|This is our family bag! Everything else (like fleece blankets and books) fit inside the Suburban. This trip we had 11 people with our 11 seat belts because uncle Ty hitched a ride.|
As a child I grew up traveling. I remember in 5th grade at Saint James Catholic school we were asked what type of food had preservatives in it that we ate often. I raised my hand and exclaimed airplane food! Mrs Porath scolded me, but then later apologized saying she supposed eating something every 4 to 6 weeks counted as often. I remember feeling so much better that I had not been dumb and also realizing perhaps I flew more often than others. We traveled all the time and my parents said I had to bring whatever I needed in carry on bag. I learned to pack things that dried quickly, matched interchangeably and items of entertainment that could tide me over during long drives or lectures.
All these years later I find the same applies to packing in one large duffel for our family of 10. Some tricks I employ translate to a family of any size!
I pack per day rather than per child. So for our dress clothes I rolled all the boys pants, all the girls dresses and my clothes together in a bundle. I try to have a vague idea of the day to day activities, hiking and swimming for example, and then make a family packet for each day, these can be in a plastic shopping bag. The bags can be reused for wet & dirty items or diaper bags. The kids have "car bags" for their individual entertainment on the long drives.
|Our room in Maine, bins along the floor! Some collapse and some we use to pack in rather than a bag.|
Dirty clothes go into into an empty duffel and almost always I sink wash or find a Laundromat in a town we pass. This allows me to pack 1/2 as much! when it works I pack a clothes line, I always wash unders & socks and keeps things from getting musty. Even an hour in the sun at a park stop can freshen things up.
When we camp we have camping pads but not all sleeping bags. So for camping we often have fuzzy fleece blankets and then each child puts their hoodie sweatshirt into a pillow case so their lap blanket and sweatshirt transforms into a bed! We make a mat of sleeping pads so it is softer but those roll up and take up very little space.
|I make different kids of bread, easy to transport and slice in the car. Doesn't need to be cooled and holds up well. Sometimes we have peanut butter or cream cheese in the cooler to add to the bread to make it more of a meal.|
For snacks I try to pack enough to go 2 days without fast food. Mini bagels pre spreaded with plain and strawberry cream cheese, nut & dried fruit mix, cracker snacks and cut veggies in snack sized bags. Our kids love raw cucumbers with a little garlic salt and the cucumbers hydrate and cut down on car sickness. We also make snack bags of treat cereals like coco puffs or fruit loops for a non sticky treat. For some reason all the kids will eat string cheese on a car trip but not at home! I freeze it first and as it thaws hang them back.
|Watching cows at a rest stop in Nebraska, Otis style entertainment!!|
Last but not least we keep electronics to a minimum and listen to books on tape. To Maine we listened to Narnia and to Colorado this time we listened to Swiss Family Robinson. We have one ipad that gets passed around 7 ways but usually it ends up charging as the kids get into the story. This trip the kids played a game guessing movies we would pass in vehicles with built in players! It was really funny, and we saw Madagascar a disproportionate amount of times in passing vans.
Now we are home and I am working through the laundry. Not a small feat, but what a wonderful trip. We were able to connect with the children's GREAT grandparents on Sheff's maternal side. Truly priceless.