Are you heading on a family road trip this year? One of the best ways to bond as a family is to spend hours in a car together! Learn how to get ready for a family road trip and tips for a smooth car ride with kids!
Get Ready for a Family Road Trip
This past week we spent time at the lake and while we were only an hour away from home, we still had to pack up like we were taking a longer road trip.
Is it just my family or does yours also pack a ton of stuff when you have to drive for more than an hour away?! Fortunately, we have our road trip packing techniques down to a pretty well oiled machine. A family vacation is one of the best ways to grow close as family. You create life long memories for your kids when you take them on a trip.
As a mom with young kids, it can be overwhelming to think about taking a long distance road trip with the family. But, once you get through your first road trip, you learn what works and does not work for your family.
Today, I am sharing how we get ready for a family road trip!
1 // Designate a Staging Area in the Home
The biggest task for getting ready for a family road trip is PACKING! This is a huge responsibility and one thing you can not leave until the last minute.
I usually start packing for a trip a week before we leave.
First, I make sure to wash all of the clothes we will need for the trip. Then, once the laundry is done and folded, I start setting aside clothes for the trip. That way someone does not inadvertently wear something we need for the trip!
Once something is packed and ready to go, I put it in our designated area of the home for luggage. We start storing everything in our living room corner. Everyone in the family knows about this spot and they all add things to the pile as the week goes on.
It is great to have a visual of everything that is packed and I can get a sense for what is missing. Plus, when it is time to leave, my family knows exactly where to go to help with hauling stuff to the car.
2 // Decide on a Packing Method and Stick to It
There are several different ways to pack for a family. I know some people prefer to pack all of their family members stuff together while others prefer to pack for each family member individually.
Our family usually packs all of the kids clothes in one suitcase and my husband and I in another suitcase (or two!). There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this as long as you decide on a packing method and stick to it. It makes it a whole lot easier if you have a set method that everyone knows. Then you don’t have the issue of no one knowing where anything is located once you get to your final destination.
These packing cubes are AMAZING! You will not believe how much can fit in one little cube!
We have our road trip packing method pretty routine that we have designated bags for certain items. Everyone knows which bag is our swim bag, which coolers we bring, and the specific suitcases for everyone in the family.
**We also have the kids pack ONE back pack full of whatever they want to bring. We just make sure we know what goes inside (for the little ones at least) because we have been in the situation that a favorite stuffed animal was left behind.
3 //Stock up on Essentials
I was certainly not always as organized for a road trip, but after three kids and miles and miles on the road, I’ve learned a few things.
Some basics you should bring on every family road trip:
- Paper Towels
- Plastic Bags – To collect garbage, throw dirty shoes or clothes, etc!
- Ziploc Bags (so many uses for these!)
- First Aid Kit
- Fever and Cold Medicine
- Baby Wipes – For cleaning hands and quick mess clean up!
You can never have enough plastic bags on a road trip. We use them to collect garbage and throw in dirty shoes or clothes. I also always have paper towels, tissues, baby wipes and band aids in our car! We’ve learned the hard way on not being stocked up on these cars.
4 // Pack Snacks and Meals in Advance
If you want to save time and money, you can make a few snacks and meals ahead of time.
You can cut down on rest stops when you bring your own food. Plus, you never know what kind of food options will be available on your road trip. It does not take a lot of time to organize some of your family’s favorite foods for the trip.
This was our road trip haul for our spring trip to Washington, D.C. We usually stay in places that have mini fridges, so the left over cold foods are able to be used throughout the trip.
One of the best road trip inventions is these Snackeez cups. Have you seen them? You fill the bottom with a drink and the top portion with a snack. We have had several of these over the years.
We always keep a cooler with drinks and cold food and and then a bag filled with dry goods.
PRO TIP: Keep the snacks and drinks near the front passenger. Then when the kids get hungry, the co-pilot can be in charge of passing out the food.
Six // Pack Special Activities to Keep Kids Occupied
While the journey can be just as fun as the destination, sometimes traveling with young kids is more about survival than enjoying the journey’s moments. So, we have come to realize that allowing kids to have all the things to keep them occupied and happy is what is necessary.
The kids end up watching more movies and playing more games on their devices that we would allow in a typical day. But, the kids know this is a travel exception!
The kids being occupied often mean my husband and I can actually catch up and have a conversation or two.
If you are looking for more Screen Free Road Trip Activities check out this post for a TON of ideas!
We make sure to have several rest stops along the way so that everyone can stretch their feet. Sometimes we allow them to pick out a treat, if it is a very long road trip.
Post Road Trip Organization
All good things must come to an end and that means you come home from a trip sooner or later. Be sure to check out my post on things I do immediately after I come home from a trip!
Road trips are family memories in the making, so the good and the bad are all part of the fun! How do you get organized for family road trips?