Packing for Europe…capsule wardrobes for the whole family

Wanna know what I’ve been doing all week? Prepping and planning for a 3.5 week trip to Europe!! Woot! We jet out tonight and are so very excited. The main purpose is to visit some of my husband’s family but we are also doing a little family vacation in the process…We are going to visit England, Wales, Luxembourg, Germany, France, and maybe Switzerland and Belgium. It is sure to be crazy times with 2 small boys and my husband working along the way, but we love adventure and can’t wait to embark on this one.

As we are traveling with small boys and their respective car seats, we are trying to be as minimalistic as possible on the packing front. I posted the above picture on Instagram and Facebook last week and got some comments and questions on our packing methods so I thought I’d write up a quick blog post with all the details. I know, this has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, but hey it’s my blog, right? 🙂 And actually I use this as a journal of sorts so if I write it all down here, I can remember it for next time. So I may just be talking to myself here, but I’m cool with that. Nothing out of the ordinary for me. 😉

luggage (4 of 5)First off, after much research, I decided upon this bag (no affiliate links here, just lots of amazon linkage since I’m a prime addict). It was a good price, had great reviews, and can be worn as a backpack but opens up like a suitcase- perfect for keeping things organized while traveling! I also bought a set of medium packing cubes and assorted slim packing cubes. My first experience with packing cubes and I’m loving the organization they provide.

Since I think my wardrobe is the main interest, here’s the bullet list of my bag and its contents. Again, please feel free to not read this! The key to my travel capsule wardrobe is: 4-5 tops + 2-3 bottoms + 1 sweater- all mix and matchable among each other so quite a few different outfits can be made from a few articles of clothing. And different layers of clothing to account for all possible temps!

luggage (2 of 5)Medium Packing cube (for me) (13.75×9.75″) shown above: hand for perspective

  • Shower flip flops
  • Pj pants, running leggings and running tee
  • Dress (my easter washi)
  • Scarf, grey cardigan
  • 4 tank tops (for layering)
  • Short sleeved dressy sweatshirt, casual short sleeve tee
  • 2 button down shirts (brown archer and white gap one)
  • Mint ginger jeans

luggage (1 of 5)Slim cube (medium size 10x5x2.75″): seen below as the long skinny one

  • undergarments (1 bra, sports bra, 5 undies)
  • bathing suit (just in case), 1 pair shorts
  • socks (4 pair)

Medium Packing cube (for Eliot)

  • Tees (2 short sleeve, 1 long)
  • Bottoms (2 jeans, 1 shorts, 1 bathing suit)
  • 1 sweater, 1 button down shirt
  • 1 pair pjs
  • 5 pair socks, 1 pair shoes


  • Sperrys, 2 pairs jeans, small travel fan
  • Orla Kiely Makeup bag- (contains non-liquid makeup and feminine products)
  • Small packing cube (6.5×5)- toiletries: toothbrushes x4, qtips, razors, powder laundry soap (we will do laundry every 3-4 days), deodorant x2
  • Top pocket contains my small zippered jewelry pouch
  • Inside zip top contains raincoats x3 ( for me and the boys) and gold sandals

luggage (3 of 5)

I am also bringing a regular size backpack as my personal item (shown below) and that bag has:

  • our liquid toiletries in 1 quart bag, essential oils roller balls in another, and 1 final quart bag of ez squeeze applesauce for snacking.
  • 2 small medicine bottles with adult/child ibuprofen, vitamins and supplements
  • small first aid kit
  • ipad, phone, headphones and chargers
  • Several quart bags of trip snacks: trail mix, granola bars, pull n peel licorice (my personal travel snack 🙂 )
  • Umbrella, a few small children’s books, and my water bottle

luggage (5 of 5)

Oliver’s backpack (an 18L from REI-shown at top) has 2 small metal lunch boxes (shown below)- used as toy boxes for the boys, more snack baggies, water bottle x2, pjs x2 for the plane, child’s headphones x2, stuffed dog x2, and a few diapers and wipes for Eliot.

 My husband’s backpack (Kelty Redwing 50L) has everything else:

  • Oliver’s packing cube: exactly the same size and contents as Eliot’s.
  • His clothes (2 ss tees, 2 ls tees, jeans, shorts, button down, raincoat, sweatshirt)
  • Slim Packing cube (long 14×5)- for his boxers and socks
  • umbrella, hair dryer, chargers and European adaptors, small travel fan, mesh bags for laundry, Ergo, Flip Flops, enough diapers and wipes for a few days (vacuum packed)

And if you made it that far, you deserve a medal! Hope that info helps any of you contemplating a trip with kids. In case you weren’t counting that brings our luggage count to 3 carry-on backpacks and 1 small backpack as personal item….no checked bags except for the car seats! Oh and an umbrella stroller we will check at the gate.

I have been heavily influenced by Tsh at the Art of Simple and The Art of Simple Travel, Un-Fancy, the Budget-minded traveler podcast, and Entre Family Travels. They all have great posts on capsule wardrobes and minimalist packing that I have found very helpful throughout my planning. Wish us luck and find me on IG for updates along the way! (@oliversfancy).


1 thought on “Packing for Europe…capsule wardrobes for the whole family

  1. Hey. How cool. What an adventure! I’m from germany! If you are interested in a meet-up or want ideas for great places to visit with young children in southern germany, send me an email…
    Have a fun trip! Annika

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