Throughout my childhood I was lucky enough to experience countless different countries and cultures through my parents’ love of travel, and that passion to see the world rubbed off on me. But now, I’ve transitioned from traveling with my family to traveling almost exclusively with friends—and I love it! Whether it’s spring break in Miami or just a weekend getaway somewhere closer to Boston – like NYC – traveling with friends is a whole new experience.

One of the biggest differences is not in the places I travel to, but in what I pack. Now, about to embark on what could be one of my last true family trips (all the way to Japan for a week), I’m realizing just how used to packing for girls trips I’ve become.

Here are some things I’ve considered essentials for traveling with friends that I’m definitely not bringing on my upcoming family trip.


1. Scandy clothes

Packing for vacation with my friends revolves around ensuring we all have “appropriate” clothing for the beach days, sight-seeing, and clubs we plan on visiting – meaning most of my outfits are fun and definitely not functional. For my upcoming family trip I’ll be leaving the mini skirts and metallic tops behind in lieu of more practical clothing – outfits I can trek through the city in and still wear to a family dinner. Nothing too crazy.


2. 6-inch high heels, and other un-comfortable shoes

Where I would have stuffed a sky-high pair of nude leather wedges for a girls trip, I’m packing white sneakers for my family trip to Japan instead. They’ll be way more comfortable, and hopefully just as cute.


3. Tons and tons of makeup

I’m not really trying to impress anyone when I travel with my family. Unlike vacations with friends, where I pack all of my favorite mascara, eye shadow, and lipstick, I plan on scaling it back for this family trip. Instead of packing tons of makeup, I’m going to focus on skincare and give my face a break. This also cuts down on the amount of time it’ll take me to get ready in the morning so I can be out the door asap (because everyone in my family wakes up before the sun).


4. Speakers for music (take a book instead!)

Family trips and friend vacations alike require downtime. When I’m with family, a good book does the trick. With friends I might have used the space to pack a speaker so we could all listen to music as we prep for the night ahead, but reading alone (even if we’re together) gives me the space and quiet I need when traveling with family.


5. Extra clothes, shoes, and accessories that take up too much space

For my upcoming family vacation I plan on leaving behind all the extra stuff my friends would’ve convinced me was absolutely necessary. I probably wouldn’t use it anyways, and there’s a higher chance someone I’m travelling with might need to cram some overflow items in my bag for the journey home when I’m with family.


6. Maps and travel apps

When I’m travelling with friends, I’ve discovered a majority of our pre-travel efforts are devoted to securing a place to stay, looking up restaurants to try, and mapping out places to see. When I’m travelling with family my parents have most likely organized the trip and already have some loose plans in mind. So, my bag (and mind) is cleared of maps and the like.


7. Food!

When I travel with friends we always bring food – it’s the most cost effective way to ensure we won’t starve once we get to our destination, and is a nice backup in case we get completely lost. With family, it’s a little easier to think on the spot and find places to eat (plus we all like the same types of food).

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