It’s that time of year when the weather is heating up and everyone is ready to come out of their winter hibernations. Spring has sprung and now is the time to create some unforgettable family memories. I look forward to the spring every year because I feel like it’s the time when the world comes alive again. The flowers are blooming and I can finally get my kids outside without the hassle of their heavy winter gear. My most favorite thing to do is to load our family into the car and drive. Of course, that sounds much easier than it is considering there are eight people in our family, and it’s virtually impossible to do anything without proper planning. I’m sharing some roadtrip essentials that have worked time and time again to keep my family organized as we hit the road.
There is no such thing as being over prepared when it comes to taking a road trip. Creating a packing list is the first thing I do to keep myself organized. My packing list was a life saver when our kids were younger because it allowed me to see what I already had for our trip, what I needed, and cut down on things that could be purchased once we arrived at our destination. Depending on where your road trip takes you, make sure you have the essentials on hand when you arrive, the extras are great, but can be purchased later. You’ll find sometimes, that the extras that you thought you needed aren’t needed at all.
Let’s be clear here, you’re embarking on a potentially long road trip and the last thing you want to do is overload the car so much that you’re cramped inside. When packing try to create outfits that can be interchangeable. I like to lay out outfits before packing to make sure that everything is sorted. I stick with the idea of packing two tops to one bottom. If I can help it, I pack more dresses than anything else. Dresses are a complete outfit in one and generally don’t take up much space in the suitcase. When that’s not possible, I make sure to keep outfits together and roll them for maximum space saving.
If you want a smooth roadtrip, whatever you do, don’t forget the snacks. It makes for a very bad experience. Choose snacks that don’t create a mess. Nothing with excess frosting or sprinkles. You might want to skip popcorn while you’re at it. You can thank me later. My favorite snacks to pack are energy bars, beef sticks, fruits without skins (apples, strawberries), and lunchables. I also add in a small beverage (not too large, we’ll cover why in a few). I have learned over the years to put the snacks into gallon size ziploc bags and label them with each kid’s name. It cuts down on the constant request for snacks and puts the reponsibilty on the child to ration out their own snacks during the trip.
You’ll be in the car for a bit so why not have some of your favorite tunes to keep you energized. When our kids were little we had a television in our car and we brought all of the kids’ favorite movies with us for them to watch to pass the time. It was brutal listening to Disney movies and not being able to see them, but it kept the kids entertained and made our roadtrips relatively peaceful. These days, our kids are older and they have their own devices they can watch their shows on and pop in some headphones so that we aren’t forced to listen to them. I have created a roadtrip playlist that my husband and I blast in the car to our delight. It includes some oldies, some goodies, and everything in between. We try to stay away from the slower songs especially if we’re driving at night, don’t want to be lulled to sleep by love songs.
We live in the age of technology where everything we need is just a tap away on our phones. Before technology though, there was Mapquest and Mapquest has saved us many times, even in the age of technology. I make sure that I print out our roadtrip directions in the event that we’re in the point of our trip where I can’t get a signal, or we’re in the middle of nowhere and I need to see on a map how far we are to civilization. Many cars these days are equipped with navagational systems, but if you’re anything like me and don’t want to be lost, print a copy of your roadtrip directions, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
I know what you’re thinking, we’re in a car what could possibly go wrong? The answer is everything! We have learned this lesson the hard way. We were on a roadtrip a few years ago and we were making our way through the Colorado Rockies and the higher elevation and the winding roads did not go over very well with a few of our kids. Some were becoming nauseated, and we had one kid who just tossed her cookies all over herself, her seat and the sibling sitting closest to her. It was a mess. We were not ready. These days we make sure our first aid kit is stocked with dramamine, band-aids, tylenol, and trash bags. We don’t know what could happen, so we plan for everything. Stock up your first aid kit and keep it close in the car.
If your kids are anything like mine, they are just as excited about this roadtrip as you are. Make sure that you enjoy this time together, even if at times you might want to scream. Don’t forget to factor bathroom breaks into your roadtrip. Remember we talked about drinks earlier? The less fluids kids drink in the car, the better. It’ll cut down on excess bathroom breaks. As a general rule of thumb, we like to take bathroom breaks (if we can) every 3-4 hours of driving. Play some car games like, license tag where you point out license plates of different states during your trip. Count how many of a specific colored car you see in an hour’s time. Enjoy the time you have together, you’ll find that the roadtrip to your destination may be just as fun as your actual vacation.