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April 19, 2011 / Asimplemother

A Road Trip Packing Guide. Simple Mother Style

A family road trip can bring about some of the greatest memories and the most terrifying nightmares all in the same trip. This includes the pre-trip planning and packing, and the LONG car ride.  As Easter weekend approaches many of us families will be traveling by car to Grandma’s house, or other holiday destinations.  Turn a three-hour car ride into a family memory, Simple Mother Style.

In full disclosure, I’m a minimalist.  I can do without something if it means one less bag to carry.  When we travel as a family for a two-day trip, we use one bag for my daughter (her diaper bag) – a very standard size cross-body bag, and one bag for my husband and I – a small duffle bag.  Don’t freak out! Yes, we bring clothes, toys and toiletries in those 2 bags. 

As mom’s we are hard-wired to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  As a minimalist, I say, “Plan for the best, hope for the best. And, find a 7-11 if the worst occurs.”  We think we need 8 outfits, 75 diapers and every “favorite” toy of our child’s to survive the trip. So we lug the oversized bags into the car, haul them to the hotel, unload them and never use them.  Only to haul them all back to our house.  And when we get home we think, “My goodness that was a lot of work.” Well, yes it was.

So how does a Simple Mother plan for a family road trip?

First, I think about where we are going and the time to get there.  If we are going to a hotel with a pool or Grandma’s house I know there will be plenty of toys/activities that my daughter can play with or we can engage in. And because they are all “new” to her, there is no sense in bringing her toys.

Next, I size up the actual car time and when we will be leaving. I try to plan our departure time right around a nap time. I make sure she has a snack before we leave, she is comfortable in her carseat (i.e. not too hot) so she can fall asleep easily.  Since my daughter will take about a one-hour nap, 1/3 of the trip is completed once she wakes up. Not to forget, much happier now that she is well rested. However, if your child is like mine, sometimes a car nap can be up to two-hours. 

Using the car ride for napping allows us to reduce the amount of toys needed to bring along.  One book, one interactive toy and her favorite teddy bear are our usuals.  She loves to watch out the window, play interactive games, sing and we talk about what we are seeing…cars, trees and trucks. 

Food. Do We Need Food?!

YES! Both for child and mom.  Having water, healthy car snacks along are key.  You have all read which ones those are, I am sure.  A simple, small 6-pack cooler is more than adequate for storing the amount of snacks you will need.  Don’t forget paper towels.  If our trip is under three hours we usually just pack a snack and water in the diaper bag.

Take A Break!

When we travel if our trip is more than three hours we strive to take a break.  It gives everyone an opportunity to use the restroom, stretch your legs and unleash some energy.  We’ll pack a picnic salad, and stop at a way-side (nice ones only) and enjoy the fresh air and our lunch as a family.  If we do eat at restaurant, we try to select one that gives us some room to walk around a little. 

Don’t Push It

Leaving in a rush, pushed against the time clock will cause everyone to feel stressed and crabby.  Who wants to arrive already feeling that way? If you’re attending a family function, there is plenty of time for that! Just kidding. 

Now, I know it can happen. And it has happened to us as well.  I would recommend, get in the car, take a breath and say, “It is what it is” and enjoy the ride.

And don’t forget…while the children are napping that you take the time to have a conversation with your spouse and/or travel companion. An uninterupted conversation you probably haven’t had in a while.


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