Overseas school trips are very common these days and chances are, you kids will get to go for one at some point in time. One of the first thing we worry about as parents is how to teach our kids to manage their own luggage and belongings. We can envision them wearing the wrong clothes, not able to find clean clothes and losing half the things they bring overseas. We cannot be there to tell them what to do and we cannot be calling them every day to give detailed instructions.
The only way is to try to make packing as idiot-proof as possible. For me, this means using a lot of ziplock bags. They are inexpensive and see-through, so the kid can know what is inside without opening up all the various bags and in the process, mess things up big time. Ziplock bags are generally waterproof too, so if the kid end up with something damp (not dripping wet!), it can be kept quite safely in a ziplock bag.
My system for packing is like this :
1. Have a bag for each day of the trip and label clearly “Day 1”, “Day 2”, and so on. In fact, write the actual date on the label would be better, just in case the kid gets a bit confused which day it is.
2. In each bag, pack the clothes for the day. This way, all the kid has to do is simply pick up the correct bag for the day and wear whatever is inside.
3. After the day is over, the dirty clothes should be packed back into the same bag.
4. If it is necessary for the kid to re-use certain items of clothing, I would stick clear instructions on the bag to tell the kid what to do. E.g. “Day 1. Morning : Wear the uniform. Place PJ in this bag. Night : Take out PJ to wear; put dirty uniform in this bag. Put jacket in Day 2 bag.”
5. There will also be a “Toiletries Bag”, a “Medication Bag” and a “Electronics Bag”. These are either used every day or only as necessarily.
6. I will print a “Packing List”, laminate it and place it in the most obvious place in the luggage. On the packing list, there will be a list of bags and items that the kid has to check off each time he packs his luggage to make sure that he does not miss out anything.
7. Pre-trip, once the luggage is packed, I would run through the process with the kid to make sure he knows exactly what to do.
Will Things Still Get Messed Up?
Yes, it is possible. There is no way we can ensure that things will absolutely not go wrong. We can only try to make things as simple and easy to follow as possible. One way to do this is not to let the kid bring a lot of unnecessary things, especially expensive things like electronic games or phone. Having sufficient luggage space helps because we do not expect our kids to be experts at packing luggages and able to squeeze everything into a small space like adults can. Too big a luggage is unwise, of course. Something slightly roomy so that the kid can basically throw all the bags in without trying to figure out how to fit things in like a puzzle is good enough.
Where to Buy Ziplock Bags?
It is unnecessary to buy branded freezer bags as they tend to be more expensive. I get my ziplock bags in bulk from shops that sell packaging materials, like SKP. They sell ziplock bags in various sizes, so get one that is big enough.
This system of ziplock bag works so well for luggage organisation that I also use this when I pack for family trips. We usually do not go for long trips, so one bag per child is usually enough. In the children’s luggage, each child will have one ziplock bag containing his clothes. Then there will be one bag for swimwear, where all their swimwear will be kept. For my husband and I, we will each have our own bag too.
As for how I pack clothes in the ziplock bags, I find that the best way is to roll up the clothes individually before packing them in.