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How to Travel like a Minimalist Family: My Top 5 Regrets

Travel like a Minimalist: 5 Regrets from my Family Vacation (and 4 things I don’t regret!)

5 months since our last family vacation and 10 months since our last family flight meant major excitement for our recent trip to Cancun! 

We travel frequently and prefer to travel as minimally as possible with our family of 5.  This means less stuff, less unpacking and repacking, less clutter, less laundry, and less stress!  This vacation, we even ditched the baby gear for the first time ever and it was SO FREEING!

But even though we are superb travelers in the way of minimalism, there are always things I reflect upon.  Here are my 5 biggest regrets for our most recent minimalist traveling adventure. 

PS – if you’re looking for minimalist family travel tips, check out my ebook!

1. Not packing sweatpants.  

Yup I’m starting here!  I always pack myself sweatpants of some sort, no matter what type of vacation we are taking.  This time around, I had convinced myself that leggings would suffice as my “comfy” pants while lounging in the hotel and I was sorely mistaken.  At least once a day I contemplated purchasing overpriced sweatpants from one of the resort shops.  Next time, I’m just packing the sweatpants and freeing up my mental energy. 

2. Packing too many toiletries.

I keep a stocked toiletry bag with generic things we may need on any vacation.  This includes kid stuff, my stuff, and some medicine/vitamins.  Keeping this packed at all times makes it one less thing I have to think about.  This time around, however, I regret not going through it and weeding out things we didn’t need.  We didn’t use close to a third of what was packed.  

As a part two to this regret, I’m making a note to always pack a small container of kids cough medicine.  I already bring chewable Tylenol, Dramamine, and allergy medication but I’m adding cough medicine to the list.  By the last day, one of my kids started coughing and I did NOT want to be the family on the plane with a hacking child the whole flight.  I gave in and bought a 2 oz bottle of cough medicine from the resort shop for $34!!! The tiny bottle is perfect for keeping in my toiletry bag so from now on I will refill that and bring it with me on trips.  Never again will I spend $34 on a 2 oz bottle of cough syrup.  

3. Bringing more than 2 bathing suits.  

On vacations where we spend most of the time at the beach or pool, we usually bring 2 bathing suits each.  That way we always have one bathing suit ready-to-wear while the other one is drying. (Especially in humid climates like Mexico when things tend to take longer to dry).  

This time I did not follow my own rule.  My mom gave me a bathing suit right before we left and I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not so I ended up bringing 3 bathing suits.  Turned out, I only wore the new one and didn’t even touch the other two!  That was a bit of space I could have freed up in my bag.  

4. Not having the kids try on their shoes and clothes before packing.

Sometimes when I travel to out-of-season weather, I forget that kids grow.  I pulled out a bunch of warm-season clothes for this trip and had my kids pick their favorites.  We packed it up and that was that.  When we changed at the hotel, I realized how much my kids had grown from just a couple of months ago!  Next time we will definitely be doing a fashion show pre-vacation to make sure everything fits well.  

5. Not prioritizing our family’s health before and during our trip.

Sighhhh.  This was a big one.  We had an amazing trip, but we all got incredibly sick once we got home.  I mean, it was the worst virus our family has seen yet (and yes, worse than COVID for us).  And it hit every single one of us.  

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Prior to this trip I was working like crazy to make up for my time off. I was waking up earlier every morning and going to bed later to try to cram work and other projects in.  We were over scheduled and worn down but it was okay because “we’re going to relax on vacation.”  Ha!! Have you ever taken a vacation with 3 young children? 

I slept like caca the entire time, drank way more than I’m used to, and indulged in non-healthy foods like it was my job.  Sure, I drank green juice daily, got lots of sunshine, and didn’t pick up my phone or iPad to work once, but I missed my immune-boosting routine that keeps me going all winter-long and failed to bring my kids’ immune vitamins. I was so on “vacation-mode” that I forgot to take 1/3rd of my allergy routine for 3 days in a row!

But lesson-learned.  I will never take my health for granted before, during, or after a vacation again.  And our immune-boosting vitamins are traveling with us next time!    

So, those are my five regrets this time around.  Nothing groundbreaking, but every time we travel we learn something new and the next vacation we get even better at traveling!

Travel like a Minimalist: No Regrets!

Now for my list of NO REGRETS on this recent Mexico vacation.  

1. Packing in one backpack. 

This trip I packed everything of mine in my backpack.  Everything.  All my clothes, shoes, toiletries, electronics, etc were in one, medium sized backpack.  I use packing cubes to help compress my clothes and organization and pockets for the rest.  My husband and three kids put their clothes in packing cubes and into one small carry-on luggage.  This is how we like to travel – light!

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My husband could have easily packed all his belongings in his backpack, too, but he chose to take the kids’ headphones in his backpack on the way there because they were a surprise for the twins, so he needed a little more room.  We can’t wait until the kids get a little bit older and can pack all of their belongings in travel backpacks, too.  Then we will have zero luggage and just our own backpacks for flights. No regrets!

2. Taking and leaving sand toys. 

This time around we knew we would be spending a lot of time on the beach so we let the kids bring some sand toys.  We had 3 castle molds and 3 shovels/rakes tucked in our carry-on luggage.  The day we were leaving, we found another family with small children and gifted them our sand toys, explaining that we prefer to pass them on to others rather than bring them home.  The mom was so happy- she said we saved her $28 on a gift shop bucket!  I encouraged her to do the same when they leave, too. No regrets!

3. Traveling without baby gear.  

Because of the type of vacation we were taking, we were more than happy to travel for the first time in 6 years without baby gear!!! No strollers, no car seats, no sippy cups, nothing!  Freedom!!  

We did travel a bit by car, to and from the airport, and also for a day trip to a different city.  On these occasions, my husband ordered a private car company and they included car seats for free.  Each ride we took, the car seats were pristine (and really good quality, I may add).  They let me install and adjust the car seats as it suited us.  My kids rode safely and I had peace of mind.  And I didn’t have to bring baby gear to make it happen.  

No need for a stroller for this trip as we mostly stayed at the resort.  I will say I missed our stroller when the kids were all tired and clingy at the airport, but we made it through.  No regrets!

4. Pre-cut veggies and order pickups. 

This one is for returning home.  We came home to another full weekend – of course!  We got home at midnight, but the first thing I did in the morning was put in a Target pick up order.  I knew it would only buy me a few days of meals and snacks but it was totally worth it.  And boy am I glad I opted for the fresh, but pre-cut veggies for our meals.  I can honestly say if I had to chop veggies, I would have not fed them to my family.  I was that tired and lazy after returning home.  So although I don’t usually reach for bagged, pre-cut veggies due to the higher cost and plastic bags, it was totally worth it for me.  No regrets!

Travel like a minimalist

How to Travel like a Minimalist Family: My Top 5 Regrets

There you have it!  I hope you enjoyed my top 5 regrets from my most recent minimalist family vacation.  More importantly, I hope you learned something!  For more minimalist family travel tips, check out my ebook.  

Have any travel questions?  I’d be happy to help.  Leave a comment or subscribe to weekly blog updates below. 

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