How to pack 2 carry-ons for 4 people when traveling 1 year around the world

It is settled! We’ve decided we won’t have any checked luggage, for our family round-the-world trip.

We will be traveling for one year with only 2 carry-on-size backpacks for 2 adults and 2 young children.

We must, therefore, be very meticulous and carefully think out what we will bring. That means every item must be versatile.

To do so, we checked out what was available on the market and made wise choices in order to have the bare minimum in our backpacks: only essentials of the highest quality to meet our basic needs.


We were able to pull off leaving with only 2 carry-ons for our family round-the-world trip thanks to the good advice and the quality of the equipment offered at MEC. This company has everything you need to gear up for your next adventure, no matter what that may be—whether it’s a family round-the-world trip or your next weekend enjoying the great outdoors!

We received great advice from the experts at MEC that allowed us to make the best choices regarding our backpack preparations. They were really welcoming and took time to explain everything to us during our personalized shopping outing that took place a few weeks before our departure for our great adventure.

Here are the items (all available at MEC) that we will bring on our trip around the world:

  • 2 Packtowl Microfibre Beach Towels, size XXL: Lightweight towels that dry in no time. Ideal for the places that won’t provide towels for showering (hostels and others), for the beach, and as a blanket for picnics.
  • 1 PiActive Mosquito Shield Insect Repellent (40 ml): A nice alternative to DEET-based products. The formula contains 20% Icaridin, which makes it a safer choice for kids from 6 months to 12 years old. It lasts between 10 and 12 hours—a perfect choice for my family!
  • 1 bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Lavender Liquid Soap: This 18-in-1 natural soap comes in a 59 ml size, which is perfect for carry-ons, since you can only bring 100 ml and less on flights. It is lavender-scented and can clean just about anything, from your face to the floor. The soap is biodegradable and is made 100% with organic and certified fair-trade ingredients
  • MEC sunglasses for the whole family. This is the model we chose for the kids. It has a flexible frame (made to resist my little ones’ adventures) and scratch-resistant lenses that protect from harmful UV rays.
  • 1 rechargeable Steripen Ultralight UV Water Purifier: To slip into our carry-ons or in a day bag, so we’ll always be ready to make our water clean, no matter where we are. The battery can clean up to 20L of water per charge and can be recharged easily with the USB port on our computer, a wall charger or other. It is a must for the 6 months or so we will be spending in Asia, where the water isn’t clean for us to drink. Just imagine the number of plastic bottles we won’t have to buy, and the savings that will make on our budget!
  • Clothes made from merino wool: Why? Because merino wool is a natural choice. It is stretchy, highly breathable and airy (you know, for all the hiking we will be doing). The ultralight fabric works in any temperature or season—so it’s perfect for all occasions. It even has natural odour-controlling properties. I took two of this model (one pink and one grey). My partner took one long sleeve model (that he can roll the sleeves whenever he wants to make a T-shirt out of it) and one short-sleeved model.
  • 1 women’s Patagonia short: ideal for camping and hiking—or basically any outdoor adventure—this ultralight and resistant short is the perfect item of clothing to make the most of hot days (and there will be some during my trip around the world)! The fabric is stretchy, breathable and has a water-repelling treatment to shed spills and splashes. It’s perfect for my #momlife and the sticky little fingers that will be following me around. ?
  • 1 North Face 3-in-1 Convertible Women’s Pants: This model has everything I was looking for in a hiking pant. The lightweight nylon fabric is rated UPF 50+, so I am fully protected from UV rays. Additionally, it will dry quickly after intense physical effort or if one of my babies spills water on me. The convertible design will allow me to wear them as pants, as shorts (a zipper lets you remove the bottom half of the leg) or even as capris (there’s a button so you can fold the hem to shorten the pants).
  • 4 MEC Compression Bags (stuff sacks): We bought two 12L and two 8L bags. The bigger ones will be for mummy and daddy’s clothes, whereas the smaller bags will be for the little ones’ clothes. The bag can be compressed to remove the air and to make our clothes as compact as possible. That way, it won’t take as much room in our bags.
  • 1 Pacsafe Retractasafe 100 Cable Lock: This cable lock will allow us to tie our day bag under the stroller and to not feel the need to check every two minutes if it’s still there. It will also come in handy to tie our bags all together or to lock up a specific bag if need be.

MEC really is an amazing place to stock up on equipment to enjoy the great outdoors, no matter the conditions, the temperature or the activities you want to do.

It is a Canadian business that promotes active outdoor living for everyone, by offering a wide range of items and good advice. To make the most of what they have to offer, simply pop into a store near you! That should be easy enough to do, they have some all across Canada!

** We were courteously offered these items by MEC. However, all opinions are ours and are 100% authentic as a way to inspire each and every one in our day-to-day lives. The Sparks and Bloom sisters swear by this!

This post was translated from French to English by:

Isabelle Watchman
Isabelle, 24 years old. I’m an easy-going girl; quick-witted and a devoted fan of puns. As much as I enjoy staying home binge-watching series and reading novels, I also love traveling and discovering new things.

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