Leaving for London resized

“Those giant stuffed animal souvenirs will totally fit into our suitcases!”

“Yes you can definitely bring a heavy bag of seashells home!”

Weeks later as we concluded our third workation and were packing for home, Joe and I had to practically stand on our suitcases to close them.

We’re normally pretty good packers, but I overestimated our volume a bit this time. So giant stuffed animals and heavy seashells aside, how do you pack for a family of four for six weeks?

Of everything you pack, clothes will probably take up the most space. But since you’ll likely be staying in a house or apartment during a workation, you’ll have access to a washer and dryer. I end up doing laundry more often on a workation than I do at home, but the trade-off is that we can pack less:

  • 1 big suitcase for my clothes/shoes/toiletries
  • 1 big suitcase for my husband’s clothes/shoes/toiletries
  • 1 smaller suitcase for our 2 kids’ clothes/toiletries
  • 1 smaller suitcase for kids’ toys, our work files and supplies, kids supplies (like diapers/wipes if you have younger kids), etc. Pack this suitcase very lightly so you have room for souvenirs or purchases you bring home.
  • 1 carry-on per person that has snacks, smaller toys/items like a deck of cards, iPad, etc.
  • Laptop for me
  • Laptop for husband

Luggage is another reason we get a Delta Amex card when we’re planning a workation: One suitcase per person is free, so the first four suitcases I listed above are checked for free. This saves us $400 round-trip in baggage costs. (if you’re interested in a Delta Amex card, leave a comment and I’ll send you a referral link for their sign-up special going on right now that gives you extra bonus miles for signing up)

So how do you pack for so many weeks? The key is to pack for about one week:

  • 3-4 shirts (Depends on the weather, of course. We packed less during our London workation compared with our New Zealand workation where the temperature fluctuated more)
  • 2-3 pants
  • 1 nice outfit
  • 1 warm jacket
  • 1 rain jacket
  • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • 2-3 pairs of shoes (every day walking shoes, tennis shoes or hiking shoes, nice pair of shoes)
  • Toiletries for about a week: Travel-sized shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner, a few band aids, etc. We buy full-sized supplies once we’ve arrived in the city.
  • Toys for the kids: If you have the space, pack more toys than you think they’ll need. They’ll like the comforts of home and will be less likely to constantly ask for screens to keep themselves occupied.
  • Even though you’ll want to eat out for every meal in your new city, you’ll probably need make some meals a week at home to save money, time, and an expanding waistline. So bring a few favorite recipes that have ingredients that you can likely buy in your new city. It’s been easy for me to find ingredients for chicken Parmesan, spaghetti, black bean soup, and homemade chicken nuggets in each of the 3 cities we’ve workationed in.
  • A NICE camera. Don’t only use your phone to take pictures: This might be the trip of a lifetime, so invest in or borrow a good camera that will take pictures you can enlarge when you return home.
  • I like to bring a small gift to give to our nanny at the end of her time with us. Since Minnesota borders Lake Superior, I love this Etsy artist who makes simple but pretty necklaces with Lake Superior stones and beach glass.

What to buy once you’ve arrived and settled in:

  • Full-sized toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, band aids (good to have if you’re out hiking or at playgrounds), sunscreen, lotions, etc.
  • A soccer ball or some sort of ball that the kids can kick around in your backyard or the local park. It takes up a lot of room in the suitcase if you decide to bring it back home with you, but it’s totally worth it while you’re in the new city.

Pro Tip #1: I pack at least 1-2 shirts that I don’t really like and I pack my oldest, grossest pair of tennis shoes. When it’s time to leave, I either throw the clothes/shoes away or donate them, depending on the condition. That frees up even more suitcase space for souvenirs on the way home.

Pro Tip #2: Our boys each take one backpack on the flight, and they can pack any toys they want. But they MUST carry their own bag the entire time – my husband and I have enough to lug around! So after they have their backpacks packed, we make them walk all around our house to test their bags’ weight. Usually, they end up removing at least a few items!

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