Planning and Prep.
Taking a 2,000 mile (each way!) road trip with a 4 year old and 1 year old requires quite a bit of planning, and ok, I am a dork. (I know it and am peace with it.) So I did a LOT of planning. :)
I wish I had taken pictures of all of the other organizational stuff but here are the 'highlights' of what we did (and tips for anyone looking to do this):
1. I started a board on Pinterest for all of my summer road trip ideas. You can see it here.
2. An entire notebook full of lists. My husband may have made fun of me, but it was great to have them all in one place. Any lists that I collected from other places ended up taped into the notebook. I especially liked the packing list from Tsh Oxenreider (aka: Simple Mom), found here. I had lists of movies to bring, lists of snacks (for each kid of course!) Lists of the bags we had with us, lists of small gifts for the kids (and at which mile markers to aim to give them out!) I had lists of lists that I needed to make and many, many more! What can I say, I like lists. :)
3. Speaking of notebooks, the day before we left I made a travel binder. It had our directions, maps, road trip activities (like a print out of license plates to find and other I Spy games), our hotel confirmation print outs and more. The I Spy type pages were all in page protectors so we could use a white board marker and then wipe them off to play more than once. I also incorporated some scrapbook paper and stickers that I've had for years and printed pictures while we were on our trip and now it functions more as a memory book.
4. Each of us had our own suitcase. We don't usually do this but it made it SO much easier to know where to put stuff and where to find it.
5. We had one 'overnight bag' for when we were on the road, changing places each night. I packed everyone's stuff (including toiletries) for however many days until our destination into my large utility tote from thirty-one bags. (I have it in 'minty chip'.)
6. My little girl likes to change her clothes 3 or 4 times a day, so to minimize that I pre-planned out her outfits and put them each in their own gallon size Ziploc bag, complete with her undies and hair clips. Then I had a couple spare clothing items that she could use if her clothes got dirty and needed to be changed or if she needed a jacket or whatever. She liked it because she got to easily see and choose her outfits and I liked it because her clothes weren't strewn all around the room at each stop! I wouldn't recommend this for most trips, or for most people, as it's 'extra' work, but for us and for this trip it was great!
7. Everything in the car had a container. Nothing was loose. (Well at least not when we started out! Ha, that certainly wasn't always true for the whole trip!) I repurposed Sterilite boxes and fabric bins from around the house. I had a shoe box size Sterilite box for First Aid and one for sunscreen and bug repellant. Larger ones held toys and books for the kids. (Each kid had their own box. A month or so before our trip I hid the toys and books that I planned to take so that they felt 'new' again when the kids saw them in the car.) Also, for the most part, when we were at one of our destination we put the car toys out of sight so the kids weren't sick of them when we got back on the road. I had a bin of snacks that the kids could choose from (healthy-ish and portioned out ahead of time) and a bag of special snacks (treats) that were rationed out much more carefully.
8. I bought, found and made gifts for the kids for the road. I don't think any of the gifts were more than $3 and most of them were $1 or less. I hit up the Target Dollar Spot, clearance toy section and our local Dollar Tree. Some of the more expensive 'gifts' were also practical--Em got her own little make up bag with travel size soaps (that I already had at home) and she loved it. They didn't really even care as much about what was in the gift as the anticipation of it and getting to unwrap something. Most days on the road they got 1 gift. (It was also bribery for good behavior!) The two long days on the return trip they got 2 or 3 gifts each day.
9. I put together a 'picnic' bag and we used it a lot! (I used one of my Organizing Utility Totes from Thirty-One Bags.) It had a lined plastic table cloth, paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, a diaper clutch, frisbee, ball and bubbles. We used this often at parks or rest stops on the road for picnic meals (healthier and cheaper than fast food), snacks, or just when we would stop to play. It was really nice to have everything in one bag and easy to grab.
10. iPad(s). We don't have DVD players in our car (by choice!) but we wanted to be able to play movies on the trip--iPads to the rescue! I purchased this on Amazon for about $7 (the price changes constantly.) It worked really well, but Emily had to use headphones to watch movies, otherwise since the speaker is in the back, it was really loud for me and would have driven me crazy. For Noah, we purchased this at Target. It made the iPad a bit hard to use, but since that iPad belongs to my school, safety was my main concern, and with that holder (and the case it already had) the iPad was practically indestructible! As far as movies go, we were able to download digital copies from some of the movies we already owned and then we bought a couple surprise movies on iTunes while we were on the road.
There was much more planning and preparation involved, so if you're looking to do a similar long trip, let me know, I've got tips for you!! For the sake of everyone else though (if anyone is still reading!) I'll think I'll wrap it up there. :)
Next blog: PICTURES from the road!