Almost 5 years ago we set out on an adventure. It was an 8 day camping trip to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot. It was exciting and we couldn't wait! But my joy was slightly and quickly infringed upon by the nightmare of the clothing issue. I had packed for cooler fall weather and made neat stacks of matching outfits for each of my (at the time) 2 children. They were sharing a large suitcase and it was nicely organized when we arrived. I had also packed 3 pair of pajamas for each of them and socks & undies for each day plus an extra pair or two. I thought we were all good. Knowing how NOT neat they can be, we decided to keep their suitcase in our tent and dole out clothing each day. By day 2 I could see that this wasn't going to be as simple as all that. First of all, there were the unforeseen clothing casualties like wet socks & jeans and muddy pajamas. We stayed busy all day and there was no laundry facility, so once something got really dirty or wet- it went into the dirty clothes. Also, once their outfit got wet or muddy they had to change- quickly putting us into a clean clothing deficit. Then, there was the "I don't wanna wear this shirt with those pants" complaints. They began to dig through what was left to find what they wanted to wear. By the end of the week this made for a crazy clown mix of whatever was left...the rejects. (Although Sukkot is no fashion show, I still can't stand for my children to be running around in totally crazy looking, mix matched clothes!) Another major issue was the weather. Even though it was October, the days were really warm and the nights got down right COLD! I had packed for cooler weather which meant we sweated all day and froze at night.
Since we weren't the only family going through this clothing crisis and many moms were fretting by day 3 or 4 because we were dangerously close to becoming a nudist camp, a few dads got together and took trash bags of dirties to a local laundry mat and spent all day washing. Who wants to spend a day of their feast doing laundry? Oy vey!
So ever since then we have used a method that has restored order and simplified the packing process. This method can be used for any type of trip and is especially great for families with many kids and/or sloppy, not neat kids who make a shambles of their suitcase, duffel bag, or whatever.
First, I went to the Dollar Tree and purchased several 2-packs of zippered mesh laundry pouches* (which are surprisingly durable for Dollar Tree merchandise and have lasted us several years now!) Next, I laid out an outfit for each child- for each day (plus a couple of extra days), including socks and undies. ~If you have a picky dresser they can even help make the outfit choices at this time. We have an understanding of NO mixing or switches once we get there.~ Then, I stuffed a neatly folded outfit into each pouch. That way I could just toss them a pouch each day and they have everything they need! They could even put their dirties into the empty pouch. No more suitcase rummaging for anyone!
Now since we go out of state, it is hard to anticipate the weather with exact accuracy. We try to pack mostly jeans and short sleeved shirts since the days can be really warm. Also, each person brings a sweatshirt, warm jacket, and a winter coat- since the nights have been known to get C-O-L-D! We always pack warm pajamas and plenty of blankets. One or two of their outfits is usually shorts or skirts in case a day gets super warm- which it does every year.
For shoes we bring a pair of hiking boots for each person and a pair of flip-flops to wear in the shower. The flip flops can be worn on any hot days that might be. A great place to buy hiking boots is the thrift store. Since the kids feet are ever growing, and new boots are expensive, the thrift store is my hiking boot supplier. We have found great name brands and have never paid over $5.00 a pair (usually more like $1 or $2.00!!). I have to start looking in advance, of course, but it is so worth the savings!
The mesh pouch method has made such a difference for us!
*Plastic grocery bags would also work, but the pouches allow you to see what is inside and they are re-usable year after year.