Family backpacking travel to Asia - Guide and Tips

Family backpacking travel to Asia - Guide and Tips

While travelling through Asia with my backpack and children more often, I have mastered (almost to perfection, because slip-ups happen to me too) efficient packing. If you want to learn how to pack in hand luggage with the whole family (not necessarily to Asia), you're in the right place. I'll share my tried-and-tested ways of packing.

We travelled across Asia with hand luggage and children to, among other places, the CambodiaChiang Mai, Railay and Singapore. Going on an overnight trip to the Cheow Lan Lake and island hopping to Koh Mook and Koh Ngai, we also took hand luggage backpacks.

Don't miss the blog post on how to prepare for your trip to Thailand: Thailand with Kids - Best Travel Guide.

Podróże po Azji z plecakiem

Why we fly with hand luggage in Asia

Podróże z plecakiem i bagażem podręcznym po Azji

The key to travelling more easily with children in Asia, or anywhere else, is to have optimally packed luggage.

When choosing our next travel destinations, we search for promotions on flights around Asia and Thailand. When travelling with three children, any saving on tickets is worthwhile. That's why we try to stick to the hand luggage limit on Asian airlines (mainly Air Asia), which is 7kg per person. Besides the weight, though, we want to limit the number of hand luggage as much as possible because none of us feel like dragging it around, and the children are still too young to carry large backpacks.So, how do you pack in hand luggage and with three children for a trip around Asia? Is it always more convenient to travel with a backpack? What should you take? I answer these questions in the post. 

Jak spakować bagaż podręczny w podróż po Azji z dziećmi

Travelling with a suitcase or a backpack through Asia with kids

Z plecakiem i dziećmi po Azji, czyli jak spakować bagaż podręczny

There is a pretty strong opinion that if you go to Asia, it only makes sense to go with a backpack. This is not true, as Asia comprises dozens of completely different countries, with diverse infrastructure and conditions. Therefore, there is no single model for travelling. 

Travelling by a range of modes of transport around Thailand, the advantage of a backpack over a suitcase we mainly experienced when getting off the boat straight into the water. We also find it easier to fit within the 7kg per person limit in a backpack. But we don't travel by motorbike, so a suitcase doesn't bother us. When we have more luggage and it's not possible to take less, I prefer to take two suitcases and two backpacks, because it's just easier than carrying four backpacks for two.

Some will be more comfortable with a suitcase, others with a backpack. Whatever you come to Asia with, let's get down to details.

How to pack your hand luggage - a guide

To be honest, it's no trick to pack alone in hand luggage, but it certainly takes some practice. The bigger challenge comes when you are travelling with a child, or even with children.

Before one dares to travel with children, they imagine some unbelievable amount of things to take with them and then they get discouraged. I used to be like that too. When it comes to practice, the amount of stuff doesn't have to be much at all, and the less you take, the easier it is, of course. However, even if you only take a very limited amount of goods, with several people in the family, you already have a lot of luggage.

Na pięć osób przysługuje nam aż 5 sztuk bagażu, niby fajnie, nie? Ale w rzeczywistości, nie będzie miał tego kto nieść. No nie oszukujmy się, 5-latek nie poniesie plecaka 35-litrowego. 

For this reason, we aim to pack into two, maximum four pieces of larger hand luggage. I don't count the small backpack or handbag where I have travel essentials. Of course, I pack differently for a typical beach holiday where not much is needed, and differently for a hike or excursion (such as to the Khao Sok).

Cała rodzina z plecakami? Czemu nie

Szykując się do naszej podróży objazdowej po Wietnamie uznaliśmy, że dzieci nam już na tyle podrosły, że mogą zabrać własne plecaki, odpowiednio dobranymi do ich możliwości. I tak też zrobiliśmy, polecieliśmy z pięcioma plecakami i naprawdę było to bardzo wygodne rozwiązanie. 

Family backpacking travel to Asia - Guide and Tips

Useful gadgets for travelling with children

  • suitcase organisers which I have loved since the first time I used it
  • baby carrier – choć prawie zawsze zabieraliśmy wózek w podróże, to bez nosidła nie wyobrażam sobie wielu z naszych wypraw. Should you bring a stroller to Thailand?
  • backapack
  • handbag and kidney bag
  • waterproof bag

How to pack in hand luggage - organisers

How to pack in hand luggage - organisers

Suitcase organisers, a gadget that has definitely improved the comfort of our travels in so many ways that it's hard to list, but I'll try. Since I've been using organisers:

  • I have a flawless order in my suitcase and backpack
  • maintain order in the hotel 
  • it is easier to control the amount of things we pack
  • children's clothes don't mix and everyone knows where everything is
  • easier to unpack on return

I tend to stick to the rule of one organiser or two smaller ones per family member. This rule is slightly modified when we need warmer clothes or trekking clothes. I pack all the family members' swimming costumes and warmer clothes separately in the organisers.

Zatem jadąc w podróż z dziećmi mamy średnio od 6 do 7 organizerów. Do jednego plecaka 35-litrowego, wchodzą lekko 4 organizery i zawsze da się tam wcisnąć coś jeszcze.  

What and how to pack in your hand luggage

If travelling with hand luggage, it makes no difference whether I'm going for 5 days or 15, as I usually take up to five sets of clothes. I use laundry service when I travel. What I pack is only affected by the weather and the planned activities of the trip.

Travelling with hand luggage is also about packing optimally, by which I mean to fit as much of what you need into as small a volume and weight as possible

  • I choose clothes that are lightweight and do not take up much space when folded
  • I roll up my clothes and put them in organisers
  • outerwear, such as a jumper, I put on for when I fly
  • if I need to take warmer jackets - I put them in a vacuum bag
Jak spakować bagaż w podróż z dziecmi
Jak się spakować w podróż

How to pack your hand luggage - a list of things for travelling with children in Asia

  • 3-5 basic sets of clothing adapted to the weather (Travel to the Tropics with Kids: How to Prepare).
    For the smaller children, who were more likely to get dirty, I took more sets, but because their clothes were small, there was no problem packing up
  • 1 set for bad weather, for the plane or jungle trips (sweatshirt, long-legged trousers)
  • 1-2 summer dresses
  • I select my clothes so they all fit together. For me, comfort is important, but I also like to look pretty.
  • I only take clothes that we like and are comfortable. Basically, if I don't like to wear something on a daily basis, I'm 100% not going to wear it on a trip either
  • 1-2 swimming suits, including at least one with UV protection and swimming goggles
  • 1-2 pairs of comfortable shoes, depending on the activities planned
  • for myself, I take a linen shirt, which goes with everything and is great at temples
  • 1 lightweight scarf or pareo - to cover yourself in various situations
  • I take the essentials from the cosmetics, and pour larger products into small silicone bottles. I make sure that the cosmetics are always under 100 ml.
  • I take a small hairbrush
  • always take a first aid kit

We also bring our home 'power station' on every trip, meaning chargers, cables, power banks and even an extension cord and various adapters. All to provide power to our laptop, tablet and camera equipment. Small items such as cables are put in one pouch. Unfortunately, it weighs a lot, but we need it.

First aid kit for travelling with children in Asia

On every trip and excursion with my children in Asia and Europe, I take a first aid kit, even if such things can be bought off-the-shelf. That's why, when packing my hand luggage, I always leave space for a first aid kit. 

However, I don't drag a full first aid kit on every trip. For smaller trips, I take a pouch in which I have bandages and other essentials. 

What I have in my travel first aid kit:

  • painkillers 
  • remedies for food poisoning
  • gauze, bandages, plasters and disinfectants (Octenisept)
  • hand sanitizer
  • ointment for mosquito bites (e.g. Fenistil) or local specifics such as Tiger Balm
  • vinegar - if we go to the beach, I take a bottle of vinegar as a first aid in case of jellyfish burns
  • sunscreen with sun protection factor 50
  • repellents with DEET (for children only low concentrations) or with icaridin. These two types of repellent cannot be combined!
  • anti mosquito patch with citronella oilsTropical diseases in Thailand, how to protect yourself).
  • thermometer and compresses for fever
  • nappy rash cream (not only for babies)

What I have in the pouch we take on trips:

  • patches 
  • wound and hand disinfectant
  • wet wipes
  • mosquito repellent
  • sunscreen
  • vinegar (when going to the beach)

Backpacking and travelling with a baby in Asia - what to pack in your hand luggage

Despite appearances, you don't need to take too much stuff at all travelling with a baby. Most of the gadgets used on a daily basis, you can easily omit when travelling, and take the really essential ones or the more practical ones. We have never travelled by plane with a bathtub, a travel cot , changing pad or baby chair, etc. 

Instead, we took the stroller (Podróż samolotem z wózkiem) as well as a carrier, a thermal mug for boiling water and a water bottle. I once took the UV tent and that was a mistake, because we couldn't fold it up afterwards. It was a mistake because we couldn't put it together afterwards. An inflatable small pool that can be used as a bathtub and can also be useful at the beach seems to be a nice solution.

Jeśli chodzi o dostępność w Azji produktów dla niemowląt, naprawdę wiele podstawowych rzeczy da się łatwo kupić i nie ma co ze sobą wozić walizek z pieluchami. We wpisie Mleko, pieluchy i jedzenie dla niemowląt w Tajlandii dowiesz się jakie produkty dla niemowląt kupisz w Tajlandii, a co lepiej zabrać ze sobą.

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