August 14, 2013

Travel with Kids Tip – Separate outfits using gallon-size plastic bags

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Packing kids clothes for a trip – using Ziploc bags

On trips my two kids usually share a suitcase. Keeping clothes organized in the suitcase is a major pet peeve of mine and after a day or two on the road, what started out as nicely folded piles can quickly become a big mess. Instead of folding and sorting repeatedly throughout the trip, I’ve come up with the perfect solution. . .

I pack my kids clothes in gallon-size Ziploc bags – one outfit PER bag. Then I stack them up on end and can flip them easily while keeping everything organized. Grabbing an outfit is a synch – even for my husband, who has a horrible time finding matching items for my kids (what do you mean black and brown don’t match?). I can even have my 6-year-old pick out an outfit and put it on!  This will work best if you have smaller kids (mine are 6- and 3- years old) and during summer trips (might be harder with bulky sweaters or jeans during the winter months).

This system works great for keeping clean clothes separate from dirty, too! I pack an empty garbage bag for dirty clothes.

And we use Ziploc bags for toiletries, sunblock and hair accessories. It makes it so easy to sort through things and we don’t end up with toothpaste or shampoo on our clothes. If you have messy kids, pack a stain stick! You can treat the stain before you toss it into the dirty clothes bag.

Bigger items like sweatshirts and jackets get packed with an normal fold in the same suitcase. I have a separate bag for underwear (one bag per kid) and a bag for socks. 

When we’re all done – the Ziploc bags stay in the suitcase for the next trip. So we aren’t having to buy new ones every trip. 

Do you have any tips for packing kids clothing!?! 


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  1. Marianne Roosey says

    I barely got away with packing my 13 year old’s outfits in separate Ziploc gallon bags. It worked though and it was wonderful handing him a bag each day. Each bag included shorts, shirt, underwear, and socks. I had to roll the outfits to get them in the bag. Obviously I couldn’t do this for my 16 year old, but I like the idea posted previously about rolling the outfits and tying with ribbon! Excellent.

  2. I totally use gallon baggies for socks and uundies too….1 per child. I have one bag for each kid ( like a duffel bag) and each bag has 3 stacks of clothes… labeled with masking tape for the grandparents or husband. The 3 stacks are pajamas, play clothes and good clothes. In each stack I have each outfit together. …I usually fold the pants around the shirt and any accessories or undershirts. If there is going to be a special occasion on the trip like church, I put everything for that event in a separate gallon Bag or grocery bag….including undies, socks, shoes, clothes and accessories. This might not be necessary all the time but I often pack for my kids to go away with my parents. ..and if I am not going to be there I know I need to be pretty specific.

  3. Bring baby laundry detergent on the trip just in case you run out of clean baby clothes. You can always do a quick washing and hang dry of the clothes in the sink or bathtub.

  4. We pack in ziplock for summer camp and label the bags for day and night clothes. Underwear, PJs and a washcloth for showering go in the night bag. We also pack one for swim stuff. For dirty clothes we just borrow the mesh bags from our home laundry sorter.

  5. Love the Baggie idea. When we took our girls to Disneyland 2 yrs ago, I read this and did it. Worked perfectly. Great for taking in a backpack to the park too incase of an accident or spill- clean clothes with a bag to now put the dirty clothes in!! Love it!!

  6. I lay an entire outfit together and roll it into a tight roll and tie it with ribbon. I can fit much more into the suitcases this way. For camping trips, when we have both warm days and cool days, I color code them. Black ribbon for cold days and white ribbon for hot days.
    We use only soft sides suitcases and we got a huge canvas collapsible laundry basket. That way, when the clothes are all dirty in the hamper, the empty suitcases aren’t still taking up room.

  7. Brooke Kingston says

    We love using Ziplock bags for travel! We do exactly as you do…and with great success! This summer, we’ve tried using med size Rubbermaid bins for car travel. Each person gets their own bin, in their own color. They stack so well in the car, they save a lot of space on road trips. We can pretty much put everything each kiddo needs in their own bin…clothes to toiletries to shoes and toys. The boys help pack their own bins. Saves space and sanity!

    • That is a awesome idea!when I was a kid, my parents had us pack everything in a cardboard box. We thought it was cool because we could decorate it, and my dad could easily stack them all in the back.

  8. We did this when our kids were little. The additional piece of info I have is.

    Disneyland trip – Bought Disney shirts at home/online.
    Packed a new Disney shirt in each outftit bag.
    kids were surprised each morning with a new shirt.
    Also, bagged Disney trinkets and left them each day on the table when we left.
    Kids returned each day to find a new toy/game.

  9. I have packed my suitcases using zip lock bags for years. I got the idea after purchasing expensive travel bags. Everything stays neat and keeps organized. If the TSA goes through the suitcase, it keeps hands off of your things. You can roll the air out like with expensive travel bags to save space. One time Delta Airlines broke a suitcase including a container containing liquids. Everything stayed dry. I purchase the gallon size at Costco and they are on sale right now. $2.00 off, limit 5.

  10. I like that you reuse the baggies!

  11. Love this idea! I have always used ziploc bags for toiletries, but I never thought of them for outfits. I pack a bag for dirty clothes, too, but it’s usually a plastic Target bag….I save all my plastic bags and use them for trash liners too.

  12. Try a vacuum pack bag for big items and/or dirty items 🙂 Get one that rolls up to squeeze the air out. Takes up much less room!

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