Doing some traveling as a family this spring? Taking a road trip for a few days? Going away for a long weekend?
Getting a family ready to hit the road or take to the friendly skies doesn’t have to be complicated. We don’t go away that often, but when we do, mobilizing my super-sized troop is no small feat. I finally got smart and created a list that I just keep on hand. The list does give me item by item details, but it also reminds be of the variables to remember depending on the trip, making it a list that is applicable to every trip in some way.
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I am a fairly organized person. Actually, I am highly organized by nature. However, if there is one thing I have learned as a mom to many it is that you can only be too organized when there are a couple of variables that keep me from being able to plan everything ahead of time. With a family, there are always bits and pieces of everything that will have to be handled on the fly.
I find it works best to start preparing about two weeks before the trip is planned. I start building an organized gathering of things in an out of the way place in my bedroom. My gathering place has four main areas:
- adult stuff
- girls stuff
- boys stuff
- odds and ends
Here is how you can pack for a family trip with no stress!
Two weeks before:
- Go thru all of our toiletries bags to make sure they are loaded with enough soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc. and put in pile
- gather flip flops for shower
- Begin gathering clothing – in outfits for each person and put in pile
- Gather “entertainment” for kids to do in car or on plane – place each persons’ things in a separate labeled bag
- Make grocery list for needed food items whether for meals or snacks
- Gather insulated food bags or coolers that food will be transported in – make sure they are clean and ready to go
- Plan how young children will be transported on the trip – will we need strollers, baby carriers etc. and put on list
- Gather the needed number of diapers/wipes
- Make easy to use soap-filled cloths for easy washing up before bed – COOL TIP!!! put some liquid hand soap on a heavy duty paper towel, dampen it and allow to dry. Once completely dry, put in ziplock bag. These are amazing “washcloths on the go!”
- Gather any needed baby/toddler feeding items – breastfeeding cape, sippy cups, baby spoons etc. and put in pile
- Create a list of everything you will need that you can not pack at this time – organize list by boys and girls and then break it down by person
- Gather sunscreen, after sun care, bug spray, bug bite cream, essential oils, hand sanitizer, hand sanitizing wipes and put in pile
- Create first aid kit of bandaids, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide and put in pile
- Create medicine kit with tylenol, ibuprofen, infant/child pain relievers, cough syrup, decongestant, antacid, cough syrup, throat/cough drops and put in pile
- Gather needed prescription meds for family members and put in pile
- Gather any feminine products if needed and put in pile
- Create a shopping list of any needed items like flip flops etc.
- Make sure anything that requires batteries has extra needed batteries in the pile
One week before:
- Review any lists made in the week prior and add what you can to the pile
- Create snack bags for the car/plane and put in pile
- Complete all shopping from needed lists including food
- Make a list for someone to care for pets that are being left behind
- Find someone to care for any outdoor plants that will need to be watered
- Gather Garmin or other needed items for adults who will be navigating and put in pile
- Make sure any camera batteries are charged and put in pile
- Double check that vehicle you will be driving is not needing any maintenance
- Clean out car so it is ready for packing
- Call to stop mail service while gone
A few days before:
- Complete all lists with packing needs
- PACKING TIP: Pack each outfit in a separate bag for younger kids, for older people, divide by person and put all shirts in one bag, pants/shorts in one bag, warmer weather wear in one bag, socks in one bag that are all LABELED. In this way, my oldest daughter will have up to four bags all with her name on them.
- PACKING TIP: as I pack, I place a mark next to the things I am putting in the pile on my list. Then when I review my list the day before, I place another mark next to each item. That way, I know everything has been checked twice
- PACKING TIP FOR COMING HOME: use these same bags to separate your laundry into lights, darks etc…that way you can just start dumping in the washer right away
- Prepare any needed food. I often make pizza for on the road etc. to avoid eating out
- Make a list of schoolwork that will need to some along, if any
The day before:
- Buy ice for the cooler
- Put gas in car
- Complete all lists
- Pack bags – I have one bag for adults, one bag for girls, one bag for boys, a bag for baby, bag for books, bag for toiletries and extras
- Pack car with entertainment bags
- Set out clothes for each person to wear the next day
- Pack car with what you can
- Plan easy meals for the day of departure
- Double check list before bed, completing the double check process
- complete all lists
- load car
- make sure phones are charged
- pick up the house
- make sure only lights that I want left on are turned on
- run dishwasher after last meal
Tomorrow, I will share my master packing list with item by item details including the things we so often forget like phone charging cords etc.
Preparing for a family trip is often a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Tackling things in bit sized chunks beginning two weeks ahead of time takes the overwhelming job and makes it manageable. Keeping an ongoing list takes the fear of forgetting something out of the equation, which is usually the most stressful part for me. Share and save this list for later, pin this list for later, or print this list, but hang on to it for the next time you find yourself planning for a family trip.
Looking for more? Don’t miss How to Pack for a Family Road Trip.