Wednesday, May 2, 2012

{Traveling with Kids} How to Pack for a Road Trip

Playing peek-a-boo on our
loooooooong car ride
We just came home from what I consider a very successful vacation! We drove to San Antonio (about 11 hours of driving time from our home), stayed there for two days, then went to Houston for two more days. Then drove home!! (10 hours driving time from Houston.) I put a. lot. of effort into packing and preparing for this trip. We have 3 children -- ages 5, 3, and 1 -- so I knew it could be a disaster! I figured the better prepared I was, the better chance for success we had.

I scoured the internet for packing tips, asked friends, and came up with a few more of my own based on what I know of my family. I'm going to share the things that worked for us, and I hope they are helpful to you as you plan your own summer vacation!

1. Start early.

This can't be overstated. I truly began planning our vacation about a month before, and began packing about 10 days before we left. Even at that, the day before was still super busy! Make your lists and check them thrice.

I needed something powerful for my lists! Excel fit the bill :-)

2. Pack smart.

You definitely don't want to be without anything essential on a trip this far from home. But you don't want to be loaded down with a bunch of extra stuff either. Here is what I found to be necessary:

  • 1 set of clothes per kid, per day, including underwear/socks (adjust to your kids' needs! You know how messy they are.)
  • 1-2 spare sets of clothes per kid, including underwear/socks, to be kept in the diaper bag or the car
  • 1-2 additional sets of dinner/evening clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Jackets or swim gear as appropriate. I packed 2 suits per kid so one could be drying while the other was in use.
  • Walking shoes
  • Hats (sun hats or snow hats!)
  • Toiletries (don't forget kid/baby shampoo and hair supplies for the girls)
  • Entertainment!!!! Especially if it's a road trip (this will be another post!)
  • First aid kits, fully-stocked one for the car and a small emergency kit for the diaper bag/purse
  • Diapering supplies
  • Travel crib (even if you're using one at the hotel, bring your own sheets -- most don't provide them)
  • Stroller
  • Dirty clothes bag
  • Single portions of laundry detergent if you plan to do that
  • Trash can for the car!!
  • Cooler of travel snacks
I wanted to take all of the guess-work out of our mornings on vacation, so I packed a Ziploc bag for each day with all the kids clothes in them. The bags included underwear, socks, Sara's headband -- anything we would need for that day. This worked GREAT and kept bags from becoming a chaotic mass of dirty and clean clothes.
These bags made our mornings so much faster and easier! They also ensured I didn't forget anything. Spare sets were kept in the diaper bag.

3. Contain everything.

The key to organizing a trip like this is making sure everything has a place. You will find lots of amazing new uses for all sorts of everyday containers. Wet wipes boxes are amazing! I used them for my car first aid kit, a travel jewelry box, and all-in-one craft kits for the car.
Everything we needed for one car-friendly craft in a single box. Fun!

I don't know about you, but I have about 18 little trial-size flosses from my dentist that *ahem* will never be used. They make great boxes for medicine or anything else tiny.

Because we were staying in 2 different hotels, I ended up doing a separate bag for each, so I wouldn't have to bring one huge suitcase into both hotels full of stuff we didn't need. This worked great!

4. Get some rest.

This is especially important if you are driving, but be sure you get a great night's sleep before your trip! If you have planned well and started early enough, this should be no problem.

Do you have any great ideas for packing for a road trip? And travel tips? Share in the comments!

Linking up at What Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family (Traveling with Kids post)


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  2. Such great ideas! Can't wait to read more!