My job as a traveling teaching and nanny has brought me all over the globe from Switzerland to Mexico to Asia, and this trip like the rest fits my motto that really: less is more. Really.
When traveling with kids in tow, the more you have, the more you have to take care of, the more you have to be responsible for, the more you have to move, fold, transfer, refold...and really you don't need that.
So what does one travel savvy, female, 30 something bring with her on a 6 week stint through Thailand and China? Might I say, that every thing fits in a carry-on with the expansions zipped closed.
The first thing you need to invest in, to really do this right, are packing cubes...gasp!! In my early 20s and miles and miles of traveling, I would have never uttered such words. I also spent waaay too much time, organizing and re-organizing loose items in my bag only to have to dump the fill-from-the top-extremely inconvenient "backpackers pack" out to find the hair bands or the underwear. To have wheels on a proper suitcase was straight sacrilegious, and huffing a heavy pack up steep cobblestone streets in 90 degree heat trying to find your hostel since the taxi dropped you off 7 blocks away... Not anymore my friends. I am a firm believer in a small, deep carry-on roller suitcase with 4 wheels. With this fine piece of equipment, I can whisk away at a moment's notice, zip along in big cities, and run like the wind through airports.
For this trip, I am packing exactly enough clothes 7 days. This includes 5 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of pants, and 7 t-shirts. I also brought 5 days worth of workout clothes--spots bras and running shorts for whatever kinds of exercise adventures I may get into. I am bringing one pair of running shoes (which I wear on the flight) and flip flops with the idea that if I need anything else I will find it there, but I don't think I will. I am bringing one casual/ semi formal black dress that can be worn with black flip flops if I ever go to a theater performance. Once jacket, one light hoody, and one cardigan(all worn on the plane)...mostly because of air conditioning and the mountains in China. One ball cap and sunglasses for sun protection. I have one little cube with all of my little tubes: shampoo, conditioner, toner, jojoba oil for moisturizer and little round containers filled with hair masque and face polish. I splurge and bring my electric toothbrush because I can't give that so fresh and so clean feeling up. I bring hair ties, bobby pins, tweezers and nail clippers. Just enough pads and tampons.
The only makeup I bring: one powder, one mascara, one eye liner, one eye shadow case, and two lipsticks. I bring my vitamins and oregano tablets: a natural antibiotic. I'm a minor oil junkie as well, so I have my essentials: frankincense, peppermint, lavender, and Onguard. These are great for getting restful sleep, feeling fresh when you are jet lagged, fighting off local bugs, etc, etc...
In my messenger bag I bring my laptop, a book (the rest are loaded on audible), a notebook I completely plan to fill, and Airborne for the flight. I also bring a thick tube of emu oil chap stick/ moisturizing cream. There is nothing worse than the dry air of an over 24 hour journey to Bangkok.
And there you have it, one carry-on, and six weeks of adventures. Stay tuned to hear if I am desperately needing something, or if I make it ok. I'd love to hear how you pack and what are your absolute necessities for international travel.
And the expansion part of your suitcase, that is for shopping of course. You now have room and reason to splurge a little.