“Mom, are we there yet?”
Traveling with kids can be, well, a bit of a challenge. The boredom…the bathroom breaks…the hungry bellies…
We’re going on a trip! Okay, so am I the only one that starts singing the Little Einsteins theme song when I hear that? Sorry if it’s stuck in your head now.
Thankfully, my boys are usually great on road trips (which is wonderful, considering we live quite a ways away from all family.) One reason our trips tend to run fairly smoothly is because we have some great tricks we use. These tips are specifically directed towards having the kids prepared, but they can be useful to anyone.
When I am getting ready for trips, I try to consider ……
How Much to Pack
Confession here: I tend to over-pack when it comes to clothes. The past few trips I have been working on some ways to reduce the amount of clothing I pack while still having everything I need.
We will be heading out on a mini vacation for our spring break, so I am already working on packing everything up. For this trip, I started by buying the kids each a new set of clothes from OshKosh B’gosh. The weather has been warm so they needed some new shorts and flip flops; I picked up matching ones for both boys and included a fun shirt to go with it.
The great thing about the shirts is that they are t-shirts that go with just about anything. This is a staple item for us.
How cute is this though? We purchased shirts that said “Feed me” (which totally fits our constantly-hungry boys) then found some shorts that coordinated well with it and had fish bones on them. It seemed quite fitting together. The flip flops were a great price, so we bought those in case we go swimming or need shower shoes.
What do you need to have packed?
- Basic bottoms–these are your jeans or a generic skirt or something your child can wear with anything. Something easy to put on and comfortable.
- Basic tops–these are your t-shirts or basic long-sleeve shirts, something good for indoors and out so you don’t need a bunch of outfit changes.
- Lightweight jacket–whether it’s summer or winter, take a lightweight jacket to wear over t-shirts or basic long-sleeve shirts without having to pack sweaters, which are bulky.
- Undies and socks–diapers for the little ones.
- Special clothing–this is winter gear if it will be chilly, rain coats if needed for soggy days, accessories for sunny days, or swim suits for the pool.
- Shoes–we always do tennis shoes, sandals (weather for warm weather, the pool, or the shower), and casual dress shoes if we have something special planned. We do NOT put these in the suitcase…p.u..
- Dress clothes–this is for special occasions…a nice dinner, pictures, etc..
We found the perfect kid fashion clothing staples at OshKosh B’gosh–pants, shorts, t-shirts/polos, even shoes. Go check out their awesome deals and grab this coupon for 25% off your $30+ purchase (use the code SPRING16 online)! You can use the new outfits on your trip and for spring pictures! Find an OshKosh B’gosh location near you.
Want a more detailed list of things to pack besides clothes? Read also Summer Vacation Packing Tips.
How much do you need to pack?
- Pants/shorts–check the weather. If it’s going to be average most of the trip, pack a couple pair of pants and a pair of shorts and vice versa if it’s supposed to be hot. Cool weather you can skip the shorts. Pants can be worn typically for 3 days before washing, but I would have an extra pair along in case one gets dirty too soon.
- Tops–this one we use new each day, so it depends on how long we are staying if we bring one per day (plus an extra) or enough for half the trip then a visit to the cleaners. Unless it’s winter weather, we just stick with t-shirts for this.
- Lightweight jackets–Typically we only pack one of these and it will be a spring jacket or fleece. If our kids have been especially messy, we might bring two in case one gets soaking wet or dirty, but will carry the extra along with us, outside of the suitcase.
- Undies and socks–We follow the same rules as with the tops, but I like to pack an extra to the extra on the underwear. Diapers are a different story–base this off of what your child typically uses each day then pack a few extra.
- Special clothing–this really depends on your situation. Pack what you need, but try to keep it to a minimum.
- Shoes–one everyday shoe, shoes for the pool/showers if needed (also special weather shoes if needed), and a pair of nicer shoes to wear when out and about at nicer places.
- Dress clothes–what are you doing special on your trip? If you only plan one night to dress up for dinner or something, you really only need one outfit. If you plan this for multiple days, you will want a pair of pants that goes with everything and a top for each occasion. Keep it at a minimum if possible.
- Pajamas–I do the same as for tops for this one.
Here’s a fun tip! We love giving the kids a little spending money for trips. To keep better track of this and give the kids a little responsibility, we picked up some coin pouches from OshKosh B’gosh, tucked a few dollars inside and gave one to each boy. If you need to keep track of whose is whose, grab out a fabric marker (like these) and write names on them.
I try to pack as much as possible into as few suitcases as possible. One way you can accomplish this is by being smart with what you pack and how you pack it.
The way you fold clothes can make a big difference on how much you can fit when packing. I like to fold outfits together so they are neat and easy to grab out. Pants, socks, undies…
I’ll even add a diaper to each set of clothing so it’s all set to start the day.
Packing everything in the order of the day we plan to wear it makes everything easier, because you can quickly grab out your clothes in the morning without making a mess of your suitcase. You can print my free day, name, and temperature labels below. Tape them to the clothes for each day so your kids know which outfit to wear.
Download Your Free Printable Packing Labels
When the whole family is stuck in the car for a long ride, the last thing you want is complaints of boredom. I like to bring along a few things to keep the kids (and myself) entertained on the trip.
You can find some of these ideas below (PS, schedule breaks and this will help too):
- Play road trip games (print free ones here)
- Bring along a movie or two (if you can–we try not to rely on this, but we do make it available on especially long trips)
- Play songs everyone loves (sing along to a few of your favorite songs!)
- Come up with a challenge…growing up, I had everyone count how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop
- Have a busy basket/backpack for each kid (filled with soft things for the little ones, activities for the bigger ones–these can be things like story books/workbooks/busy books, coloring pages like this one toy cars, binoculars, disposable cameras)
- Give the kids each a blanket, stuffed animal if they wish, and even a pillow to prop up their head to where it needs to be–eventually, they will fall asleep. Blankets are seriously magical for us.
- Make snack time a big deal–pack fun treats and have everyone help out.
What are your favorite entertainment tips for trips? Let me know in the comments!
Here’s a bonus tip: keep everything needed on the ride within arms’ reach. You don’t want to put yourself or others in danger by unbuckling to get to the food. Kids should be where you can pass food, coolers should be facing a direction that lets you open it, toys should be nearby so you can hand new ones as desired (or if your kids are old enough, you can hang a basket or bag off the arm of their chair so they can reach in.) Make sure everything is secured and won’t go flying if something happens. It’s also great to have a little trash bin or trash bags to keep messes at bay.
Want to know our favorite travel foods? Continue reading for the list.