» How I Pack Without Losing My Mind

Packing for a big family can be daunting. Especially when you have to account for road trip snacks and activities, medications and supplements, weather changes and a week long trip. When we traveled to China to bring Lola home 2 years ago I discovered Packing Cubes. Since then I’ve realized that a few good organizers, and color coding, can completely transform the packing process.

The Process:

Clothing- Each child has one large packing cube. The packing cubes are different colors. This helps us quickly pull that child’s cube from the suitcase. No digging or searching for the size 6 pants in the kids baggage. In fact, the cubes have zippers and can function independently from the suitcase. So if we are in multiple rooms at Nana’s house I put their cube with them. Now, please understand the packing cubes aren’t fancy. They are breathable, zippered organizational tools. (and I love them)

I encourage independence with my kiddos so generally I allow them to pack their own cubes. I give guidelines such as be sure to have 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, 5 shirts, a pair of pjs and 5 pair of underwear. If we are traveling to see family I see no need to over-pack clothing, they have a washing machine and shorts/pants can be worn more than once. I double check their cubes before putting them into the luggage. Again… the kids folded this stuff… it’s not beautiful but they did it and that is what’s important to me.


I recently discovered bago and they were kind enough to provide a large Travel Duffel for me to try out. Ya’ll. I LOVE this thing. It starts out looking like a little zippered pouch that hardly weighs anything.


Then you unzip. And the magic happens. This little guy becomes a huge, ultra-durable duffle bag. It can even be checked through at the airport. I can think of so many uses for this bag outside of simply packing my kids clothing. I often travel overseas and bring back local items, or take a trip to my in-laws and end up taking home more than I came with. This is such a useful little guy to stow away in your regular luggage. So… here’s how it looks unzipped and filled with packing cubes.


And here’s how it looks filled with packing cubes AND a cute puppy who is ready for a nap and a road trip.


I was able to pack four large packing cubes, shoes and the toiletry bag. I love not having to lug around any additional bags for the kids.

I also pack for the car ride. I use zip lock bags to create a snack bag of decent road trip food. This time I included kettle chips, larabars, chia seed pouches, Good Earth lollipops, green pea chips (for those ones that like them), Barbara’s fig bars and Plum organic pouches. They have a wide variety and enough food to skip lunch if we want to just keep driving. We typically pack a lunch in a cooler to avoid fast food but this particular trip, and the days leading up to it, didn’t make that possible.

Each child also has a new notebook, markers and pens. We do our best to give them fun writing prompts and our kids just have a true love for fresh pencil and paper. They each have a kindle and headphones as well. (Thanks Grandma!) I don’t like to pass things back and forth in the car (chaos!) so I found this awesome Car Organizer for the back seat. The top can flip upside down and be used as a little table for games which is a fun bonus. It fits everything nicely and includes lots of pockets and two cup holders on the exterior. It can even double as a cooler if necessary. Update: This organizer is no longer sold, but we actually prefer this one and love how it folds down to store away when not in use.



I hope some of these tips are helpful to you as you plan your holiday road trips! We are excited to hit the road for a few more adventures as 2015 comes to a close.

About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.


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