We’re packing!

I’ve had only one coffee today, but already have been so productive in Preparing for our trip! I went to the grocery store, the dollar store, and office supply store, a gas station, and a coffee shop which was first.

Originally I had only planned out the first two days, but then realized that it would put us in the middle of Nevada with no supplies. So I planned out 5 days of stops, food, and fun.

Now this all started on a paper plate 2 days ago during dinner on the back patio. We were wondering what kind of experiences we would like to have the summer as a family, and the paper plate quickly got full of our ideas. Then we voted on everyone’s top 3, and after looking at it again it sure look like a road trip!

Then I figured out the travel distance, time in the car, stop to want to make, budget, and started my research. I want to share with you the top tips that I found that would be useful for our family.

Since we are family of six people, with kids ranging from 6 to 17, this trip was going to have to be something that everyone would enjoy.

Also, we do not have laptops, tablets, iPads, video games, DVD players, CDs, or cell phone use (other than for actually calling people), on a regular daily basis. Most of the website information I found had the advice “plug your kids in to keep them happy” mentality, and that just would not work for us. I mean, why go on a road trip if you’re going to keep a head down and your ears plugged?

So how do you keep everyone engaged, excited and happy with a trip like this?

I went to the dollar store and put together activity packs for my kids to work there ways through. I got them a road Atlas, figuring that my out of date GPS in the car would not work half the time. I also went around the house and picked up a couple of their favorite games that were portable that I wouldn’t mind having in the car.

So the first tip is to figure out what is already of interest or kids, and get them a new experience in this area.

My kids love activities, craft, and building things so I put activity packs together for them.

My kids also love geography and maps, so I got them a real road atlas along with “color-in-the-license-plate game” and other geography things they could do.

Since my kids also love to write in journal, every kid got their own fresh new notebook. In addition, I got dollar store white boards with erasable pens, washable pencils, and washable crayons for the two younger kids.

My kids love games, so I also picked up a few sets of dice and small cardboard boxes so they could play Yahtzee and Boggle. I printed out some Yahtzee score cards to make it easier. These also went inside their notebooks.

They also had toys from around the house like Rubik’s Cubes, nature study books, and a laminated map of the United States.

When packing for a road trip, remember that less is more. The more you bring, the more you’re going to have to keep organized and clean up after. Only bring what you’re willing to pend time and energy cleaning up.

That said, the Play-Doh, Legos, markers, beading kits, and games with small parts all stayed home.

I did bring a small beading kit for my daughter to play while we have picnics. She recently broke her arm, and I imagine her wishing she could play with the other kids when we stopped at a playground. This is something I will pull out when we’ve stopped at a rest stop to brighten her day.

In the car, each kid has a basket to share. I didn’t put suction cup organizers on the windows or organizers over the backs of the seats, or buy shower caddies for each individual kid’s plethora of supplies for a car ride. The bin goes on the seats between the kids, and mostly contain activity books, reading books, and a a few supplies.

I did include glow sticks so they could read at night so I am not disturbed by the white flashlights or book lights coming from the back.

Everything they have goes in the bin or it gets pitched.

For food, we opted to eat mostly vegetarian so we didn’t have to worry about storing raw meat. We also figured we could run to the store and whatever city we were at to pick it up so we didn’t have to worry about it getting spoiled.

We wanted to maintain our regular healthy diet on the road, so I bought mostly what we normally eat anyway, with a heavy emphasis on food that travels well. For example I normally don’t buy corn in a can, but for making veggie chili this is a must.

For meals, we’re going to have spaghetti and marinara, veggie burgers, vegetarian chili with baked potato, pesto caprese sandwiches, and a whole lot of peanut butter and jelly. I also brought our freeze-dried backpacking food in case we are so tired and all we can do is manage to boil a pot of water.

I made the breakfast basket, a lunch and picnic bin, the kitchen (pots, pans, cook stove, spatulas, spices), and a campsite dinner pantry.

We decided not to eat in the car (actually, I decided and everyone else is stuck with this decision). And normally I would panic at the thought, however the occasional apple is fine. We are planning to picnic at different playgrounds, so we have something to look forward to! The car stays cleaner, kids don’t constantly eat all the time (this will be a challenge with my teen boys, I know), and we can focus on things other than eating.

We could just pull out the basket that we needed and it had everything we would need, including the picnic blanket and Frisbee.

We didn’t have enough room inside the car for six people and all our equipment, so we loaded up the cargo bay on the back.

With just a few more finishing touches, we are ready to go!

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