Over the River and Through the Woods…Packing for a Family Trip!!!

by Belinda Willmoth

So, in my years of motherhood, I’ve learned quite a few great lessons along the way.  I seldom would describe myself as organized, but in certain situations, I’ve learned that a little systematic planning can make our lives run a lot smoother (those few, very very few things we have control over).  Laundry is one task I’ve been trying to “systemize” for a long while… still working on that.  But, in the last year, after adding another wee one to our brood, I’ve somewhat “mastered” or “manipulated” a packing system that works for us.  As a homeschooling family with a husband/father who is often called away to conferences, we up and leave the nest often throughout the year… just because we can.  And quite frankly, my mommy-induced ADD really apprecitates a change of scenery.  So I’ve had lots of opportunities to pack and re-pack our family for trips in the last oh… nine years, give or take.  Also, our kids have had the priviledge of staying overnight with grandparents several times in the last years, so this packing system also benefits the Nana’s and Pawpaw’s of our life.  So, here goes.

First, you gotta do laundry.  For our family of five, I set aside about 3-4 days for this packing process.  Days 1-3 go toward laundry and folding er… well, sorting the clothes.  Day four is packing. I don’t enjoy doing all our laundry on one day. Some people might like to do that but I don’t want to be tied to my laundry room for that long of a period.  Besides, along the way, I typically forget there is a load ready to be moved to the dryer or folded and time is lost there… in other words, I allow for PLENTY of time.

Second – the packing.  (Really, it seems like a lot of steps but once you start doing it, it’s not difficult at all.)  I do it when the baby is taking a nap and the boys either help alongside of me (now that I’ve “mastered” it) or they are busy with something else.

1.   The clothes to be packed are clean and dry.

2.  Sort them by child/person.

3.  Check weather forecasts (as needed) and decide what outfits should be worn during your stay.

4.  Assemble outfits. This is where I’ll explain my process.  For example, our oldest will be wearing pants/jeans, an undershirt (it’s winter here), a longsleeved shirt, underwear and socks each day.  I start with the first four days (roughly 1/2) of our stay.  This stay will be a total of eight nights/nine days but I’m planning to do laundry while we are there – probably the 3rd or 4th day or whenever we are running low on clothes.  So I have four pairs of pants/jeans, four undershirts, four top-shirts, underwear (I always pack an extra few) and socks (again, an extra few).  I divide them up by days.  So on day one, Child #1 gets a pair of jeans (folded over once, lengthwise) and top-shirt/longsleeve (also folded lenthwise once) on top of the jeans, undershirt (folded), underwear (folded) and socks (balled together – oh how easily they are lost!).

One outfit, assembled.  Jeans, sweater, undershirt, underwear, socks.

5.    This is easy… just fold it all together so it fits in whatever bag you use.  We pack the boys stuff separately and the baby’s gets packed along with us.

6.   Label.  This may sound ultra OCD but it allows my two oldest to become nearly 100% self-sufficient in dressing while we are away!  It’s incredible.  ANNNNND, if they are staying with friends or relatives (away from you), this is the MOST IMPORTANT step, especially if you have particular outfits you want them to wear on certain days.

Same outfit, now folded together, labeled by day.  You might want to label by day or possibly by activity.  In the picture, I think I labeled this outfit “Saturday” but it would probably help to also write: “Oma’s house.  Lunch and Christmas gifts” because later in the day he has a separate outfit for the Christmas Eve service at church.   Anyway, I think you get the idea.

7.  Continue with the next few days until you’ve assembled as many outfits/days you need.

8.   Stack or line them up in order you want them to come out of the bag. Again, simplifying this for your child, your husband, friend, grandparent… You want to make it as EASY as you can once you get there.

Outfits folded, labeled and stacked (Saturday thru Monday), in order and ready to CRAM into the bag – hoping they all fit.

By the grace of God, we got six of Harrison’s outfits in the one small duffel bag!!! I’m in love with these bags (L.L. Bean – small duffle, I think.)  They were a Christmas gift one year from my aunt and I need to kiss her again next time I see her just for these bags.  They are indispensable.  Again, we pack/travel a lot!

Surprisingly, everything of Harrison’s fit except his pj’s which just added to our bag!  And yes, this is a commercial for LL Bean duffle bags!  I hope my experience can help someone else in this area.  And please, share your ideas too!!!!

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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