Organized Travel: Packing Strategies for Every Kind of Trip

Want to try to be more organized while away? Here are a few strategies depending upon your trip:

  • Tour trip where you are in a different place nearly every night. For this kind of travel, you are packing and unpacking daily, which can mean in a few days your bag or suitcase is a jumble of clean and dirty clothing. Try this strategy: before you leave, create complete outfits for each day and put each outfit in a large 2 gallon clear plastic bag. Yes, this requires planning ahead of time, but it can completely streamline your morning routine while away. Take out the clothing for the day, and put in yesterday's dirty laundry. My in-laws recently were on this kind of trip and learned this idea from a fellow traveler. The woman who was using this strategy was considering finding a post office to mail several of her bags of dirty laundry home!
  • For a cruise or other vacation where you'll stay in a spot for several days in a row, you can unpack more into the room. Even when I unpack I like to keep clothing organized in these packing cubes, which I've posted about before. 
  • No matter where you go, choose clothing pieces that can mix and match easily, and bring layers. Don't over pack shoes (a common problem), bring a casual pair, a dressy pair, and sneakers or walking shoes. 
  • Don't forget to seek out laundry options along the way on your travels, so you don't have to take so many clothes. One family we often travel with likes to do laundry right near the end of the trip so they don't have to deal with all the laundry as soon as they are home. 
  • Read here for more tips to make the return to home easier. 

Happy travels!

Laundry List: How to Un-stick Your Laundry Process

Confession: I don’t mind doing the laundry. I use it as a “background” task while I’m doing other things around the house. I also enjoy folding and putting it away.

Most people don’t feel this way, and that often the laundry gets stuck at various points in the process. Here are some tips to keep it moving along:

  • Problem: Hate going into your laundry room? Solution: Clean it out, maybe even give it a fresh coat of paint. Read more in my laundry room essentials post.
  • Problem: A mountain of clean laundry that never gets put away. Solution: Is the problem where the laundry goes…are dressers and closets over stuffed? Clean them out and make room. Donate or give away those pieces you never, ever wear. Also, be sure you have dressers that open easily—especially critical for kids if you have any hope of them putting their clothes away.
  • Problem: Sorting laundry takes forever and never seems to end. Solution: Do laundry for each person on a different day. Many families find this works really well. If you are washing and drying one person’s laundry you also avoid the sorting step!  One mom I know uses mesh laundry bags and throws the whole bag into the washer. She uses a shout stain catcher so colors don’t mix.  Another idea: get others in your family to do their own laundry.
  • Problem: Socks without a mate. And the huge pile of socks to be matched.  Solution #1: Each person gets a zipper mesh bag just for socks. Put dirty socks in the bag, then put the whole bag into the washer. Solution #2: Buy all the same kind/color of sock. Trust me, this works. Solution #3: Try Sock-Locks to keep your socks together before they get washed.

If you can’t face your laundry room or want some new ideas on the process, contact me today. Email

Laundry Room Essentials

Whether you have a laundry room that’s just a nook off the kitchen, a corner in the basement, or a dedicated room, here are essentials to keep it organized:

  • Trash can.
  • Bar or clothing line to hang clothes to air dry.
  • Storage shelf or bin for your detergent and stain removers. Be sure to use up nearly-empty containers, recycle the empties, and don’t over-buy on products.
  • Jar to collect all that loose change from pockets.
  • Space (table or counter) to fold or spread out clothes.

Remember to relocate all the things that don’t belong in the laundry room. Other items tend to creep into the laundry space, but don’t let them take over. .

Need more inspiration? Read my post about how I organized my laundry area and my favorite tools.  Bonus Tip: Refresh your space with white paint. My laundry “room” is in the basement, and wasn’t the most inviting area. The space was transformed when I painted the walls and shelves white (using a mixture of all the white paints we had leftover from other painting projects).

Travel Tip: Stack, Fold & Roll

Travel Tip from a client: Stack all your shirts together, fold in the arms, and then roll them up. The client did this last year for a trip to Europe and said it really worked – it even kept out the wrinkles.

I tried this on our recent summer trip and found that it worked better for synthetic or blend shirts, rather than all cotton ones. My all cotton T-shirts were still pretty wrinkled.

I also tried stacking and rolling all my shorts and skirts together; they didn’t have too many wrinkles and it definitely saved space.

Do you roll your clothes when you pack? What's your packing secret?

Getting Teens to Clean–New York Times Article

Good article in the New York Times about parents dealing with their teenager’s bedrooms. I’m taking notes for when my daughter enters this stage in a few years!

What are your tips for getting your kids to clean?

Here are some ideas from me that appeared in the Boston Parents Paper April 2012.

The Clear Choice for Storage

I’ve written before about how much I like to use The Container Store’s clear shoe boxes.  I don’t usually recommend just one product to clients, but these boxes are sturdy and tend to last.

One of my clients likes to use the shoeboxes for storage all over her house. We’ve used them to contain:

  • arts and crafts supplies in her office
  • bags of fruits and vegetables in the freezer
  • food in the pantry
  • tools and sporting goods in the basement

As you see in the photos we’ve also labeled the boxes to help everyone in her family know what goes where.

I’m not sure we’ve used the shoeboxes for actual shoes…yet. This container truly works all over the house.

Summer Guests

Do you have friends or family coming to visit this summer? Here are some tips to help get you organized.

Put the visits on your calendar, so you know who is coming when! I love to use Google calendar that is shared with my husband.

Create a quick “cheat sheet” for your home with key information for guests: how to get on the wireless network, how to work the TV, and any quirks about how to lock the house or where you keep the extra keys.

If you are short on space or don’t have a dedicated guest room, you can still create an inviting space for guests:

  • Have your inflatable mattress or bed ready to go, or sleeping bags for kids.
  • Be sure to have some extra linens and towels on hand, and have them out and ready, so your guests don’t have to go searching through your linen closet to find what they need.
  • Create a guest supply station in a cabinet or closet shelf. (For more tips on creating this station, see the tips for June in my 12 Months of Organizing Calendar…on sale for 50% off!)

Spring Organizing Project #1: The Laundry Room

This week Spring finally was in the air! (Of course that was followed by snow flakes a day later, but that’s New England weather.)

The beginning of Spring makes me think about starting fresh in my home…which means quick organizing projects to get things in shape.

The first quick project is the laundry room. If you have my 12 Months of Organizing: A Quarter At a Time calendar, you know why! I won’t repeat all the steps from the calendar, but remember to clean the space, recycle empty detergent bottles, and put away all the things that have crept into the area that don’t belong!

I also want to mention a few of my favoritetools to organize the space:

  • A table. My laundry space isn’t big but having a flat space for sorting and folding clothes comes in handy.
  • Extra laundry baskets marked “cold” and “warm.” Again, I don’t have lots of space in my laundry area but it’s helpful to have baskets to sort out the loads. It brings some order to all the loads of laundry instead of leaving them in one heap on the floor.

Take 30 minutes today and organize your laundry room.