I love to travel with my family. My husband and I always enjoy showing our boys new experiences and destinations. The wonder and excitement in their eyes makes every vacation worth it. But is it stressful? Heck, yes!
I've learned to be prepared so I'm ready for every second that I can get some down time. Make the most of the flight or ride to the hotel, and imagine yourself in a relaxing atmosphere, be pampered, and enjoy special treats. This is your vacation, so make the most of it from the very beginning. Think of your carry-on as a magical bag that you can pull tricks out of when the need arises. Here's just a start of what you'll want to bring.
The Carry-On Bag(s)
I personally recommend a carry-on bag that will fit under the seat in front of you. Sure, you can go big and put it in the overhead bin. However, nowadays many flights are oversold and crowded. For me, the stress of having to find our assigned seats (or to find four seats together) plus having to find an overhead compartment directly above, is way too much pressure.
The things I always look for in a great carry-on bag are durability, lots of compartments, and padded spaces for my electronics. Don't skimp when it comes to name brand or quality when choosing a bag. This is something that you'll use often but you'll still want it to feel special every time you pull it out to carry-on for your travel.
Virtual Hint: Make the investment and get each member of the family their own. Starting from when my boys were young, they each had their own carry-on bag. This not only taught them responsibility for their individual belongings, but saved my husband and me from always having to retrieve the boys "wants" from our own carry-on bags.
My Calais backpack (pictured above) from Tumi's Voyager collection is perfect. With heavy zippers, durable nylon, and a padded laptop sleeve, I use it for traveling everywhere I go. It's even spacious enough to throw in a swim suit and coverup. You never know when the chance to swim in a beach or pool will arise!
Grab them now and put them in your carry-on. I can't tell you how many times I've either completely forgotten my sunglasses when traveling to a tropical destination in the middle of winter, or mistakenly packed them in my checked suitcase. It's almost an unnatural intensity once the airplane climbs above the clouds and is in the path of the bright sun. Pop on your sunglasses and you can still enjoy the view through darkened lenses, plus look glamorous at the same time.
Make sure everyone has a pair of sunglasses in their own carry-on bag. I especially love the new styles from Maui Jim for the whole family. Their sunglasses are extremely durable plus they are known for their lens technology. Take a look at my favorite chic styles for everyone in your family.
I love the Mavericks! This classic aviator style looks great on men or women and they offer Blue Hawaii, my new favorite lens color. They are made from lightweight titanium and they amazingly protect against glare. Look at this beautiful vibrant, gradient lens below. Just the color name Blue Hawaii makes me want to go on vacation.
Soft Scarf or Wrap
Sure, sometimes you can find blankets on airplanes when it gets chilly. But not only do you have to search for them, once you take them out of the plastic, get ready for static everywhere. With the dry air onboard the airplane combined with the synthetic nature of the blanket and plastic bag, it's not a good combination. I always carry or wrap a large, soft scarf around my neck or shoulders. Not only is it fashionable but it's perfect for covering up when the flight climate changes.
Have the kids throw a lightweight blanket in their own carry-on. You'll be surprised how much they'll actually use it to get comfortable in a plane seat or at your final destination.
Before every vacation, our ritual is to make a trip to the local bookstore. We stock up on a few new books, magazines, or travel toys for everyone to put in their own carry-on. Have your kids pick their own travel activities so that when the flight gets boring or they are waiting in a long line, they have something exciting and fun to distract them.
You may not believe it, but there is not always WiFi everywhere. When you are able to steal a moment of quiet and don't have access to WiFi, or just want to save your battery charge, pull out a large glossy magazine! I love to splurge and buy a magazine that I might not have the time to read during the busy work or school day. It may be a magazine with celebrity gossip or high-end fashion. I also enjoy reading about wine or food and then I look for a familiar tip in the destination I am heading.
Again, a pair for everyone. A great earbud is essential to create luxury and relaxation while flying. I always look for earbuds that come in a handy container so they don't get tangled in your carry-on. Plug in to in-flight music or listen to your favorite tunes on your phone. Make sure to purchase high-quality earbuds that have great sound as well as functionality, such as a quick mute, interchangeable bud sizes, and volume control. Don't worry, turn them up! With a high-quality earbud, the sound won't escape and bother your neighbors. Now you can relax and mentally start vacationing right away. How often do you get to do this in your everyday hustle of work, school, or appointments?
Of course, if you are already flying Business or First Class, you will be offered upgraded snacks and even cocktails. But in Coach Class, you'll typically get limited snacks and complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. So bring your own snacks...and make them fancy! How many times have you overeaten the pretzels, peanuts, and carbonated drinks the airlines provide and found yourself lethargic and bloated by the time you depart the plane? The key is not eating a lot but a few delicious special treats. Currently, you are still allowed to bring your own pre-packaged food (not beverages) through security, so fill your carry-on with delicious munchies for your flight ahead of time.
Organization is the key to relaxing travel. Everything should have a place or pocket so you'll know just where to find it in a pinch. Not to mention, it's always luxurious to have pretty and inspiring things to mentally get you ready for vacation. I love stocking up on small accessory bags; they are perfect for organizing my makeup, passports, valuables, and more. Get a few different colors and sizes for each set of items you'll throw in your carry-on.
Rethink your own carry-on and see how you can upscale it for your next luxury family vacation. By including a few extra items or upgrading what you currently have, you can add ease and comfort for your own family's travels.
Let me know what special items you bring in your carry-on for family travel. I'd love to hear!
My Virtual Vacations Blog
About the Author
Thanks for cruising by! Along with creating this website and blog, I work in an office full-time and as a mom to two energetic young men. With our family's busy work and school schedule, we look forward to traveling during holidays. Although it seems that our family can never agree on anything, we do when it comes to vacations. We typically travel on cruises or stay at luxury hotels while enjoying upscale dining, beautiful decor, excellent service, and spacious accommodations. However, we still need family friendly and comfortable! When we are not traveling, I enjoy dining out locally, as well as cooking and baking in my own kitchen.
Virtually escape and start planning your next luxurious cruise vacation on land or sea with My Virtual Vacations. Contact me for any specific questions or recommendations. And don't forget to keep checking back for the latest blog posts and information. There are always more family vacations in our future!
You'll also find me on Cruise Critic boards as SunnyAJ. Let's connect!
About the Photos
Our beautiful photographs are creatively captured by my talented freelance husband/photographer located in Baltimore, MD. Click here to explore more of his work.
There is no stopping us! We immensely enjoyed our first Aqua Class experience on Celebrity Equinox this past spring.
I'm THRILLED to announce that we will be enjoying Celebrity Beyond this summer! We'll be staying in The Retreat and looking forward to sharing this experience so that you might consider in a suite one day too.
We also have a land vacation planned in Boca Raton, Florida this summer, our happy place!
If you have suggestions of places My Virtual Vacations would love, reach out to us on our Submission Form. We are always looking for new spots to feature!