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Mind Over Matter
Planning a road trip with kids is not for the faint of heart. The actual destination may not even seem worth it when you consider spending THAT much time in the car with your little people. But, I promise you, it will all be ok. If you prepare yourself, and your kids for what to expect, you will get to your final destination in one piece.
If you haven’t already checked out Part One of the road tripping with kids series, head there now and check out some great activities to keep your kids entertained in the car so they don’t drive you nuts.
Road Trip Packing Essentials
This part of the series is what we call packing. But you aren’t just packing for a destination, you have to pack for the journey too! Of course you have to pack all the things you will need once you get there, but you also need to think about where in the car things will go, what you will need to access easily while in route AND when you get there.
You may be thinking, why? I get having access to the things you need while in the car, duh! But why does it matter how I pack the rest of the stuff in the car? Well, imagine this: you have been on the road since 4:00am (because, trust me, it’s worth it to leave early and dodge some traffic and get to your destination before midnight). You finally pull into your vacation rental/hotel/campsite/whatever and your kids are completely spent and whiney and tired.
You want to get them situated as soon as possible, right? Well, then the first thing you should be able to pull out of the car is your kids’ luggage. The next thing is any bedding you may need. While, yes, most places provide linens, not all do. And if you have a kid that occasionally wets the bed, you may want to think about putting a mattress protector down before he/she hops in for the night. Nothing worse than losing your security deposit because your little darling was so exhausted he/she slept right through the urge to pee.
So, the last thing you should put in your car is your kids’ luggage and bedding. That way it is the first thing out. One parent can tackle the bedding while the kids get dressed and the other parent works on unloading the rest of the stuff.
Keep Things in Reach
Now, onto the things you will need in the car. I recommend having a small bag or cooler with snacks and drinks that you can place on the ground within reach of the front seat passenger. I also highly recommend several trash bags, unless you are cool with driving around in a dumpster!
Also, within reach should be those awesome activities and games you have planned and packed from part one of this series. EXCEPT for the dollar store “gifts.” Keep those up near the front seat passenger to space out the distribution.
As for where in the car things need to go, you may need to juggle stuff around a bit. But keep in mind the points above: pack the kids stuff last, and keep snacks, games, and activities within reach.
So, the rest of the article will focus on how you can organize yourself so that you don’t forget anything. I like lists. I make lots of lists. The first list I make is what category of lists I will need. That sounds weird and like extra work but think about all the different categories of things you need to pack. Depending on your destination and accommodations when you get there, this list can vary greatly.
For our big road trip, we will be staying in a rental home. It comes with basic kitchen appliances, pots, pans, dishes, etc. BUT, that means we will be packing things to cook in the house to save money. We will also have access to laundry, so we have to think about that too. Long story short, here are the categories I have come up with for the different things we will have to pack:
The Road Trip Packing List of Lists
1. Kid 1: Clothes (this includes jammies, underwear, socks, shoes, shorts/pants, shirts, swimsuits, etc.) This is whatever YOU need. Anything that the kid will need to wear, pack it.
2. Kid 1: Loveys and bedding (stuffed animals, waterproof mattress protectors, blankets/sheets-if needed)
3. Kid 2: Clothes (see above)
4. Kid 2: Loveys and bedding
5. Adult 1: Clothes
6. Adult 2: Clothes
7. Laundry supplies: Do you need to bring your own detergent or is it provided?
8. Toiletries: What is supplied? What do you have to provide?
9. Medicines: I always like to pack medicine in case someone gets sick or has allergies or a headache. Don’t forget to also pack a first aid kit with this.
10. Kitchen: In the next part of this series I will touch on how to meal plan and prep for your vacation, but if it is non-perishable, and a part of your meal plan, take it with you! Also consider if you need to bring your own dish detergent, soap, towels, napkins, etc. And don’t forget the coffee!!
11. Recreational supplies: Do you need to bring beach chairs or towels? Bikes? Think about what you will be doing on vacation and plan ahead to save on renting or buying while you are there.
12. Car entertainment: See Part One of this series!
13. Miscellaneous: Don’t forget your chargers for phones, computers, tablets, watches etc., your WALLET! You are going to need your wallet-make sure you have everything you need in there.
Share Your Road Trip Packing Tips
Recently, the kids have been taking charge of their playtime, especially with cold and rainy weather. In doing so, they’ve been thrilled to share their games with us and it’s pretty cool to see their enthusiasm wrapped around their own creativity.