Organized Packing for a Family

Organized Packing for Families

I’m going to pass the secret to packing that I got from my grandma.  She was the mother of 9 so she knew what she was doing. Nice, tidy, little rolls of clothing.  Everything you need to wear for one day in a roll.

I make these clothing rolls not only because they are convenient but they are compact, they keep clothes surprisingly wrinkle free and easily accessible.  I don’t know about your kids but if I were to fold their clothes and put them neatly in a suitcase, it would end up a big ball of crazy only a day into the trip.  This keeps that from happening.

Clothing rolls consist of everything you need to put on your body for that day.  Pants, shirt, undies, socks. Lay the pants out, place the shirt on top, add the undies and socks at the top and start rolling.  Keep it nice and tight.  Make a roll for every day that you will be gone.  Some days I skip the pants and just make a shirt/undies/sock roll because we re-wear jeans as long as they aren’t dirty.

We have 3 suitcases and 1 duffel bag  for the 6 of us. 1 suitcase for 2 people, each person getting half of a suitcase and a duffel bag for while we’re on the road.

While on the road, I pack just 1 bag for everyone with exactly what we need for the days we’ll be on the road.  I can get 3 days worth of clothes for 6 people into 1 medium sized duffel bag.  I’m good.  I deserve an award. This makes our hotel stay much easier.  Only one bag to drag in and out.  Dirty clothes go in one large garbage bag.

Now repacking to go home is a different matter entirely.  The dirty clothes bag gets stuffed into one or two empty suitcases and any remaining clean close goes in the last suitcase or duffel bag. Unpacking is no fun. I’d much rather pack for a trip than unpack.  We’ve been home 5 days and I still haven’t unpacked our bags from the last trip.

Do you have any packing tips?  Share in the comments!


17 comments to Organized Packing for a Family

  • Robert Pope

    When the kids were younger we would pack an outfit a day in a quart sized ziplock bag, it was great for packing a lot of clothes, because you could squeeze the air out of them. Toiletries for each went in another ziplock bag, as did swimwear. Now if we are visiting familly (or anyplace with a washing machine) we only pack for no more than 4 days, no letter how long we stay. We also pack those reusable cups filled with water, and bring along 2 gallons for the road, one of them frozen solid, that way by the time we are done with the first one, the second one is cold. We also pack a picnic to enjoy at rest areas to save on expenses.

  • LOVE this. Pinning and hope to share – GREAT!

  • Jilly

    I am a dogsitter that stays over night, so I pack overnight bags for myself on a weekly basis. Probably the best tip I received was the idea of buying a medium-sized Tupperware container to store my toiletries. (I like the ones with the built-in clamps on either end.) I can fit my small shampoos, toothbrush, hair products, etc. without anything getting squished or spilling on my clothes.

  • Bridget

    I do this also but I pack 1 bag for each day with an outfit for each family member. I use washable tote bags so our dirty clothes from the day before go back into the tote once the new clothes come out. If we are traveling and staying in different places from night to night it’s easier to have one tote of clothes to carry in. I have another tote with toiletries and pajamas (which we usually wear more than once). Basically we have two totes that go in and exchange the dirty clothes tote for a tote with clean clothes each day. I hate dealing with suitcases and most of ours are too large for just one change of clothing. We also only pack for about 4 days and do laundry if we stay longer, sure saves space in the car!

  • jami

    thanks for this and the comments, too. i am working on my own “family packing manifesto” and it includes these tips, but its still nice to see other people’s take on it. i have tried the “move items into one duffle to go into the hotel” route, and it always seemed i was missing something. plus, our children are very young and both/one still require/s pack and play sheets, blankies, lovies, a sleep sack, and pacifiers. we’ve been using packing cubes and i include 24 hours of clothes for the children so that includes jammies, bedtime socks, a diaper for one, and extra undies for the potty trainer plus all of the next morning’s clothes. as a result of both of these requirements, i’ve found there is a high “cost of entry” so to speak, i.e. there is a bulky minimum that must be with us all the time and must be easily accessible (lovies must be available for naps in the car plus within arm reach for bedtime, too). and that makes the one duffle per night on the road pretty much impossible. instead, we just roll the heck out of the clothing, plan to do laundry (as no little child can wear the same thing twice without washing), and expect to be in two eBags Motherlode Weekenders no matter how short (1 night) the trip. here’s hoping the bags get lighter and fewer as they kids get older. 😉

  • AB

    Great tip about packing into outfits. One thing I always do on the return trip (especially if I haven’t been able to do washing) is I pack the dirty clothes into loads so that when I get back home I can just put it straight into the washing machine. It makes it so much easier!

  • Rachel

    This is great! I’ve tried all kinds of methods for packing our family of 6. You do deserve a award! Can’t wait to try this for our vacation to the DR in 2 weeks.

    A tip I learned from my sister-in-law: if she has access to laundry facilities, she washes everything before heading home, and clothes are put away once home-no giant piles of laundry upon returning home! (Personally, I kinda like the laundry suitcase, clean suitcase method, but it depends on the trip.)

  • Bev Armstrong

    I raised 7 kids. The last day of a trip I hit a laundromat and hubby took kids to a park. In a little over an hour everything was clean, sorted and folded so when I got home I just had the kids transfer stuff directly into their drawers. Nearly eliminated the “coming home” blues.

  • Laura, the bug paranoid mom

    With three kids, we always travel by car (so far). Car travel has given us the “luxury” of taking a different approach to packing. We use Rubbermaid tubs/bins. Each kid gets a bin that is about 8 inches deep and the adults get a tub that is about 12 inches deep. We do pack by outfit, but instead of using a suitcase, it goes in the tub. And them the kids goes on, and we stack the tubs in the trunk and go. The tubs also stack nicely on the luggage cart at hotels. I chose this method because if my fear of bed bugs. As long as we keep the lids on the tubs when not in use, we eliminate concerns about bugs entering our suitcases or clothes. And then, just for good measure, I wash everything upon return. Dirty or not. And it stays sealed up in the tub until I can out the clothes directly in the wash. Even stuffed animals get at least a 60 minute tumble in the hot dryer. This keeps me same and keeps us big free.

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  • Susan

    I have two girls. We usually travel by air since the relatives are far away. I pack each day’s clothes in a ziploc. My husband and I had our luggage left on the runway – with all the other luggage for our flight – in a thunderstorm in Atlanta. When our suitcases arrived the next morning, they were soggy, and our clothes were sopping wet. My husband had some paperwork in his suitcase which was soaked. We sent the laundry out, laid the papers and suitcases to dry in our hotel room. It was an expensive lesson to learn.

  • April

    I pack for six kids and 2 adults the best trick I have found is ziplock bags use the snack size for a days cleaning needs and a larger one for clothes, put the lil one wit the days stuff and it all stays clean and together :)

  • Gayle

    I put clothes into rollable storage bags that compress the clean flat on the way there, and then divide up the loads of dirty, putting darks/lights/fragile things in the 3 bags for quick washing once home. My suitcase is a tiny carry-on, which held 9 days of stuff for Europe. All toiletries are loaded into small containers, like contact lens cases, so I only bring exactly the amount I practiced using at home. Powdered Tide and a dryer sheet for each load if I have laundry access go in ziplocks. I make index cards of laundries/attractions/things I want to do if I plan on returning to the area. A packing list gets called out as I fill my bed with items & I’m packed in 20 mins.

  • Jennifer

    I know this is an older post, but I am taking a trip and was looking up packing tips. The note about re-using pants reminded me of my son when he was little. I packed him 3 pairs of pants and 6 shirts for a trip. He asked me why only 3 pants and I said he could wear them again if they are not dirty. He looked horrified and said, “But Mommy–I do HUGE FARTS all the time in my pants! Are they still clean after THAT??” I laughed so hard…and packed 3 more pairs of pants for him!

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