Packing organization

We are traveling to my parents cottage today for 6 nights. The cottage has the basics and we split the food between my siblings and I, so it isn’t to bad for work.


img_1755Two weeks after we got back, we left for 4 days camping with our friends and our cabins have water, electricity, and walls. That’s about it. We need all the linens, all the dishes, all the food and such.

We go to the cottage on most warm holidays (in Wisconsin those can be limited), the camping trip is annual, and there is a week vacation with my husband’s family so I find the system helps the packing chaos–especially with 2 kids, 2 dogs, and autism/sensory needs.

img_1277Labeled bins.  I use the sterilite drawers, drawer labels I made, laminated, and write on with permanent marker.  These drawers stay filled in the garage to be used when we are home, and can be changed out order wise by simply trading drawers.  I can change the labels by coloring over with dry erase marker and wipe away.  Simply by having things in drawers vs digging through a bag makes life so much easier.
Tools: extension cords, power strips, outlet extenders, hammer, nail, tape (clear, masking, duck), night lights, scissors, lighter, wash cloths.
Diapers/Underwear: We are still in the midst of potty training so it is diapers, wipes, underwear, diaper cream, and grocery bags to tie up things if need be.
Meds/Bugs/Beach: Sunscreen, bug spray, anti-itch, benedryl, tylenol, ibuprophen, syringe, aloe, coconut oil.

img_1289Sleep Bag (I like Thirty-One, but any wire topped one will work). I keep a sound machine, books, dvds, pack n play/twin sheet, and camera 3 from our monitor in there at all times.  I add lovies, weighted blanket, N Pillow, Parent end of the monitor, zippy, and Stella’s sleeping bag.  Having it mostly packed and only needed the last minute they are still using this essentials helps.

img_2387Food Bins/Bag for the cottage when I have a small portion, I bring the thirty one bag.  When we go camping I need much more food and I put them in cheap short bins I got at Goodwill.  All the dry food and paper goods can fit in these but doesn’t go flat when layered so even buns, bread, and chips can go in.  Makes it less nerve wracking packing when things aren’t going to get squished.

img_2386Paper Bag/Shelf in fridge to put in cooler.  It is inevitable that you will shop for the trip.  It was far to frequent that something would get left behind that was supposed to go because it got put away and it was to far from the rest.  I started designating a shelf or a paper bag with all the trip stuff so it is sorted when I have time and then move the whole shelf/bag when you are in a hurry.

Prep to a point but leave assembly to there.  Veggie pizza, pasta salad, BLT, Italian Stir Fry, Turkey Burgers.  I make the ingredients but leave the actual baking/assembly to the location. It is tricky to transport a whole veggie pizza, but it is easy to transport a container of the dip mix, crescent rolls, and a gallon bag of veggies pre-cut.

Swim Bag  I keep all the towels, sunscreen, swim shoes in one bag for the trip up so it is already ready for that first trip. I love to use my Stella and Dot bag since it can expand, it is water resistant, shoulder strap and handles, and it’s cute!

img_1287Rain Bag I hate when it rains on your parade but I fill a bag with everyone’s rain boots, rain coats, and umbrellas.  I leave them in their own bag because they can stay in the car if it is good weather, but you can pull the whole bag in to get dressed in your gear if necessary.

Dog Bag We have 2 lovely dogs we also bring with us or need to bring to a dog sitter. They get their own bag too.  In their bag is the food dishes, and smaller water dispenser.  We keep a gallon bucket with a top of food so it is safe from critters and spills.  Just refill food and they are ready to go!  We also bring a remote collar so we can “beep” them to remind them to come home and glow sticks so we can find them in the dark!

img_1748When we found out it was likely going to rain we got the idea to bring sensory activities for Nolan.  We now think this is a staple in our packing!  Yes it was because we had the trailer hitch carrier and we could fit it.  If we didn’t have this option I think we would try to bring some of the things shoved in other places, but maybe not all of it.  So glad it worked out though! We used it!



img_1747We hook the DVD player up for Nolan, the iPad for Stella.  We have headphones for them but we are working on them liking headphones. haha.  They both have water bottles, and the mini potty is available for stops.  Diaper bag and their backpacks are right in my turning reach.

img_1758img_1759When we get to the location, I work to set up areas so we can find stuff.  All sleep stuff goes by beds, suitcases in their room and/or area (we all share 1 room often), swim stuff all together, rain stuff left in car until needed, Drawers in the center of it all.


When making a list of things you need to bring, I also sort the list by these bags so I can cross off as I put it in the bag and then cross the bag off when it is in the car.  I have made my list into a google doc.  Please save this doc to your word and edit on your own computer as to not modify the template. MY PACKING LIST

Packing for vacation can be stressful and make you wonder if it is worth it, but once it is a system and you can get out with most of your hair and no extra grays, you may be able to get out the door and enjoy yourself.

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