We have dear friends who live outside of San Jose, Costa Rica working in the mission field for Central and South America with Reach Global. When they asked us to come for a visit, my husband and I jumped at the chance. So began the planning for a 7 day trip to Costa Rica. We were looking forward to experiencing the Costa Rican culture, drinking really great coffee and traveling to the Pacific coast for a couple of days of R&R with our friends. Oh, and we decided to take our four kids.
Planning was fun; it’s always fun to plan things, particularly trips to foreign countries. But actually putting a plan into action – now that’s where it gets tricky. Especially when you are planning to pack a family of six for seven days with a goal of only 2 suitcases total and one carry on per person. And you need to take along some much needed food supplies for your friends who are longing for some pecans and good, old fashioned stone ground grits.
I’ve figured out the best way to pack for an extended time is to portion pack the kids’ clothing. It probably seems like a lot of work (it is) and it takes longer to pack (it does), but it’s well worth it. We have two boys who are close in age and I struggle to figure out whose black soccer shorts are whose. They look JUST THE SAME to me, but alas, they are not. Not to mention tee shirts and underwear – is this one Jack’s? No, Wesley’s? ACK!
To make packing and meting out clothing easy, I buy a couple of boxes of gallon sized zip lock bags. Each bag contains one entire outfit per kid (shorts, shirt, pair of socks and underwear). I write the child’s name on the bag with a Sharpie and zip it up. When we arrive at our destination, the kids can just look in the suitcase and find a zip lock bag with their name on it and viola! They are ready to dress themselves in clothes that fit them!
This has also helped us pack more in the suitcases. We are able to squeeze out all of the air from the zip lock bags and thus put more in each suitcase. For our Costa Rica trip, the clothing for all four children for seven days including bathing suits and a gift for our host family all fit into one suitcase. With airlines now charging for baggage, it really helps to keep our baggage costs to a minimum.
Packing was a success and our time in Costa Rica was amazing. I’m feeling pretty confident now – maybe our next trip should be two weeks long instead of only one?
Charlie, as a mom of 4, has lots of wisdom in parenting, organization, and simplifying things with a large family. Check out her other guest post here on being in a multi-racial family.