There are many things I’ve learned about organizing because my husband is in the military. Soldiers keep certain equipment and clothing packed in their rucksacks at all times. If they ever have to “bug-out” (called to duty in an emergency) they just grab their rucksacks and go. In these circumstances, it takes them five minutes to leave the house. Soldiers are provided with a list of what to have in their rucksacks at all times so they have everything they need.

I’ve implemented this system in our household for non-military purposes. When my children were babies, I had a list of items that I always needed in the diaper bag. Every time we arrived at home after being out, I restocked the bag with diapers, wipes, and creams. Then, I quickly looked down the list before heading out the door the next time to ensure I had everything in the bag.

As my children have grown older and are participating in activities, we’ve created a “go-bag” for each activity. Their items for that activity remain always in that bag unless being used or cleaned. We prepared a list of items for the bag, and even used pictures of the items to help them when they were younger.

The list was printed on an index card and laminated. On the reverse side of the index card was emergency contact information (child’s name, parent’s name and phone number, allergy information, etc.). The card was kept in a pocket of the go-bag or sometimes, attached to one of the zippers on the outside of the bag.

On arrival home from swimming lessons, the swimsuit and towel would be washed, shampoo refilled if necessary and the bag stowed on its dedicated hook in the hallway. Once laundered, the swimsuit and towel were returned to the bag.

This system works with sports gear and arts and craft supplies – and even your briefcase for work!

We continue to have a number of “go-bags” hanging in our entryway and I find that being able to get out of the house quickly with all of the necessary equipment is worth it.

12 Comments for “Go-bags”

  1. posted by TinaM on

    that is brilliant!

  2. posted by Linda on

    I used to do this basic idea when my kids were small. It definitely saved us frim having to turn around to go back for forgotten cleats, etc. I have forwarded this to my kids (for my grandkids) to hopefully implement and make their lives less stressed with many activities they attend. Thanks for a great reminder post!

  3. posted by Ana L on

    I have a lot of little bags for managing my toddler’s life. We’re down to a small pouch with a handful of diapers and wipes, but there’s also a pouch with a complete change of clothes, and a different one that has supplies for dealing with car sickness that we need on long trips. Now that it’s summer, I’ll make up a sunny day pouch with sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, and a light long-sleeved shirt. Then I have a few larger bags for actual activities. We have the swimming bag, and also a bag just with outdoor toys, an everyday bag that starts out empty, and a couple bags for outings where amusement might be needed (these are filled with sticker books, art supplies, books, and small toys that only get played with on these outings, so they stay interesting).

    When we’re going out, we grab the most appropriate big bag, and then throw in whichever smaller bags might be appropriate, plus a water bottle and food. I probably should toss in a small jacket or sweater into each, too, since that tends to be one of the things we scramble for, and maybe stock up on extra water bottles so that there’s even less to hunt for.

  4. posted by Jody Attwood on

    We do this with swim bags in summer, and the diaper bag. I also keep a bag in the car with an emergency change of clothing for each child. Even the 10 year old finds it useful now and again!

  5. posted by Tess @ Tips on Life & Love on

    This is a really great idea– especially with little kids! It’s also great for people, like me, with hectic lifestyles. Thanks for sharing this! I will have to implement my own go-to bag!

  6. posted by Graham on

    When I was traveling a lot for work I left a set of toiletries always packed. That was my first venture into the go-bag. I’ve started with a small go-bag for every day – work ID, wallet, keys, etc.
    Never done it with swim bags, so I reckon that is the next one. I’ve been to the pool shop three times for a new set of goggles because I forgot to pack them.

  7. posted by Christy King on

    I do this too, but don’t have a nice name for them generically like you. I’ll have to steal “go bags.” I have a briefcase that is my go-bag for work, a go-bag for long car trips when I’m not driving (an easy knitting project), y library go-bag, my community college class go-bag…. Don’t need any for the kiddo right now but we always the tae kwon do bag, the swimming bag, etc.

  8. posted by Louise on

    I love go bags! Right now I just add other items to my purse or swap into a more appropriate bag like a backpack for a recent zoo trip. I do however always keep a small pouch with personal emergency items in my purse:

    Band aids, allergy meds, pain and upset stomach relief, bobby pins, hair ties, a folded $5 note just in case and some tampons.

    It’s saved my butt on many occasions and the pouch is mostly flat so it tucks into that inside zip pocket in most purses.

  9. posted by ratwoman on

    I did this for some time – a special bag for badminton, one for handball, one for swimming. But I find it cluttered my space having that many filled bags. And I tend to forget wet stuff in them, when I don’t need them for other purposes. Now I only own ONE bag to rule them all *lol* (a rucksack for sports, traveling, hiking, shopping, everything) I get the wet stuff out after gym/swimming, the deodorant, insect repellant and shower gel stays in it (yes, the shampoo stays even on a daytrip) and I have to pack a fresh towel/shorts/underwear anyways so no need to do that immidiately, the bag stays empty in my closet. I find it really unnecessary to have three or more pairs of sandals, shampoo, deodorant etc. not to mention to have to buy all those bags, that might be pretty expensive and I prefer a really good multi-purpose-bag.

  10. posted by Kat on

    I do this too! I have a bag for the gym, a small one with swimming-only things (gets added to the gym bag if necessary, two bags for travelling on short trips – one with toiletries, the other with an adapter plug (I mostly go to Europe), notepad, pencil, earplugs, those kinds of essentials. I also used to have an “overnight” bag for dates if I wasn’t sure I’d be going home at the end of the night 😉 small toothbrush, clean underwear…

  11. posted by Elle on

    I have never thought of it as a “go-bag” but I have exactly this for (1) my travel cosmetics and (2) Don’t laugh – my dog’s travel bag! My dog stays with what we call “her foster family” whenever we travel, and her bag has an index card with a checklist of all the things to remember to pack: food, treats, scoops, bowls, blanket, vet contact info, etc.

  12. posted by Laetitia on

    I have this to a certain extent. If I think about it I can name four of them – everyday backpack, craft bag (current craft project I take to craft groups), dog-walking bag (newspaper, plastic bags and scooper for when she has to ‘go’ and didn’t ‘go’ before we left) and swim bag.

    And Jacki, is it just that I live in one of the world’s skin cancer capitals that I noticed there were no skin-protection specific items (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, rashie vest) in your swim go-bag? Is all swimming there conducted in an indoor pool?

    But like ratwoman, there are some things that I’m not going to double-up on in order to have fully kitted bags. For example, my thongs/sandals/flip-flops/jandals – call them what you will – are needed for more activities than just swimming so I have to remember to grab them and the swim bag; sunscreen lives in the everyday backpack that goes everywhere I go, including swimming locations.

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