Off To Italy: Packing For A Large Family

Posted May 23, 2023 by Prairie Wife -

For most people, one of the hardest things about traveling is packing. And, when you are packing for a large family, it can REALLY add to that stress.

For our two-week trip to Italy, we have our family of 7 (2 adults and 5 children) and our Spanish Son, bringing the total up to 8. Our Spanish Son will be traveling back home to his family after the first week in Italy with us and is in charge of himself, so I won’t include him in this particular post.

I thought long and hard about how to organize this post so it would be helpful and easy to read, and I feel like breaking it up into a few lists is the best way to go. As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comments. I’ll try and get to them as soon as I can.


Will you have access to laundry? This is incredibly important and will impact how much you need to pack. We make sure to stay at an Airbnb with a washing machine (remember that many European homes do not have dryers, so plan to air dry all your clothing) so that we can pack less. Most fancier hotels have laundry service, which is another option but it can be pricey.

What temperatures should you plan for? You can never count on the weather when you travel, but knowing what temperatures are generally like where you’re traveling will be very helpful. Check out the seasonal and monthly temperatures, not just the average for the whole year.

How much luggage do you want to carry? When traveling solo for three weeks last Summer, it was vital that I could easily and safely handle all my bags on my own. With this trip, we may have some train travel, so we’re trying to limit the amount of luggage we will have. Our Cowkids will be carrying their luggage, so we needed to make sure they could comfortably move their luggage around and handle carrying it for long periods.

Will there be specific clothing needs during your trip? If you plan to surf, you’ll need to make sure you have a sturdy swimsuit. If you are hiking, have the proper footwear and clothing. Are you attending a fancier place that has a dress code? Some museums (mainly if they are religiously centered) have strict dress requirements, and so do some restaurants. Will you be walking the streets of Paris for hours on end? Pack a comfortable pair of sneakers to ensure you aren’t miserable 2 miles into the trip.


While buying a whole new wardrobe can be tempting, don’t. You’ll likely find yourself purchasing a few items, but make sure you will wear them again after your trip, and wear the clothing (and especially do this with footwear) at least once before you pack them to ensure they fit comfortably.

Pick clothing that you can mix and match. To make your wardrobe practical, pick clothing you can mix and match. You can wear a cardigan over a dress, pantsuit, or tank top if you get chilly. Bring a neutral-colored sweater that goes with all the pants that you packed. Bring shoes that go with jeans and the dress you brought. This is especially important for little kids who will likely grab the first thing they see in their luggage!

It’s all about layers. Even though you may be headed to a warm place like Italy, many parts of your trip may involve being inside cold museums or cathedrals. Planning outfits with layers will ensure that you will be comfortable no matter the temperature of the air around you!

Think carefully about what you can buy overseas and what you can’t. I tend to pack a supply of American medicine to take with me. Especially if you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, purchasing medicine can be overwhelming. Our family has some skin sensitivities, so I pack sunscreen with us. As we use it up, we can throw it away and have room for souvenirs in our luggage! Towels for the beach can be bought overseas and then brought back as gifts or for your own use.

Waterproof bags are your best friend. Nothing will ruin a trip like opening up your suitcase and seeing your shampoo has leaked over everything. Place all of your toiletries (this includes sunscreen) in waterproof bags. We use Gallon Ziplock bags, but you can purchase waterproof packing bags if you’d like. I recommend keeping the sunscreen in its own bag…trust me when I say it’s almost impossible to get that stuff off your hairbrush…

Follow this link for what to pack in your purse and backpack when traveling overseas.


I’ll have a video up on our socials later going through my clothing and what I will pack, so keep an eye out for that…Here is the link to watch Part 1 of my packing series.

The Cowboy will likely wear jeans and a button-down plaid shirt daily, just like he does here. So I apologize for not having any great packing trips for the men in your life!

Before I list what I packed for the Cowkids (ages 17-8) I want to mention a few things. You can obviously wear whatever you want (barring the dress code mentioned above) when you travel. BUT when traveling to Europe, you will NOT see locals wearing athletic wear (sweatpants and leggings) and graphic t-shirts. Cut-off jean shorts and flip-flops will make you stand out, especially if you wear them as an adult. It will be evident that we are American the second we open our mouths. I’m under no illusion that we will be mistaken for Italians! BUT I believe that when you make a bit of effort to fit into the local culture with how you dress, it’s easier to get help, you are not an obvious target for crime, and it adds to the overall experience.

For our two-week trip to Italy, I packed enough outfits and clothing for five days for each Cowkid. Remember you will also have an extra outfit in their carry-on…which makes a total of 6 outfits packed. Remember, we are traveling in the Summer when humidity is high and temps are around 73 degrees Fahrenheit.


Comfortable layers are the name of the game for kids on an overseas flight. Sweats, comfortable shoes, a T-shirt, and a hoodie are acceptable for this part of the trip. These same items can be worn when lounging around the hotel and on the flight home. If you need to, you can easily change into something else in the airport bathroom when you land.


  • Underwear and socks for 5 days
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 2 dresses
  • 4 tops
  • Swimsuit
  • Sandals
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Lightweight Waterproof Coat



  • Underwear and socks for 5 days
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of dressy pants
  • 5 tops
  • Swimsuit
  • Sandals
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Lightweight Waterproof Coat



  • Adaptable Wall Chargers
  • Hot Hair Tools that work overseas (not all American tools have the correct voltage)
  • Prescription meds (have them in your carry-on)
  • Charging Cords


The next post in our “Off To Italy” series will be about planning your trip, and the safety measures to take when traveling overseas.

Questions? Is there something I missed? Let me know in the comments!


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