Diane Backes

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Our three-week trip to Europe, with three small kids (11, 9, and 6 years old) in tow went off without a hitch, and I swear it was all due to the way we packed our bags. Each person was responsible for towing one bag whenever we traveled from one city to the next. We started in Paris, then traveled by train to Geneva, Interlaken, Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Sicily, ferried to Genoa, went on to Nice, and then made our way back to Paris.The kids were happy troopers, as they each wheeled their own cargo every two to three days.

We divided the stash this way: One bag held all the shoes, sandals, sneakers, and a good pair of shoes per person, and one bag contained sweatshirts, jackets, long pants, warm clothing, umbrellas, and water bottles (every day we carried three large water bottles as we walked the cities of Europe). The remaining three bags held our everyday clothes, mostly shorts and tops; however, each bag contained four to five different outfits per person. Thus, each day we only opened one suitcase and lived out of that suitcase for one week. At the end of that week, we had one suitcase full of dirty laundry, and then we lived out of the second suitcase the following week. Toiletries were packed in the everyday suitcase, and an empty duffel bag was brought along in the shoe bag to tote souvenirs home. I didn't want everyone opening their own suitcase every night, digging around, spewing clothes all over the place, and then not knowing if everything got back in the suitcase by the morning we had to catch the next train. It was so simple to set out each person's clothes the night before and then toss the dirty clothes in a plastic bag, thus opening only one suitcase each day. When we did laundry, we rolled the suitcase to the laundromat, washed our clothes, put them back in the suitcase, and then we had fresh clothes in case we needed extras. We also had clean clothes when we got home and only had one suitcase of dirty laundry to do. [PHOTO]

I'm sure this method would help any family who may be traveling with children.

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