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Packing Tip: Pack by Color

Posted by on December 11, 2012

It used to be that packing for a trip wasn’t a particularly big deal.  Before the onslaught of bag fees and extra charges for oversized carry on bags, there was no problem packing everything but the kitchen sink.

But times have changed, and so have packing methods.  I have one packing tip I have found to be so valuable, it has been awarded its own blog post.

Pack by Color!

If you pack by color, all of your clothes will fit IN the suitcase!

Choose a color scheme for the entire family’s outfits.  When we travel, I usually choose khaki, white and blue or green for our colors.  I know this sounds crazy, but bear with me.

By having a common color theme, several things happen:

  1. If someone forgets something (like a sweater or belt), someone else is likely to have something that will work.
  2. Our photos look great because no one is wearing that one weird outfit.
  3. If I do laundry (which I usually do at least once during a 7-day trip to save on packing space), I only have three basic colors that need to be done: whites, lights, and one cold water load of whichever bright accent color we’ve packed.
  4. Clothing is more interchangeable and able to be layered.  Get a shirt dirty during lunch?  Simply swap it out with another and the whole outfit still works.
  5. I can bring less jewelry/accessories because everything matches.
  6. The need for many different colors and types of shoes is reduced.  I can bring one comfy pair, one dressy pair and one for working out and I’m good to go.
  7. No one needs to worry about what they will wear because it all matches.  This saves on a lot of arguing in the morning if you have kids who insist on picking out their own outfits.  It’s sort of like Garanimals!

I am also of the mindset that unless we’re camping, we dress nicer on vacation than we do at home.  Kids rarely wear jean shorts on our trips unless we’re hiking or getting dirty.  Khakis/Khaki shorts with nice shirts are common.  I do this because I feel like we get few opportunities for kids to actually look nice these days.  They need to learn that there are some places that are special enough that we look our best.  For us, that’s when we go to church and when we go on vacation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about scratchy shorts and long sleeved, button down shirts.  With today’s fabrics and styles there’s no reason to not look good and to be comfortable when traveling.  And our kids are never, ever, ever are allowed to wear pajamas in public.  I was horrified on a recent trip to Washington D.C. to see what some parents allowed their children to wear while touring our nations capitol.  I wonder about a generation of kids who will grow up thinking that nothing in their life is worth being moderately uncomfortable.  Besides, we’ve found that in many cases, khakis or other cotton pants are much cooler, dry faster, and are more comfortable than heavy denim.

When the kids were smaller, and I wasn’t yet used to packing for so many little people, I took the planning one step further.  After seeing that our suitcases were bursting full, I decided to break everything down by outfit rather than item.  So, instead of packing four pair of pants, I chose one bottom, and one top for each kid for each day.  I piled them together on my bed, added socks and undies and a hair accessory for my daughter, and put each day’s pile in a separate 2 gallon ziploc bag.  This bag was then labeled: warm day, casual or cold day, dressy; etc.  When I had one bag covering each type of combo we were likely to encounter, I was done.  I packed jammies, extra underwear & socks, a swimsuit, sweater or jacket and we were done.  When we arrived at our destination, I pulled out a bag each night, and told the kids to go ahead and get themselves dressed in the morning.  Since young kids rarely consider the weather or occasion when they’re dressing, this worked perfectly.  They had the right clothes in front of them and there was no digging through suitcases at night.

Since we almost always schedule a down day to rest and swim halfway through the trip, doing laundry has never been an issue for me.  When they were younger, I would do laundry while they (and my husband) napped in the room.  Since most hotels have multiple washing machines and dryers, the laundry always goes quickly and I’m usually glad for the alone time with a book and a cold drink.  Not lugging multiple suitcases through the airport, car rental agency and hotel more than make up for the hour I spend doing the laundry.

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