More and more, I’ve become a proud member of team carry-on- including a week-long trip to (3) different destinations and my boys’ month-long visit to Camp Grandparents.

Now to pack light, especially when traveling with kids, you’ll need some travel essentials. It would be best to think about what would allow you to pack a lot without taking up too much space. And the answer is COMPRESSION.

My Favorite Compression Packing Items

Compression Packing Cubes– These are not normally packing cubes. Compression packing cubes have 2 sets of zippers. One that opens the cube so you can add your belongings, and another that helps release the excess air.

Portable Wardrobe– I STAND for the portable wardrobe. I’ve used them frequently over the last 6 months- in a travel backpack, a kid’s carry-on, as well as an adult carry-on. This one in particular fits in the travel backpack.

Vacuum Travel Bags– If you like to organize your luggage in any way, be sure to get the travel-size vacuum bags. This allows you to fit multiple bags in your suitcase, and leave space for other things. I’ve used these bags in a kid’s carry-on as well as an adult carry-on.

Bring Options. Stay Organized.

Although I pack light, I still like to bring options- including more than 1 thing. That’s where the following tools come in handy.

Portable sunglasses holder– I LOVE sunglasses. And I LOVE options. You know, some sunnies just go better with an outfit than others. This portable sunglass holder can fit up to 5 pairs of sunglasses. Sometimes, I even put 2 of the kid’s sunglasses in 1 slot, so that I can bring a few options for them as well.

Compact jewelry box– A girl has to have some jewelry with her while coordinating her travel outfits! This compact jewelry box surprisingly allows you to fit a lot of pieces within a small footprint.

Kid Personal Items and Carry-Ons

JetKids Bed Box– This is one of my favorite personal items for my littles. Not only does is it a fun way to transport them through the airport, but it also has a considerable amount of storage space. Many times I’ve used this as the only means of luggage for my kiddos, including going on our Disney Cruise.

Toddler Luggage– Believe it or not, I have fit a 4-6 day trip in my kid’s toddler luggage using the items I described above. The great thing about toddler’s luggage, it’s easy for even the little ones to carry- so you don’t have to worry about doing the hard work (unless they fall asleep while traveling and refuse to participate once they awake!)

Kid’s travel backpack– Recently I purchased the boys this kid’s travel backpacks, and they’re absolutely perfect! Not only do they have several compartments, including one large enough for the tablets (they still use the 7″ tablets but it looks like it could fit up to a 10″ tablet). Also they have 2 pockets on the sides- perfect for the kiddo who wants their water bottle and a favorite toy easily assessable. Lastly, the cord in front is perfect for carrying a stuffie- which I’m so glad both of my boys still love.

Adult Personal Items and Carry-Ons

Most airlines allow you to bring both a personal item and a carry-on, for free, depending on the class of ticket purchased. If the airline you’re taking only allows a personal item for free, then it’s more important than ever to learn how to pack light with a personal item (I’m only good for about 2-4 days with only a personal item).

Travel Backpack– A travel backpack is not a regular backpack. Travel backpacks normally have a lot of compartments in addition to using my favorite thing when it comes to traveling light- compression. Some way, somehow, travel backpacks know how to stretch enough to get everything inside, and when the zipper is completely shut, magic- it’s rather compressed.

I personally have a Calpak travel backpack and a Nordic travel backpack. I like both! However, both take a week or more before arriving at your home. If you’re in a pinch and need something ASAP, this travel backpack from Amazon is to the rescue. It has great reviews and up to a quarter of the price of my travel backpacks. And for those who like options like myself, here’s another good travel backpack option from Amazon.

Carry-On Luggage– You want to make sure that your carry-on luggage is easy to maneuver. Personally, I would opt for a 4-wheel spinner luggage. I have Briggs & Riley luggage– which is expandable and I LOVE that feature. I’ll admit, that this brand is expensive and not necessarily fashion-forward. But I bought it about 10 years ago due to its lifetime warranty.

It’s now time to send my luggage in for maintenance, so I am looking at other luggage to fill the gap while my Briggs & Riley is “in the shop”. I’ve had my eyes on the Amazon expandable carry-on luggage. It has over 45K reviews and 4.5 stars. Plus, it’s less than $100!