Monday, August 6, 2012

What I Learned (About Packing) This Summer

We came back this weekend from our 6th, yes 6th, road trip of the summer.

Before you think we're highfalutin and all, they were mainly trips to family gatherings and we drove each time.  I computed the entire drive time for these 6 trips and we were in the car for...............(wait for it).................  ninety-seven hours.  97!

That's a lot of time on the road!

Since our family is spread up and down the eastern half of the country, we have done more than our fair share of traveling since SPH and met more than 15 years ago.

I like to think I have learned a thing or two from all the traveling we've done this summer and in years' past. So today I share a break from recipes to share my master list of packing advice.

I'm not saying this list will make your packing a breeze, but it will make it go much more smoothly!

Here's what I've learned this summer about packing:


1.  Plan before you begin packing:

--Where will we be staying?  Is it with family, or in a hotel?
--Will we have access to a washer and dryer?
--Will we be cooking or eating out?
--What's the weather going to be like?
--Will there be a hair dryer?

God love any place that has a washer and dryer when you are traveling with kids.  Also, if you're staying at a condo or place with a kitchen, take some time to plan out your meals you might be cooking, remembering to bring any kitchen tools that might not be included in the "equipped kitchen."

2.   Plan to have things taken care of with your home while you are away:

--Hold/stop mail and the newspaper, or have neighbor gather them for you.
--Buy or set up a timer on at least one light in your home.
--Plan for someone to help water your plants, if need be.
--Let a neighbor know you'll be gone and give them your cell phone to call you if an issue arises

3.  Begin packing:

--Before you begin packing, save yourself the extra step and begin gathering washed laundry and putting it in a "to pack" pile, if you are able (why hang or put away clothes you will just need to pull out of the closet again?)
--Make a packing list, broken down by:
Clothing (underwear, socks, pants/shorts/skirts, shirts/blouses, sweaters/hoodies, work-out gear, special occasion clothing, shoes, jewelry)
Outerwear/Seasonal (Winter:  jacket, gloves, scarf, hat, boots, snow pants; Summer:  bathing suit/towel, goggles, sunscreen, sunglasses, SPF, bug spray; Rainy:  Boots, umbrella, rain jacket)
Toiletries (remember often forgotten things like simple first aid, pain killers, thermometer, any prescriptions, and everyday items:  toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, contacts/saline, face lotion, body lotion, shampoo/conditioner, make-up, etc...***a good way to make sure you get everything you need is to pull out or write down everything you use for the day or two before you leave, so you don't get to your destination and realize you forgot your razozr**)
Kids  (Favorite stuffed animal/lovey, blanket, pack n' play, stroller, monitor, sippy cups/bottles, etc.  Again, pull out or write down everything you use the day or two before you leave so you remember everything)
Toys/Activities (Books, games, toys, coloring, i Pad/DS, Legos, etc)
Sleeping (PJs, white noise machine, night light, special pillow, ear plugs, etc)
Electronics (Laptop, phone, camera, video camera, iPod, chargers, ear buds, cords, etc)
Snacks/Foods (meals?, drinks, snacks, anything you might need for cooking at a rented condo that you might not want to buy:  salt/pepper and olive oil are easy to pack)
--If your road trip will include an over-night stop before you reach your final destination, include a bag that has all the PJs, clothing and toiletries you will need for just that one night, so you don't have to unpack everything!

4.  Prepare your car:

--Print out or gather maps
--Print out directions (I like to have a hard copy despite using GPS)
--Pack in your car:  tissues, wipes, paper towels, hand sanitizer, 2 bags for trash, hand lotion, chap stick (if you are addicted like me)
--Prepare car entertainment:  prepare CDs, DVDs, books, activity bags (I prepare a bag each for the boys for long trips with activity or sticker books, mazes, Yes and Know Books (invisible ink), Mad Libs, or small toys), Car games (go to print out some Car Bingo and other easy car games) and other Creative Car Games that require no materials!
--Gather food and drinks, pack a lunch or dinner if needed or desired.  Don't forget extra napkins and a small garbage bag.
--Remove anything from the trunk that you won't need.

5.  Pack your car:

--Place all the items you need to pack by the car and then treat your trunk or packing space like a puzzle.
--Try to get all the bigger, heavier, boxier items on the bottom and furthest back of the trunk, lighter items on top.
--Use the space by your kids' feet for extra packing space

6.  Before you walk out the door, a final checklist for your home:

--Hold your thermostat at a higher (in the summer) or lower (in the winter) temperature than usual
--Turn of your water main
--Water indoor plants
--Clean out the fridge, if need be
--Empty Garbage and recycling

7.  Two General Tips:

--I like to pack items by rooms of our that when we return home from our trip we can unpack the bags and place them where they can be unpacked eventually.  Better than lots of bags in one big pile!
--If we get back from our trip and I am feeling lazy, I unzip R and G's luggage and place it on their dresser or floor, with any clean clothes still in it, and ask them to choose their outfits out of the luggage until it is empty.


Did I forget anything?  I am sure I did, as I feel like each time we travel I pick up a new idea or way to do things.  Please share your best ideas in the comments area!

Life is sweet,


Anonymous said...

Love seeing all of that in one place! I often pack things we will use up in a laundry basket so we will have one to gather dirty clothes on road trips...

Sweet Pea Chef said...

What a great tip!