How To: Creating Travel Wardrobes For Kids

If you've ever tried packing for a child you probably know that its easy to pack WAY too much stuff for your kids (just in case). So what do you do if you want to pack light? Or if you have more than one kid to pack for? Or if you just want packing and dressing your kids to be easier? The simple answer is - make them a capsule wardrobe.


You may know that I take great joy in packing light. It’s just easier for us to get around that way. Over the years of traveling by myself and learning how to pack in a smarter way I've found that one of the simplest things I can do is make sure each piece of clothing counts. What I mean is, each piece of clothing should be able to be worn with pretty much everything else you pack. That way you can bring relatively few items and still have a great variety of outfits you can wear by mixing and matching.

The advantage of this type of dressing is that you don't have to lug nearly as much clothing around with you and you don't have to think too hard about finding an outfit each day. Conveniently this whole concept works just out as well when you're packing for kids.

Because I've enjoyed packing this way so much I have found that our regular everyday wardrobes have started to become slightly larger capsule wardrobes. I really love that the kids can pick their outfits each day and still look put together and its easy to see if we need to add a couple pieces here and there. So if you enjoy this method for travel you might consider it for when you're home as well.

So how do you go about making this stress-busting, space-saving wardrobe for your kids? Really, the key is to make sure that almost everything works together in color and style and will be appropriate for what you're planning on doing on your trip. I find that the more things work together, the easier it is for my three year old to pick an outfit for herself each day (extra win!). 


Planning A Travel Capsule Wardrobe For Kids

Things to think about before getting started:

What is the weather like at your destination?

Do you have any special activities (i.e. wedding, church, swimming, sledding) that require specific clothing?

What colors are most of their clothing? Which neutral color goes best with that color?

After you consider these things you can start putting together your child's capsule wardrobe.

Step 1:

Start with determining how much clothing to bring. To figure out how many outfits to pack for small children I recommend you take the number of days you'll be gone and multiply it by 1.5. So if you will be gone for 6 days I would pack 9 outfits (including their travel day outfit). For pajamas divide the number of days you'll be gone by 2. So if you'll be gone for 6 days you would bring 3 pairs of pajamas. As for kids shoes I think you could get away with just two pairs, something for walking/playing and something a little nicer. Depending on where you're going you may also want to add a pair for seasonal weather (i.e. sandals, wellies, snow boots). Honestly, we tend to stay places with access to laundry so we don't pack quite so much but it is a good starting place if you're new to capsule wardrobes or packing light. 

Step 2:

Make a checklist list of all the things you think they'll need (and how many of each). This should include basics like pants and shirts but should also include shoes, jackets, hats, pajamas, socks and underwear. Make sure you have the appropriate items for any special events or activities on your list as well. 

Step 3:

The first thing you'll want to choose is which neutral color(s) you'll be using. This color is what you'll use to tie everything together so its important that you have something in mind before you start choosing outfits. For my girls we usually use grey/black but you could just as easily use brown, navy, etc. This color is great for jackets, shoes and accessories because they are the things that will be worn most frequently and will need to be most versatile. 

Step 4:

Now, go check out their closet. See how many things you can find that are on the list you made. Start pulling out things that could work. Narrow down your options to things within the same color family (remember we want everything to work together). In an ideal world, each top would work with each bottom so no matter what you grab in the morning you'll end up with something presentable. If you're having trouble narrowing down your options, give preference to items that layer well.

I have found that the easiest things to work with for outfit bottoms, jackets, and shoes are solid colors or subtle patterns. If you want to keep things interesting try different textures like denim, jersey and corduroy. Shirts and accessories are a good place to add more interest to their outfits. 

Once you have decided which pieces will go with you, double check that they fit then check them off the list. When you're finished looking through what you have on hand, check out your list again. You may find that there are a couple things missing. Reconsider wether you'll actually need them and if so, those are the things you'll need to purchase or borrow for your trip.

A lot of the time you can come up with an entire capsule wardrobe from the things you already have on hand (though sometimes you may need to supplement with a couple items if you're traveling to another climate). Keep in mind that you'll want to bring clothing they love wearing and that they are comfortable in (with lots of exciting things happening no one wants their little one fussy over ill fitting clothing).


You can easily do all of this with just a pencil, paper and a few free minutes. However, if you enjoy this sort of exercise in creativity I would highly recommend downloading the Stylebook app. It takes a little bit more time to set it up but once you do you can use it to put together (and save) outfits for multiple people and even group together outfits into a packing list. I know it might not be for everyone but as a very visually inclined list-maker it is right up my alley.

What about you? Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe for yourself or your kids? Share what has worked for you in the comments below.