We have just returned from a big trip and I am now a self proclaimed packing expert! Our trip covered five countries and all climates. I was stressed about how to keep control of the suitcase while constantly moving. But, I thought up a way to organize myself that brought me ease and maybe it will help you too. My goal was to travel light, have family clothes that didn’t clash, and maintain comfort in various weather conditions. Typical crazy mom standards, nbd, I just lost a few hours of sleep thinking it over….
I decided on eight outfits a person. I based this on days traveled, things I was interested in bringing, and by how much I wanted us to carry around. I did want a little flexibility in choosing for the day so I decided to group our clothes into four groups. Each group has two outfits for everyone in the family. Within the group there were different choices like one outfit, a dress and the other shorts and a shirt. In each group clothes coordinated.
The four groups of clothing all had a location in the suitcases. After I did laundry I repacked the suitcases just as I had originally done at the start of the trip. The small black suitcase above holds a group on either side while the other two groups are in those two packing cubes at the bottom left (top photo). In addition to the outfits everyone had a warm layer, a rain coat, hat, sunglasses, bathing suit, and pajamas. My daughter and I each brought a flat sandal in addition to our tennis shoes. My husband and I re wore shorts and pants but, the kids did not. For example he had one pair of pants and only one pair of shorts for every two tops. I did allow myself an extra denim button up, pair of shorts, extra sunglasses outside of the groups. On top of all that I bought a few things while traveling and I was thankful for the space in the suitcase! 🙂 For everyone’s footwear I chose things that were more of a fashion sneaker verses an athletic looking shoe. For example my shoe was a white platform sneaker that was comfortable to wear all day and looked cute with everything, including a dress. Versatility was key with every choice.
Below are my 4 groups of clothes.
To start the trip I did have the kids clothes packing in gallon size zip lock bags. It was just easier to hand my husband a bag with two kids outfits ready to go and not have to talk or explain it all. I did keep under garments and socks in small packing cubes and zip locks. In my large suitcase I had a place where large packing cubes lived and an area for under garments. I did not unpack these things when we relocated. We moved around and it just wasn’t worth it. For dirty clothes I brought my old TB purse duster bag. Its cute, breathable fabric, and has a draw string. The flight over we had a small wheeled suitcase that my 7yr old considers her own and it was filled with hoodies, things for the flight, extra under wear in case we had lost luggage.. etc. I emptied this suitcase and switched it over to a dirty clothes case. At some point the small black suitcase pictured above switched to dirty as well when I needed more space. But then I did laundry and reset. I have to confess. I was a total cheater and I laid the clothes out on the bed (the picture you see) and I have that saved on my phone. When we woke in the morning I just looked at these photos to see what I wanted to pull out.
Everyone’s trip will be different so this is not all relevant to you but I can explain my choice and that might inspire you. My goal was to travel comfortably and not look like a total tourist. I might have only achieved one of these goals in some eyes, but I was happy. I have a mix of dresses, shorts, and jeans. We started our trip in Italy during a heat wave and I was laughing at our hoodies. At the end of the trip we were wearing every layer in Norway. I did choose layers that could be worn all at the same time because I knew this would be the case. On our tour of the Fjords the kids layered the rain jacket with the hoodie and it worked perfect. That same hoodie was their thing to snuggle on the airplane ride. My denim button up was tied at the waist over a dress and also worn under my rain coat in Norway.
I have a few extras in the photo above I want to mention. The Turkish towel we used at a public pool in Switzerland, ground cover at a park in Norway, and to wedge under a sleepy head along the way. I can recommend traveling with one. The green/ navy bags at the bottom right are a stack of wet bags. I used wet bags for organizing and holding stuff in my backpack and they held our swim suits when needed. But …. I am about to over share for all you mamas out there and let you know my daughter can be known to have a weak stomach. I was nervous about all our types of transportation and not sure if she would have any tummy issues. I can confirm that a wet bag will hold sick tummy messes and I was going to be ready to catch that! I’ve done it before and saved my father in law’s car, he was most grateful!
All packed up we had one large suitcase weighting 44lbs, one full size carry one, one small under the seat carry on with rollers and large handles (daughter pulled this one sometimes), one Trunkie ride on for my son, two backpacks and a small cross body. We had some luggage but we were mobile. Husband’s backpack had our reading material, his computer, kid’s ipads, and some important travel papers. My backpack was only kid entertainment! I can fill you in on that later. The Trunkie had neck pillows, and water bottles for kids.
Phew… this is getting long. Is anyone still reading? These are my pearls of packing wisdom. Maybe it will inspire you, maybe you already knew it all. But this is how I did it. My husband and I took our 7 year old daughter and our 4 year old son to Europe for just under 4 weeks. We traveled by every type of transportation you can think of and visited 5 counties. This is how I packed us. This is how I felt ready for the adventure….
xoxo & best of luck on your next adventure!