or breakable. So we got lots of little things to pop on our Christmas tree and that’s going to be really, really special to unpack and get happening for Christmas this year because I did want things that we could remember the different places by, but I’m just not going to dump a whole heap of money and pack up our bags with a heap of things that at the end of the day just take up space and often are just crappy quality. So yeah, the kids did get, they got some things like my daughter got a Dublin wind sheeter and she just wore that basically every single time she could. She’s still wearing it all the time. When something’s going to be really special for them. That sort of stuff is cool. Okay, that’s the packing. Hopefully, that’s everything. Or I have this really strong sense. It’s not. Anyway, I’ve got to wrap this up and I’ll see you in the next episode.
Hey! I'm Lisa
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