Packing for a Winter Week for a family of 5…

December 12, 2013

Packing Tips

Les Petites Darlings Packing Tips and Tricks | IHOD Smax
^^Max’s pants are from Les Petites Darlings!  (Patch Sweater and Hat from Old Navy)^^

As you know, recently we headed up to the great mitten and spent a week in a white wintery city with family. It was quite wonderful, although packing and unpacking were quite the feat. Packing for a family of 5 for a week in cold weather is not for the faint of heart. I did however have some fantastic tips come through when I was trying to figure it all out. As we gear up for another road trip for Christmas, I thought I would pass some of these helpful tips along!


Bag your outfits. A few people recommended I pack outfits in separate gallon sized bags. I put Veronica’s and Max’s outfits down to the socks/tights in bags so that I could keep track of what went with what for which day. It also made it easier for Gabe when he was getting them dressed for me. I only packed 5-7 outfits for them (they wear their clothes hard and usually need changed in the middle of the day), with a few extra tops and pants. When clothes are dirty they go back in the plastic bag.

Do your laundry. Simple but so helpful. My sister in law graciously let us do laundry while we were there so we could have it all clean before we headed home and ready to unpack.

Wear the same travel outfit. I put my kids in a comfortable travel outfit that they wore the same day they traveled home. I also did the same and it just keeps it easy to remember and saves a little room.

Repeat. I used to be a girl who would pack a different pair of shoes for each day. Excessive I know. I packed a million just in case things and for this, I have had some interesting stories happen from getting my luggage onto planes (for another time perhaps;)). Since becoming a mother and working on simplifying my life, I now want to make things smooth and easy if possible. So, I only packed a few basic tops, sweaters, and pants, and mix matched throughout the week. I brought one pair of boots and one pair of wellies for the snow. I managed to fit into one suitcase and did perfectly fine!

Hat & Glove Tote – I kept all of our hats, gloves, and scarves in this tote that was waterproof with lots of pockets. It kept everyone’s sets separate (for a day at least:)) and the kids knew where to find them when they needed.

Ask ahead. – If you have to pack larger items (in my case a pack and play and stroller), It might be possible that the people you are staying with have the items or have a friend who does. Hotels often have pack and plays as well. Think through what you will need and ask in advance if its possible to borrow larger items so you don’t have to pack.


1) SNACK BAG. The snack bag is filled with items that are easy to hand out and are mess free. We stagger them throughout a long trip and it keeps all parties happy. Including the driver.

2) Activity backpacks – We got some backpacks just in time from Paul Frank and the kids chose their favorite books and activities to pack in their bags for the trip. It was what I directed them to when they got squirrely. Magnet boards, coloring books, etc.

3) Mini DVD player. Gabe sings the praises of the mini dvd player all the time to his friends. Its been our favorite way to solve near meltdowns when that 7th hour hits.

4) Music – It’s kind of a given. I don’t hear a peep out of my kids when Raffi is playing:)

As for Gabe, he does his own thing…..which usually involves a stuffed backpack with a pair of shoes that doesn’t fit inside and randomly sits somewhere in the car;)

What about you all? Favorite tricks and tips for travel?

Leave a Comment

  • Danielle (Titus) Klinker

    Since we travel back and forth to Indy very often, we have kinda gotten this packing thing down! Maybe I need to try bagging outfits. I use many of the other tricks you do: snack bag, dvds, music, etc. I never do laundry while we are home…maybe I should try, but usually I am too busy visiting 🙂 My goal is always to take only what is necessary so we don’t end up with a bunch of extra things that we don’t need. Happy Advent!

  • Great tips! I was able to do something similar with my family of four when we made a trip up north for Thanksgiving. The bagged outfits made life a million times more pleasant. It’s not easy living out of a suitcase for five days. But having the clothes, socks, accessories in the bag ready to go as soon as you need them is a total sanity-saver.

  • Thanks for the tips! We are getting ready for our first big road trip to Atlanta from Miami with a 2 year old and 9 month old…excited but nervous. We don’t have winter down here so this whole winter clothes thibg should be an experience for the little ones! I’m thinking I’m going to try the plastic bag trick for their outfits!

  • Bless you guys! Those little saddle shoes are adorable.

    Buckets & Spades

  • OH Anna I love this post. We are heading to Oregon with Landyn right after Christmas and the 10 hour drive already has me SO nervous. Glad to know I am not crazy in doing this. I am going to do ALL these things 🙂 Any activities you suggest besides books and magnet boards? And Landyn LOVES Raffi. GREAT idea. 🙂 xoxo

  • great tips! pinning for later 🙂 xo

  • Great tips, Anna! It’s amazing how much lighter kids force you to pack, haha. I’d always been a notorious over packer but I am definitely getting better now that I have to share my suitcase with the little one. I’m a huge fan of plastic bags too, those things are so multi functional!

  • Such a great check list, Anna! I travel quite often and still need to write down exactly what I need and always have to think ahead! (even though I pack literally at the last minute until the car comes to take me to the airport!) And that little Max of yours is just the cutest! I’m dying over that first photo!!

  • Laure Madison Heikes

    When we pack for our family of six(almost 7) we do outfit rollups. Basically the same idea as the ziplocs, but no bags. I fold the pants/shorts/skirt in half, then lay the shirt and socks (or anything else for the outfit) on top and roll it up. Then when we get dressed for the day we grab one rollup per kid. When we have traveled far and have stayed at a hotel or another stop on our way to our final destination we pack a separate bag for that stop with everyone’s stuff in it. That way we only have to get out one bag and everything does not end up a mess. We always pack PJs (and swimsuits if we are going to a hotel with a pool) in an easily accessible pocket or the top of the bag because that is usually the first thing we need access to. I usually pack a pillowcase or new garbage bag for dirty clothes. If I can do laundry, I do. Otherwise the bag keeps clean separated from dirty and makes it easy to dump into baskets when we get home. In addition to comfortable travel outfits, we try to make sure to have easy-on travel shoes, especially for the little ones.

    In addition to music, we have also checked out books on tape/CD from the library(now that the kids are older). This keeps them interested and can be easy to start and stop. We have done both long, exciting chapter books and short fable stories both with success.

    When we drive, we try to eat in the car to help shorten the trip. Everyone is quiet and time passes while we are eating. We stop only for stretches and potty breaks.

  • So glad you’re coming this way!! 🙂

    Ahh… will have to ask about that DVD player… I want to make a trip to the farm but due to Sean’s work schedule it would need to be solo..trying to determine if I’m crazy or just nuts about those Kansas people.

  • oh this is so darling! love these shots

  • Maybe I will get this organized some day. But great tips!

  • […] Accessories: 5 Hats (excessive, but you know me – an accessories girl) Sunglasses  2 Necklaces (Necklace One and Two c/o) 1 Bracelet Stack (Bracelet One and Two) 1 Tote c/o I basically rotated these all 5 days and it worked out really well with no shortage on clothes by the end of the week. I have started to clean out my closet little by little on instagram and by donating to Whispering Hope. It feels freeing. Material goods can weigh you down (literally) and metaphorically. I hope to continue to move in the direction of living with less. Now granted, packing for my little ones is a whole different feat (tips for packing with kids here). […]

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