Life changes when you have kids. Gone are the days when you and your college room mates would just hop in the car on the spur of the moment and take off on a grand road trip with just a few essentials like a change of clothes, and some cool sunglasses.
Having kids means that you actually need to plan things like road trips. It also means that you need to pack a little bit more than just the essentials when you do decide to take to the open road. However, it is possible to bring too much stuff. I’ve done this before and it is just as aggravating as not bringing enough stuff.
My goal recently is to neither over nor under pack for our frequent road trips. Since my older four children are court ordered to visit their father who lives 10 hours away 1 to 2 times a month, I’ve gotten a lot of experience on packing and surviving road trips. I’d like to share the things I’ve learned with you!
I keep a folding car organizer in the trunk to organize and keep all of our road trip items in one area. Each season, I pack an extra outfit for each of my children in the tote. This seems like overkill for teenagers, but you never know when your 15 year old will spill something on her white shirt and oh my GOSH! Avoid the drama and just pack an outfit change.
Since my son is 1 ½, I have a full outfit change for him. This includes shoes, socks, and an extra coat. Today, I was glad that I am super organized. I know it irritates my husband, but it does help every so often. Today, I chaperoned a field trip for my daughter’s class to the state capitol. I took along my son and he had an extremely messy diaper. The diaper leaked and his coat, shoes and his socks were soiled.
Along with extra outfits, I also keep extra shopping bags and large Ziploc bags. After I changed my son, I stashed his soiled clothes and shoes in a Ziploc bag which helped contain the mess and odor.
I also have a bag with extra personal care supplies including tissues, sun tan lotion, and hand sanitizer which I store in the organizer. I also have a first aid kit that I keep in the car. I’ve had to use that kit quite a few times! You won’t regret keeping an extra roll of paper towels in your car for emergencies.
If you have younger children, an activity tote bag can be stores in the car. I put quiet activities in the bag like games designed for traveling, sewing cards and magnetic dolls. For the teens, I keep a carton full of hand held games and extra batteries! I also keep the portable DVD player in this carton too. I store the carton in the house, but it’s simple to put it in the car when we need to go out.
I do keep a pack of water bottles in the car. We use them often, so I am constantly buying new water bottles on a regular basis. When I know we are going to be going on a road trip, I check the amount of bottles I have on hand. I also purchase juice boxes too.
When traveling, you may wish to pack some snacks to lower food costs while you are traveling, or you may wish to pack a cooler with food so you don’t have any food costs. When we travel, I carry powder formula and extra bottles. I bring along fresh fruit and vegetables and other snacks for the older children. I find that it’s overwhelming and messy to try to pack sandwiches for all 7 of us. That’s just me though. Usually, we’ll stop somewhere and buy hamburgers to supplement the snacks and the drinks that I’ve packed. I find that this works well for all of us!
If you have an infant or a small child, you will have extra packing to do. If you will be gone all day at the beach or the lake, you should pack a portable crib so your child can rest and have a safe place to play during the day. I personally prefer portable baby tents instead of the portable cribs. They fold and can fit into a small area and help to keep your child contained during the day. They also provide sun protection.
If we are going to be hiking or walking, I will bring along our baby hiking pack which allows either my husband or I to put our child on our backs. I do keep a stroller in the back of the car at all times just in case I need it. If I get tired of carrying our son on my back, I can use the stroller if I need to.
Road trips with kids are a little more work than the college road trips my friends and I used to take, but they are just as much fun. All you have to do is plan ahead!