The Secret for Stress-Free Carry-On Family Travel

September 18, 2017

If you’ve been following along here for awhile you know that in order to travel the world with Owen this summer we sold everything and downsized to just what we could carry-on an airplane as a family of three.


While the stresses of selling/donating the majority of your belongings can certainly test a person, I can tell you from our experience that carrying-on was a total game changer for our travels. By fitting the majority of our belongings into two carry-on backpacks we were able to carry-on our stroller as a personal item and keep everything we needed for each flight in our Lo & Sons’ Catalina Deluxe Tote. Our stroller fits in the overhead compartment and the tote fits comfortably under the seat making flights a breeze.

Once we came across the perfect luggage set up we found that carrying-on was beneficial for a number of reasons.

1. Efficiency. First and foremost, since we are traveling so regularly these days we love that it makes getting in and out of the airport much more efficient, especially with a toddler.

2. The ability to keep a close eye. Since we are traveling with literally everything we own it’s important to us to keep an eye on our belongings. We’ve unfortunately lost a stroller when asked to check at the gate in the past and we’re not in a position where we want to deal with the inconvenience of that so carrying-on is a must.

3. Limiting costs. It seems like almost every airline these days is charging for checked baggage. We were able to decrease travel costs dramatically by carrying-on.


Of course there are plenty of weekender styled bags on the market, but finding the perfect bag as a mom can be really tricky. Until I came across this one, I always had the hardest time finding something that functioned equally for Owen and I. I was always compromising functionality for style or vice versa. Luckily with the Catalina Deluxe Tote we were able to find something that suits us both without compromising style or functionality.

Now that I’ve found the perfect bag here’s my simple checklist so that you can do the same.

1. Functional compartments. This bag has all the right pockets in all the right places, but above all I’m stoked about the separate bottom compartment – it helps me separate toddler snacks and other potentially messy items from the rest and keeps me organized like never before.

2. Comfortable organic materials. Both Owen and I have ultra sensitive skin so it’s important that whatever bag I carry around caters to that. Since this is a bag I always have with me for longer days of travel or exploring it’s essential that it doesn’t rub and irritate mine or Owen’s skin.

3. Timeless design. As soon as I opened up this bag I could see myself carrying it over the years. I’m not into anything that’s overly designed or flashy and I love the classic gender neutral style.


When we originally left home to travel we didn’t have the Catalina Deluxe Tote with us and we were always digging into our backpacks for diapers, toys and other essentials we needed on travel days. This was especially difficult if we realized we had forgotten something while we were in the air and our backpacks were overhead. We found that by adding the Catalina Deluxe Tote to our luggage we not only ensured a smoother journey, but that once we arrived to our destination we had the perfect bag to pack up for day trips, overnight excursions and days spent away from our Airbnb for an extended period of time.

As Owen gets older I find that we need less diapers while we’re out, but more snacks, toys and books to keep him busy. My favorite thing about the Catalina Deluxe Tote from Lo & Sons is the separate bottom pocket that allows you to separate items that could either destroy your other belongings or that you may need to access in an instant.

Here are a few ways we use that incredible bottom compartment.

1. Snacks. It’s perfect for keeping snacks and drinks separate while you’re traveling or just out and about for the day.

2. Sneakers. I love this pocket for running shoes when I’m packing for an overnight trip.

3. Toiletries. I always try to keep my toiletries separate so they have less of a chance of leaking or breaking, but I also find this pocket ultra helpful when you’re moving through security at the airport too!

4. Kid-stuff. We all experience those inevitable toddler breakdowns where you need to find a toy or book to turn their mood around quickly. It’s always helpful when I choose to use the pocket for Owen’s toys and I can easily unzip and switch up his mood.

We typically keep the separate bottom compartment divided for all the reasons mentioned above, but if you find yourself in a position where you don’t need it you’re able to unzip and roll up the divider to create one larger compartment. It’s super easy and makes this bag our secret for stress-free carry-on family travel!

Moms, have you found a bag that’s functional for both yourself and your little ones when traveling? Is it one you use everyday as well?

Sponsored by Lo & Sons.

Photography by Amy Frances Photography.

Leave a Comment

  • I agree- this bag is wonderful! I have the original version and I LOVE it. Have you seen the documentary, Minimalism? I’m sure you must have! It’s amazing to be able to see literally everything you own in carry on bags. I’m not sure if I could do it! How did you ever decide what to toss and what to keep?

    • I have! I love that documentary!

      Because we got rid of almost everything we really thought about the clothes we wear the most and what we would want while we were away. Ultimately we all kept about a week’s worth of clothing, our computers and cameras, Owen’s stroller and some toys. Nothing too crazy! I think it was easier than a purge when you actually have a home and space for things.

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