One suitcase for five people for a one month overseas trip – impossible you may say.
But Albury-Wodonga mother of three, Jacquie Haysom, who has packing down to a fine art, manages to do the “impossible” every time she and her travel-loving family head overseas.
Her medium-sized suitcase looks a little like a filing cabinet with carefully packed zip lock plastic bags filled with clothing.
There’s room for thongs and sandals at the side of the case, jeans go on top and a large wet pack and first aid kit and that’s it.
“I would imagine the case will weigh about 22 kg when it’s closed,” says Jacquie, who is a well-seasoned traveller.
Both she and husband, Chris, love travelling and work hard to save up for great family trips with their children, Indianna,12, Ashden, 9, and Millie, 6.
This time the family will be away for four weeks spending time on a Disney cruise in the Caribbean, a self-drive around the National Parks, a week in New York and a few days in Las Vegas.
“I have learnt over the years to pack lightly as you just don’t need as much as you think you will – we are on holidays to see and experience things so it doesn’t matter if you wear the same outfits with a wash in between,” she says.
A self-employed hairdresser, Jacquie says her packing procedure starts about six weeks before they head out the door.
“I get clothes out, lay them on the bed, then do a big cull – I guess I would pack clothes for a week for us all and then wash as we go,” she says.
“It’s all about mix and match and I take darker coloured shorts and pants that most things go with and we layer up if it is cool.”
As for shoes – it is one pair of thongs, sandals and sneakers.
“I ditch the high heels for a trip like this,” she says.
Jacquie takes Sard Wonder Soap and liquid detergent for handwashing and waits till she has a full load to wash.
As well as one full suitcase they will take a larger empty suitcase with a smaller one inside for shopping and souvenirs.
The children also have their own wheel-on carry bags with small day pack, neck pillow jumper, jacket, books, pens, tablet and games to keep them amused on the flight.
“We all wear our heaviest shoes and jumpers on the plane,” she says.
Jacquie, who did her first trip at 18 months travelled often because her extended family live overseas.
“I blame my parents for the travel bug,” she says.
“We love travel and love to see the look on the children’s faces when they see places they have seen on TV or in books.
“They get a lot out of travel learning about different cultures and foods and gain confidence and I love that special family time we all share.”
Planning for the family trips start as soon as they return from one – often two or three years out.
“I first look for cheap flights and specials and use promo codes – most of our holidays are booked on promotions and we use points where we can, once we have the flights booked we fill in the rest.
“Being flexible on what day you fly also helps save money especially outside school holidays and we avoid American school breaks too.
“As soon as the Disney cruise bookings opened I booked as they are the cheapest the first day – when I look at what the same cruise is now – it’s thousands of dollars dearer than what we paid.
“The children also help plan the trip and we try and do an activity most days and make sure everything is pre-paid.
The family eat “smart” with breakfast included in most hotel rates.
“We always book hotels with family rooms or a one-bedroom apartment and it is handy to have a kitchen – we do a mix of clean budget and nice motel rooms and I book everything online direct.
“We grab sandwiches for lunch and go out for dinner- in the US the meals are so big two are enough for the three children,” she says.
When it comes to holiday money – they have a cash passport and try to pay for everything they can before they leave so there’s no big credit card on their return.
Chris who works full time, volunteers for extra shifts before they leave to help build up the finances.
The children also take their own pocket money they have saved up and spend it something special they like.
In the US Jacquie also carries a purse with small change for tipping.
Jacquie has an AT&T Prepaid SIM card to keep in touch with her elderly parents at home and will purchase an internet package on the ship.
She says the children are great travellers and can put in a full day of sightseeing but she and Chris each have a parents day off once during a trip.
“We have one day off separately just to do our own thing and when it all gets too much we get the kids to get there cameras out and see who can get the best photos of wherever we are.”
Jacquie says the key to happy family travel is being organised and doing your research before you leave home.
“You have to be realistic when travelling with kids – they get tired, hungry and down right annoying that’s when an afternoon off or a sleep in makes those days bearable and a day around a pool does wonders too.”
But when it comes to packing – less is definitely best.