I like to think that I was a fan of Marie Kondo before it was “cool.”
My husband actually read her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, when I was pregnant with my youngest. He was super motivated to go through the entire house and start a massive purge. I, on the other hand, was completely exhausted from growing a life inside me and managing our toddler. After shooting him a few death stares about cleaning our house every night, he finally got the hint and backed off.
But, once our youngest was born, my husband persuaded me to listen to her audiobook in the car just to see if it resonated with me. It only took a chapter and I was totally hooked! Everything she said made sense to me and after amassing so much kids stuff, I wanted to feel organized.
Luckily for us, our neighbor was studying to be a KonMari consultant and she needed to work with families in order to get her hours. Score.
Every weekend for seven weeks, we got a sitter for the kids and we spent five to six hours systematically going through our entire house. It was a HUGE undertaking but the results were incredible. Our lives felt calmer and I could think a bit clearer.
I wanted to extend this feeling for our family vacations.
For one thing, doing the big purge of clothes made packing a lot easier. I tried every piece of clothing on so my closet just had clothes that fit me and that “sparked joy” for me. That means I had less clothing and it was a lot easier to pick out items to pack for my trips.
We also went through all our travel items, like passports, foreign money, travel-sized toiletries, Disney dollar store items, etc. and put them all in one place. So, instead of running all over the house looking for specific travel toys I bought at the Target Dollar Spot, I could just go to the bin and pull out what I was looking for.
I would consider myself a diligent packer. You won’t find me throwing things into a bag before heading to the airport. I’ve never been that way and I certainly wouldn’t be able to do that with little kids. I know I’d forget so many crucial items. Instead, I usually start a week before our trip and gather items we’ll need. And I make a list of items we are currently using but need to pack (like my toothbrush and sunglasses).
In the past, I used to swear by my system of rolling each clothing item, putting it in a Ziplock freezer bag and squishing out all the air before I sealed it. I loved being able to see all my clothes and the bags easily slid into any bag. However, once we got to our destination and I started opening bags, I quickly became disorganized. I’d have clothes spilling out of bags and it felt like I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Then I was forever living out of my suitcase digging through slippery bags.
I tried a variety of ways to use the bags. Sometimes I’d put each outfit in a separate bag. Other times I’d sort it by type of clothing: shirts in one bag, pants in another. But nothing seemed to work efficiently for me.
After working with our KonMari consultant on how to fold our laundry so that each item stood on its edge, I realized that this would be a game-changer in how I packed for vacation.
I invested in packing cubes in a variety of sizes. Marie Kondo is always talking about bringing boxes with her so she can organize people’s drawers. Why not use this system when packing a suitcase? I mean, it’s basically a drawer on wheels!
Since we usually combine all our items into two large suitcases, I assigned each family member a different color packing cube. Clothes take up most of our suitcase space, so I start by folding each piece of clothing using the KonMari method. Then, I find the smallest size packing cube they will fit in. I do this for myself and my kids. My husband is a grown man and fully capable of doing his own packing.
Then I move on to shoes, toiletries, diapers, wipes, etc. Each category gets put in a small packing cube. Then, I try to put the smaller packing cubes in a larger packing cube to keep them together.
I don’t use just use this method for our checked luggage. It applies to our carry-on bags, too. I like to use a backpack with lots of different compartments, so I don’t need to use so many packing cubes. Instead of just filling our backpack with all the items we’ll need on our flight, I separate things by category. Since I bring a lot of snacks, including pouches, I put them all in a Ziplock freezer bag so I can easily pull them out and I don’t worry about them leaking all over my backpack.
I also pull out a few diapers and wipes and put them in a little nylon bag so I can quickly grab it to take to the lavatory. I put extra changes of clothes in a small packing cube in the bottom of my backpack. I make sure to have extra binkies, comfort items and a few packable toys in other pockets of my backpack. And because I’m a family travel blogger, I also carry my laptop, charging cables, gimbal and camera.
But the awesome part comes when we arrive at our destination. At the hotel, I can just pull out the packing cubes and set them in the drawers. Every morning, it’s so easy to unzip the cubes and quickly pull out a neatly folded outift for each of us. And because they are folded the KonMari way, they are usually wrinkle-free!
And at the end of our trip, I can put all the dirty clothes in specific packing cubes while combining our leftover clean clothes in another. So, it’s easy to (mostly) unpack as soon as we get home.
It’s been a year since we did our big KonMari house organization and we’re definitely due for a refresher, but I’m happy to say that we’ve kept up with the packing all year. Iit’s saved us a lot of time and money since we aren’t buying extra items we can’t find. I hope this helps you stay organized, too!