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How to pack your family for a road trip. Something I pondered months before we even left on our cross country extravaganza. A family of six, plus a dog, is no small luggage situation. Since we were destined to only use our minivan as our mode of transportation, the packing was essential. But then again, we needed all the essentials.
The other thing that was a head scratcher as far as limited space was…..different climates. We were going from Alaska where the temps were still in the ultra low 30’s at night, to Georgia where the average temp is just HOT. So we needed gear for all the elements.
This is how I approached it, and how we tackled it all on the road. First was the daunting task of doing all the laundry. For me it is a never-ending task, but since the road trip was going hand in hand with the move, all the laundry needed to be done and put away. So step number one: clean yo stuff!
I have mentioned it on here multiple times, but three out of the six of us have some skin issues. If you want to get down to the nitty, gritty, contact dermatitis. This was all new territory for me when we were trying to figure out what was going on with Chris’ skin. Then after having Pierce and his sensitive skin, skin issues became my new normal. Then Odette has taken it all to a whole new level. Once I got one dry spot under control, another raging one would show up. We went through all the lotions and soaps until we found some that worked. But it didn’t stop there. Her pediatrician recommended we get a full allergy work up on her to rule anything else out. After that came back fine, we went on with life. But the dry spots on her legs and between her shoulder blades would not give up. Then our pediatrician suggested we change our laundry detergent. Who knew right? Well we should have known. Contact dermatitis. Key word being contact. Our ped suggested all® free clear liquid and that is what we went with. Now I use it for all my sensitive skin raging loved ones. It’s also a bonus that it softens the clothing as well, so Odette doesn’t have the urge to scratch.
So once all laundry was completed it was time to tackle the packing. First I started with bottoms for everyone. Shorts, jeans, hiking pants, casual pants, and comfy sweats. Once I had those laid out for all six of us, I went in for the tops to match. I basically tried to pair three tops for every one pair of pants. That way we are maximizing our options, and luggage space. Side note: I suggest doing this in a very large space, so you can see everything you are working with.
Then, I went in with the add ons. You know the sweatshirts, jackets, hats, beanies, pjs, socks, underwear. Everyone had a section of the room, and it was filling up fast!
Next, I grabbed the three pieces of luggage we were going to use. We decided on a large suitcase, and two large duffel bags. The suit case was the one piece that would go into every hotel with us. So I placed three full outfits for each person in there, and a couple extra things for the baby. Then all extra outfits and pjs went into the duffel bag. That way when it came time to unload for the hotel, we were only bringing in one bag, plus our toiletry bag. Then every few days I would rotate out the clothes from the duffel. So everyone always had a fresh set. The second duffel bag was used for all the outdoor gear (it primarily stayed in the car). That way when we were camping or hiking all we had to do was unload THAT specific duffel.
I know it all sounds crazy, but it helped us stay so organized throughout the whole 26 days on the road. For the most part we knew where everything was. And if we didn’t, it was pretty easy to find.
The other thing that helped, was we got each kid a “hiking back pack”. Did they ever really use it while hiking? No. And if they did, I ended up carrying it after 15 minutes. But, while I was packing the suit cases, I had them put some of their favorite things in the back pack, and that was it. Whatever they could fit in there, is what they were allowed to bring. Nothing more, but certainly less when they lost something. So that was their carry on.
My final tip is actually something that I do even when not traveling. Dryer sheets in the shoes! Don’t knock it till you try friends. There is nothing like the new shoe smell right? But once that fades you still want your shoes to smell good! This was a such a huge help on the road. After a full day of hiking and walking through puddles, our shoes took a beating. So we stuck all® free clear dryer sheets in there to help freshen them over night, but the dryer sheets also help to soak up the moisture. Trust me, it’s the little things that make the difference when you are piling in and our of your car, camping, hiking, and exploring.
Oh! And don’t forget to bring your laundry detergent on the road with you (of course if you forget, you can always find a Target…..you know mama will be looking for some alone time). We always tried to do a few loads at the various hotels that we stayed at, so that we could keep our packing system going. It is all about maximizing your space. And bags full of dirty laundry take up space!
Other than that, parental road trip sanity survival is the name of the game. Good luck!
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