Organized Trip Packing for Kids


Here’s a tip I picked up from my sister-in-law who’s a mom to 5. When you pack your kid’s suitcase for a vacation or summer camp, place each day’s complete outfit into a large  ziploc bag. Have one more bag for an extra day. It makes it so much easier for kids to get dressed when they don’t have to dig through all the jumbled clothes in their suitcase.

No matter how dirty your kids get while on the trip, each morning they’re guaranteed fresh, clean clothes and pajamas.

I also keep a saved packing list so I can make sure we’re bringing the essentials.

What are your travel tips for kids?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Great idea! This will solve a lot of my packing problems!

  2. Slackerjo says:

    Forget kids and camp! I know a few adults who would benefits from having their clothes organized in zip lock bags.

  3. Thanks for this great tip!

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  4. GREAT tips!

    Nikowa@KHA´s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Field Trip: Movie Theatre

  5. Christy S. Lube says:

    Awesome! Thank you SO much. Perfect timing, too… my youngest is going to spend next week with her grandparents, and this will help SO much!

  6. I have been doing this for about the last 5 years for my daughter. and it is so helpful for her and for me. it makes sure she has enough complete outfits without overpacking. i use it even if i am going to be on the trip with her because then she doesn’t have to run to me every morning.

    i also put her swimsuit into its own bag, that way if it is damp it doesn’t sit against other clothes (because for some reason they don’t come back in the bags!). i also put her washclothe in a bag. and include an extra bag for any underwear that may be soiled (she still has accidents every now and then).

    i also make sure all her toiletries are in a bag (either giant ziploc or a toiletry bag). that way she just has to grab it and go to the bathroom.

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  7. I stop by the dollar store to pick up a few, inexpensive toys for the trip – coloring books, stickers, etc. The “newness” of it seems to keep my kids entertained and I can dole them out as needed along the way.

    Also, snacks, snacks, snacks! There’s nothing worse that being stuck on a plane or in an airport without access to health snacks for the kids (or the husband).


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  8. Thanks for the great idea. I’ve always packed by grouping outfits together, but halfway through our trip time, their clothes would end up all mixed up. This will definitely prevent that from happening.

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last blog post..I’m Making a Few Adjustments

  9. This works for kids and adults . . . bring your packing list with you so that you can make sure you didn’t leave anything behind on vacation.

    Life from the Roof´s last blog post..Who would have thought

  10. I should do this for myself. My mind goes blank trying to find an outfit in a suitcase!

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  11. Am I the only one who forces (ahem, allows) my kids to pack their own stuff? I make them a list with checkboxes (oh, how they love the checkboxes!) and let them go. I’ll cop to occasionally going back and checking when they’re not looking, just to make sure, because they’re 6…. but they really do a remarkable job. :)

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    • I used to always have to pack my suitcase as a kid, and sometimes I’d pack my brother’s too. I thought getting ready for the trip was part of the fun.

  12. Fabulous! I also really like packing by activity rather than by person. For example all PJs go together, all swimsuits and beach stuff adding the Bags for outfits will really help – maybe some simple drawstring day of the week fabric bags to reduce waste!

    Kristin´s last blog post..carrot top

    • I really love this idea! We just got back from camping (with 6 kids & never enough room) & this would have been really helpful! We’re going again in a month so that gives me some time to make some bags!

      Thanks for this great idea!

      Rachelle S.´s last blog post..Ladybug pj bottoms

  13. Kristina says:

    But please reuse the bags for future trips or for some other purpose when you get home. Otherwise, that’s a lot of plastic going into landfills!

  14. Oh, I LOVE it!! You are a woman after my own heart. Such neatness. Such clarity. Sigh. I just love tidiness. :)

    ChristineG´s last blog post..The Habit of Calm: Sorry to tell you this

  15. I love love love this idea! Thanks!!!!

  16. PERFECT timing. I am taking a break from packing for our weekend trip away. The girls are staying with family and I think this will make it much easier for their grandparents to help them get dressed. Excellent!

    Megan at Simple Kids´s last blog post..Lessons from the Robins’ Family

  17. I thought this was a good idea. But we might have to pack more than one outfit a day for our 5 yo daughter. She loves to change from shorts to swimming suit to a dress…

  18. Wow, I never would have thought of that – what a great idea! I’ll file that one away for my three during our next trip.


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  19. Great idea–I’ll have to remember this.

    Alison´s last blog post..What I Learned This Week #15

  20. This is brilliant. I am so going to do this for our next trip.

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  21. My favorite travel tip is something my dad used to do for us on long car rides- he’d figure out ahead of time how long the trip would take, say 3 hours. Then he’d divide that by 10. Our house would be 0, then every 18 minutes would be another number. So instead of us asking constantly, “Are we there yet??” we would get regular updates on our progress numerically that made a lot more sense to little kids than “Oh, it’ll be another 2 hours.” My son is 5 and we use this for trips anywhere from 1 hour and up. He’ll ask, “Mom, what number are we at?” and I’ll say, “We’re at 4.” Then he’ll say, “Four? Then after that comes 5, then 6, then 7, then 8, then 9, then 10!” It’s also a good indicator for breaks and rest stops (ex: we’ll stop to have lunch when we get to 6). Hope this helps other tired drivers out there!

    KaseyQ´s last blog post..Welcome to Week 1 of Summer of Science: Rocks and Minerals!

    • This is a great idea! My boys live and breathe baseball so what my husband does is divide the trip up like a ball field. We start out at the batters box and then he divides up the time to get to first, second, third, home. And usually there will be spots in between. So the kids ask him – are we on first yet? etc.

    • This is a great idea! We are packing for a one week trip next week and I will definitely be trying this. 4 kids, plus two parents, one crowded SUV and one week away! We need to pack light and organized. Thanks for the helpful tip!

    • We divide up our car trips the same way! I stick a certain number of stickers on the ceiling of the car before we leave and we take one down every so often (depending on the length of our trip) until there are no more stickers left! That way they kids aren’t asking “Are we almost there?!” and “How much longer?!”…they can SEE how many stickers are left until we get there! (I’ve even taken it further by color coordinating the stickers depending on what state we’re in and given them a map with states of the same color…)

  22. We are getting ready to leave for vacation in a week, so the timing of this post is perfect! I love this idea because not only are the clothes clean, but then as you go through them you have extra large ziploc bags for dirty items!

    Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom´s last blog post..A very amusing day!

  23. Valerie R. says:

    Yes, the timing of this is absolutely perfect. We are going on a camping trip next weekend and I think this will be perfect for that. The kids will know what to wear without asking, and the bags will also keep things clean and dry. I’ll add a “nighttime” bag and a “swimming stuff” bag to the mix. Wish I’d known about this years ago. My MIL sometimes would send the boys home in some of the craziest combinations because she didn’t know what tops and bottoms I was intending to go together. :)

  24. Andrea from AK says:

    I add freshener sheets to the luggage (ripped in half for each shoe). That way the stinky laundry has a “candy coating”! lol

  25. If you plan to fly with an infant make sure to pack the following in the diaper bag – diapers, wipes, baby food, formula (if you use it), etc. And pack extras! Make sure you know the current guidelines on allowed liquids before going to the airport. Don’t take hear-say for granted. Infant supplies are VERY DIFFICULT to find in airports. (As an aside, if I had the money to open a business in a major city, that’s what I would do…open a stand selling infant supplies.) My 2 year old son has been on 20 flights. Only once did we make the mistake of forgetting our wipes in a bathroom and not packing extra formula in case of a delay. My husband searched every single concourse in Atlanta to find one measly pack of supplies which he paid a fortune for. Also, pack an extra shirt for mom and dad for the flight carry-on luggage in case baby spits up (in addition to a change of clothes for baby).

  26. Haha. My sister in law does this for all their clothes when traveling. The family cracks jokes about it but, I can see how this approach can be helpful. Especially for kids at camp dressing themselves :)

    kristen´s last blog post..funky monkey winner!

  27. This is an awesome idea. I have a packing list for all of our stuff plus our RV (just to be sure we have everything). This idea will keep everything better organized in such a small space.

    Christy´s last blog post..5 Things I Can Live Without Thursday

  28. I love this idea except for the plastic…I would burn through 16 plastic bags for a one week trip if I did this with my kids. For me, that’s an awful lot of waste for what ends up being just a few seconds saved.

    Marianna´s last blog post..B is for Bird

  29. I thought I was organized and I love plastic zip-loc bags, but I never thought of placing a whole outfit inside one. Brilliant!
    After our annual Easter road trip this year I posted 10 tips for traveling with kids on my blog –
    Maybe some tips will help someone traveling this summer!

  30. We take a little different approach and pack less not more. Most of our clothes are quick dry multi purpose clothing.

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  31. Normally an outfit a day would put me over the edge with laundry, but for my 7 year old going alone to a 6 night camp where water can get into their bunk houses, I think this looks like a pretty wise idea!

    Cori´s last blog update

  32. Christina Taylor says:

    Thanks, my oldest son is going to nana’s house for a week and I have to pack on Sat for him. We have always been travelers with the kids, but I know where everything in the suitcase is, my mil will have it very easy with this system.

  33. Oh my, do I have tips. I am currently in the middle of a 12 day trip by myself with my 3 kiddos under 5. I’m staying here and there with different family so I brought only 5 complete outfits for each and 1 pair of pajamas. If you’ve got 3 kids and 1 adult to haul everything, pack LIGHT!

    As for the plane, get a seat for everyone. Even those who could be lap babies. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE! Put 1 diaper, 1 small ziplock with a few wipes and an extra outfit for baby in a gallon ziplock bag. That way when you have to venture to the plane bathroom to change baby you will be walking down the aisles with just baby and a small bag and you’ll still have everything you need. Reload when you get back to your seat for the next trip.

    I’m sure I could write for an hour more on what I’ve learned this trip…

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  34. Shannon Melgar says:

    I used to do this for my kids when they were little. I would lay out there shirts and put their shorts or pants on top of them. and then I would add undies and sox and then roll them up and put a rubberband around them. I would fill their dressers with rolled outfits so they could choose their own clothes and still be matched.

  35. i think i love you … for the sake of ‘green-ness’ how bout using fabric bags with days of week either placed, printed or embroidered on them.

  36. I LOVE this idea of using bags. I already pack in little piles of outfit (including underwear and co-ordinating socks) but the little piles tend to get mixed up in the rucksack. I don’t buy plastic bags any more – partly green reasons and partly because I’m tight with my cash but if I was planning to re-use every holiday, this could make great sense.
    I also liked Jeny’s idea above of using little fabric bags – my kids are colour coded (seriously, it’s the librarian in me that makes me do it) so yellow, blue, red bags with days of the week sounds like a good summer project for me!
    Another useful post, thank you.
    Karen (Scotland)

  37. I love using ziplocs for packing! I don’t put complete outfits in bags, but I do put all my boys’ socks and underwear in a ziploc since those are usually hard to find in the suitcase.

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  38. What a terrific idea. I love it!


    Thanks for the great tip. LOVE IT!

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  40. So funny! I just did this! It worked great. We flew down to Florida to visit grandma and grandpa yesterday for 2 weeks! Needless to say, packing was a challenge. My two girls had a lot of fun selecting outfits for their ziploc bags — I let them bring 8. I was going to blog about it, but I think I’ll just send people over here instead! :)


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  41. Michelle says:

    What a great idea!! I’m struggling at the moment to pack for our trip to Ethiopia. We are meeting and bringing home our twin four year olds and, for a first time Mum, the packing is very daunting!!
    Thanks for the great tip – I’m definitely going to do it!


  42. Rebekah says:

    Pure Genius.
    Thanks for sharing!

  43. i’m interested to know what your packing list has on it…mind sharing??

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  44. This isn’t a packing tip, but when we used to travel as kids, my mom would have a paper bag that she kept with her in the front seat area. She’d place it right in the middle where my brother and I could see it. The Trip Fairy lived there, and every once in a while, she’d leave treats or little toys in the bag for us. We got really excited when we saw that the bag was a bit fuller, and it was definitely something to pass the time. Turns out, it was just my mom sneaking treats in the bag when we weren’t looking. :)

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  45. This is SO brilliant!!! I’m going to bookmark this post for sure. The only problem is one trip we are taking this summer is for 2.5 weeks! I don’t think we have enough room in the suitcase for all those baggies! ;)

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  46. Here’s my “unique” idea. We have a checklist that is in a plastic protective sleeve. We check things off as we pack. After the trip, we wipe off the sleeve and it is all ready for the next trip!

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  47. I tried packing by outfit, but found that caused more hassles when the weather changed or part of an outfit got dirty. Now each of my kids gets a duffle bag filled with plastic bags for each type of clothes. It is so easy for the kids to pull out the bag with shorts, pants etc. and change as needed. As my kids have grown, so have the plastic bags. I love to use the zippered bags that linens come in or else the two gallon ziploc bags, and 1 gallon for underwear or socks. But the zippered bags are the best since the zips wear out on the ziploc bags after a few trips. And clear plastic makes it easy to see what you want without unpacking. Oh, and each kid’s bags get their initial on them so that we can see at a glance who didn’t put everything back in their duffle!

  48. Great idea, thanks for passing along!

    I have two additional suggestions of things that work for me:

    I always bring along a big bag (a garbage bag works great) to put dirty clothes into after they have been worn. Then at the end of the trip I have all of the dirty clothes already separated from the clean clothes and it makes doing the wash much easier once I get home. It also acts as a “dirty clothes bin” for during the trip so dirty clothes are spread around the sleeping area.

    I always put my liquids/toiletries in zip lock baggies just in case they spill. It is much easier to clean the inside of a zip lock bag instead of the inside of a suit case!

    • We just got home from a 4 day weekend at an indoor waterpark. Each person has their own duffle bag that will fold and zip together when empty. Everyone has their own color so they don’t fight over someone rummaging through their stuff. I think I will use outfit bag tip next time.

      Here is a tip: I always take 2 mesh popup laundry baskets with us. We put our dirty “dry” clothes in there. At the end of the trip I have the dirty clothes in baskets ready to pack in the car and to go straight to the laundry room when we get home. The clean clothes are repacked into one duffle bag and then the left over bags are folded this leaves room in the trunk for the full baskets. We used the plastic laundry bag from the resort to bring home the wet clothes.

  49. This is how we pack the kids clothes! It is a great time saver! I always add any accessories like socks, hair bows, special tights, etc.

    We just purchased curtains for our livingroom. They came in those nice gusseted zipper bags. I saved the bags so that I could use them just for this purpose. They are the perfect size and they even have a little pocket on the outside for the label! I’m actually excited to pack for vacation to see how these new bags turn out!

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  50. I was replying to Andrea who had said she had more to share about plane travel with small children.

  51. nancy n says:

    I am in the process of packing my 8 yo son for church camp and bought the 2 1/2 g. ziploc bags for the trip. I am packing 2 outfits each day (each in their own bag), 1 bag for swimwear, 1 bag for pj’s, and empty drawstring bag for dirty clothes, a toiletries bag, and a mesh bag to tote swim items back and forth. I am also sending an XL ziploc bag with towels and bedding. I am labeling them day, night and bedtime. I am also sending a checklist with him so he can check them off as he packs to come home.
    I don’t remember where I read the tip the first time, but this is my first time to actually use it.

  52. We took a long road-trip this summer and instead of putting my kids stuff in their own duffles/luggage, I just put them into one big clear plastic container. I put their clothes in ziplocks and stacked each day together. So this way whoever was grabbing outfits could find everyone’s clothes at once. It was awesome.

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  53. So happy to have come across this post – I’m gearing up for our first vacation *with* our child (she’s 19 months) – this is a great idea. I do agree with the other posters with the plastic concerns… Fabric bags with days of the week would be great – you could even do iron-on letters or iron-on print-outs if you don’t embroider! I think I may have just given myself another project!

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    • I suggested plastic bags because of all the times I’ve been a camp counselor. You wouldn’t believe how wet and dirty some of the kids clothes can get while they’re at camp for a week, and the plastic bags keep the clean clothes clean. You can also reuse them for each trip. But if it’s just a regular trip, then fabric bags work fine too.

  54. Dude! This is a good idea for my husband and I! Not just for kids. . . I also bring a plastic bag to put dirty clothes in as the trip progresses. At the end, when everything is dirty, I pack it back in with the other clothes. But I can’t stand dirty clothes mixing with clean clothes.

    Another thing I do for trips longer than three days is pack exactly half the days worth of clothing, and then do laundry one evening. It makes life so much easier than having tons of clothing all over the place!

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  55. Thanks! I’ll be trying this on an upcoming road trip with my 4 kids.

    I’ll probably use the plastic bags and reuse on future trips, but for those concerned about waste, stock up on lingerie bags the next time you’re at the dollar store. Usually they are sold in sets of 2-3— great for toy storage too!

  56. Courtney says:

    I did this last year after reading your post. It worked great for my 1 year old. He wasn’t picking out his own clothes – but it really helped us as parents to be able to reach in and grab a ziploc bag of clothes. It also cut down on space and we could use a smaller suitcase! The ziploc bags also worked great for anything wet!
    I’ll be taking advantage of this again this summer!

  57. I wonder if this would work for my husband… ;) lol

    Thanks for the great tip!!

    Loving This Mom Stuff

  58. I did this on our last trip because we were driving and not so limited on space- I have 2 kids under age 2 in diapers, and I put diapers in each bag along with the outfits (particularly wise if your husband is getting one of the kids dressed in the morning!) This next trip, we’re staying at a condo w/washer and dryer, and flying- so my goal is to pack extremely light and only check one suitcase.