Friday, June 24, 2011

Long Trip Tricks and Other Ways To Keep From Going Crazy

*The Great Room Switch is for the most part complete.  All the big work is done and now it's just the mundane moving junk from one closet to the next and the fun decorating and accessorizing.  Because I'm a bit of a control freak and want things to be *just so*, I'm withholding any "after" pics until we are TOTALLY done.  Sorry.  You're just going to have to be ok with that.  :-)


Now, on to the post at hand!

We are about to embark on our annual trek to visit the inlaws.  From where we are, it's a good 20-21 hour drive.  Thanks to TSA pat-down craziness, insane airline fees and the general loose cannon that my 2 year old can be when cooped up in a small space for a extended period of time, we choose to endure this 20-21 hours on the highway, rather than fly the friendly skies.  Trust me, with us on board it ain't gonna be friendly for too long.  At least in the mini-van we can contain the crazy within our four walls.

So we've been making this drive a long time.  At first it was just hubs and I.  Easy peasy.  A few gas station stops for drinks and Peachies (the ultimate roadtrip candy) and we could drive all night.  But now obviously, it's not so simple.  Along the way we've picked up on a few tricks that make the drive go a little more smoothly (and quickly!) so I thought I'd share them with you.  Please note that the following are things we've found work well when we do them.  You'd think I'd learn my lesson and stick with what works, but I'm kinda scattered and often forget from year to year.  So this list is as much for me as it is for you!


1.  Do your laundry and start packing the week before.

You do not want to have to dig through this the night before you leave.  Trust me.
I have a really bad habit about waiting to pack until the last minute.  This is ok if it's just me going on a little weekend getaway (wait, has that ever happened??), but when it's 6 of us leaving for nearly 2 weeks, there's just not enough hours in that last day to get it all done.  Since I'm obviously doing laundry all.the.time. I've found it's helpful beginning about a week before to pull out the clothes I know I want to take with us as I come across them in the laundry basket waiting to be folded.  This way we don't wear them again and then have to run a rush load of last minute laundry at midnight the night before we leave.

2.  Pack the kids' clothing in large ziploc baggies a la the Duggar's.  

Baggies of clothes keep the chaos under control and keep hubs from staring at the suitcase in a stupor when you ask him to get the kids dressed.
Did anyone catch the episode where the Duggar's went to NYC, the whole lot of them?  There was a clip of the older girls packing the suitcases and they were talking about how they organize all the kids' clothing according to outfit and then pack them in baggies.  When I saw this a lightbulb went off in my head.  Brilliant!  So now, as I'm pulling clothes out of the clean laundry that I know we want to take, I put them in 2.5 gallon ziplocs and write the name of the owner on the front in sharpie marker.  Later, when we're on our trip, when I tell the older girls to go get dressed, they can go find a baggie with their name on it and help themselves.  I also make sure to put underwear and any hair accessories and socks in each baggie so it's all in one place and easy to match up.

3.  Clean your house before you leave.  

No one wants this waiting for them while they're soaking up the sun.  
I know, I know.  Like you have time for that right?  I'll admit I don't always do this.  But trust me, you will thank yourself later.  There is nothing, nothing like coming home after a looooong trip to a clean house.  Plus it will make it much easier to relax on the beach knowing there's not 12 loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes waiting for you when you get home.

4.  Pack snacks and meals. 

OK, so this is NOT our stash of food for our trip... but it's the only pic of food I had.  You get the idea.  We don't usually take toilet paper with us... although it's not a bad idea now that I think of it...
Growing up I wasn't really allowed to get snacks from gas stations.  It wasn't so much the fact that it's all junk (although it is) as it was just too expensive to buy something every time we stopped.  I got used to my mom loading up the big ice chest and sharing my backseat space with it.  Once I got married, I discovered that I married a guy who was used to living high on the hog when it came to trips.  Which really just meant that we bought drinks and candy when we stopped for gas and never used an ice chest.  And I loved it.  But we discovered quickly that with 6 kids, we're back in the reality of it just not being a wise financial move.  We have fairly routine snack times when we're at home anyway, so when we're on a trip we try to maintain that consistency.  So beforehand I try to pack enough snacks to cover those times plus extra that I allow the girls to manage on their own.  No trip is complete without a few fun treats like Nerds or Gobstoppers.

5.  Put together goodie bags. 

***I searched in vain and could not find any good pic depicting this.  Use your imagination, OK?***

The dreaded "are we there yet?" must be most abhorred question in the English language.  At least by parents who are trapped in a small vehicle with 4 small children and no end of highway in sight.  To fend off the "ennuis" I try to put together little bags of fun stuff I've gathered from the dollar store or the Dollar Spot at Target.  Usually coloring pads, fresh boxes of crayons, small magnadoodles or etch-a-sketches (can you believe they still make these?!), maybe a small doll, silly putty, etc.  We also have small handheld fans for each of the girls so they can have some climate control and we don't have to listen to the incessant whining about being too hot or cold.  In addition to those small things we also usually bring along a new CD of kids' music and a new movie to watch en route.  Which brings me to... 

Part TWO:  ON THE ROAD!  Check back soon for tips on saving your sanity while driving!

My friends, in this season of roadtrips and vacations, have you collected any good tips or tricks for travelling with kids?  I'd love to hear them!

ETA:  As it was lovingly (right M?) pointed out to me in the comments, I clearly have already gone crazy as I stated above that I have 6 kids.  I'm not editing it because I think this slip is HILARIOUS.  It's already been a long summer folks and we're not half done yet.



  1. Great post!! I did the baggie thing last year for a quick road trip with our crew and it was great!! My husband taught me the trick to bring a box of garbage bags with us. We use them for dirty laundry, plus garbage bags always come in handy with three kids!! Paper towels is another thing we make sure we pack. I will be looking out for more of your tips since we have a road trip planned for this summer, but thankfully only about 5 hours, which feels like 36!!! Wishing you a great trip, I found you on VoiceBoks and am now a happy follower!

  2. I'm cracking just said you had 6 kids.  I don't know whether to think you are overwhelmed with the packing, or think that BOY do you need this vacation!  ;-) 

    I haven't ever done the clothes by outfit in baggies - great idea (and maybe I would actually pack less, since I tend to just add one more thing and one more thing and...).  We often go to Michigan in the summer, which is about the same length drive, and last summer I found plastic bins that fit perfectly in front of each seat - with lids so they became footrests - and filled them with crayons and books and magazines and dolls, etc.  I was so proud of myself.  Until I realized that only my oldest could actually bend over far enough to reach into the thing.  Oh, well...

    Have a great vacation!!  :-)

  3. Did I seriously say I had 6 kids!? Oh brother! And cracking up about your brilliant idea! I would so do that!

  4. More power to you for that drive! I hate long car trips, especially with little ones. I love the clothes idea. I am definitely stealing that next trip. Hope you have a great time!

  5. Hilarious! Obviously once you have more than one it just really doesn't matter. ;)
    Have fun.
    Wish I was going to a beach.

  6. A Little R & RJune 25, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    Great tips!!!!  Especially packing the kids clothes in zip lock bags. I'll bet that saves space as well!  I totally wish I'd have done that when we came back from the States. :)

  7. Elise's Girl Scout troop leader requires the girls to always pack outfits (with socks and undies) and PJ's (with undies) in separate baggies like that for all camping trips. You can imagine with 18 girls traipsing back and forth to the bath house, the number of lost socks and undies would be out of control without the baggie method!  I'm getting ready to get Elise packed for a week at resident camp, and we'll be doing the baggies for that too.

  8. Well, you were talking about snacking, so maybe you and J count as "kids" - total of 6?  :-)

  9. No, it's quite likely I'm losing my mind! :-)

  10. I can't wait to see the pictures of the finished rooms!
    I love your tips, and completely agree!  I hope you have a great time!


Let me know what you think!

Related Posts with Thumbnails