March 06, 2008

Packing for Six People for Six Weeks, Part 2: Clothing

Now that I had taken care of the big stuff that I needed for child containment reasons, I turned my attention toward another serious question. How can you pack enough clothes for six weeks for six people and still pack lightly?

In one regard, I was lucky with the packing of all the clothes. Most of my children are still small and their clothes are also small. Baby clothes take up less space than an adult's or even an eight year old's clothes.

The first thing I did was decide to color coordinate everyone. Although in general I do not like my kids going around matching each other too much, making sure their clothes all would work with anything else in their wardrobe was much easier when I decided on a basic family color scheme for everyone except my husband. Working primarily with what we already owned, though I did buy a few suitable things for the girls at Goodwill before we left, I decided to go with navy, red, green and black as basic colors for everyone's clothes (not all clothes were in these colors, but everything had to look okay with those). This also gave me the sense that if anyone got all their clothes completely filthy at the same time, I could swap them out with another child's clothing in a pinch.

The baby got four shirts (navy, red, red with stripes and blue and brown striped), two pairs of overall (one denim and one blue), a red pair of sweatpants, a pair of khaki pants, four sets of pajamas (he's more apt to wet the bed than anyone else), two sweaters, four pairs of socks and all the diapers I could stuff into suitcases.

The two girls each got two pairs of jeans, a pair of red pants, and one got a pair of black and one a pair of blue pants besides. The older got two red shirts, a green shirt and a golden tan colored shirt. The younger got a red shirt, a blue shirt, a black shirt and a white shirt (we call her pigpen for a reason, I should never have packed anything white for her). The older got a skirt and a dress (she really didn't need both after all) and the younger two dresses (again, one would have really been enough). Both got about five sets of underwear (they are still a bit unpredictable in the bathroom department) two sweaters, two sets of tights and four pairs of socks, two pairs of pajamas and one pair of sneakers and a pair of dressier shoes.

The eight year old got two pairs of jeans, a pair of cords and a set of sweatpants (mostly for him to wear on the airplanes), two button down shirts (one red plaid and one blue chambray) and two long sleeved t-shirts (one red and one blue with stripes). He got two sweaters, two pairs of shoes, underwear for four days, four pairs of socks, a couple of t-shirts that could pretend to be undershirts if necessary and two sets of pajamas. I probably packed the least clothing for him and he's actually worn everything more than anyone else.

My husband was the easiest to pack for, but also took up the most space. He needed to bring two wardrobes for both business and casual wear. He got three suits, four dress shirts, four undershirts, two pairs of cords, four casual shirts (though I should have only packed two or three), a couple of sweaters (that he has barely worn), four pairs of socks in blue and four pairs in khaki, four pairs of underwear, pajamas, a pair of black shoes and a pair of brown, a trenchcoat with a liner and a casual rain jacket. His clothes took up a garment bag and part of a suitcase that he shared with me.

For myself, I brought a skirt, two pairs of jeans (though one has proved too tight in the expanding waistline and have barely been worn, so I could have done without), two pairs of black pants (one would have been quite sufficient -- what was I thinking?), five shirts (two white, black with dots, black and red swirls, and black and blue squares), a set of tights, four pairs of socks (most were not new and I promptly put holes in three of the pairs with all the walking, meaning I had to buy new socks over here), four pairs of underwear and yoga pants instead of pajama pants. I packed myself a black cardigan, a red and black sweater, and a black sweatshirt. I also brought some sneakers, a pair of clogs and a pair of dressy boots. I haven't worn the boots at all and the other shoes all seem to hurt my feet now, which they didn't during the much lighter use at home.

I also packed everyone other than my husband a wool or fleece jacket (either pea coat or a toggle coat) in blue, grey or black and a rain coat. We didn't come in the rainy season though and we've only been caught out in the rain twice and even then it wasn't a hard rain. I'm not exactly willing to state that packing rain gear was unreasonable, but we haven't used it at all.

In the end we wound up with two suitcases for the kids (total, as in one suitcase held the clothing of two children), a large suitcase for my clothes, my husband's clothes and our toiletries, a garment bag for my husband's suits, and one more medium sized bag for extra coats and other things. That was what we checked at the airport. It doesn't sound like packing light exactly, but overall, there hasn't been all that much I wouldn't pack again.


That sounds about right. The key thing is that you plan to do laundry. Whenever we travel for more than a weekend I plan to do some laundry.

Posted by: Sarah G. at March 6, 2008 08:22 AM

I talked to my brother about your trip today.

We both admire your courage and stamina for packing the rug rats off to a foreign country.

We think you're "cool."

Posted by: Janis Gore at March 6, 2008 02:18 PM

Thanks, Janis. You make my day.

Posted by: Jordana at March 7, 2008 03:08 AM

Or insane.

Posted by: Janis Gore at March 7, 2008 02:10 PM

Not only cool, but able to blog on top of it!

It's been the sort of week for us where blogging would be a chronicle of crime and (too little) punishment. I need to get back in the game, but it would be nice if my sinuses would drain first.

Posted by: Lenise at March 7, 2008 05:31 PM