Family Road Trip – How to Plan and Pack
By April Nourse
My family loves to take road trips. When our second daughter was three weeks old, we toured California pulling a small travel trailer. One summer we spent three weeks driving from California to Florida, then up to Missouri and back to California. Just a few weeks ago, my daughters and I hopped in the car and took a 3000 mile road trip for spring break. Over the years, we have learned a few tricks to make our vacations more enjoyable.
The planning begins sometimes before the trip. I have two packing lists on my computer with all of the basics on it. One is my master list with all of the family necessities on it such as snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and so on. The other is a personal list. I print one copy for each member of the family. Next to each item I write a quantity, such as 3 shirts. Each family member checks items off of her list as she brings places them in the appropriate location. All packing is done in one area so nothing gets left behind. We have one suitcase for the kids, one for the parents, and a trunk for the other items. In addition, each child may bring a backpack with toys and books. For longer trips we make adjustments such as allowing pillows and blankets, but this is a good starting point.
A week or two before the trip, I make a list of tasks to complete before the trip. The list stays on the kitchen table in plain sight and all family members are encouraged (and sometimes required) to choose items off the list to compete before the trip. I make sure there are jobs for all age groups. For example, today our girls vacuumed and cleaned the interior of the car for our upcoming trip. In addition to preparing our car and family for the trip, we prepare the house for our absence by cleaning thoroughly, asking neighbors to watch the house, and double-checking doors and windows. Our task list helps everyone know what needs to be done and gives the kids a sense of accomplishment as they complete tasks. It also gives me security that I don’t forget anything that needs to be done.
The day before the trip, we all go into overdrive. My husband and the girls check over the car while I finish last minute packing and odd jobs. When we are ready to load the car, I place everything by the door, the girls take it to the car, and my husband loads the car. That night, we usually have some down time with a simple dinner on paper plates and the girls go to bed in sweats or shorts and tees. This way they can go straight from bed to the car early the next morning and off we go!
April Nourse enjoys traveling with her husband, 3 daughters, and 2 dogs. The cat enjoys guarding the house while everyone else is away. You can read about her other hobbies at http://www.curlsngrins.blogspot.com or follow aprilp44 on Twitter.