Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Pack for a Road Trip with Kids

We recently completed a road trip from Minneapolis to Nashville, which is about 13.5 hours of drive time one way, not including stops. I'm happy to say we made it safely, and that the boys were excellent travel companions. There were some incidents of quarreling, or in which a tired and bored 3 year-old threw objects in the car, but honestly, it was a great trip. When we set out, I had no idea what to expect, but as the miles went on, I found myself unwinding and enjoying my role as "mom" thoroughly, and we made so many new, fun memories.

We made the trip in two legs, with a stop in St. Louis both ways. On the way down, we spent some time there exploring and toured the Gateway Arch before completing the last stretch of our drive. The boys thought it was amazing, and it was.

Yes, we went wayyyyy up there!
Even though we make regular (much shorter) road trips to see the grandparents, there were still new things to be learned in packing for this trip. Being that summer and thus, family vacations, are upon us, I've made this handy list of how to pack for a road trip. Some of it is satirical, but all of it's true. I hope you find at least some of it useful. Enjoy!

  1. Four to five weeks before your trip, start making lists of things you need to do to prepare for your trip, including finding/purchasing necessary clothing. Curse every time you lose one of these lists, until you finally make one central, combined list. Travel items for the children will include things like:
    1. Snacks ("healthy" ones - like grapes, organic granola bars, pretzels, gold fish, and gummy bears)
    2. Reusable water bottles and snack containers (bring a small bottle of dish soap to wash them)
    3. Books
    4. Whoopie cushions
    5. DVD player and movies
    6. Travel-sized Etch-a-Sketch or Magna-Doodle
  2. Fill/Refill any prescriptions you’ll need on your trip, and plan to pack extra doses, as well as your physician information. Upon seeing the cost, give your computer monitor the middle finger.
  3. Purchase new sandals for your six year-old while running other errands, all the while congratulating yourself on how very efficient you are at checking items off your list.
  4. Try hard not to show your annoyance when six year-old doesn’t like the sandals and/or they don’t fit right.
  5. Return the sandals, and bring six year-old along with you to get appropriate footwear.
  6. Schedule your vehicle for maintenance, and hope they don’t find anything expensive that needs fixing.
  7. Have your husband fix that tail lamp that you accidentally cracked with the garbage can (it’s cheaper than having the shop do it), lest you give the police in another state a reason to pull you over.
  8. The weekend before your trip, start piling things you will need on the dining room table and make sure to lose at least one item you need before the trip in the shuffle.
  9. Start loading up the kid's car organizer, so they can reach their items during the trip. (Seriously, this is one of my favorite purchases of all time.) Some new travel items we bought specifically for this trip include:
  10. Both kids kept busy with these dry erase boards, which
    we can use in the house, too.
    1. Two of these letter and numbers dry erase boards by Mead, along with a new set of washable dry-erase markers; and
    2. This Melissa and Doug Travel Memory Game
      The reason you want to buy washable markers.
  11. Ask a neighbor to water your flowers even though it’s going to rain the whole time you’re gone. When she offers to pick up your mail, thank her profusely because you completely forgot to stop the mail.
  12. Two nights before your trip, stay up too late trying to finish laundry and packing, then fall asleep on the couch with all the lights on when you sit down to take a break. Stumble up to bed at 1 a.m., and wonder who the hell the old woman is looking at you from your mirror the next morning.
  13. Take a deep breath and smile when, 24 hours prior to departure, your husband asks what he should wear to the wedding you’ll be attending on Saturday.
  14. The morning you are to leave, scramble around the house, forget your neck pillow, load up the car, and hit the road an hour behind schedule. Have fun!

P.S. If you're a crohnie, don't forget to pack some of this. Travel isn't always nice to tummies.


  1. Whoopie cushion? I wish I would have read this sooner. We ended up with a fart gun and it was memorable but uncomfortable.

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