Habits Reading Travel

Note to Self, Packing, and Q2 is almost here!

March 30, 2023

NOTE TO SELF: BRING A BOOK when you go to appointments!!!

I know. Everyone else reads on their phone. But I have stopped doing that (!) because every time I go back to analog books I just prefer the experience of reading on paper so, so much.

I carry around a tote bag (this one, which is now 5 years old and I still LOVE IT) and it has plenty of room for a paperback. Or a hardback. And it’s absolutely NOT a surprise when you go to an appointment (routine blood draw for example like today) that you will have to sit there and be bored.

SOOOOO, next time I will bring a book. The end.

3 “Currently Reading” options and none ended up in my roomy tote!!??


I don’t own packing cubes. I want them, though. I also feel like we are going through a travel transition with the kids – a good one. The transition is from us having to shepard them AND all the stuff from place to place to kids generally managing themselves and carrying their own (*$@*($&.

Josh noted this morning that we probably should get some more luggage. Our is mostly from 2006 and is not in good shape (fun fact, we also only have half a set because the other half was stolen from our home in a not-terribly-imaginative heist in 2007. Apparently when you rob a home, stealing the luggage is very efficient and convenient because you can put lots of stuff in it!).

ANYWAY. So A & C are old enough to handle their own luggage (and G too, if it is easy to mange). I personally have an AWAY suitcase that I got through a podcast partnership a while back but that I really DO truly love, so I am thinking about buying another one for Josh and/or kids to use. They are not cheap, however, so buying a whole fleet of them is not something I’m ready to do quickly! Any kid-friendly luggage recs?

Also, am I missing out with respect to packing cubes? I feel like I am. I love to loosely plan out my outfits for trips but for the kids I tend to be . . . less strategic. And then I bemoan the fact that everything jumbles together and I can’t find a nicer-restaurant-appropriate kid outfit.


Here’s a tip: if writing out quintile/quarterly/seasonal goals feels like too much pressure . . . generate an ideas list for Q2 goals or a draft list or something to that effect.

I wasn’t feeling quite ready to commit yesterday but keeping things a little bit casual helped me:

DRAFT VERSION. No pressure. Will commit later. But it’s nice to have it started!


  • Reply H13 March 30, 2023 at 11:14 am

    You won’t regret the packing cubes. I do one big one for each kid and roll a complete outfit together – top, bottom, socks (undies are changed at night0 – then, they just pluck a roll each day. Things still get jumbled but that’s ok. It works great!

  • Reply Erin March 30, 2023 at 11:24 am

    Big fan of packing cubes here too – especially when packing for multiple people in the same suitcase. They aren’t expensive, so what is the downside to trying it out? We have one color for each family member, and each person gets 3-4 of them depending on needs. I have these in every color available: https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Piece-Packing-Travel-Organizer/dp/B014VBHS6C/ref=sr_1_9?c=ts&keywords=Travel+Packing+Organizers&qid=1680189666&s=apparel&sr=1-9&ts_id=15744041

    One for undies/socks/pjs, one for bottoms, one for tops is how I usually break them down. If you are going on multiple stops though, you could even break it down like everyone uses blue for the first stop, red for the second stop, etc. There are tons of different systems you could use, but truly they make it so much easier for a larger family. I don’t use them if it’s just me.

  • Reply CBS March 30, 2023 at 11:27 am

    I’ve never mastered packing cubes, but I try to unpack when I get there. Every time I don’t, I’m 3 days in and annoys me.

    I tend to use a backpack rather than a roller as I like to be handsfree in the airport. I have an Eastpak one, and can get 5-6 days in it, and even though it’s slightly oversize, it doesn’t visually register as a bigger bag when you’re travelling on a budget airline 🙂

    I bought my husband the Cabin Zero one, and it’s less structured than my Eastpak. We’re meeting somewhere next week, and I packed for kiddo as he’s got a crazy week before they come and meet me, and it needs a bit more structured. I did find some small pouches for kids socks, undies, etc.

  • Reply KGC March 30, 2023 at 11:29 am

    OMG get the packing cubes. I swear by them! For my stuff or the kids stuff or whatever. I just love having everything separated by type and it makes everything sooo much easier to organize in the suitcase. They aren’t expensive. I think you won’t regret it!!!

  • Reply Perfectly Cromulent Name March 30, 2023 at 11:54 am

    I’ve used packing cubes forever. They are the best. I always reserve one to be PJ’s/nighttime stuff and keep that in top of my carry on just in case my flight gets delayed and I end up in a hotel very late at night and don’t feel like unpacking right away. That way, I can just grab my “bedtime cube” and leave everything else until the morning.

    • Reply Nikki March 30, 2023 at 3:17 pm

      Yesss, the bedtime cube is my favorite trick. I have a slightly younger crew (2, 5, 7) so in addition to pjs, socks, etc will even include the nighttime pull up and blankie for my 2 year old for that first night so no need to do a major unpack or search for any item first thing (or at least can get them all ready for bed and then get organized while they chill). The 5 and 7 year old get their own cube each and enjoy picking out whatever number of outfits I tell them to put in there and then they are happy with their choices for each day and their clothes aren’t all mixed up in the suitcase. I think you’ll enjoy them! Tons of inexpensive options, just look for some that are well-reviewed and you should be good to go.

  • Reply Amanda Wruble March 30, 2023 at 12:07 pm

    Big fan of packing cubes for our family of four. I especially like the compression ones that zip down even more compactly once filled. We have one color for each member of the family. The big one gets all our clothes. The smallest gets an extra pair of shoes and other odds and ends. Highly recommend this brand: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06ZYJJNLD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
    Have a great trip!

  • Reply Lea March 30, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    I bought this carry-on suitcase a while ago, and it’s holding up nicely. Recommended by Consumer Reports

  • Reply Noemi March 30, 2023 at 12:37 pm

    I am new to packing cubes and I LOVE them. We did a lot of traveling with one big suitcase last summer, so we only had to check one bag, and it was great for separating different family member’s clothes. Even when we traveled with carryons I used them because it was so much easier to take them out and put them on a table and open them and use clothes from inside, instead of rummaging around in a suitcase on the floor. They are also GREAT for separating clean and dirty clothing when you’re coming home (I generally pack light and do laundry when I’m traveling). Now that I’ve started using them I’ll never go back.

    • Reply Erika March 30, 2023 at 2:45 pm

      Seconding this recommendation! We have 2 of the TravelPro Maxlite Expandable suitcases and they are excellent and pretty inexpensive for the quality.

    • Reply Danielle March 30, 2023 at 7:00 pm

      I have this exact suitcase! I’ve had it for about 18 months and it’s been on
      seven trips with air travel and about five road trips. I personally wanted a soft sided suitcase.

      I’m planning on getting a larger one and will get it to match.

  • Reply Elisabeth March 30, 2023 at 1:11 pm

    I just bought packing cubes this year and loved them on our recent trip to Rome. I really like the idea of compression packing cubes too, that one of your commentors suggested. I looked those up on Amazon and they look amazing! I might need to get a set before our next trip!

    Also – that house break-in sounds terrible! I went back and read those posts and UGH, Sarah. I had no idea. What a violating and unsettling experience. I’m so, so sorry you had to experience something like that.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 30, 2023 at 2:01 pm

      yeah it felt really violating to come home and find everything a messy disaster and pawed through!!! (They must have spent quite some time!!!!). I also arrived on the scene alone as (just like today) Josh worked later hours – will always remember the initial confusion of getting home and finding the front door wide open + the house trashed . . .

  • Reply Beth March 30, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    I have strong feelings about packing cubes. I have Eagle Creek packing cubes in multiple sizes and colors. They’re super lightweight and sturdy. I’ve been using them for years. I have a color for myself and a color for each kid. That way I can just chuck the kid’s colors at them when we arrive at the destination.

  • Reply Sophie March 30, 2023 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve just realised that my husband and I are taking a two night mini-break this weekend to a romantic adults only rainforest retreat, and the timing is perfect to work on my Q2 goals! Just had to share here as I’m pretty sure my husband won’t share my excitement on this 😂😜 thanks for the reminder!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 30, 2023 at 6:35 pm

      Frame it as “dreams for our future” rather than goals 🙂

  • Reply L March 30, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    Once the kids start packing for themselves, you’ll get to collect funny stories about the one who brought no underwear and the one who brought all their undies but no pajamas!

  • Reply Shelly March 30, 2023 at 7:18 pm

    We got these for each of our kids: https://www.target.com/p/hardside-carry-on-spinner-suitcase-made-by-design/-/A-79530746?preselect=80555022#lnk=sametab. They seem to be holding up well, have good space and even our 3 year old can pull one so all of your kids def could. We just started letting them get a sticker from each place we go so they can decorate them, which they find fun.

    • Reply Arden March 31, 2023 at 6:59 am

      The sticker idea is super cute!

  • Reply Emma March 30, 2023 at 9:38 pm

    Definitely recommend the packing cubes, color coded by family member. We recently upgraded our luggage and went with color coded Maxlite Air carryons for the kids, which have held up well (and I’ve borrowed for conference travel).

  • Reply J March 30, 2023 at 9:40 pm

    Travel backpacks have been more practical for us for kid travel. They can maneuver them easier than a traditional bag. Like this one a lot: ebags Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack (Black) https://a.co/d/gqZpQ4P

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 31, 2023 at 7:19 am

      ooh interesting, backpack + rolling capabilities . . . best of both worlds 🙂

  • Reply Erica Sparky March 31, 2023 at 2:21 pm

    Packing cubes are a game changer. We have a color coded set for each person in our family. So we can easily combine clothes from more then one person into one suitcase. We also really like to use them to unpack our stuff into drawers at hotels and houses. We often use one to store dirty laundry on the way back to keep it separate from things that are clean.

    • Reply Angie April 2, 2023 at 9:48 am

      Same! We all have our own color! We’re a family of 4 and even though we take 2 suitcases still it’s a game changer.

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