You know what’s not going to show up here as one of my first few posts? The master packing list post.

I poked around a bit on other blogs written by families who had done a round-the-world trip, and there seems to be an unspoken understanding that this is an obligatory post for family-travel-related blogs, which I guess this is, though I hope to write about other things too. With all due respect to the mostly moms (what. a. shocker.) who packed for their families and seem to be the authors of said blogs, the meticulous lists outlining how many changes of underwear and socks and t-shirts each kid has stuffed into their carry-on for a 22.5 day trip or whatever… well they just aren’t that interesting. It’s not as if that information will reveal some magic algorithm to calculate some ideal (also weird?) undies-per-day ratio per child.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of pride in my packing abilities, and we do have a strict policy in this family, on this trip and every trip: never check your luggage. Carry ons only. So, I have very strong opinions on how many t-shirts, etc. But come on. Knowing exactly how many of each garment each of my boys has on this adventure is not going to change anyone’s life.

So this isn’t that post.


Prepping for this thing has been so fun!  So if you must to have a top 10 favorite things we packed, OK fine:

1) scooter luggage, obvs

2) portable “washing machine”

3) ID bracelets

4) key (or kid, or phone, or whatever) finder tiles

5) extra bag for day trips that’s an actual backpack not a lame tote but still folds up super tiny

6) this windbreaker

7) chewable (and therefore carry on-able) everything, from kids’ Tylenol, Benadryl, etc. to melatonin for all

8) epic reading app

9) singular pair of shoes for the boys (wet or dry, with or without socks, removable insoles, etc.)

10) it’s pretty hard to find travel-sized kids’ toothpaste and as mentioned, we don’t check bags, so I brought 3 months’ worth 


But I feel like I should also say this. Knowing what not to pack can be hard, so here’s also a top 10 of what I refused to bring:

1) Asa’s marble collection

2) Jaspar’s pet gecko

3) Cyrus’s extensive stuffed animal collection

4) more than one nice dress-up outfit (for me) bc I know myself, it’s mostly aspirational and I will choose to dress like a yogi/hiker/activewear person almost every day

5) OMG so Reza literally wanted to bring this gigantic DVD player. It is enormous. Um and you have to plug it in, no batteries. I’m not even sure it’s technically a portable/travel one but it was the only one we had. It was a terrible purchase in the first place and I tried to return it a few days after we got it last year but Best Buy said no because I had opened it and angrily attempted to use it once, but hadn’t really because the thing is virtually unusable for reasons already mentioned. Anyway Reza wanted to bring it because he has a lot of screeners (for non-Angelinos, these) to plow through, which for some reason are still on DVDs (c’mon, Hollywood). I said he was crazy. Caused a minor argument. Then he tried to fit it in his carry-on and it didn’t fit so he left it home. Which means, not packing it was more his conclusion than my refusal, but still. Don’t put gigantic appliances in your backpack, people. 

5-continued) In the last 5 minutes before we left the house, literally the last 5 minutes, with the kids sitting in the car with Reza and me running around picking up bits and pieces before I could actually leave for three months like that amazing scene in The Jerk,  where Steve Martin keeps saying “all I need is ___ (this one last thing)___” – that was totally me – anyway at that point I had a revelation, and remembered I had an old, but small, external drive for my computer that might work so I grabbed that. Which meant Reza needed to run back into the house to re-gather all the DVDs he wanted to bring, which still barely fit in his bag. So yeah, basically I became the technology hero of the day.

6) a second sweatshirt. This was a mistake. I left mine on the plane

7) many packs of baby wipes – limited us to one pack even though they make all things right in the world. Feel like I’m flying without a net (or, technically one pack of wipes = a net, but I prefer many nets). I know, so brave.

8) actual rain jackets bc it’s summer and statistically, it shouldn’t rain. Much. (Then again, global warming… may regret this.)

9) any toys – not bc I’m mean, bc we’ll find new small things along the way. Already have three (tiny!) souvenirs per kid and it’s basically day one

10) all the dozens of international power adapters we’ve acquired over the years. Just brought one. Even Siri has to learn take turns.

There you go. See? This is so not a master packing list post! No one will ever know how many pairs of pants  or t-shirts or underwear we brought!

If you really wanted this to be a master packing list post, or if are ever facing the question of how many pairs of pants to bring yourself, let me reassure you. You will be fine. You will figure it out. I believe in you.

And yet…

I feel like I can’t end this post because I worry that you still feel worried about this question of perfect garment packing numbers, and I don’t want anyone to get stressed out here. So I present to you directly, for the first time ever sans boring master packing list, the magical “ideal #of undies per kid” formula itself:

([# of days of trip / (will we do laundry? IF yes = # of total laundry days)] – ([average # of requested and approved “mom can I go commando?” days] – [# pool or beach days]) + [anticipated # of pairs that will be lost under hotel towels, behind furniture when thrown at siblings’ heads, etc.] x [likelihood of accidents and/or skid marks per day]) / [do you believe in wearing undies inside out to prolong use? IF YES = 2, IF NO = 1] = ideal # of undies per kid

Something like that. 

You’re welcome.


jessicajackley View All →

author of #claywaterbrick. cofounder of @kiva. instructor at @USC. investor at @collabfund. in love w @rezaaslan + our three boys.

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