Like many parents, one of the tasks I dreaded the most when going on vacation was packing and unpacking my family’s suitcases.For years, I’ve looked for a solution to make the process easier and shorter. I tried many recommended methods till I finally devised a system of my own which I fondly nicknamed the ‘Packing by Color’ System that works well for my family (including my son with autism) and hopefully will work for your family too.
Reasons to use the ‘Packing by Color’ system
- You can carry fewer and or smaller suitcases as you can mix belongings in the same bag and quickly find what item belongs to whom by the color of the tape on the bag.
- Clothes are well protected from spills, dirt, and you won’t even have to worry about bringing bed bugs or fleas home if you keep them in the Hefty bags while traveling.
- If you are tired of hearing ” Mom, where are my shorts/ socks/ t- shirt?” this system is for you. It will promote independence with kids of all ages; teaching them to find their clothes in a hotel room quickly by identifying their personal bags and get ready for the daily activities on their own.
- Unpacking at the hotel becomes a breeze since each family member can grab their marked Hefty bags out of the suitcases and place them in their own designated drawer or shelf. The ‘packing by color’ system is especially useful if your vacation includes multiple stops that involve several rounds of packing and unpacking.
- It provides parents with an efficient way to sort laundry items when they return home after vacation so they can wash dirty clothes in an organized manner and get back to their daily routine as soon and seamlessly as possible.
- Moreover, each family member can do their separate wash and deal with his/her clothes again promoting life skills and independence especially in teens and young adults.
How the system works
- Designate a color
Start by allocating a travel color for each member of your family. In our case my older son is yellow, my younger son blue, my husband green and orange for myself. (Make sure it is a primary and easy-to-find color since you will have to shop for items in that color at places like the local dollar store and Target)
From this point on any item for that person will be in that color whether it is a travel toothbrush, a water bottle, swim trunks, beach flip flops or even suitcase tag.
- Get colored duct tape in the chosen colors
Buy a roll of duct tape in your chosen color/s to mark any personal items you won’t find to buy in the color you need.
- Use Hefty bags
After initially starting with space bags we soon came to realize they were pricey, and you couldn’t actually use them for more than a few times.So we have begun using the large 2.5 gallons Hefty bags that are a fraction of the cost and can be utilized on most trips at least twice in a row.
After we roll our clothes and put them in the bag, we can save precious space by squeezing the air out before putting them in the suitcase. The bag does a good job of keeping the clothes fresh and dry should any mishap happen to your bag like sitting out in the pouring rain or getting dropped into the ocean while boarding a cruise ship.
- Label bags/items appropriately
We mark each person’s Hefty bags with the appropriate color tape.
So, my clothes would be in the orange labeled bags; my husband‘s in the green bags and so on. The duct tape ensures quick identification of items and whom they belong to when we arrive at the hotel.
It is convenient to write on the duct tape what things you put in each bag so you can make sure you don’t switch around and use a bag that housed your shoes for clean items like underwear for example.
Furthermore, you can distinguish between dirty and clean things by writing on the tape too–which is helpful on the way back home from your vacation.
Special Tip: Make sure you pack a couple of extra bags in case they tear, or the zipper breaks down.
Do you have a unique method to pack and unpack when traveling with your kids? Share your tips with us.