Interview: Blogger and Writer Erin Boyle on Traveling with Kids and Packing Light

“I’m guilty of under-packing to the point of discomfort,” laughs Erin Boyle, the minimalist-centric blogger behind Reading My Tea Leaves and author of the conscious consumption bible Simple Matters. We’re talking travel with her, as she’s soon to embark on a month-long trip to Brittany, France. (We know, we’re jealous, too.)


Unsurprisingly, she is as committed to simplifying while traveling as she is at home, where she has famously mastered the art of minimalism in her 173 square foot Brooklyn apartment, which she shares with her husband James and daughter Faye. Given Erin’s simple-is-better credentials and pending Breton adventure, we figured it was a great time to pick her brain on her travel tips. Ahead, she shares her wisdom on packing light, getting through a transatlantic flight with a child, and finding the perfect toothpaste abroad.


On packing a wardrobe.


The way I pack is the way I think about my wardrobe in general: How much do I really need? I mean, how much wear are those ten pairs of jeans getting? For this upcoming trip, we’re going to have a washer and dryer so there’s no need for us to bring an enormous amount of clothing. We’re trying to just pack carry-on luggage. For me, that means I’m packing my favorite pieces — enough outfits for a week. For Faye [her two year old daughter] it’s basically double the amount, but her clothes are tiny… so it’s okay!


Shoes are always tricky. I think I’m going to do a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. I have one pair of sneaks that are cute enough to wear with a little sundress while walking around, but also sturdy enough that if I want to go on a seaside hike I can wear them. The sandals can also be dressed up or down, plus are comfortable… which is a must. It’s the worst when you pack two or three extra shoes that you wear only one time. The guilt of it – I can’t stand it.



An eagle eye view of Erin’s packing strategy, plus her favorite bags 


On packing beauty items and toiletries.


Generally speaking, I try to pack really hardworking things. So I won’t necessarily have an eye cream, plus a cleanser, plus a moisturizer – but I might have a face oil that’s a cleanser-slash-moisturizer. And my real favorites – my deodorant, my face oil – I’ll bring from home. With that said, we’re going to go for the French toothpaste and French shampoo while we’re there. I think that’s part of the fun, picking up those kind of items wherever you are staying. Also: I have a love affair with foreign toothpaste [laughs]. I just love it.


On traveling with kids.


So, this might sound obvious, but when you’re flying with young kids, it’s not exactly the time or place to be getting into your favorite novel. You’re going to be doing some walking up and down the aisles. Honestly, we survive most of our flights by cruising around the airplane a little bit. Another thing we like to do is bring along something that she’s never seen before – like a few books, some new colored pencils, that type of thing. Faye is still little so we don’t do lots of “screen time,” but we do have books and art supplies.


Generally speaking, I try not to go overboard. You never know what your kid is going to embrace in that moment. You don’t want to be saddled with a bag full of stuff and then see that your kid just wants to play with a headphone jack.


In terms of where we’re staying, having the luxury of a home versus a hotel is wonderful. We obviously live in a small apartment so there are always close quarters, but a hotel room is a whole other ball game with young kids. For instance, with bedtime – if it’s at 8 o’clock, you’re stuck in a hotel room for the entire night. When you’re staying in a home, you’re able to put your kid to sleep and then, say, sit on the stoop and enjoy a glass of wine. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking forward to.



Erin in Joshua Tree with her daughter, Faye


On her travel philosophy.


My sister gave me this piece of advice and I think it’s so good: When you travel somewhere, go there. You don’t need to bring your home to your new place. Part of the joy of traveling is what you leave behind and then what you experience in a new place. We don’t need to recreate exactly the routine we have here. We’ll create a new rhythm – and it’ll be fun. And honestly, those are the kind of things that memories are made of, right? It’s kind of the most joyful part of travel – the opportunity to escape your everyday life.


All images via Erin Boyle. Follow Erin’s adventures in France on Instagram.

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