Now let me say this. I hate carrying more than one bag. (Cue Erykah Badu singing "Bag lady, you gon miss your bus. You can't hurry up. You got too much stuff.") However, when travelling with a 5 month old and a 3 year old, the reality is that everything is not going to fit into one bag, and even if it did fit... its probably not the best packing strategy. Instead, I've decided I'm going to pack smart: a place for everything and everything in its place.
Step One: The clothes
I usually use one suitcase for myself, my daughter, and my son. I pack our clothes in layers. Mine on the bottom, my daughters in the middle, and my son's on the top. Because of this packing strategy I typically unpack all the clothes as soon as we get to the hotel, so that I don't spend the entire time digging through the suitcase looking for things. I love this packing tutorial from I am Style-ish. The idea of using packing cubes is fantastic and I certainly will be investing in them for our next trip.
For myself, I concentrate on clothes that are versatile. I like things that can be worn in church or on a casual walk through a mall. That way I don't have to pack a whole bunch of outfits. Skirts, casual dresses, and cardigans are my must-have items. And I have recently fallen in love with flats because I can play with my kids and still look cute!
Since my daughter is potty-trained and relatively neat, I pack an outfit for her for each day, as well as one back-up outfit in case something should go awry. I love having sweaters for her (especially now that its fall) and I make sure that I always have some jeans, a pair a sneakers, and a hooded sweat shirt because she's a little kid and little kids must have play clothes.
And for my little man, my default rule is 3 outfits per day. That might seem like overkill to some, but when it comes to him, I'd rather have too much than not enough. Plus he's a baby and between spit up and blow outs and drool... he'll probably need all 3 outfits.
Step Two: The plane
Everyone needs stuff for the plane and while my instinct is to cram it all into the baby bag, I'm gonna fight that urge and have 3 separate bags.
For myself, I will carry my purse. This is new for me, because usually I just dump my wallet into the baby bag that I'm carrying. But this time, I plan to carry my purse with just stuff for me, including my nook color on the off chance that everyone is asleep on the plane and I have an opportunity to read!
As for my daughter, she will carry her own book bag. This is always a tough one. I have to pack enough stuff to keep her entertained for the flight, but not too much stuff because then it will be too heavy for her to carry. What I like to do is actually ask her what she'd like to bring. I limit her to one doll or stuffed animal, 3 paperback books, and one activity book. And when she's not looking, I usually sneak in one or two other things so that she will be pleasantly surprised when she opens her bag.
So there it is! My domestic diva packing strategy. I'll let you know how it all works out! --Lady S.