Minimalist Packing with a Toddler (+ Free Printable)

Because... Family vacation!
Ya'll, I'm so excited to be going on a vacation.

It's been entirely too long since we've been on a real trip and this will be our little one's first time out of the state!

I'm so hype that I have a mini dance party every time I think about it.

We're road-tripping to Colorado for a long weekend getaway (which will probably end up being a post in itself), and I just realized I haven't even started to think about what to take with us.

Like, the suitcases aren't even out yet and I have no list prepared for me or my family. #WifeMomParentingFail

It's actually a good thing, because this is the perfect time to share my minimalist tips for traveling with a toddler.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Rule

Let's say you're going to be gone for 4 days. This is the ideal rule for packing for each person, except children. Always pack 1 extra, because you may have an unexpected accident.

Don't forget to take the weather and region into consideration. That ultimately determines what you will need.

For instance, I have to pull out our fall/winter clothes a bit early this year, because the forecast predicts a high of 70 and low of 49 in Colorado, while we're still experiencing highs of 90 and lows in the mid 70's in Texas.

Since you want to travel light, you will want to have a good blend of tops/dresses, bottoms, accessories and shoes. The great part about this "rule" is you get to decide what your perfect combination is.

Here's an example of the rule in action:
  • 5 tops
  • 4 bottoms
  • 3 accessories
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 coat (or swimsuit in the summer) & 1 bag
Try to stick with coordinating neutral colors since that will help minimize your travel items.

Here's an example for a casual fall weekend that can easily give you 15 styling options.
Minimalist packing for fall

Since, I will be packing my son's clothes with mine in our 21" carry on suitcase (like this one), I am following the same packing rule for him as well.

It seriously works for everyone. Don't believe me? 

Check out these options for a little boy.

Minimalist packing for fall - toddler boy

Lounge Wear & Undergarments

Pack a set, or two if you're funny about sleeping in the same clothes (but no more than 2), of lounge clothes - think joggers and a tee - instead of pajamas. You can use them as travel wear, or as an option for a lazy day... After all you are on vacation.

When it comes to undergarments, take a pair for each day you will be at your destination - then take an extra pair, just in case.

If your little one is still in diapers, consider taking enough diapers to get to your destination, then buy what you need once you arrive. Especially if you're flying.


Most hotels provide  certain toiletries such as body wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner. Consider leaving your's at home, unless your have sensitive skin or simply prefer to use your favorite product. 

In that case, don't buy travel bottles from a store. It's more cost effective to head to your local dollar store to purchase empty travel bottles and fill them with your favorite products you already have at home.

Try to fit all of your items into one bag, including your makeup. If it doesn't fit, ask yourself, "Do you REALLY need it?"


There are many ways to fold, but my personal favorite is rolling the clothes for each day together. Since my little and I are sharing this carry-on bag, it makes it so much easier to get dressed and to keep track of everything.

Another favorite, especially for the little one, is to use the Kon Mari folding method, then put them in a Ziploc gallon sized bag.

There's no right or wrong way. The goal is to make sure it all fits.

I wrote out my packing list in my bullet journal, but you can download this printable travel checklist for your personal use.

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